Wellesley Historical Society

Art 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. 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

 

Kathrine Switzer

50 years ago, Kathrine Switzer made Boston Marathon history.


When friends of The Wellesley Historical Society park their chairs along the Boston Marathon route this year, we’re expecting them to appreciate the import of a true milestone: the 50th anniversary of Kathrine Switzer’s historic run in 1967, which shattered the race ban on women participating.

50 years later, Kathrine plans to don a bib and re-create her famous run.

As with so many gender-busting precedents, Kathrine’s run was not sanctioned by the officials in charge. In fact, one of the race officials was so outraged by the sight of a woman running that he tried to physically steer Switzer off the course. Luckily for her – and for history – her partner happened to be running with her and was prepared to intervene.

Check out this famous photo of Kathrine’s boyfriend clearing the way for Kathrine to continue her run towards history by clearing out race official Jock Semple:





That is what we call laying down the hammer!

Prior to Kathrine’s historic run, women were not welcome to run the Boston Marathon. This informal prohibition – an outright ban was never formally codified – was based on a slew of incorrect assumptions. At that time, athletic decisionmakers (who were probably…men?) assumed women were not capable of running that distance. Indeed, at that time the Olympic track race for women at the Olympics was just 800 meters.

Kathrine Switzer made history 50 years ago. Look for her this year – she’s running again.

Go get em, Kathrine – you’re a running part of history!




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



Wellesley Hills Market - History Mystery, July 2016

Question - July 15, 2016

The Wellesley Hills Market at 251 Washington Street was a fixture in Wellesley for over fifty years, opening in 1925 and closing in 1982. The image above shows the market in 1959, when a pound of coffee cost only 59 cents (see advertisement below). This building was originally a home and was constructed before the market moved in. Can you guess which century this house was built in?  Come back on July 30 to learn more about this historic property.

Answer - July 30, 2016

According to a report compiled by the Wellesley Historical Commission, the building which once housed the Wellesley Hills Market was built in 1809 by William and Polly Hoog.  The federal-style, hip-roof colonial was originally built as a home, but an 1856 map of Needham shows that the Ware family turned it into a store.  Joseph and Sylvia Dobis bought the building in 1925 and the Wellesley Hills Market was run as a family business until Joseph’s death in 1982. The building was redeveloped in 1988 and new stores have since occupied the first and second floors. Today it is home to Fitness Together, ID Salon and Yama Japanese Cuisine. It’s hard to believe it is the same 1809 building, but if you walk by you can still see the hip roof peeking out above the renovation.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator 

    

251 Washington St. c.1915, before it became the Wellesley Hills Market compared to today.  Photo on left by Roger Pelissier.

 

Wellesley Hills Market Ad from the February 5, 1959 Townsman, page3.

 

 


Odd Jobs - History Mystery, April 2016

     

Question - April 15, 2016

Solomon Flagg III (1804-1892) was a longtime Wellesley resident in the 19th century and was well-known for his outstanding record of community service in the town. At various times, he held the positions of Town Clerk and Justice of the Peace, and served on the school committee for over 25 years. However, he also filled the post of Thythingman, Sealer of Bread, and Hogreave. While they may not be town offices today, they were common in the 1800s. Return on April 29 to find out more about these odd jobs!

Answer - April 29, 2016

A Tythingman was expected to uphold the morals of a community. According to Isaac Goodwin in the 1834 edition of Town Officer; or, Laws of Massachusetts Relative to the Duties of Municipal Officers, they regularly inspected establishments selling liquor, and reported on “idle and disorderly persons, profane swearers, or cursers, sabbath-breakers” (Goodwin, 348). Tythingmen also monitored and discouraged unnecessary travel on Sunday.

George Clarke, in Epitaphs from Graveyards in Wellesley (1900), notes that the Sealer of Bread was also known as the Surveyor of Bread or the Weigher of Bread. The post existed from 1772 to 1867 in the town of West Needham, which was incorporated as Wellesley in 1881. The Sealer of Bread regulated the weight of a loaf of bread and ensured that customers were getting the amount they paid for.

