The Town of Medfield owns a small 5,352 square foot parcel of land between Zebra’s and Starbuck’s that has affectionately been called the Pocket Park for lack of an official name. The Pocket Park Steering Committee was appointed in Oct. 2013 to initiate a public planning process to both design the park and recommend its name.
The first round of public voting received 176 entries with 52% writing in their own suggestions for a park name. “We received some really creative suggestions” said Committee Chair Jean Mineo. “Since the public couldn’t see the write-in names, and many suggested the same name, we decided to present another round of voting on just the two most popular names of Straw Hat Park and Isaac Fiske Park. They really represent two different aspects of Medfield’s history around the park property, though interestingly, their timing overlaps.” Residents are now asked to select one, and the winner will be recommended for approval at Town Meeting in April.
The link to cast your vote is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N9N6F7J
The relevant history of each name to the park is also included in the survey (with thanks to Richard DeSorgher).
Straw Hat Park
From 1801 until 1956, Medfield’s most important industry of straw hat making was centered in the area around the park. The industry employed highly skilled men and women seasonally, and the pay was excellent. One manufacturer recorded over $1 million worth of goods in 1875.
The Montrose School property was originally built to manufacture straw hats in 1876. Eventually, the Excelsior Straw Hat Factory employed more than 1,200 people (larger than the town’s population), producing over 2.5 million hats a year, and becoming the second largest straw hat factory in the US. In 1956, owner Julius Tofias closed the factory after workers voted to unionize, thus ending Medfield’s largest industry.
Isaac Fiske Park
Isaac Fiske was born in Medfield in 1813 and died 1883. In 1842, Fiske purchased an existing store located next to the park where Starbucks stands today. Fiske ran it for 40 years and was known as the town merchant. Fiske built a hall over the “new” Old Corner Store used for lectures, dances, and by famous abolitionists who spoke against slavery. Eventually, the hall was divided into bedrooms for rent. Fiske was also elected to the Massachusetts state legislature, and served Medfield as Town Clerk (15 years), Treasurer (40 years), and Postmaster (20 years), running the post office out of his store. The Old Corner Store continued in operation under subsequent owners until the building was torn down 1935.