Winchendon is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 10,300 at the 2010 census. The town includes the villages of Waterville and Winchendon Springs (also known as Spring Village). A census-designated place, also named Winchendon, is defined within the town for statistical purposes. Winchendon State Forest is located in the town.
The House of Representatives made the grant of New Ipswich Canada, now Winchendon, on June 10, 1735, in answer to a petition from Lt. Abraham Tilton of Ipswich. The petition was on behalf of veterans or surviving heirs participating in the 1690 expeditions against Canada. Winchendon was officially incorporated in 1764, named after Nether Winchendon, Buckinghamshire, England, which itself was the site of land owned by Governor Francis Bernard, who signed the town's incorporation into law. (The English village would be where the Governor would die, fifteen years later.) The Millers River provided water power for mills, and at one time Winchendon produced so many wooden shingles that it was nicknamed Shingletown.
Morton E. Converse started his business career in Converseville, New Hampshire, manufacturing acids. In 1873, he purchased a nearby mill to make wooden products. Apparently he started making toys there, but soon teamed with Orland Mason of Winchendon to form the Mason & Converse Company, which lasted until 1883. Converse then partnered with his uncle, Alfred C. Converse, and Converse Toy & Woodenware Company was formed. In 1887, the company changed its name to Morton E. Converse & Company. It remained in business until 1934.
Converse made a great variety of toys, including Noah's Arks, doll furniture, kiddie riding racers, hobby horses, floor whirligigs, drums, wagon blocks, building blocks, pianos, trunks, ten pins, farm houses, and musical roller chimes. Such a large number of toys were made in Winchendon that it became known as Toy Town.
The original Giant Rocking Horse was built in 1912 by Morton Converse. The grey hobby horse was named Clyde, and made from nine pine trees. It was a copy of the company’s #12 rocking horse. In 1914, Clyde entered the local parade to celebrate the town’s 150th anniversary. Clyde was moved to the railroad station for about 20 years. Then in 1934, he moved to the edge of the Toy Town Tavern for about 30 years. After that, he was put in storage and fell into disrepair. A replica, Clyde II, was sculpted in 1988 using the original as a model. He is now on display in a covered pavilion.