The Hogreave, or Hogreeve, rounded up stray domestic pigs and impounded them in a town pen until they were claimed by their owners. Wandering pigs could cause a great amount of damage to farms and gardens by rooting up the soil. While the position of Hogreave is outlined in Goodwin’s 1829 edition of Town Officer, he notes in his 1834 edition that impounding laws have changed and “that important functionary, the Hogreeve, has no longer a place in town elections” (Goodwin, iii).

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

 


Snowstorms of February 1969 - History Mystery, February 2016

Question - February 15, 2016

Mother Nature has surprised us this month with two snowstorms in close succession. So far, the snow total for Wellesley this February is 13.5 inches, a far cry from the 50.9 inches that fell in February 2015! While we all remember digging out last year and during the Blizzard of 1978, there is one more February that produced record amounts of snow for the Town of Wellesley.  In fact, there were so many snow days that February in Wellesley that April vacation was canceled for students! Do you recall the year that this record February snowfall happened?  Return on February 29th for the answer.

Answer - February 29, 2016

Three successive snowstorms battered the town of Wellesley during the month of February, 1969. Snow piled up during a span of three weeks, producing a total of 61 inches! Familiar headaches accompanied each snowfall such as loss of power, closed retail stores, lack of train service and closing of schools.

Students may have enjoyed the days off, but the cancelations proved too many. In addition to having off President’s Day, elementary students had an additional seven snow days and junior and senior high students amassed six snow days that February. Due to all the snow, the school committee voted to take away a day off on Good Friday and cancel April vacation for Wellesley students. Much to the dismay of the children and possibly their parents, school was in session from Tuesday, April 22nd to Saturday, April 27th. Not only did students lose their vacation, they had to go to school on a Saturday!

Mail service also faced disruptions from the snow, but especially in Wellesley. On Monday, February 24, 1969, Wellesley was set to be the first community in the Boston area to have all mail carriers cover their routes by truck. Prior to this change, mail carriers collected mail for their routes at a storage box and could walk or drive assigned routes. With the new technique, each carrier would drive a truck and keep mail for the route stored in the truck.

Officials from Boston were in Wellesley to inspect the new mail delivery method, but the storm proved too powerful. The trucks could not maneuver in the roads. Mail carriers were forced to deliver mail on foot for a few more days, but the new truck delivery system was in operation within the week.

Ellen Murphy, Volunteer Research Assistant

Townsman, Feb. 27, 1969, page 1.

 

 


The Blue Dragon Tea Room - History Mystery, January 2016

January 15, 2016 - Question

Do these cold winter days make you want to sit down with a hot cup of tea?  If so, you are in good company! Wellesley has been home to many tea rooms over the years, from stand-alone tea shops, to restaurants, to on-campus college establishments. In the 1920s, Wellesley tea shops often had whimsical names including The Bird Cage, The Blue Dragon, The Green Bough and The Oriole. The picture above depicts one of these creatively named tea rooms located in Wellesley Square– can you guess which one it is? Return on January 29th for the answer.

January 29, 2016 - Answer

The business pictured above is The Blue Dragon Tea Room, which was located at 60 Central Street in Wellesley between 1922 and 1935. True to its name, the tea room featured blue tables and chairs along with white china dishes printed with blue dragons. An article from The Townsman in 1922 noted that The Blue Dragon could accommodate over 100 guests in two dining rooms on the first floor and provided two guest bedrooms on the second floor.  An ad for The Blue Dragon in the Wellesley Historical Society collection notes that it was open daily and served luncheon, dinner and a la carte in addition to tea.   Run by Miss Snow and Mrs. Daniels, two former Wellesley College heads of houses, The Blue Dragon hoped to be popular with “college guests, automobile parties and summer visitors” (The Townsman 4/4/1922, page 1). 

