Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eames Red House

The Eames name is pretty much synonym of South Framingham (Downtown Framingham). At one point, the Eames family owned pretty much all of it. Thomas Eames, whose family was massacred by the Indians during King Philip's war in 1676, somehow managed to obtain the land (from the Natick Indians) as compensation for his losses.

The so-called Eames Red House was built in 1721 by Henry Eames (grandson of Thomas) at a location where Eames Square (Lincoln Street and Union Avenue) is now. In 1754, Henry's son (also named Henry) enlarged the house. Abel Eames, another descendant of Thomas Eames, married one of the two grand-daughters of Henry Eames (the second) and added another addition to the house in 1810, making it a rather long building.

In 1969, the Eames Red House was moved to Prospect Street where it still stands today.

The Eames Red House ca 1870 when it used to be along Union Avenue. Thanks to Images of America: Framingham.

The Eames Red House is along Prospect Street since 1969, the year it was moved from Union Avenue. Thanks to googlemaps.

Pike-Haven House

The Pike-Haven House was built circa 1697 by Jeremiah Pike on land "owned" (managed might be a better term since the land actually belonged to Danforth) by Joseph Buckminster. Jeremiah Pike and Abraham Belknap (a bit later) were ones of the first to rent land from Buckminster in an area that would be later be known as "Pike Row". The Pike Row neighborhood stretches from Grove Street to Water Street along Belknap Road and Brook Street.

Jeremiah Pike's business was the manufacture of spinning wheels, a business that he passed on to his descendants (son, grandson and great grandson, Gideon Haven). When Framingham incorporated itself as a Town in 1700, Jeremiah Pike was elected to the first Board of Selectmen. He died in 1711.

Pike Row: Belknap Road from Grove Street to Edgell Road and then Brook Street all the way to Water Street. Thanks to googlemaps.

The Pike-Haven House. Thanks to Images of America: Framingham.

The Pike-Haven House is located at the corner of Grove Street and Belknap Road (see arrow), not too far from Edgell Grove Cemetery and the old Framingham Common. Thanks to googlemaps.

The Pike-Haven House, viewed from way above. Thanks to googlemaps.

Sarah and Peter Clayes house video

No, it's not a house music video (wish it were though). The so-called Sarah and Peter Clayes house was built circa 1693. It would seem that the building facing Salem End Road is the only original structure. In 1937, the house was owned by James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As you can see, it is not much of a house these days.

For more info, please check the Salem End Road post. If you are the house's owner and don't want it featured on video, let it be known and the video will be removed.

Old Burying Ground video

The Old Burying Ground, Framingham's oldest cemetery, is located on Main Street, off Buckminster Square (where the Minuteman statue stands). The cemetery is about as old as Framingham itself with grave markers dating as far back as 1704. The focal point of the cemetery is the Buckminster family cast iron fenced plot, the largest and only enclosed family plot at the cemetery. Matthew Bridge, whose grave can be seen in the video was the 2nd Framingham Minister (from 1746 to 1775, the year he died).

The Old Burying Ground was used to bury Framingham residents (famous ones) until the mid 19th century. There were two other (small) cemeteries at the time in Framingham: South Cemetery on Winthrop Street (established in 1824) and Edwards Church Cemetery in Saxonville (established in 1838). Space for the deceased was badly needed in Framingham and in 1848, the rather vast Edgell Grove Cemetery was established (thanks to a nice land donation by Moses Edgell) to fulfill that need.

Please, check the Old Burying Ground and First Meetinghouse post for more information.


The Sudbury River System was designed to provide fresh water to Boston and its metro area. Construction of this large scale civil engineering project took place between 1875 and 1878. Dams on the Stoney Brook and the Sudbury River created three large reservoirs: Reservoir Number One (Stearns), Reservoir Number Two (Brackett) and Reservoir Number Three (Foss). Reservoir Number Three is the biggest of the three with a one billion gallon capacity. The Sudbury River System was a tad more than those three Framingham reservoirs since there were a grand total of seven in the system.

Stoney Brook used to pass under the old Worcester Turnpike so, when it was flooded, a good chunk of the old stagecoach road went under water. This led to a rerouting of what is now Route 9 along the South shore of Reservoir Number Three.

Gothic Victorian gate houses were built on each reservoir's dam and also on Farm Pond, which was tapped and linked to the network.

