With Methuen gearing up to mark its 300th anniversary in 2026, here’s an interesting item from my Methuen collection: an original program about the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the then-Town of Methuen.

This document is framed with a wooden revolving base. The actual date of the event took place Thursday, Sept. 7, 1876, and the entire participants in the parade are listed on the reverse as well as the route of procession and other events that occurred that day. 

Here’s some information about the fanfare, courtesy of the Methuen Transcript from September 9, 1876: 

“The 150th anniversary of the incorporation of this town was observed on Thursday with great enthusiasm. When the first light of morning had painted its silvery streaks athwart the eastern sky, the peaceful slumberers of the town were warned that the event so much and so long talked of was at the point of culmination, and when the last Phoebus flashed forth the full and dazzling light of day, the artillery under Capt. Jere. B. Wardwell, thundered forth its deep reverberations from the hill near the woolen mill, warned the people to bestir themselves for the celebration of an event that never comes once in a lifetime. Massachusetts Governor Rice and Surgeon General Mr. Dale arrived in the first train, were immediately driven to the residence of Celebration president Jacob Emerson, Esq., where they were entertained until 9 o’clock, at which time they proceeded to the Exchange Hotel, where the Governor held a reception for an hour or more, at the close of which he entered a barouche and passed through the principal streets with the procession. The procession was comprised of 6 divisions and started at the corner of Broadway and Pleasant streets, down Broadway to Lawrence line, returning by Broadway to Park, Park to Lawrence, Lawrence to Osgood, Osgood to Broadway, Broadway to Charles, Charles to Pleasant, Pleasant to Hampshire, Hampshire to High, High to Broadway, Broadway to Hampshire, Hampshire to Lowell, Lowell to Railroad Square, Railroad Square to Union, Union to Lowell, Lowell to Pelham, Pelham to the entrance of the field, at which point the Third, Fifth and sixth Divisions will be dismissed. The Artillery will also be excused for the purpose of firing a national salute at noon. There was a Centennial dinner with tickets costing 75 cents each. Music was provided by the Germania Band. The exercises were conducted upon a platform, under a wide-spreading oak tree in Baker;s field. The Rev. Lyman H. Blake offered prayer, after which “America” was sung by thirty eight young ladies representing the states. Jacob Emerson, Esq. the President of the Day, then gave an introductory address.”   

Speakers following President Emerson were: John K. Tarbox of Lawrence, Joseph H. Howe, Haverhill Mayor J.K. Jenness, Major George S. Merrill, Josiah C. Blaisdell of Fall River, the Honorable Allan W. Dodge, the Rev. Moses How, the Honorable Carroll D. Wright, Dr. A.A. Miner of Boston, Wm. H. Rogers, Esquire, and the Revs. Lyman Chase and W.W. Hayward. There was a Trial of Engines under the direction of the Fire Department at 5pm. A Federal Salute was fired at sunset. A Ball and Promenade concert was given at the Town Hall in the evening with music by the Germania Band. Tickets were $1 to be on the floor, and 50 cents to be seated in the gallery.

Joseph G. Bella is vice president/historian of the Methuen Historical Society and has an extensive collection of local memorabilia.