By Jack Authelet
Published in the Foxboro Reporter
Thursday, May 20, 2010 9:36 AM EDT
Following a brief absence of several days to allow for a total refurbishing, the town’s most familiar icon — the “Foxborough” sign on the village green — is now back in place greeting visitors and assuring residents that all is well in the physical and philosophical center of the community.
This is the second major rebuilding of the sign undertaken by the Foxboro Jaycees to assure a continued presence of the familiar landmark on the Common.
The signs were first put in place as “Foxboro” signs on each end of the Common in 1928 primarily through the efforts of the late Harold McKenzie, then a member of the Board of Selectmen. The familiar signs, with a black border and lettering against a white background just behind the familiar Common fence and in front of the sprawling village green offered a most unique “welcome” to the community.
Many Foxboro servicemen and women serving around the globe in World War II wrote back to the War Service Committee that they would know the war was finally over when they could once again see that familiar sign on the Common. It was featured frequently in the VTY (Very Truly Yours) newsletter sent to those in the military throughout the war.
As part of the celebration of the town’s Bicentennial in 1978, the familiar signs took on a more historic appearance when Bicentennial Committee members received permission to erect new signs reading “Foxborough” which is the official incorporated name of the community with the addition of smaller lettering denoting 1778 as the year of incorporation.
In 1995, the Foxboro Lions Club secured permission to fill what was perceived as a true need in the community that of installing message boards at each end of the Common to highlight upcoming community events. The project included removal of the Foxborough signs.
It was a difficult trade for some, and after an absence of a few years, Jack and Marge Authelet approached the Selectmen and were granted permission to refurbish one of the Foxborough signs and return it to the Common in another location.
A rededication program held in conjunction with its return included three generations of McKenzie family members.
Time continued to take its toll upon the sign, however, and after several years, a major replacement was called for. Barry Ware joined with the Foxboro Jaycees to produce a replica of the 1978 Foxborough sign.
More time, more ravaging assaults by the elements, brought the fate of the sign to the forefront once again. In a second major effort, the Jaycees launched another major rebuilding under the direction of Fred Badger. The labor fell to Tom Sawran who totally rebuilt the sign, added new lettering in the familiar “mustard” color, and prepared the icon for its next tour of duty on the Common, extending a warm welcome to visitors and a comforting sense of community to residents who pass by.
Above photo: THE ORIGINAL “Foxboro” sign on the Common, erected in 1928, is seen on this winter morning during World War II where the service flag indicates 325 residents were already serving in the Armed Forces. That number would double before the war ended. Below: The refurbished sign in 2010, ready for its new tour of duty.