Fall River Historical Society
The Fall River Historical Society is located within the Highlands Historic District, at 451 Rock Street. The mansion’s architecture is stunning French Second Empire. The structure itself is a piece of history, as it once operated as a station on the Underground Railroad. Inside, period rooms and exhibits tell the story of Fall River’s rich cultural and industrial history.
Backstory and Context
The Fall River Historical Society was originally established in 1921 by a group of individuals focused on preserving the rich cultural and industrial history of their city. The city of Fall River was once the center of the world’s cotton textile industry. Today, there is a complete collection housed within the society devoted to the production of cotton cloth in Fall River.
The initial collections were held in the society’s first home, the Buffington Building. Unfortunately, that building was destroyed by fire in 1928 and many of the society’s artifacts were ruined. There was one safe which stored the most treasured pieces that was unharmed by the flames. The society moved on, building upon the items in that safe to continue to grow their collection.
In 1935, David Anthony Brayton donated the home of his late aunt, Ms. Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton, to the society to use as their permanent residence. The collections were moved into the large home, which is an important piece of Fall River history on its own. Ms. Brayton’s home is believed to be a former station on the Underground Railroad. It is also the only intact example of the mansions built by the affluent mill owners during the period of Fall River’s greatest prosperity. The Society’s home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 as part of the Highlands Historic District, also known as Rodman Farm. The district consists of over 1,400 acres and 300 structures.
The Fall River Historical Society operates as both a local history museum and a historic house museum. Several of the rooms features period settings and exhibits on various topics. Current collections available to view at the museum contain pieces dedicated to: Americana; costumes and accessories; decorative arts; ephemera; the Fall River textile industry; furniture; local history; manuscripts; the city’s maritime history; paintings, drawings, and sculptures of two different periods (19th century and 20th century to contemporary); and photographs. The Society’s Facebook page has a large gallery of photographs of the exhibits and recent events.
From April through mid-October, the museum is open from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM during the week (Tuesdays through Fridays, closed on Mondays). Tours are given on the hour, at: 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00. The museum is also open on weekends from June through September. On Saturdays and Sundays during the summer, the museum is open to visitors in the afternoon from 1PM to 5PM, with tours given on the hour, at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 PM. The price of admission to the museum is $8.00 for adults, $6.00 each for children between the ages of 6-14, and a discounted rate of $7.50 for AAA cardholders. Members of the Fall River Historical Society can attend free, and bring one guest at no cost. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounted rates.
Our History. Fall River Historical Society. Accessed July 10, 2017. http://lizzieborden.org/about/our-history/.
Historically Significant. Fall River Historical Society. Accessed July 10, 2017. http://lizzieborden.org/portfolio/historically-significant/.
Massachusetts - Bristol County. National Register of Historic Places. Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/ma/bristol/state4.html.
Fall River Historical Society. Facebook. Accessed July 10, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/pg/FallRiverHistoricalSociety.