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City celebration includes look at Woonsocket's past

August 28, 2013

WOONSOCKET – Partygoers attending tonight’s 125th anniversary Main Street block party can get a glimpse of what life was like in Woonsocket in the 1800’s by taking a stroll over to Timeless Antiques & Collectibles on Main Street where antique dealer Tammy Irwin and the Woonsocket Historical Society have set up a sidewalk display window filled with Woonsocket memorabilia and other artifacts from the city’s past.
From photographs of the police station circa 1867 to old maps of the city, there are more than 40 pieces on display at the 30 Main St. antique store, which Irwin and Woonsocket Society members Irene Blaise and Richard C. Whitesell hope will be an interesting stop-off point for revelers during tonight’s celebration.
The shop opens at 11 a.m. today and will remain open until 11 p.m.
The display will feature, among other things, historical items related to the Stadium Theatre, built in 1926, and the Woonsocket Rubber Company, built in 1857 and destroyed by fire in 2011.
The display will also have several old whisky jars bearing the names of city liquor stores from a bygone era and even items showcasing Mrs. Petit’s Baked Beans, a once popular Sunday morning dish that has a long tradition in Woonsocket.
“This is Woonsocket’s 125th anniversary and we thought it would be a great idea to have a sidewalk display all about the history of Woonsocket so people attending the block party can see how native Woonsocketer's lived,” said Irwin, who opened Timeless Antiques & Collectibles just over a year ago with her husband, Frank.
Passersby tonight will be able to see the entire display from outside and it will include memorabilia and artifacts owned by the Irwins and those in the custody of the Woonsocket Historical Society.
In addition to selling antiques, Timeless Antiques & Collectibles also buys and appraises them as well.
“We work with the Woonsocket Historical Society and often provide Woonsocket-related items to them when we get them,” says Irwin.
The Woonsocket Historical Society, located at 42 South Main St., is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the City of Woonsocket, its people and its rich industrial past. The society’s mission is to identify, collect, document and exhibit historical treasures. The society also hosts programs and exhibits that make history meaningful, accessible and enjoyable.
When Irwin first heard about the city’s plans to celebrate its incorporation date 125 years ago, she approached Blaise and Whitesell, both of whom agreed to partner with the antique store on the display in conjunction with the block party.
Those unable able to see the display during the block party, can view it Friday and throughout the weekend.
Tonight’s celebration is being billed as the biggest block party on the East Coast with a dozen entertainment stages that will stretch for a half-mile through downtown. The event, spearheaded by Mayor Leo T. Fontaine and a group of volunteers led by co-chairpersons Linda Plays and Albert G. Beauparlant, will also feature a variety of musical entertainment, artists, car shows, motorcycle shows, military shows, concessions, food tents such as Taste of Woonsocket, kids' amusements and ethnic foods.
“This is going to be a huge party with lots of entertainment so we’re asking everyone to come on down,” says Irwin.

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