Tea rooms were immensely popular in the first quarter of the twentieth century and were primarily run by women for women patrons.  The Blue Dragon faced fierce competition during the tea room craze in the 1920s and a search of The Townsman from 1922 found 11 tea rooms in Wellesley, not including the numerous church, club, and private teas noted in the society pages.  With the economic downturn of the Great Depression, there were far fewer tea rooms in Wellesley and by 1935 the Wellesley Inn and the Blue Dragon were the only tea rooms mentioned in The Townsman. 

The Blue Dragon closed its doors in 1935; the building was torn down and a new business block with 3 stores was erected on the site in 1936. Shoppers could now choose from a variety of stores including Touraine’s women’s wear, a tailor and a hardware shop. Although the stores and shops on Central Street have changed over the years, some things haven’t changed that much – a Starbucks Coffee shop is now located approximately where The Blue Dragon Tea Room once offered a warm drink on a cold day!

Kathleen Fahey, Curator


Upham Elementary School - History Mystery, Nov 2015

 

November 16, 2015 - Question

Upham Elementary School opened its doors to students on January 2, 1957. The school was dedicated in June 1957 and named in memory of the late Ernest F. Upham. Mr. Upham served as the head of the History Department at Wellesley High School and died on February 9, 1957, the same year the elementary school opened.
Prior to the school’s dedication to Ernest Upham, the school went by another name.  Do you know the original name of Upham School?  Return on November 30th for the answer!

November 30, 2015 - Answer

Before it was known as the Upham School, the elementary school went by the name of the Wynnewood Road School.  The name was most likely derived from its location, since the school was built at the end of Wynnewood Road in Wellesley.
Town of Wellesley Annual Reports from 1955 and 1956 refer to the “Wynnewood Road School” in accounting and building committee reports.   The school was designed by the architectural firm James H. Ritchie and Associates of Boston and opened with seven classrooms educating children aged kindergarten through fifth grade.  As listed in the 1956 Town of Wellesley Annual Reports, the cost to build the new school was $508,500.  Quite a bargain by today’s standards!

Ellen Murphy, Volunteer Research Assistant

 A newspaper article from 1957 featuring the Wynnewood School, later named the Upham School.


Town Lockup - History Mystery, September 2015

 

September 15, 2015 - Question

These jail cells were used in Wellesley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and were known as the “lockup.”  Does anybody know where they were located?  Hint – they were not located at the police station.

Return on September 30th for the answer!

September 30, 2015 - Answer

The Town of Wellesley lockup pictured above was located in the basement of the town Hall and library building, built during 1881-1886.  Although they are no longer in use, if you go into the basement you can still see where the cells were located!

The town hall lockup was utilized until 1950 when a police station was built at 485 Washington Street.  Before the construction of this station, the police shared space with other town departments or occupied older, repurposed town buildings, none of which had jail cells.  Organized in 1893, the Wellesley Police Department (WPD) had its first office space in 1903, in the fire station built in 1899 on Worcester Street in Wellesley Hills.  The WPD then moved into the old fire station on Church Street in 1929 after a new fire station was built down the block on Central Street.  The current police station was built in 1995 on the same location as the 1950 building. 

Due to the lockup’s distance from the police station, the board of selectmen appointed a “Keeper of the Lockup” every year and this post was often filled by the janitor of the town hall.  According to a Townsman article from 1929, the Keeper of the Lockup was expected to “take care of the prisoner, to feed him, to make him comfortable, to call competent medical attention if necessary. . . Unfortunately the cells are not close to the present or future station, but that condition has not hindered the conscientious and efficient performance of the lockup-keeper's duties” (Townsman, Jan 11, 1929, page 1).  Two longtime town hall janitors and Keepers of the Lockup were Theodore Hatch, whose wife, Martha, was appointed “Matron of Lockup,” and Owen Comiskey.  After the construction of the new police station in 1950, complete with a lockup, the board of selectmen continued the tradition and appointed a Keeper of the Lockup each year.  However, they decided to appoint the chief of police, rather than the janitor of the town hall, as Keeper of the Lockup!

