Borderland State Park
The front of the Ames Mansion. ("Ames Mansion, Borderland State Park -- NRHP Travel Itinerary," The Thrifty New England Traveler.)
Part of the 5k loop around Leach Pond and the Ames Mansion. (Steven Walasavage, 2007.)
Leach Pond. ("Ames Mansion, Borderland State Park -- NRHP Travel Itinerary," The Thrifty New England Traveler.)
Oliver Ames boys cross country starts the race. ("Oliver Ames Cross Country Team Runs Past Canton," Mile Split MA.)
Disc golf. ("Fans find disc golf a game for the season," Boston Globe.)
The library inside the Ames Mansion. (Kristin Norwood, 2012.)
The Ames Mansion. (Nicole Chan, 2012.)
Trails in Borderland. (author, 2013.)
Backstory and Context
In the early 1700s the land began to be used for faming and industry. Jedidiah Willis was the first to build a dam, homestead and sawmill here. Half a century later, the Tisdale family built a home in 1752 and began farming on the land for several generations. The family built another home in 1810. Only foundations remain of both homes.2
In 1825 General Shepard Leach built Leach Pond, the main pond in the park. At the time, the pond was the main water supply for Leach's Furnace Village Iron Works, which was three miles downstream.3.
In 1906, Harvard Botanist Oakes Ames, the youngest son of Governor Oliver Ames purchased the land when the small farms were no longer prosperous. He and his wife Blanche Ames, a multi-talented inventor involved in art, farming, engineering and politics, planned to build a home and rehabilitate the land for farming, wildlife and recreation.4 The couple hired a Boston architect to construct their luxury, fireproof home on their new property.5 Unhappy with his plans, Blanche took over the design and construction management of what became a three-story, 20-room, stone mansion.6
In 1971, two years after Blanche's death, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired the estate and turned it into a state park. The mansion remains closely furnished to how the Ames family left it, many Blanche's paintings still adorning the walls. The mansion houses events at the park and offers tours each week.7 The estate was named "Borderland" as it connected the borders of Easton and Sharon.
In 2008, scenes from Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, were filmed in the stone lodge next to Leach Pond.8
The park is still continuing to build local history as it has become the home course for Oliver Ames High School's cross country team, and hosted the Hockomock League Cross Country Championships up until 2014. It's 5k loop around Leach Pond and Ames Mansion has been used for countless other local 5k races as well.