Wellesley Historical Society

Ether Day - History Mystery, October 2016

 

Question - October 15, 2016

Every October, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) celebrates Ether Day. On this day, a Wellesley resident is recognized as being the first person to publicly demonstrate the use of ether for anesthesia during surgery at MGH on October 16, 1846.  This person lived in the home pictured above, appropriately named "Etherton Cottage.” Do you know the name of this noted Wellesley resident?  Return on Oct. 28th for the answer!

Answer - October 28, 2016

The name of the Wellesley resident who lived at Etherton Cottage was Dr. William Thomas Green Morton.  Surprisingly, Dr. Morton was a dentist, not a medical doctor, when he demonstrated the use of anesthesia.  Dr. Morton manufactured artificial teeth and did so in an outbuilding on his property.  In fact, it was his patients’ discomfort while having teeth pulled that led to his interest in anesthesia.

Dr. Morton lived at Etherton Cottage with his wife and five children when Wellesley was still part of Needham.  The property had extensive grounds with barns and outbuildings.  Morton farmed the land and raised Jersey cows, geese, hens and ducks. When William Morton died in 1868 the property passed to his wife and children.  His family sold the property to H.H. Hunnewell in 1878.  Shortly after Wellesley was incorporated in 1881, Mr. Hunnewell gifted the land to the town to build a town hall and library.  H.H. Hunnewell had Etherton Cottage moved to a nearby flat section of land, aptly named Morton Field, where it stood for about 40 years before it was torn down.  

Wellesley Town Hall still stands on the property formerly occupied by Etherton Cottage.  If you are ever up for a game of hide and seek, see if you can find the stone marker pictured below.  It is located at Town Hall and reads, “Here lived Dr. W.T.G. Morton, He gave to the world the use of ether in surgery A.D. 1846.”

For more information on Morton and his role in the discovery of anesthesia, please click on this PBS article: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-painful-story-behind-modern-anesthesia/

Ellen Murphy, Volunteer Research Assistant

 

 

 


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.

 

 


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