On a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1890, the townspeople of Sharon foregathered in Hadley’s Grove – a lovely stand of old pine trees on Route 123, next to what is now The Sharon Arts Center – for the 6th “Reunion of Sharon Residents”.
At that picnic, Samuel Willard Bass generously offered to put up $75 to enable the town to buy the grove. The Rev. Burr, of Boston, donated a further $25 for fencing, and in 1891 the land was purchased and dedicated as Willard Bass Park.
It is in this park, ever since, that the citizens of Sharon gather in August for the Annual Town Picnic. Indeed, the original conveyance of the property from the widow Hannah Hadley contained a “Picnic or Die” clause, stipulating that unless the property was used for a public picnic at least once every three years, ownership would revert to the grantors or their heirs (which rights of reverter, through the good offices of Richard M. Nichols, have since been conveyed to The Sharon Arts Center).
Willard Bass Park is owned and managed by The Trustees, not the town of Sharon. The list of past trustees contains many familiar Sharon names, such as Taggart, Perry, Newton and, of course, Nichols (including, from 1897 forward, Herbert, Maurice, Thomas, Richard, and Andrew).
The current Trustees of Willard Bass Park are: Gina Goff, Anne Booth, Mary Ellen Bushnell, Ken Callahan, and Hampton Howard.