Celebrating 100 Years

Join us throughout 2018 as we celebrate Hale’s rich history. Registration opens soon for camp, membership, and scout reunions; a birthday party; young professional socials; and a music festival. Additionally, a very special lifetime giving event will honor Hale’s leadership supporters. If you don’t already receive our emails, let us know you’d like to receive announcements, updates, and registration details as they become available.

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Hale’s History

Indigenous Peoples

For thousands of years, an Algonquian tribal federation called the Moswetuset—later known as the Massachuset, which translates to “people of the great hills”—occupied what is now eastern Massachusetts. Its tribes included the Powissit, Cowate, Natick, Ponkapoag, Neponset, Pegan, and Wisset, among others.

At first, entire tribes moved with the seasons: in the summer, they lived in communal longhouses as they fished and shell fished near the coast; in the winter, they lived in single-family wetus and wigwams as they hunted further inland. Over time, however, the advent of farming resulted in more permanent settlements.

Tradition suggests that one such settlement existed south of Hale’s property, in an area known as Powisset Plain. Archaeologists from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology have determined such sites were in use as early as 3,000 B.C.

At Hale, artifacts support this theory. Carby Street, formerly known as “Old Indian Path,” leads to a Native American campsite near Storrow Pond. Its inhabitants quarried felsite—a dense igneous rock that they knapped into arrowheads and tools, such as scrapers, knives, and drills—at nine known sites throughout Hale. They also used a stone adze to carve dugout canoes, which suggests they harvested natural resources from marshland that is now Noanet Pond: reed to make sleeping mats and cover shelters, cattail fluff to pad infants’ breechcloths and diapers, and wild rice to supplement meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Sadly, Europeans brought disease, war, and oppression to North America. The Massachuset Federation lost its language and customs as settlers forced its tribes to assimilate. A smallpox epidemic in 1633 ravaged southern New England and further reduced the native population, and before long, the first inhabitants of Hale had all but disappeared.

Colonial Life

Notes from Ernest J. Baker tell us that in 1645, Rock Fielde—the seven acres immediately north of present-day Carby Street—was sold to Edward Hawes by Dedham’s first teacher, Ralph Wheelock. He and other early settlers built an extensive network of stone walls to mark property boundaries and confine livestock. These can still be appreciated throughout the property today.

Throughout the late 1600s and 1700s, settlers regularly harvested local cedar trees to make clapboards and build split rail fences. Deeds suggest a sawmill stood on Rock Meadow Brook, and the remains of a charcoal kiln were once visible near Powissett Pond. They also built “cart roads” so that teams of oxen could pull carts of timber and charcoal out of the woods for Boston’s ship building and iron industries. By 1717, Old Indian Path “had become so important that the town1 found it necessary to take it over and lay it out as a town road.” The road’s early monikers included the “Road Leading to Dover,” the “Highway Leading to the Wilderness,” and the “Road Leading to Cedar Swamp.” But it wasn’t until the early 1800s that it would be renamed for the Carby family, who operated a farm near Cat Rock.

As settlers felled trees and farmed, their desire to protect livestock intensified hunting and trapping. Beavers, raccoons, wild turkeys, deer, and even moose were frequently sighted, and settlers were known to use them for food and clothing. But the area was also “‘infested with wolves, bears, and wildcats, as well as foxes and other predatory animals.’” By 1647, Dedham declared that wolves in particular were “‘greatly anoysome’” to cattle and doubled its ten-shilling bounty to twenty shillings per head. Bears were eradicated by 1730, and the last moose was seen in 1745.

Less is known about what happened on the property during the following century, but we believe farming and logging likely subsided as the Industrial Revolution reshaped the nation’s economy. This change would have given way to the second-growth forest we see at Hale today.

1 of Dedham; Westwood didn’t incorporate until 1897.

Scoutland Era

The Boy Scouts of America was chartered in 1910, and soon after that, local scouts began exploring the property. On March 11, 1918, Robert Sever Hale officially invited them to use his land, and by 1923, camping was in full swing at Hale.

Mr. Hale led the construction of a dam on the east side of Goat Island1 in 1926. On August 12 of that year, he checked the flow of Wilson’s Brook (now Powissett Brook) and Storrow Pond resulted. The camp’s original building, “a picturesque log hut2 constructed under the directions of Herman Templeton, a Rangeley, Maine, guide who [taught] the scouts woodcraft,” stood on its shore.

Nelson House (at that time known as “Ye Olde Trading Post,” and later referred to as “The Chapel”) was also erected between 1925 and 1927, purportedly by Italian bricklayer Rumelio Luttazi. Nelson House was originally used to sell canned goods and rent pup tents, blankets, mattresses, and water bags; it was subsequently converted to serve as a place of nondenominational worship. Restored3 in 1961 and renamed yet again, it is now officially The Robert Sever Hale Memorial Building.

In the 1930s, a new Trading Post appeared across the street. Campers gathered there to purchase supplies and recount stories. After numerous additions and renovations, this Trading Post was demolished in 2008. The present-day Trading Post stands on its footprint.

Scoutland continued to thrive during the 1930s under the direction of Mr. Hale. Scouts built more than 40 cabins throughout the property; the present-day Carby House and Main Office served as the ranger’s and superintendent’s homes (respectively). Dover Road was described at that time as a “winding, tortuous route through wild, rocky country,” and as the reservation expanded, Carby Street—a “narrow rough road bordered by a second-growth forest…for hardy souls only”—served as its primary entrance, although Grove Street was used as well. Powissett Pond served as Hale’s go-to spot for a quick dip; scouts, as well as residents who purchased club memberships, were free to enjoy its 12 acres of water.

