The Gilbert Bean Museum and Resource Center

At this time, the Gilbert Bean Museum and Resource Center is only open 
periodically and during Society sponsored events.  

The facility houses many historic Braintree artifacts and 
regular exhibits of special collections.

The Braintree Historical Society maintains an office within
 the Gilbert Bean Museum.  
Gilbert Bean Museum & Historical Research Center 


The Gilbert L. Bean Barn Museum 

 This facility, the design and construction of which were completed during the National Bicentennial period, 1974-1976, was conceived as a complement to the Thayer House; it was named for Gilbert L. Bean, a past president of the Society who was instrumental in the relocation of the Sylvanus Thayer House. The post and beam construction are consistent with early American buildings of its type. It houses the gift shop, exhibits, storage and work areas. Additionally, the barn’s center gallery will also host classroom space for visiting artisans offering courses in a variety of historic handicrafts.

The Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center 

The addition to the Barn Museum was completed in 1995, with two levels of exhibit and library space that are fully ADA accessible. The main level contains a reception area and two large museum galleries. One of these features furniture built between the late 17th century, 18th century and 19th centuries, as well as a number of 19th-century paintings. The other is focused on the Civil War period, by way of a variety of military artifacts and various memorabilia of the period.

Located on the lower level, the Historical Research Center  houses genealogical information about families with Braintree origins, and a vast collection of military documents, manuscripts, books, photographs, prints, artwork, and artifacts from the following services of Braintree residents and others relating to the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Corps/Air Force, National Guard, USN Armed Guards, USN Construction Battalions (CB’s), and Merchant Marines.  

They cover the following periods:

Early Militia(1776-1820)
Massachusetts Militia(1820-1840)
Pre-Civil War(1840-1860) including War with Mexico
Civil War (1861-1865)
Spanish American War/Philippine Insurrection(1898-1917)
Mexican Border Service(1916)
World War I(1917-1919)
World War II(1941-1945)
Korean War(1950-1953)
Vietnam War(1964-1973)
Persian Gulf War
They cover the following subjects:

Military registers, Orders of Battle, Divisional and Regimental Histories, Awards and Decorations, ships, submarines,  harbor defense fortifications, camp sites, OfficiaL Records of the Civil War, Union and Confederate including ships, military prisons, archaeological reports on fortifications and camp sites, battle reports, medical and surgical histories, atlases, prisoners of war, women in the military, diaries, letters, cemeteries, service records, identification of all forms of US and foreign military memorabilia of all periods,  U-Boat Warfare including actions off the New England Coast WWI and WWII. A special video presentation of the interior and exterior of the wreck of the U-853 sunk off Block Island, WWII, and the WWI video of the limestone tunnels of Chemin des Dames, Northern France showing the names of New England soldiers of the 26th Division that were etched into the deep limestone tunnel walls during shelling and gas attacks by German Forces, as recorded by Jim Fahey during visits to this site in the 1980’s.  A display of battle field artifacts that were recovered from this site, and others areas of France are on display, with an additional display of WW2 German battlefield artifacts recovered from WWI battle sites in Russia during Jim Fahey’s trip to Russia during the Cold War are also on display.are the sizable Society library, archives and conservation area.  This section attracts many researchers seeking genealogical information about families with Braintree origins or connections. A third (unfinished) level contains a sizable collection of early American tools, farm implements, ice cutting gear and other artifacts.

The rear of the museum as viewed from the rear yard of the Thayer house.

On display on the upper level is a functional 1888 marine steam engine that was built at the former site of the of the Fore River Engine Company, East Braintree, Mass.(1883-1900) founded by Thomas A. Watson(1854-1934.)  This engine left Braintree in the late 1800’s and was finally brought home here in Braintree by Jim Fahey in 2013. This level is now the “Thomas A. Watson Memorial Room.” A Grand Opening date will be scheduled at a latter date.  The “Watson” archives collection is a large collection of personal items including photographs of the shipyard here in E. Braintree, the Watson family, residence, his paintings, documents, manuscripts, and a cd of an interview with Thomas A. Watson 1930 explaining in his own voice the event that happened at 8:00pm, March 10, 1876, at 5 Exeter Place, Boston when he was called out by Alexander Graham Bell (his co-inventor) of the telephone to come into his office after he had spilled over a glass beaker of water. These historic words were the first spoken over the new transformer and the first to hear those words was Tom Watson.

A rare Thomas Watson Steam Engine on display

School Days

Quill and Ink
A Window Sill Display
Part of the Library

Col. Hiram Oakman- a significant Civil War display

Hunt's Chips sign