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

1927/1945 Atlas of Wellesley featuring the Town Hall.  Note the location of the Lockup in the central portion of the building

 


Phillips School - History Mystery, June 2015

Wellesley High School graduates, class of 1897, in front of Wellesley High School.

June 15, 2015 - Question

On June 5, Wellesley High School celebrated the graduation of over 300 students. Let’s hope this year’s graduates looked more excited than this group from the Wellesley High School class of 1897! The students are seated in front of Wellesley’s first dedicated high school, built in 1893. Only in use as a high school until 1907, this building still exists today and has been repurposed over the years. Can you guess which building this is and its current use? Bonus points if you can identify the principal seen in profile! Return on June 30th to find out the answer! 

June 30, 2015 - Answer

The Wellesley High School pictured above and below was the first building in Wellesley designed to be a high school and is located at 324 Washington Street, at the corner of Seaward Road.  Previous high school students had to share school buildings with younger grades and even utilized multipurpose buildings such as Maugus Hall and Waban Hall.  Built in 1893  and designed by Harwell and Richardson, this school was quickly outgrown.  A new high school was built in 1907 on Kingsbury Street and the old 1893 high school building became an intermediate school.   Another building was added behind the intermediate school in 1910  and the entire complex was named the Alice L. Phillips School in 1912  after a beloved local teacher.  The Phillips School was converted to a junior high in 1919  and was in use until 1952.  After the new junior high was opened in 1952 on Kingsbury Street, the former Phillips School buildings held town offices for a time.   Although the 1910 building was torn down, the 1893 building on Washington Street remains and is now an apartment complex for senior citizens known as Phillips Park. 
The gentleman in profile is Seldon L. Brown, longtime principal and teacher at Wellesley High School from 1886 to1916.   Well-liked by the students, he was affectionately known as “Pa” Brown.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society

Wellesley High School, 1893-1907, Intermediate Building, 1907-1912, renamed Phillips School in 1912.  Image dates from 1893-1907. 


Academy of the Assumption - History Mystery, March 2015

March 16, 2015 - Question

The buildings pictured above were once part of a religious school in Wellesley. The buildings on the right no longer exist, but the building on the left has been enlarged and is now part of a college campus in Wellesley. Can you guess which college this building belongs to and what religious organization it once served?  Return on March 31st to find out the answer!

March 31, 2015 - Answer

The Gothic building on the left is currently part of the Massachusetts Bay Community College but originally served as the administration building for the Academy of the Assumption. The Academy of the Assumption was founded in 1893 by the Mother Seton Sisters of Charity of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and operated as a religious school for almost 80 years. The academy started as a boarding school for girls and expanded over the years to include boys and day students. The school was located at the intersection of Route 9 and Oakland Street in Wellesley, and the image above depicts the school in about 1931 as viewed from Route 9.
The house with a turret pictured on the far right was built in the early 19th century by J. S. Bird and later owned by the Scudder and Hollis families. This house was used as the main building for the academy when it opened in 1893 and it was commonly referred to as the “Scudder mansion” by the school and townsfolk. An 1888 atlas at the Wellesley Historical Society shows that the estate purchased by the academy also included several houses, barns, and outbuildings that are not visible in this image. The Academy of the Assumption decided to expand the school by building Seton Hall in 1895; this three-story building is visible to the left of the Scudder mansion. The Gothic-style administration building on the far left of the image was built in 1921 and is the only building from the 1931 image that is still standing today. The academy made two significant additions that connected to the administration building in 1953 and 1965, but put the property up for sale in 1971 due to financial difficulties and closed in 1972. 
The town of Wellesley considered purchasing the Academy of the Assumption property but the idea was ultimately voted down by Town Meeting in 1971. The land and existing buildings were purchased by the state for about $5.4 million in October of 1973 and became the new home of Massachusetts Bay Community College in November of 1973.