A conduit brought the water (by gravity) to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, which in turn could bring the "pure" water to the faucets of Bostonian homes. In the late 1800s, most of the water used in Boston came from Lake Cochituate and the Sudbury River System. When the Quabbin Reservoir was built in the 1930s and 40s, it became Boston's main water supply, relegating the Sudbury River System to an emergency water source. Today, the Framingham reservoirs are pretty much offline. The Sudbury Reservoir and Reservoir Number Three are emergency backup supplies. For more information on Boston's water supply history, please have a look at Metropolitan Boston's Water System History.

The Sudbury river in its South to North course becomes Reservoir Number Two (Brackett) and then the larger part of Reservoir Number One before veering East (below Framingham Centre) and then North on its way to Saxonville. The Stoney Brook, coming from the West, becomes Reservoir Number Three before going into what's left of the Sudbury river at Reservoir Number One. A small piece of the Sudbury Reservoir (7 billion gallon capacity) can be seen in the North-West corner. Thanks to googlemaps.

Gate house at Reservoir Number Three's dam right along Route 9.

Railroad grade crossings

As soon as automobiles took a predominent place in the moving of people and goods, grade crossings became a nuisance in Downtown Framingham. As early as 1925, the Town was open to any solution regarding their elimination. Back then, the problem was not considered a major issue and nothing came out of those early discussions.

To be perfectly clear, the main issue was the traffic jams caused by the railroad tracks crossing Concord Street (Route 126) at grade level. It is of course still a major problem today.

Fast forward to the 1950's and what was known as Scheme Five. Joseph Perini, head of a Town committee for the elimination of grade crossings (and head of the Perini Corporation), proposed a plan that would reroute the railroad tracks and Route 135 to the South of Downtown's business district, near the Ashland town line. No more grade crossings and lots of parking spaces for the businesses along Concord Street, Union Avenue, Hollis Street and Irving Street.

On March 16, 1960, Perini presented his proposal to the Town, insisting on the fact that it would cost nothing to the Town, assuming all expenses would come from State and Federal funds. He also stated that Framingham was the only sizeable community along the main railroad lines of New England with such a problem. To make a long story short, the plan was rejected probably because it was considered too much of a hassle to actually reroute the tracks (4 year project) especially when assuming (wrongly) that railroad traffic would decrease in the future.

Perini's vision of a "new" Downtown with no railroad tracks. Plenty of parking spaces surround the business district. Thanks to the Framingham Trust Company.

Framingham Meetinghouses

The First Meetinghouse has already been covered in Old Burying Ground and First Meetinghouse. Focus is given here on the second and third Meetinghouse. Back then, a Meetinghouse had a dual purpose since it was used for both religious gatherings and town meetings. It could also serve as a school, making it a truly multi-purpose and vital town building.

In 1734, the Town bought 4 acres of land from William Pike, son of Jeremiah, for a new town center that would include a new much needed Meetinghouse. In 1735, the Second Meetinghouse was built at the North-East corner of what is now the Framingham Centre Common.

It was a big building, 42 feet wide and 54 feet long, with 3 stories and a double gallery inside. There was no tower, no steeple, and no bell. They would not paint it for 40 years, but it would serve the town well for more than 70 years.

Excerpt taken from Framingham, an American town by Stephen Herring.

The building of the Second Meetinghouse was followed (over the years) by the laying out of roads that would connect Framingham Centre to the other Framingham districts. This "new" network included Edgell Road, Central Street, Pleasant Street, Main Street (from Buckminster Square) and Salem End Road (East end).

Framingham Centre today, hub of a network of "old" roads. Thanks to googlemaps.

Changes to the Framingham Centre area would occur around the time the Worcester Turnpike (the stage coach toll road connecting Worcester to Boston) opened in 1810. Businesses opened on both sides of the new road. The area between the Second Meetinghouse and the shops was cleared of its pines and oaks to become the Centre Common.

As early as 1805, there were talks of a third Meetinghouse to replace the plain looking out of style Second Meetinghouse. In 1808, Framingham had a brand new (third) Meetinghouse, centered at the North end of the Centre Common (West of the old one). It had a three-stage tower, a spire, and a bell (of Paul Revere origin perhaps). A new Town House was built in 1809 where the Second Meetinghouse stood, using its posts, planks and beams. This paved the way to the separation of Church and Town in Framingham.

