It was 100 years ago this weekend that Prince Mahidol of Songkla, known as "Thailand's Father of Modern Medicine" and father of one of that nation's kings, arrived at the Moorland Hotel in Gloucester to stay prior to studying public health at Harvard University.
This Saturday, the King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation will dedicate a new plaque at the Gloucester Inn-by-the-Sea, former site of the Moorland, at 85 Atlantic Road. The city will host a series of cultural presentation at City Hall to mark the occasion.
The plaque ceremony is set for 1 p.m., and the installation commemorates the third Gloucester site marked as part of the Trail of Thai Royalty in Massachusetts.
The other sites — at 3 Page St. and 24 Bass Rocks Road — were dedicated in 2009, with plaques presented as gifts to the city by the King of Thailand Birthplace Foundation, said Amy Shapiro-Kaznocha of Gloucester, the foundation's director.
The City Hall events commemorating the prince's 1916 arrival are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. in Kyrouz Auditorium, with musical presentations, including a jazz song by Henry-Cameron Allen to reflect the love story connected with the Trail of Thai Royalty. The program, which is slated to run through 5:30 p.m., will also feature authentic Thai dance and other events.
The prince was invited to stay the summer in Gloucester by Phraya Prabha Karavongse, the Siamese minister to the U.S., before the prince attended Harvard.
Mahidol returned to Gloucester every year. Besides wanting to improve public health in Siam, Mahidol, as a summer resident of Gloucester, was also interested in Gloucester’s public health. In 1921, he researched Gloucester’s sanitation system as a part of his study in preventive medicine with Dr. M.J. Rosenau at the Harvard Technology School of Public Health.
With his wife, he tested Haskell Pond and other waters and published a comprehensive report: “Sanitary Survey of the City of Gloucester, Massachusetts.” A copy of this report was given to Gloucester’s city archives.
All of Saturday's events, Shapiro-Kaznocha said, are designed to honor to legacy of Prince Mahidol, the father of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who was born in Cambridge.
The programs are free to the public.