Wenham 'Town Mother' Adeline Cole's Monument to be Unveiled Saturday

One of Wenham's iconic legends, who founded the Wenham Tea House and the Wenham Museum, will be honored with the unveiling of a monument in her name on Saturday.

Wenham's "Town Mother" - who founded the Wenham Tea House among many other accomplishments - will be honored during Wenham Days on Saturday.

Members of The Adeline Cole Memorial Committee will oversee a dedication ceremony commemorating Adeline Philbrick Cole (Aug. 7, 1865 - Jan. 5, 1959) on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 10:30 a.m. on the grounds of the Wenham Tea House. It is open to the public and everyone is invited.

Members of the committee include Jack Hauck, Harriet Davis, Lindsay Diehl, Win Dodge and Barbara Locke.

Somewhere between the Women’s Suffrage Movement and World War I, Cole became a powerhouse in Wenham, championing volunteerism, American Exceptionalism and significant contributions to society-at-large.

A member of Daughters of the Revolution and descendant of the Dodge family (daughter of Francis Macomber Dodge and Sarah James Philbrick), she studied at and married Edward B. Cole of the B.E. Cole & Co. shoe family.

During her residency on Brookby Farm, Cole championed many causes. To this day, townspeople still benefit from her efforts.

A tireless volunteer and leader by all accounts - including family members and those who carry on her work at the Wenham Village Improvemet Society - Cole was a dominant force as a long-time member of 63 years starting in 1896. Her father was the first chairman.

During her lifelong involvement, Cole was directly involved in the formation of the (which was originally the harness shop of Henry Hobbs) and the mastermind behind the Wenham Exchange. In both efforts, Cole pioneered her entrepreneurial spirit showing how both entities could bear profit in order to fund charitable contributions for activities benefitting the residents and their children.

At a time when men were off to war and the women were left to manage the home front, Cole seemed to shift into high gear with incredible ease, according to Barbara Locke, president of the WVIS.

“At the turn of the century, improvement societies were forming all around the country and met the needs of the community via the many women volunteers,” said Locke.

Sadly, Locke admits, many of these societies are defunct either because women started going back to work or the groups were not generating revenue. She adds, however, that Cole helped WVIS gain a unique proposition value which eventually paid off.

“WVIS owns the six acre parcel housing the Wenham Tea House, tennis courts and the playground and this provides revenue for private philanthropic efforts.”

In fact, this year alone the WVIS awarded six student recipients scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each; and helped bring this summer’s recreation program to 220 children while employing over 50 teenagers.

So what gave Cole such a purpose-driven perspective?

Hauck believes Cole got the history bug like her father and it never left her. In addition, Hauck documents that Cole grew up in an era in which much sacrifice and unrest in America played a role in her devotion to charitable causes.

In his new book, “Adeline Philbrick Cole,” Hauck traces everything from her fervent devotion to the purchase of the to founding the , the Visiting Nurses Association of Hamilton-Wenham, the International Herb Society, founder of the Wenham Historical Association, the mastermind behind the Women’s Exchange and long-time trustee of the Wenham Library to name a few.

Cole was a prolific writer and, although many of the letters she wrote to world dignitary leaders in search of exchanging knowledge are gone, there remains two well-noted books including “Notes on the Collection of Dolls and Figurines” and “Notes on Wenham History, 1643-1943.”

Copies of the new book may be purchased at both the Wenham Tea House and the Wenham Museum starting on Wenham Day.


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