The Worcester Turnpike (now Route 9) is at the foreground with Abner Wheeler's Hotel predominantly represented. The Third Meetinghouse is at the top of the Common. Thanks to Captain Daniel Bell, 1808.

The next meetinghouse would actually be referred to as a Town Hall. It would be built in 1834 at the South end of the Centre Common. This Greek revival building is still standing today and is known as "Village Hall".

In 1846, the Third Meetinghouse, home of the First Parish congregation, was torn down to make way for a smaller and more modern church (destroyed by fire in 1920). Today, the site is occupied by the First Parish Unitarian church.

Old Burying Ground and First Meetinghouse

The First Meetinghouse for the Framingham Plantation was built in 1698 on a piece of land that had been reserved (in 1693) by Thomas Danforth as ministerial land (set aside for meetinghouse, burial ground and training field). Of course, it is long gone now but there is a marker in the Old Burying Ground on Main Street indicating its exact location.

The first minister to serve in Framingham was Reverend John Swift of Milton. Having a meetinghouse and a qualified minister would be key to the town incorporation in 1700 (see Framingham 1700 town incorporation). When he died in 1745, he was buried in a grave right where its pulpit stood.

As the first settlers started passing away, there was a need for a proper burial ground. What better place than right next to the Meetinghouse? The Old Burying Ground, Framingham's oldest cemetery, has grave markers dating back to 1704.

In 1725, the First Meetinghouse was falling apart and it was decided that a new Meetinghouse should be built right where the old one was. Joseph Buckminster who had started buying Danforth's lands in 1706 claimed that the Old Burying Ground's land was his and therefore used all the tricks in the book to prevent the construction of the new Meetinghouse on his property. In 1730, the Town agreed to his claim because the land given to Reverend Swift for his services back in 1699 actually contained the 140 acres that Danforth had set aside as ministerial land. Oops, the Town would have to buy land for its new Meetinghouse.

The Old Burying Ground on Main Street off Buckminster square. Note the marker indicating the site of the First Meetinghouse. Thanks to Images of america, Framingham.

The Old Burying Ground on Main Street. Buckminster Square is where Union Avenue and Main Street meet, the Minuteman statue standing in the oval island. Thanks to googlemaps.

Boston & Albany railroad

The Boston and Worcester Railroad started in 1831. The main goal was to connect Worcester to Boston with a railroad track (only one for starters). The Worcester Turnpike (stagecoach road that already connected Worcester to Boston) proprietors didn't really like the idea of a railroad track going through Framingham Centre even though it was the straightest way through Framingham, in other words, the railroad tracks would have to bypass the Centre.

Beside the Worcester Turnpike, there was the Central Turnpike from Boston to Hartford, completed in 1830, that went through Framingham via what is now Route 135 about 2 miles south of Framingham Centre. The Central Turnpike didn't do so well because it lasted only until 1836 as a commercial venture, and was already failing in 1831. The Boston and Worcester Railroad obtained a right-of-way along the North side of the Central Turnpike as it went through Framingham. The Worcester to Boston railroad track would bypass Framingham Centre, veer South and continue along the Central Turnpike toward Natick and Boston. In 1835, the first train trip from Boston to Worcester was recorded.

After the Civil War, new lines connected South Framingham to Fitchburg, Mansfield and Lowell. They were operated by the Old Colony Railroad. South Framingham had become a railroad hub with railroad lines going off in 6 directions (the six-spoked wheel of the Town of Framingham seal). In 1867, the Boston and Worcester Railroad changed its name to Boston and Albany Railroad as service was extended all the way to Albany, NY. After 1900, the Old Colony Railroad lines came under the control of the New York, New Haven and Hartford system.

The railroad system in and around Framingham ca 1910. Thanks to Stephen Herring and his book on the history of Framingham.

Six railroad lines converged to Framingham, the hub of a regional network. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The old wooden railroad station, built in 1848, replaced an ealier station. Thanks to Images of america, Framingham.

The pride of South Framingham: the new station (still standing) designed by famed architect H.H. Richardson, built in 1885. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Boston & Worcester trolley

The trolley system in Framingham goes back to 1888, when the Union Street Railway Company started its operations with trolley lines along Union Avenue, Concord Street and Howard Street. The trolleys were horse-powered at first but quickly became electrified. In 1898, there were 11 trolley cars, eight being pulled by horses.

