Preserving the Past: Hubbard Takes Historian’s Role to Incredible Heights

George David Hubbard II did not grow up in Winthrop. But once he arrived and fell in love with the town, he never left.

Unless you count the time he returned briefly to Cincinnati, Ohio, for the very good reason actor Robin Williams says in Good Will Hunting: “I gotta see about a girl,” – and he then married Claire Koch in Cincinnati and they returned to Winthrop.

We Love Our Town: Dave Hubbard and Claire Hubbard are pictured outside their Winthrop home which overlooks Halford Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

 Dave Hubbard and Claire Hubbard spent their honeymoon in Niagara Falls and they have lived in Winthrop ever since.

Dave Hubbard has been a town historian for multiple decades, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that the Winthrop Town Council officially proclaimed him “The Town Historian.”

It’s an honorable title he doesn’t take lightly and quite frankly, it’s hard to match his commitment to bringing Winthrop town history to light.

Hubbard has written three books about Winthrop’s history, Mapping Winthrop, The Postcard Book of Winthrop, and Winthrop Then and Now: Student Activity NGRR (Narrow Gauge Railroad) Book.

And on these very pages of the Winthrop Sun-Transcript, Hubbard has graced our readers’ presence with more than 1,000 “Winthrop Then And Now” articles.

Making the Journey from Ohio to Winthrop

Dave Hubbard was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and lived there for less than a year. He relocated briefly to Buffalo, N.Y., and West Newton, Mass., through third grade. He moved to Canton, Ohio – a stone’s throw from the site of the National Football League Hall of Fame – and lived there through high school. “I graduated in 1951 from William McKinley High School. “The [25th] President, William McKinley, had lived across the street from where the school was built,” recalled Hubbard.

He very much enjoyed history as a high school student, but his professional future would be in the field of electrical engineering.

“I attended the University of Cincinnati and got my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering,” said Hubbard, who also holds a master’s degree from Northeastern University in electrical engineering.

At the University of Cincinnati, Hubbard joined the Acacia Fraternity and was its social chairman and president.

Upon his graduation, Hubbard went to work at AVCO in Cincinnati. After a couple of months, he was asked to relocate to Winthrop where he became field engineer for AVCO’s electronic equipment that had been built for Logan Airport.

That’s when he returned to Cincinnati for the purpose of proposing to his future wife, Claire, who had lived three doors away from Dave’s college fraternity house.

“We got married in Cincinnati in 1958,” he said. “We’ve lived in Winthrop since that time. At first, we lived in a third-floor apartment on Belcher Street looking down on the back of the Winthrop Police Station. We had a baby (Sandra), so my wife, Claire, and I decided we better find some other place to live, because it looked like we were going to be here for a little while.”

A real estate agent brought the young couple to a house on Nahant Avenue that had been built in 1905 as a wedding present for the owner, Elizabeth Halford. Dave and Claire Hubbard eventually purchased that home which overlooks Halford Beach and Atlantic Ocean. “We moved in, and during the ensuing years, we had another five children, so we have a total of six children, who all grew up here and graduated from Winthrop High School,” said Hubbard proudly.

An Affinity for Winthrop History

Soon after moving into their home on Nahant Avenue, Dave and Claire Hubbard joined the Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association that owns the Deane Winthrop House.

“That ignited and expanded my interest in the history of Winthrop,” said Hubbard, who began writing articles for the Transcript highlighting town history.

He states emphatically that the Deane Winthrop House tops the list of important historical landmarks in the town. The house is located on Shirley Street and is named after Deane Winthrop, son of John Winthrop, who served as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for 12 years.

“The Deane Winthrop House is the oldest wood-frame house in the entire United States that has been continuously lived in,” said Hubbard, noting that house tours are available. “It was built in 1637.”

He Enjoys his Work

If you’ve attended a Dave-Hubbard talk on town history, you know how much he enjoys what he does. He has made countless appearances as a guest speaker in elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms.

“I like talking about history. I’ve had a good time doing it,” said Hubbard.

Dave and Claire Hubbard have made a dedicated commitment to the Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association for many years. Dave has served as president and was treasurer for 19 years. He continues to serve on the board of directors.

Recording the Changes Through the Years

Dave Hubbard has been present for virtually every single major happening in the town for the past 60 years. He remembers well such important additions to town life as the opening of the Lawrence Larsen Rink (at the Mike Eruzione Center). He vividly remembers the older schools in town that have since been replaced. “Interestingly, the site of the current police station was built as a post office and prior to that, it was the old town hall (which appears on the Town of Winthrop seal) and it had a first-floor schoolhouse on it,” said Hubbard. “I love the town,” he says with vigor. “I like the people, its proximity to the ocean, all the historical stuff that it’s in town. My wife loves history, too, and she’s been there right with me every step of the way.” And there are still more stories about Winthrop he wants to share in person and in his writings each week in the Sun-Transcript. Long live the king chronicler of Winthrop.

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