Wellesley Historical Society

Mica Lane - History Mystery, July 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

 

July 15, 2015 Question

Mica Lane is a narrow street located off of Washington Street in Wellesley Lower Falls.  Have you ever wondered how Mica Lane got its name? Return on July 30th to find out!

July 30, 2015 - Answer

In 1869, Wellesley resident Albion R. Clapp purchased a piece of land along the Charles River that also abutted the Lower Falls spur track and railroad station.  This location was perfect for manufacturing and Clapp partnered with Charles E. Billings in 1872 to create Billings, Clapp & Co. This successful company produced drugs and chemicals that were displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia, PA. The plot of land that Billings, Clapp & Co. occupied also included a right of way so that the factory would be accessible to Washington Street. This right of way is now known as Mica Lane.  See image below. 

Mica Lane’s name was undoubtedly taken from one of the many businesses that flourished on this plot of land.  In 1902, the land and buildings were sold to the American Mica Corporation which manufactured electrical insulation made of mica, a mineral known for its insulating properties.  In 1920, the factory was purchased by the Rounds Chocolate Company, then by Dagget’s Chocolates in 1925.  One has to wonder why is wasn’t called Chocolate Lane!  

By 1942, Ferdinand & Co. was producing marine adhesives on this site for the U.S. government during WWII. Acumeter Laboratories purchased the building in 1952 and remodeled in 1960.  Today the brick factory building that was erected in 1898-9 by Billings, Clapp & Co. is still standing at the end of Mica Lane and was converted from industrial use in 1982 to accommodate business offices.


Kathleen Fahey, Curator

This 1919 atlas of Wellesley shows Mica Lane labeled at "Private Way" and extends from Washington St. to the Charles River.  American Mica Co. is visible on the lower left corner.  The railroad spur track is now a walking path located next to Waterstone at Wellesley. 

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