After earning his Eagle Scout award in 2016 at age 17, Abington resident Aaron Christian had plans to do more. His Eagle Scout project consisted of installing two Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) and offering CPR certified training at Abington’s United Church of Christ and at the American Legion, Post 112, making a positive and possible life-saving impact within the community as many residents visit both locations. Christian knew then he wanted to continue to make a difference in the community.
By 2017, Christian began volunteering as of Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 41. He, along with fellow Scoutmaster, Chris Schultz, decided to start a Venturing Crew in Abington.
According to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) website, Venturing is an inclusive program through the Boy Scouts of America for males and females aged 14-20. It’s operated through Venturing Crews, units of youth and advisors that meet on set schedules and plan activities.
Venturing also encourages older scouts who “age out” of Scouts, BSA to join a Crew and assist younger scouts along their Eagle trail. Currently, Christian is President of Venturing Crew 41 working on his Summit Award project.
The Summit Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout award in the Venturing Program of the BSA which requires Venturers to complete a project that has an impact on the community.
Christian recalled a time back in 2016, where he joined Doug Ulwick, President of the Historical Society of Old Abington (HSOA), for an afternoon at the Dyer Memorial Library in Abington for an HSOA program in a new “talk show format” called “Eagle Scouting in the Old Town”. Seeing the amount local history at the Dyer, Christian realized then it also needed to be seen in the community.
“I recognized that the history of many Abington buildings were being forgotten and I didn’t want them to be forgotten forever,” said Christian.
“So my project impact idea was to make historical signs so people could see the history throughout the town.”
Christian, now 20 and also a member of the Board of Health, reached out to Ulwick and the HSOA back in December 2019, for sponsorship of his project. Ulwick signed off, and pointed him in the direction of the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) database. This allows one to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for properties and areas in the Commonwealth.
“I set a specific set of criteria of anything over 100 years old, that was a building or a structure for Abington and pulled together a list of the oldest homes,” said Christian.
Christian then located Ould Colony Artisans located in Providence that specializes in making authentic, historic sign markers for homes, businesses, taverns and historic sites using weather resistant materials. From there, Christian was able break down pricing and determine the amount of funding needed to purchase the signs. By March, he raised enough funds to purchase 10 historical signs for residents who chose to order with donations from individuals, the Abington Rotary Club, Jeff Coombs Memorial Foundation as well as hosting a Pasta Dinner Fundraiser at the American Legion and in addition make a sizeable donation to the HSOA.
“I think that anything that is raising awareness of the historic resources around town is important,” said Ulwick.
Abington homeowners, Janet and Peter McDonald, whose home was built in 1821, ordered one of the historical signs.
“It totally completed the house, it looks like it has been there for 199 years,” said Janet McDonald.
“The lettering of the sign reflected the era the house was built. I think it will be interesting to see the other signs in town where these beautiful, unique historical homes were built.”
“It is nice to see a young man take an interest in The Historical Society of Old Abington. Aaron was very professional and easy to work with,” added McDonald.
“I was a particularly pleased that a younger person was taking an interest. Aaron really hit two things for us — the general historic awareness around the town and the other is getting younger people involved.”
Ulwick and HSOA have been working on different approaches to engage all ages of the community to get involved with the HSOA and to visit the Dyer to experience Old Abington’s history.
“Instead of having programs of folks speaking to an audience for 40 minutes, we now do a talk show format to make it more engaging for all ages,” explained Ulwick.
Ulwick’s hope is that the show goes beyond the local cable channels bringing people to Dyer to give them more of a level of engagement.
“For the people that do show up, it is more engaging and we’re hoping that (the talk show format) is more interesting to younger people.”
The HSOA and Dyer Library also sponsors an Open House event during each of three annual Abington Celebrates weekends to promote awareness as well as Historical Exhibits.
“I hope this project allows residents to see the history that’s been hiding in plain sight with story to tell,” said Christian.
For more information on Abington Venturing Crew 41 visit: http://crew41.abingtonscouts.com.
For more information on the Historical Society of Old Abington visit: www.dyerlibrary.org/hsoa.
Written by Michele Christian (Disclaimer: Christian is related to Aaron Christian, Public Outreach Coordinator for Abington Celebrates and a member of the Historical Society of Old Abington.)