In 1901, a new company called Boston and Worcester Street Railway Company (B&W) bought out most of the smaller trolley companies that were operating at the time and proposed a new line that would follow the path of the old Worcester Turnpike dirt road that connected Worcester to Boston, now Route 9. In 1903, the main line was completed and the line that ran from South Framingham to Saxonville bought. The intersection of these two lines became Framingham Junction, home of the B&W headquarters. B&W built a brick depot for its cars in Framingham Centre, what is now the Trolley Square shopping center (on the Route 30 West ramp). They also built a powerhouse in the Mount Wayte Avenue area (still standing but without its tall stack).

The trolley (and railroad) system back in 1910. The two main lines were the East-West line that is now Route 9 and and the line that followed Concord Street from South Framingham all the way up to Saxonville and Wayland. Notice the Milford and Uxbridge Street RR line, not owned by the B&W company. Thanks to the History of Framingham book by Herring.

Framingham Junction at the intersection of the Boston to Worcester line and the South Framingham to Saxonville line. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The trolley depot at Framingham Centre, now the Trolley Square shopping center. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Trolley Square shopping center along the Route 30 West ramp. Thanks to googlemaps.

Salem End Road

Back in the roaring 20s and 30s, Salem End Road was where the wealthy people had their country estates. John Macomber was one of them with his rather extravagant Raceland.

Another notable Salem End Road squire was Charles Francis Adams, head of the First National Stores supermarket chain. He lived on Badger Road in a farm house that once belonged to John Clayes (was killed by lightning in 1777). He owned the Boston Bruins hockey team (built the Boston Garden for them) and the Boston Braves baseball team. His real passion was horse racing and with the (moral) support of his neighbor from across the street, John Macomber, he was instrumental in bringing pari-mutuel wagering to Massachusetts and a race track to Boston, Suffolk Downs (Seabiscuit raced there in the 30s). The John Clayes farm, called Wedgemere Farm by Adams, is now the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ at 1 Badger Road.

In 1937, the son of the President of United States, James Roosevelt, moved in the area. He and his wife, Betsey Cushing Roosevelt (daughter of Dr. Harvey Cushing), bought the 1828 Josiah Parker estate and some adjoining land that included the Sarah and Peter Clayes House (Sarah and Peter fled Salem at the time of the Witch Trials) and a good piece of today's Framingham Country Club golf course. The family that included two daughters lived there for 4 years. He sold the property in 1941. FDR never visited his son's estate but First Lady Eleanor did. The Roosevelt home was burnt down in 1977.

Frank Comerford, President of Boston Edison, lived in a large mansion across from Raceland, now the property of the Sons of Mary Missionary (567 Salem End Road), an order of the Catholic Church.

The Charles Adams (John Clayes) farm is to the right of the 'Badger Rd' text. The large and long building to the right is the Macomber mansion. Thanks to googlemaps.

A wide bird's eye view of the area around the old Roosevelt estate (not too sure of its boundaries). The green arrow indicates the location of the Sarah and Peter Clayes house at 657 Salem End Road. Not sure where the Josiah Parker house was located so if you know, let me know! Thanks to googlemaps.

North Sherborn annexation

If you look at the 1700 map shown in the Framingham 1700 Town Incorporation post, there are two areas that belonged to Sherborn that would later be part of Framingham: a rather small triangular piece of land lodged between Framingham and Natick, east of Sherborn Row, and a strip of land right south of Sherborn Row. Sherborn Row had already been an issue at the 1700 Town Incorporation since it was a part of Sherborn inhabited by families that wanted to be rattached to the Framingham Plantation. Sherborn Row became part of Framingham in 1710.

What follows are excerpts from the History of Sherborn, written in 1974 (for the tricentennial of Sherborn) by Anne Carr Shaughnessy (available online at History of Sherborn, 1974.

