Wellesley Historical Society

Art in Bloom!

May 2017

Spring brings our annual collaboration with the Hills Garden Club of Wellesley, when garden club members create floral arrangements inspired by the Wellesley Historical Society's collection. The Hills Garden Club of Wellesley chose “Houses at Marblehead” by Mary Brewster Hazelton as inspiration for the floral arrangements at their 2017 annual meeting. Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society was on hand to speak to the WHGC about the history of the 1931 oil painting and Hazelton, (1868-1953) who was a distinguished Wellesley artist known for her portraiture, landscapes, and murals. Each arrangement beautifully incorporated Hazelton’s interest in color, natural light and use of the impressionist style.  

For more information about Mary Brewster Hazelton, click here.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator


Boston Marathon

Photo by Roy F. Whitehouse, Wellesley Historical Society Archives

April 11, 2017

Every year the Boston Marathon winds its way through Wellesley. This photo from the 1959 marathon shows John Kelley (#2) and Hal Higdon (#129) leading the pack. The runners are seen here in Wellesley on Central Street near the intersection of Crest Road. The building behind them is the Colonial Building, home of Faber’s Rug. The Esso service station is the current location of Pete's Coffee & Tea.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

Spring Fundraiser: Looking Back on America's Favorite Pastime

Look back on May 5 with Sox president Sam Kennedy

We don’t have Big Papi this year, but Red Sox fans still have much to look forward to – Mookie, JBJ, Xander…

As we prepare for another great season of championship baseball, we can also take a moment to look back. The history is rich, the stories are classic, and the Red Sox fan base in Metro West is perfectly positioned to enjoy an evening hearing tales about America’s favorite pastime.

That’s exactly what we’ll be doing on May 5, as The Wellesley Historical Society turns to Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy to lead a baseball-themed “look back” panel discussion and live auction at the Society’s annual fundraising dinner.

Emmy Award-winning sports reporter Mike Dowling will moderate the panel, titled “Looking Back on America’s Favorite Pastime.” Boston Sports Museum historian Richard Johnson will join Kennedy for the story-filled discussion.

WHAT: A baseball-themed evening featuring Boston Red Sox president Sam Kennedy
WHEN: May 5, 2017 – 6:00 p.m. ET
WHERE: Wellesley Country Club
HOW: Buy online at www.wellesleyhistoricalsociety.org/springfundraiser (beginning April 7)

Come join us in sharing entertaining baseball stories with the Wellesley community while helping raise funds for The Wellesley Historical Society.

In addition to the “look back” baseball panel discussion, the evening will feature a live auction with great prizes, a ballpark-themed dinner, and plenty of bleacher-style socializing.

Net proceeds from the event will support the Historical Society’s work providing scholarships for Wellesley High School students, preserving and managing collections, and general operating expenses.

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available. For more information please contact:

Erica Dumont
WHS Executive Director
(781) 235-6690

Denton Watercolors in Bloom!


Spring brings our annual collaboration with the Wellesley Hills Garden Club as they select a series of items from the Wellesley Historical Society collection to inspire floral arrangements. This year, the WHGC was inspired by the colorful and detailed watercolors of tropical fish by Wellesley’s own Sherman Denton (1856-1937).  Six groups presented their elegant interpretations of Denton’s watercolors at their annual meeting on May 10th at the Wellesley Country Club. Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society was on hand to speak to the WHGC about the history of the turn of the twentieth-century watercolors from the Denton collection. The Wellesley Hills Garden Club also gave a nod to Denton by creating delightful aquatic centerpieces for each table, complete with a colorful beta fish!

The image above shows a Sherman Denton watercolor of a goatfish, c.1900 with its floral interpretation by the Wellesley Hills Garden Club.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator


More on Sherman Denton

Sherman F. Denton was born on Sept. 24, 1856 in Dayton, Ohio to William and Elizabeth Foote Denton.  The Denton family moved to Wellesley in the 1860s and lived off of Washington Street in the area now known as Denton Road.  The Denton family were avid naturalists and Sherman’s younger brothers were internationally known for their butterfly specimens sold through the Denton Brothers Company. Sherman assisted his brothers in this business by developing and patenting a plaster mount for the butterflies in 1894.
Sherman Denton was a skilled artist and taught himself to draw and paint.  In the late 1880s, Sherman was hired by the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries to create taxidermy specimens of fish.  His painting skills were put to excellent use as the skin of a fish loses its coloration as it dries.  To record the natural shape and color of the freshly-caught fish, Sherman painted detailed watercolors of the specimen which he then referenced to create the mounted and painted fish.  He also patented a method of mounting the preserved fish skin over a papier-mâché form, creating a surprisingly life-like model that was in great demand in U.S. museums. 
Denton is perhaps most well-known for the chromo-lithographic prints of his fish illustrations that were published by the State of New York Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission at the turn of the twentieth century.  These prints proved to be collectible immediately after publication and continue to be popular with collectors today. 
Sherman F. Denton lived with his wife and two children in Wellesley for several years before moving to Weston.  He died at his home on June 24, 1937 at the age of 81 and is buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Wellesley.   

The Classic Thanksgiving Meal: Turkey with all the Fixings

November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving greeting and postcards were uncommon until circa 1907, when manufacturers of the new divided-back postcards found they could market cards for virtually any holiday. The Wellesley Historical Society Greeting Card and Picture Postcard Collection contains many fine examples of these early cards, dating from 1908 to 1912.
Many of the Thanksgiving cards in our collection depict turkeys. Fowl has long been a holiday custom in Britain, usually roast goose. When British colonists arrived in America, they continued the tradition, but with turkey. Turkeys grew fast, grew fat, and fed many. We have selected three turkey-themed cards for your pleasure. The first features the turkey in all his nobility, flanked by some fixings. The second features a menu for a “Grand Dinner in Honor of Thanksgiving,” listing all the things a good early 20th century celebration would include. The third card features, well, President Turkey, of course!
Have a happy and safe holiday!

Alden Ludlow, Intern from the Simmons MLS program


Denton Butterflies in Bloom!

Denton Butterflies in Bloom!

Spring brings our annual collaboration with the Hills Garden Club of Wellesley, when garden club members create floral arrangements inspired by the Wellesley Historical Society's collection.  This year, six specimens from the Denton Butterfly Collection were selected to inspire these elegant arrangements. 

The Denton Brothers was a successful local business started by Wellesley residents William D. and R. Winsford Denton in 1895.  The brothers, better known as Willie and Winsey, sold their patented butterfly mounts at exhibitions throughout America and also locally from their shop on Denton Road.  The Wellesley Historical Society is fortunate to have both the Denton Brothers business papers and a collection of over 2,400 Denton entomology specimens from the turn of the twentieth century.  

Each arrangement was created by a group of Hills Garden Club members and revealed at their annual meeting and luncheon on May 13th at the Wellesley Country Club.  Floral interpretations were exhibited alongside each Denton butterfly and truly captured the essence of each delicate specimen

Pictured above is a Prioneric Clemanthe specimen from the WHS Denton Brothers Butterfly Collection along with its floral accompaniment. This group arrangement was led by Hills Garden Club President Cynthia Ballantyne and former President Lucy Lynch.

Boston Marathon

In honor of this year's Boston Marathon, we are sharing this historic photo of the marathon in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  The runners are seen here on Central Street at the intersection of Crest Road, c.1950.  The Wellesley Service Station seen behind the runners is the current location of Pete's Coffee & Tea at 9 Central St.