Dick Grant, left, talks to the group touring the Stone Hill House site.
In September 1948, Stonehill opened its doors.
In July 1935, the Congregation of Holy Cross purchased 350 acres of land from Edith Cutler.
In January 1905, Edward and Mary Hayward sold several parcels of land to Frederick Lothrop Ames.
These are three key moments in Stonehill College’s history. Besides their connection to Stonehill College, they all share one thing in common. To be more precise, they share one place in common: Stone House Hill. In many ways, this rocky promontory is the focal point of Stonehill’s history. Long before the Congregation and long before the Ames started making shovels in Easton, Stone House Hill was a prominent feature in southeastern Massachusetts’ geography and culture. Today, Stonehill’s history and identity are rooted to Stone House Hill, and if you look close enough it has a lot to tell.
This was the subject of a recent tour led by Associate Dean Emeritus Dick Grant and Assistant Archivist Jonathan Green. On October 17, Grant and Green met a group of Stonehill students, faculty, and staff in front of New Hall for the hour-long tour. The group trekked from the nearby mill stones to the summit of Stone House Hill. Along the way, the tour guides talked about Stonehill’s history starting in the late-17th century and stretching as far back as 500 A.D. This history included the formation of Stone House Hill during the last ice age, Wampanoag habitation of the Hill, and the creation of the mill stones in the eighteenth-century. With a bit of geology, a dash of archaeology, a touch of folklore, and a whole lot of history, Grant and Green used the landscape to bring the past to life.
While the tour focused on the campus’s early history, it also highlighted the important work of the Stone House Hill Restoration Project (SHHRP). Dick Grant started the project this past summer with one goal in mind: clean Stone House Hill. Since then, numerous individuals (including; Stephanie and Nate DesRosiers, Drew Fitzgibbon, Elveera Lacina, Fr. Denning and several people from Facilities Management) and groups from on- and off-campus dedicated time and effort to help Grant achieve his goal. These groups include the Stonehill men’s basketball team, Brockton High School’s boys’ cross country team, and a first-year student group joined the cause during Community Engagement Day. From raking leaves and picking up trash, to clearing fallen trees and removing graffiti, Grant and the SHRRP’s many volunteers made the project a success.
What next? Grant received this question numerous times during the tour, and the answer is open-ended. As the saying goes, “When you dig up the past, all you get is dirty.” In the case of the SHRRP, this saying is true. Literally. But we got a lot more than dirt too. To keep this success story going, Stone House Hill needs regular attention, elbow grease and ongoing research in long forgotten local archives. The goal at present is not just to dig up the past but also to bring it out into the present and celebrate it.