Initially the question of town water arose in Sherborn in the 1870s and was to plague the town for over 50 years. The area which touched off the situation was the northern part of town. This is the section which had caused heated tempers in 1700 when Framingham was incorporated and its Sherborn bounds had to be left undecided for ten years. At that time there were 17 families in the disputed area who wanted to become part of Framingham because it was closer to them, but Sherborn, who had a valid claim here, was reluctant to give them up. Though remonstrances were sent to the Court by the inhabitants of Sherborn and by its minister, the great contention was finally settled by the strong hand of the law against Sherborn, when the Court passed the order in 1710, that the section was to be included in Framingham and to be "accounted part of that town forever." The Court also compensated Sherborn by giving her 4,000 acres of land (which later was incorporated as the town of Douglas).

This transfer to Framingham left a triangular piece of Sherborn projecting between Framingham and Natick which, in 1882, had but five or six houses situated upon it. Although containing approximately 100 acres, it seemed the most unlikely spot for a village as only a small portion was arable with the rest in swampy lowland. However, the Para Rubber Company had set up a large factory in South Framingham not far from the Sherborn line. As a number of the employees for this company would not be from the area, living quarters had to be provided. The owner of this Sherborn acreage made arrangements with the Para Company to erect several blocks of tenements on his land with the manufactory guaranteeing the rents. Soon, others made similar arrangements, or erected cottages for rent, until within two years large numbers of dwellings stood on the only land that was suitable for building.

The number of new residents was estimated at 300 and it became necessary to build and maintain new roads. The school in that section of town which had never been filled was soon overflowing and a new one had to be built. The people, though living in Sherborn, were really not a part of it as their interests and activities all centered in Framingham.

This staid old town of Sherborn was not a little disturbed by these events, and the crux of the problem centered around the providing of water and sewerage for such a densely populated area.

In 1889, a petition was presented to the Legislature to take from Sherborn this territory and another larger strip amounting in all to 575 acres and annex it to Framingham. Historian Doctor Blanchard commented at the time that only the triangle should have been asked for and not the large area mentioned in the petition.

Frank H. Butterworth of South Framingham was the spokesman for the petitioners and stated that the residents of the area lived three miles from Sherborn center and were already a part of Framingham in everything but the name and the privilege of acting in its public affairs. He was not being very diplomatic when he added that they were not receiving the benefits from Framingham's excellent school system, library, water service, fire department and other superior public institutions. He and others, on invitation, attended a Special Town Meeting in Sherborn to discuss this question, and he referred to the compensation to be paid by Framingham but was very indefinite about it, Sherborn was not committing herself, but she did appoint a committee of five to represent the Town at the Legislature.

There was a great amount of interest in the subject and it was the topic of frequent discussion among the inhabitants. The concensus was that the people of Sherborn would not be easily persuaded to give up this acreage, especially if there were not a "fair and equitable compensation," which she had become accustomed to expect, but that Framingham would eagerly vote to accept the gift.

Charles Francis Adams, editor of the Sherborn Tribune, led the opposition and argued that it would be "an act of injustice as well as a financial injury to the town" to part with 575 acres that was "not only self-supporting but able to pay a share towards the maintenance of the Centre." He presented many arguments for not giving up this acreage on which lived one third of the total population of Sherborn. One of his reasons was that the Women's Reformatory, whose lands were included in the 575 acres, "is of some value as an advertising medium to the town of Sherborn and the honor which is conferred upon the town by possessing the only female reformatory in the world is of no small importance."

At the State House hearing on the "petition of certain citizens of Sherborn and Framingham that that part of the former town commonly known as 'Sherbornville' be annexed to Framingham," counsel for the petitioners presented their arguments and Franklin Grout spoke for Sherborn. Except for one resident, "who got considerably warmed up before he was through" the opposition was mild. Even the Sherborn Committee felt that Sherborn people would favor the line change. The Great and General Court, Chapter 273, drafted an "Act to annex part of the Town of Sherborn to the Town of Framingham," which under due process of law had to be voted on by each of the towns. In May of 1890, the editor of the Framingham Tribune wrote that the Act was a fair one and that "the matter now only awaits the favorable action of the town of Framingham to become law." However, a few days before their June third Town Meeting to vote on the matter, Framingham sentiment had definitely turned against the proposition, for people there had been seriously considering the possible expense involved in sewerage construction. The circulars distributed during the day of Town Meeting were perhaps not necessary. They stated that the annexation was a ploy of Boston's Council and her Agents to have Framingham drain the swamps and install a system for sewerage because Sherborn couldn't afford to do it, but the result was already a foregone conclusion. The referendum was soundly defeated by Framingham and the question was left to fester and plague the towns for another 34 years.

