In East Walpole, at the intersection of Washington Street and Chestnut Street, stands a peculiar sight. A derelict clock tower and a memorial fountain dedicated to members of the Bird family, one of the founding families of Walpole.
The Bird family has a long history in Walpole. George Bird founded the Bird & Son Company in 1795 with a single paper mill and his son, Francis W. Bird, expanded the family business throughout the 19th-century. In 1884, he had Bird Hall constructed. The large second-floor hall was the site of many lectures, plays, and banquets. It was also used for church services and the ground floor housed a post office and department store. In 1894, following the death of Francis Bird, his heirs funded the construction of a 72-foot tower and illuminated clock. In 1995, a fire destroyed the entirety of Bird Hall, only the clock tower was spared.
Right next to the clock tower is a small fountain dedicated to Mary R. Bird. Born in 1845, she was a staunch abolitionist and strong proponent for women’s rights. She was the first woman elected to the Walpole School Board in 1876 and helped found the town’s first public library. She also started the Children’s Sewing Circle to ensure all children knew how to sew as she believed it was an essential skill.
The Bird clock tower and fountain are certainly very interesting pieces of local history and something most residents know little about.