Artist Elizabeth Huntington - History Mystery, February 2015

February 14, 2015 - Question

Recognize this wintry Wellesley scene? Painted by Wellesley artist Elizabeth Huntington (1913–2001) in 1942, this image shows a popular intersection in town. Do you know its location? Return on February 28th for the answer and to learn more about this Wellesley artist!

February 28, 2015 - Answer

This oil painting depicts Wellesley Square at the corner of Washington Street and Grove Street with the Shattuck Block, painted yellow, featured prominently in the background. The Shattuck Block has undergone two renovations since 1942 and now displays a modern façade and houses A. M. DePrisco jewelers. Huntington captured a faithful portrait of Wellesley Square in 1942, as contemporaneous photos show that Fanny Farmer, Wellesley Fruit Company, First National Stores, and Clement Drug were all located exactly as they appear in this painting.  
Elizabeth “Betty” Huntington moved to Wellesley at the age of five in 1918 with her parents, Raymond Huntington and Elizabeth H. T. Huntington, who was also an accomplished artist. As a child Huntington studied under Mary Brewster Hazelton, another prominent Wellesley artist, and later trained at the Boston Museum School. She worked primarily in watercolor, tempera, and oil and was well-known for her still lifes of flowers and local genre scenes like the one pictured here. Wellesley Square shows Huntington’s interest in the naïf, or naïve, style with its sense of bustling activity, flattened perspective, and bright, saturated colors. Huntington also favored winter scenes because she noted that “snow shows off things in silhouette so sharply, like a Japanese print.” Elizabeth Huntington had a prolific career and completed over 3,000 paintings; her work was exhibited in galleries and museums. The Wellesley Historical Society is pleased to have six paintings by Huntington in its collection and would welcome any donations from the community.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society


Diehl's - History Mystery, January 2015

January 13, 2015 - Question

As you try to keep warm this winter, consider how early residents of Wellesley kept their houses comfortable 100 years ago.  Many would have heated their homes with a coal-fired boiler or furnace.  Coal was an important source of energy at the turn of the twentieth century, not just for home heating, but also for industry and transportation.  The image above shows a coal yard at a long-lived Wellesley business – can you name this company or its location?  Come back on January 28th for the answer!

January 28, 2015 - Answer

William Diehl brought F. Diehl and Son to Wellesley in 1876 and it continued to be a family-run business on Linden Street for over 100 years.  The image shows the F. Diehl and Son coal yard c.1900, which was served by a spur track from the adjacent Boston & Albany railroad.  Commonly known as "Diehl's," the company  sold a variety of products including coal, wood, ice, hay, building and masonry supplies, horse supplies and animal feed.  In later years, Diehl's occupied a large footprint on both sides of Linden Street and added oil, propane, hardware, and gardening supplies.  Diehl's finally closed its doors in the early 2000's and new businesses began move in and revitalize the area, now known as Linden Square.


Christmas Cards - History Mystery, December 2014


December 13, 2014 - Question

The Christmas card pictured above is from the collection of the Wellesley Historical Society and dates from c. 1920–1930. It was donated by the Fleming family as part of a significant collection of greeting cards. Christmas cards usually bring to mind religious images such as the Nativity or more secular scenes like snowmen and snow-covered landscapes. So what is a sailing ship doing on a Christmas card? Return on December 24th to find out the answer and to view additional image of sailing ships on Christmas cards from our collection.

December 24, 2014

The image of a ship appears on several c. 1920-1930 Christmas cards in the collection of the Wellesley Historical Society.  The sailing ship has a long tradition of symbolizing the Christian faith on many different levels.  The mast and anchor of a ship form the shape of a cross; this was a useful symbol during times of Christian persecution when the devout needed to avoid more overt symbolism.  The ship could also represent the ark of Noah or symbolize the safety of the mother church on the stormy seas of life.  The sailing ship could also serve a nostalgic purpose in the 1920’s and 30’s as life, and methods of transportation, became more mechanized and advanced.  To see additional images of sailing ships on Christmas cards from our collection, see below!

