The Shirley Industrial School for Boys was a part of this town from 1909 – 1972 and was the topic of the Shirley Historical Society meeting on Friday, May 11, 2001. Ray Farrar who worked at the school and Joe Landry whose father worked there attended the meeting and were video taped sharing their stories. Other former workers and State School “boys” have contacted the Museum and we have added their memories to our files.
In 1908, the Shirley Shaker Community had only three Shaker sisters, 900 acres of land and twenty-six buildings. The Shaker Central Ministry decided to close the community, sell the property, and have the sisters move to the Harvard Shaker Village. The state of Massachusetts bought the Shaker property for an Industrial School for Boys, what we now call a reform school. This Industrial School was to take boys ages 15 – 17 and give them a house mother and a house father, give them academic schooling, and teach them manners and a trade. The farmland and large old Shaker buildings were well suited to these purposes and were promptly fitted out with modern conveniences.
The Historical Society does not have any of the private records of the School. Those would be kept someplace at the State level. We do have names from the census records of 1910, 1920 , and 1930. When requested, we can look in those records for names of boys who lived at Shirley Industrial School.
As the boys came to live at Shirley, the teachers, craftsman, office workers, and officials also came to work here.
Many of them lived right on the property and later bought homes in the town of Shirley.
Following are the names we have gathered at this time. (edited October 2008)
Herbert F. Taylor
Robert T. Grey
Clarence R. Day
SUPERVISOR OF TRAINING & EDUCATION
SENIOR BOYS SUPERVISOR
John W. Hastings
Dr. Joseph Perry
Ed (Fred) Small
COOKS & BAKERS
Joseph R. Lemieux
SECRETARIES STENOGRAPHERS, CLERKS
Father Rene Bergeron
HOUSE MOTHER & PARTY ORGANIZER
OTHER STAFF W/ UNKNOWN JOBS
VISITING MUSIC TEACHER
John T. Finnerty
Mr and Mrs Burrows, Cottage #1, 1993
Mr and Mrs Hippler
Meredith Marcinkewicz, curator at the Shirley Historical Society, is trying to gather additional information on the Industrial School. She has photos of ISB buildings and many news articles about the Industrial School. She has a sign, a chair, and candle sticks which were made at the school. She would love to hear from other people who lived and worked there.
She will be at the Historical Society Museum (978-425-9328) at #182 Center Road, Shirley, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. most Saturdays and Mondays and invites anyone with pictures or stories to share to stop by. Or – they may write her at Shirley Historical Society, PO Box 217, Shirley, MA 01464, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org