1 Goat Island refers to the large rock on the shore of Storrow Pond.

2 built in 1926 and destroyed by fire in the early 1950s; its chimney (built in 1928) remains.

3 under the direction of Louis Grunner and Walter W. Nutile.

Modern Times

Mr. Hale passed away on Dec. 31, 1941 and bequeathed his land so that it could be used “to develop intelligent, capable, and responsible citizens.” Scoutland was renamed in Mr. Hale’s honor nearly a decade later.

By the middle of the 20th century, Hale’s attention turned from scouting toward its own programs. Board and staff members began considering how to create a much larger, 60-acre swimming pond capable of serving up to 600 families. With members-only access to two beaches, one of which was to be “reserved for youth charity organizations from Metropolitan Boston,” it would become a focal point of the property.

Construction had begun on a new pond near the end of 1962, as confirmed by then-executive-director Lon Smith’s late-October statement to The Westwood Press. He announced that a 1,200-foot dam would be the first project and that its design and construction were supported by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service1 and Norfolk County Soils Conservation District. Great care was taken to perform water drainage studies for the 60-acre pond, and engineer Henry Ritzer was personally commended for generously lending his time and expertise to the endeavor. By the mid-1960s, Noanet Pond—its name appropriated from a fictional account2 of an actual Native American chief—was open for use.

There was a problem, though: Smith and his team had secured funds for the dam, beaches, roads, and parking lots, but they had yet to raise enough money for facilities. The impact of this is still evident: while beautifully landscaped, Hale Summer Club and North Beach feature few permanent structures. The recent construction of new bathrooms at Hale Summer Club brought Hale one step closer to fully realizing the Noanet Pond Construction Committee’s vision for the area.

In 1969, The Patriot Ledger reported on then-executive-director James Earley’s plans for a new trail system3 that would include trails for people with disabilities and expand public access. Earley also announced Hale’s intention to develop “an ecological plot that would become a ‘center for outdoor education in the community and in the area,’” and emphasized the organization’s focus on serving youth: particularly “overlooked” teenagers in need of “wise recreation.”

1 The U.S. Soil Conservation Service is now known as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Congress established the agency in 1935 when it recognized that wasting natural resources such as soil and moisture menaced national welfare. Hugh Hammond Bennett, a surveyor and the agency’s first chief, believed that “land must be nurtured; not plundered and wasted.” Its work was supported by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Since 1944, SCS, now NRCS, has constructed nearly 11,000 dams on some 2,000 watershed projects that continue to provide flood control, water supplies, recreation, and wildlife habitat benefits.

2 King Noanett written by Dedham resident Frederic Jesup Stimson in 1895.

3 including the Allan S. Beale Nature Trail and Split Rock Trail.

Present Day

Hale’s past is echoed in today’s programs. We continue to provide first-rate outdoor learning opportunities through Hale Day Camp, Hale Summer Club, and Education & Adventure. Since Executive Director Eric Arnold’s tenure began in 2001, we’ve substantially expanded our academic, community, and corporate partnerships as well. Collaboration with Boston Public Schools gave rise to Hale Outdoor Learning Adventures and Intrepid Academy at Hale. And in accordance with our values and through the generosity of our donors, we welcome the public to responsibly recreate here.

As we look to the future, we continue to appreciate the shared history of our land and organization. Mr. Hale expected that his property would be used to develop intelligent, capable, and responsible citizens. We’re proud to carry that mission forward into Hale’s next century.

Centennial Events

Hale in Towne | February 28
Young professionals who believe in connecting kids with the outdoors convened in Boston’s Back Bay, where they socialized and networked with other like-minded colleagues at Towne Stove and Spirits.

Marathon Reunion | April 17
Past runners joined this year’s team at Doyle’s Jamaica Plain to celebrate their collective success. Together they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for, and increased awareness of, Hale’s work to close the achievement, nature, and summer learning gaps.

Sunset at the Peak | June 2
Our second event for young professionals was an opportunity to experience Hale after hours. A guided sunset hike to Powissett Peak offered views of the surrounding woodlands (and even the Boston skyline) from the highest point at Hale. Afterward, attendees socialized with acquaintances old and new at a BYOB 21+ post-hike campfire.

Hale Celebrates 100 at Hale Summer Club | June 23
Current and former members and staff are invited to kick off the season with a celebratory campfire.

All-Camp Birthday Party | July 26
Campers from across Hale will unite on Cat Rock Field for our annual All-Camp Fair—this year, with a birthday theme. That evening, partner camp board and staff members will gather at North Beach to celebrate years of collaboration.

Steam Kettle Music Festival | October 13
This family-friendly event will feature music, food, and fun in the late afternoon and early evening hours.

Hale Celebrates 100 with the Scouts | October 27
Calling all current and former scouts! Join us for an evening around the campfire for hot dogs, s’mores, and stories galore. Revisit Hale’s history, visit old campsites, and see the wonderful work completed by many Eagle Scouts around Hale’s property.

Founder’s Fête | November 17 | Invitation Only
This donor appreciation event will celebrate members of our leadership giving societies. Learn more about Hale’s giving societies.

Centennial Sponsors

Thank you to the many businesses, colleagues, and friends who join us in celebrating 100 years of impact. With your support, we look forward to another century of progress on behalf of children, families, and outdoor enthusiasts in Greater Boston and beyond. Click here to become a Centennial Sponsor.

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