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

    

 




Wellesley High Football Team - November History Mystery


November 17, 2014 - Question

November brings Thanksgiving and a reprise of the nation’s oldest high school football rivalry.  The annual Wellesley-Needham football game began in 1882 at Hunnewell Park, now known as Morton Field, with Wellesley emerging as the winner with a score of 4-0.

Football uniforms and equipment were scarce or nonexistent in the early days and the image above depicts the Wellesley High School team of 1901-1902 with an unusual piece of equipment hanging from the necks of several players (circled).  Any ideas on what this piece of football equipment was called and what part of the body it protected?  Check back on November 28th for the answer!

November 27, 2014

The football equipment used by the Wellesley football players is called a nose guard.  The strap seen around the player’s neck in the photo was actually tied around the top of the head, the hard shield was placed over the nose and the player further secured the nose guard by placing a molded bite plate (found on the back) between their teeth.  Three small holes are also visible at the bottom of the nose guard to help players to breathe while wearing this equipment!  While the nose guard may have spared some players injury, it did not give the Wellesley players an advantage on the field; these Wellesley players tied with Needham in 1901, with a score of 0 - 0.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

 






Halloween History Mystery - October 2014

October 14, 2014 - Question

On the Halloween evening of October 31, 1900 the bell of the Wellesley Congregational Church, also known as the Village Church, began to toll without a soul in sight!  Deacons, policemen and residents rushed to the scene but found the church in darkness and no one pulling the rope to the bell; however, the bell continued to toll through the evening!  Any ideas on how this spooky mystery was solved?  Return on Oct. 31st to learn the answer to this Halloween History Mystery! 

October 31, 2014 - Answer

Walter Lovewell admitted to this ingenious prank 50 years later to the staff of the Wellesley Townsman.  According to a resulting article, "Lovewell, . . . together with Jack Rothery and Wee Stanwood, had stretched a thin piano wire from the clapper of the bell to the house in which the Stanwoods lived, on the present site of the Morton Block, and, sitting in an upstairs room, the boys had pulled on the invisible piano wire at regular intervals to sound the bell and confuse the townspeople" (50 Year Old Mystery is Finally Solved, Townsman, Oct. 19th, 1950).  The Wellesley Village Church is located in the heart of Wellesley Square at the corner of Washington and Central Street and the boys had a short walk across the street to Wee Stanwood's house, located at the corner of Washington and Grove St.  As the Townsman article mentions, this area is now the Morton Block which houses Anderson's Jewelers and other retail stores. 

Don't recognize the image of the Wellesley Congregational Church pictured
above?  This wooden building was built in 1872 and destroyed by fire in 1916.  The brick building you see today is actually the forth edifice of the Wellesley Congregational Church, commonly known as the Village Church, and was built c.1918-1923.  Two earlier structures were built in 1774-1798 and 1835.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator


Wellesley's First Fire Engine - History Mystery, Sept. 2014

Sept. 14, 2014 - Question

These Wellesley fire men are pictured in front of the old Church Street Station, c.1912.  They are proudly posing in Wellesley's first motorized fire engine.  Even though the picture is in black & white, you probably envision the fire engine painted a classic red, but according to contemporary Townsman newspaper articles it was painted a different color!  Any ideas on what color Wellesley's first motorized fire engine was painted? 

Sept. 29, 2014 - Answer

Wellesley's first motorized fire apparatus was painted white!  The town appropriated $600 in March 1912 and the Seagrave auto was delivered on August 12, 1912.  This was a welcome addition to the town's horse-drawn apparatus and the Townsman reported that "some of the residents of the town had an opportunity of seeing the new combination fire auto in operation.  The coloring of white in place of the usual glaring red of the fire autos of neighboring towns gives a very pleasing effect. The entire force availed themselves of a chance to ride on its first try-out.” (Townsman Aug 16, 1912 p.6)  Auto fire engines were becoming more common after 1910 and Wellesley was among many towns in Massachusetts to purchase a motorized fire truck in 1912.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator

North 40 / Blossom St. - History Mystery, August 2014

August 14, 2014 - Question



This image is from an 1897 Wellesley atlas found in our Maps & Plans Collection.  Note the triangular section of land at the corner of Central St. and Blossom St.  Can anyone guess what this controversial plot of land is called today?  Extra credit if you know what name Blossom St. is known by today!  Check back on August 28th for the answer.

