Mabel Day in The Mill District

On Friday August 23rd you’ll get a free soft serve cone to celebrate.

We’ve all heard “It takes a Village to raise a Child.”

In the case of Mabel, it took this Child to raise our Village.

Last year when construction was just starting on North Square, we moved some of Walter Jones’ historic mill stones and large pieces of granite (that we’d been parking on for decades) and we made benches and tables and art structures just east of Atkins’ ice cream window on Cowls Road. It was meant to be a gathering place, a sitting area for folks who bought ice cream. An attractor to help folks realize Atkins welcomed them during construction.

We received a facebook message about this new place a few days later. A woman named Kate wrote that her son thought it was the most magical place on earth, and he asked if it was Wonderland. We immediately decided “Yes, this is Wonderland.”

We offered to dedicate the space to Kate’s son. She quickly added that her daughter had also enjoyed playing on our rock benches. And then Kate let us know that her other daughter had joined them in the space that’s now Wonderland… for the 7 short months of her fragile life.

Our hearts broke.

When we dedicated the space WONDERLAND with a white-wash sign painted on an old barn board, we placed underneath an antique roof slate that reads “In appreciation to Sam, Abbie, and Mabel.”

Mabel became our inspiration. We set a new goal of creating experiential spaces and programs that make The Mill District more families’ most special and important place to connect.

We built a mini-job site for kids to play with construction toys and read books. The North Amherst Library joined us for Sandbox Storytime. A trolley bus stop with a free library now sits next to The Lift Salon and Jake’s restaurant in the Trolley Barn. Another free library shaped like the Antique Barn is on Montague Road. Wonderland now includes games and toys and a couple farm animals. The General Store’s outdoor furniture is being metal artist crafted using antique gears and farm equipment.

Hannah Rechtschaffen was hired to be our Director of Placemaking. Her job is to create events, art installations, and community programs that bring back personal connections and elevate individual experiences in the neighborhood.

Like every day is Arbor Day to our foresters on our Tree Farms, at The Mill District, every day is Mabel Day for us, as we try to live up to the ideals of important and intentional living. To remember all family members loved and lost.

It took this Child to raise our Village. And we strive every day to be a place where she would have thrived.

Please join us, and raise a cone to Mabel on Friday August 23rd at Atkins in The Mill District.