Happy New Year! At midnight, we’ll ring in the new year with raucous parties, bad singing, and counting backwards from 10. How did people 120 years ago ring in the New Year? Check out Mary Cook’s summary of events on December 31st, 1897 as the Young Men’s Social Club prepared for 1898.
The Young Men’s Social Club was an exclusive organization with a clubhouse on Beaman Street. They were “strictly temperance”, meaning no alcohol was allowed at their events. The Temperance Movement was popular at the time and sought to limit the sale of alcohol and encourage people to abstain from alcohol. The Young Men’s Social Club was evidently a local organization which supported the tenets of the Temperance Movement.
The New Year’s dance took place in Sawyer Hall, a building which, in addition to being a dance hall, housed Sawyer’s general store and embalming business. During the construction of the reservoir, Sawyer Hall was moved up the hill and now is located on Prospect Street. Today, the old Sawyer Hall & store houses Wayside Antiques & Collectibles.
Though this dance took place nearly 120 years ago, we can see that our celebration of an incoming New Year has not changed much in a century. People gathered together and danced, listened to music, and partied alongside friends as they awaited the clock to strike midnight and for a new year full of opportunities to begin.