The Whitin Community Center
We are so fortunate to have the Whitin Community Center both as a Memorial and a Facility right within our midst. Known throughout the entire State of Massachusetts, and now perhaps the world, it has served the Blackstone Valley with social and recreational services for the entire family since 1922. It is also known as the George Marston Whitin Memorial Community Association, Inc. This “Gym” as many of us call it, has been a place to build athletic prowess and great sportsmanship.
In a tribute to their father, the four daughters: Elizabeth Klock Whitin, Elsa Whitin, Katherine Leland Whitin, and Lois Haven Whitin, of George Marston Whitin, just one of the past C.E.O.’s of the Whitin Machine Works, had it built in 1922. And there was a fire there a while ago, but the “Gym” was renovated. Many of the former employees of “The Shop” had direct access to its pool and gym floor. For many years they would only pay $.10 (if a member) for a clean white towel and a bar of soap when they checked in at the desk ! They, as well as I, learned to swim there. I can remember walking over from the Grammar School when I was in the 5th Grade to the pool for swimming lessons. I can recall Louise Lash, Roscoe Marker, Harold Case and his son, Mike. Many Spindle articles contained the likes of them especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Now with 2 pools, there is abundant opportunity to enjoy the swim programs, which have followed the training of past Olympians there. The Whitin Community Center today provides responses to many modern challenges. It now offers the largest Child Care Program, at a reasonable cost, in the Blackstone Valley with optional before and after school care programs. Its Youth Outreach Program provides free and supervised recreational programs for children during school vacations and on Saturday afternoons. There is now a facility for 8-13 yr.-olds in the downtown Village of Rockdale open in the afternoons of the school day. Its adult health and fitness center has a place for people to strengthen and relax. Its athletic programs are in line with the greater community’s needs. The “Gym” is a private non-profit 501 C (3) charitable organization. Its operational expenses are supported by membership fees and annual fund-raisers like Picnic in the Park and a dance at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Massachusetts. Private donations provide Outreach services, Capital Expansion Projects, and contributions to civic services. The Whitin Community Center welcomes charitable contributions, in any amount. One can contribute as an investment in the future, for it will affect the lives of so many residents for generations and generations to follow.
Incidentally, both the Whitin Center and Whitin Park are listed on the National Historic Register. Whitin Park is another aspect of the Whitin Community Center. There are still trees and plants today which were grown and brought over from England a long time ago. It is a great place to walk, as I can attest when I took short-cuts from my Dad’s garden plot to go to the “Gym” to cool off during the hot summers after weeding the garden. I can remember all the good times there and the Summer “Peanut Carnivals”. Whitin Park is a great place to have a concert also. Ed Quigley’s “Heritage String Band” has performed there recently. They continue to play hits of the 1850’s, 1860’s and 1870’s. Ask about the Tea House and the tennis courts when you go there to visit. There is information there about “The Shop” and the former residence of John Crane Whitin. You should notice a memorial dedicated to the Town’s Policemen and Firefighters also. You can log onto www.ourgym.org to get more detailed information about the countless programs and memberships. Membership and participation is open to all.
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