August 28, 2014 - Answer

The triangular section of land at the corner of Central St. and Blossom St. is currently referred to as the “North 40.” The plot is roughly 40 acres, owned by Wellesley College, and is located adjacent to the main campus along Central St./Rt.135.  Although currently unused by the College, it contains community gardens and walking trails that are available to the public. The property has become the subject of much contention in town due to Wellesley College’s current desire to sell the land.

Weston Rd. was known in the late 1800's and early 1900's as Blossom St. as you can see in the 1897 atlas image pictured above. Charles H. Mansfield, a former Blossom St. resident and Wellesley postmaster, reminisced in a Feb. 28, 1908 letter to the Townsman about how Weston Rd. received its alternate name:  
"There is a little story in connection with the way in which the street came to be called Blossom street.  My mother had quite a large flower garden which was her delight, and one morning a signboard, 'Blossom street,' was found to have been placed just below our house in the night time by some one,  who was never known, and the street was called Blossom street from that time."

Morse's Pond Ice House - History Mystery, July 2014

July 14, 2014 - Question

The above picture shows past generations enjoying a summer day at the beach on Morse's Pond. The land was purchased by the town in 1931 and opened as a beach in 1935. Does anyone know what purpose the pond served before it was the popular town landmark it is today?  Check back on July 28th for the answer!

July 28, 2014 - Answer

Before being designated as a public beach, Morse’s Pond was used as a location for ice harvesting in the winter. The pond was owned by the Russell Ice Company in 1888, and then by the Boston Ice Company in 1902. Ice house workers carved blocks of ice out of the pond and loaded them onto a large conveyor belt which brought them to the warehouse atop the pond’s bank (pictured below). Ice was stored in the warehouse through the summer, and it was loaded nightly onto rail cars as needed.The Boston Ice Company remained a profitable business for about 20 years, and at its peak in 1923, the ice house was assessed by the town at over $250,000. However, with the advent of refrigeration and the impending Depression, the Boston Ice Company quickly declined in value and eventually closed. In 1931, the land was bought by the town for only $3,000, and the initiative to convert it to a public beach began.


Convalescent Home for Children - History Mystery, June 2014

June 14, 2014 Question

Any idea where these children are headed in Wellesley, or what they have in common?

June 28, 2014 Answer

These children are traveling to The Convalescent Home for Children, a Wellesley institution that provided education, religious instruction and recreation for patients during their convalescence. Parents' visiting hours were between 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturdays! The Home was established in 1869 by Boston Children's Hospital in a small house in Wellesley and later moved to Forest Street near the Needham border, where it operated until 1959.  At its peak, the Home treated more than 250 sick children per year.  The former building is now Forest Hall, a residential building for Babson College.



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.


Water Trough - History Mystery, May 2014

May 14, 2014 - Question

This image depicts the former Elm Park Hotel, c.1903-1908 at the intersection of Washington Street and Worcester Road in Wellesley Hills.  This triangular plot of land is now Elm Park and home to the Isaac Sprague Memorial Tower.  Note the ornate, cast-iron object that is prominently pictured in the center foreground of this photograph; any ideas on what this is? 

Come back and find the answer on May 28th!  Or attend our lecture entitled "Wellesley Then and Now" by Curator Kathleen Fahey at the Wellesley Public Library on Thursday, May 15th at 7PM.  This lecture is free and open to the public.  You'll learn about this object and much more about Wellesley's history!

May 28, 2014 Answer

The ornate, cast-iron object is a water trough for horses.  Water troughs were a public necessity to keep horses and carriages running efficiently before automobiles came to town.  There were at least three public water troughs in Wellesley, a granite trough in Wellesley Square and two identical cast-iron troughs in the Hills and Lower Falls. The town appropriated funds to keep the troughs full of water and continued to keep the troughs in operation after automobiles were more prevalent.  

In 1918 a series of Wellesley Townsman articles and letters to the editors debated whether or not to remove the troughs as some believed it was causing the spread of disease among horses.  Ultimately, it was generally agreed that the troughs did not spread disease and that “here in Wellesley if in no other place our patient, hard working horses can drink and be refreshed" (TM 3/29/1918).  It is unclear when all of the troughs were removed, but photographs and postcards in our collection indicate that the trough pictured above was removed before 1929 and replaced by a drinking fountain for residents.


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.


St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - History Mystery, April 2014


April 15, 2014 - Question

In anticipation of Easter, here's a look back at one of Wellesley's oldest churches.  It's changed a great deal over the years!  Any guesses as to which it is?  Come back for the answer on April 29th.

April 29, 2014 - Answer

This is St. Andrews Episcopal Church circa 1894. The image was likely taken not long after the church was built. St Andrews has since enlarged and expanded several times, giving rise to the building we are familiar with today.

Did you notice the blue hue of this picture? It is actually a cyanotype, a photographic printing process introduced in 1842 that produces a cyan-blue print. Cyanotypes, popular well into the 20th century, were frequently used for copying architectural plans.


Ice Sculpture - History Mystery, March 2014

March 14, 2014 Question

As we slog our way through these closing weeks of winter, here's a fun reminder of the joyful side of snow. Do you recognize this Wellesley resident and her magnificent sculpture?  Look for the answer on March 26th.

March 26, 2014 Answer

This 1978 photograph shows artist Isabella Livingston (1919-1993) and her towering T. Rex ice sculpture in front of her Benvenue Street home.  Livingston, born in Wellesley and a resident much of her life, was famous for her spectacular annual ice sculptures, which included a dragon, a walrus and a unicorn.  Each 10 to 12 foot sculpture was modeled from scale drawings and required months of planning.


Fells School - History Mystery, February 2014


February 14, 2013 Question

Does this building look familiar?  Not only does it still stand today, but it's very much in use, as busy as ever. While the surroundings have clearly changed, you may recognize its distinctive shape and small size.  (Hint: Book and history lovers recently came to this beloved building's rescue.)"

February 28, 2013 Answer

This circa 1900 photograph shows what was then the Unionville School and is now the Fells Branch Library, located at 308 Weston Road.  The oldest public building in Wellesley, it has a proud history.  Originally named the Northwest School (1858-1876), it was renamed the Unionville School (1876-1907) and then became the Fells School (1903-1923).  In 1923 the current Hardy School was built to much fanfare, and when the children moved across the street, the little schoolhouse was converted to the branch library that we know today.



Linden Street Delicatessen - History Mystery, January 2014

Welcome to the Wellesley Historical Society's first History Mystery. This will be an ongoing series in which we pose an open-ended question related to our community's storied past. How does your local knowledge measure up?  For those who are stumped, answers will be revealed in two weeks.

Let the mysteries begin!

January 9, 2014  Question

Do you remember this man and the famous fare he served? Do you know which current local hotspot is this locale's successor? Look for the answer in two weeks!

January 23, 2014  Answer

If this picture brought to mind mozzarella and prosciutto and hot italian subs, then you were RIGHT!  This circa 1963 photograph shows Nino DiPirro, owner of the Linden Street Delicatessen, fondly known at the time as "Nino's."  The deli, just ten stools large, was as much of a town fixture then as it is now.  Originally opened in 1933 by the DiPirro family, the deli was taken over in 1979 by the LeBrun family, which still stands at the helm and keeps Wellesley residents well fed today.

Photo of the Linden Street Delicatessen, c. 1963 by Ulrike Welsch, from the archives of the Wellesley Historical Society

 


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