Interesting to see that it was Framingham that turned down that first annexation deal in 1890. Framingham would be far more willing in 1923 when the issue would come up again.

The Town boundary between Sherborn and Framingham, after 1710, ran along Beaver Dam Brook. A small bridge, which is still there, was built over the brook at Beaver Street by the two towns. The Women's Reformatory was in Sherborn, having been constructed in 1877, at the urging of some Sherborn citizens, and the Commonwealth Gas Company was also within our [Sherborn's] bounds. The area was known as North Sherborn. Many of the people were oriented towards South Framingham, where they worked and shopped, but many also preferred to be involved in Sherborn's affairs and held offices on several Town boards.

Since Sherborn did not then have her zoning laws, the properties in North Sherborn were built close together, making water and sewerage a real problem. In 1911, Sherborn had contracted with the Town of Framingham to pipe water to these homes on the town's border, as had been done long before for the Reformatory.

During the years since the defeat of the Annexation Act in 1890, which would have made this section of Sherborn a part of Framingham, the Town had given much attention to this part of town. The three and a half miles of roads there were as good as or better than those in the rest of town. The need for a sewerage system in this section was a vital question, however, as was the concomitant need for municipal water.

When World War I was over, concerned people in both parts of town tried to find a good solution to the problem. One answer proposed was the old one of annexation. Its proponents focused their attention on the question of 'town water' with the expressed opinion that with that defeated, the accomplishment of divestment would readily follow. They also noted that in a short time there would be as many voters in the north precinct as there were in the south, and that town water might then be approved.

The Town Meetings held in the year 1923, were Sherborn's most turbulent. In the Warrant for the regular March Meeting which was twice adjourned, there were 55 articles, and the 41st one was concerned with the installation and operation of a water system and the issuance of bonds to defray the cost of the same. Voting was done by ballot, using the checklist, because a bond issue, then as now, required a two-thirds vote. [To make a long story short, the motion was defeated.]

A Special Town Meeting was called in May 1923, to vote on Annexation, and it was voted to establish boundary lines with Framingham, making part of Sherborn become part of Framingham. The article covered three pages and was concerned with committees to meet with Framingham, the laying out of bounds and the requests concerning surveying and legal expenses. Framingham voted to accept the offer at their June Town Meeting, and plans were drafted by the two towns to be presented to the Legislature, whose acceptance and proposal would be returned to each town in January 1924, to be ratified by a referendum.

The intervening months were trying times for the Town, for there were two sides to this question and each one had valid reasons and figures to back what they felt was best for the Town and its people. Under consideration was what proved to be nearly half a million dollars of taxable property, included in 575 acres. Unfortunately, the press of both Framingham and Natick were numbered among the proponents of annexation, and they antagonized many who might otherwise have been sympathetic.

The Act of the General Court required that the Referendum be held before June first, and Sherborn's vote was cast for Annexation on May 31, 1924, thus eliminating any chance for reconsideration. The Referendum read "Shall an Act passed by the General Court in 1924 entitled, 'An Act to annex a part of the Town of Sherborn to the Town of Framingham' be accepted?" The vote was 318 to 269 with 3 blanks. The legal transfer would take place on January 1, 1925, and many Boards, including the Board of Selectmen, would have to replace members who would no longer be Sherborn residents after that date.

Sherborn basically gave away North Sherborn to Framingham because she didn't want to deal with providing an adequate water system for North Sherborn.

Framingham 1700 town incorporation

Attempts at town incorporation all failed prior to 1700. Soon after a meetinghouse was built and a Minister (John Swift) appointed, the Framingham Plantation was given township privileges by the General Court on June 25, 1700.

Framingham 1700 land designation. Thanks to "Framingham, An American Town" by Stephen Herring.

The Northwest Area, Pike Row and Salem End were part of the Danforth Farms, owned by Thomas Danforth. He had gotten an initial land grant in the 1660's that he kept adding to. In 1686, his vast land was up for grabs. Lessees would have to pay a stipend to Danforth and his heirs for 999 years in exchange for some land. Because Thomas Danforth was kind of a busy man, in 1693, he lent his land to Joseph Buckminster (a man with few principles) who in turn was supposed to sub-lend the land to whoever was interested.

Prior to 1700, most of Sherborn Row, Pratt's Plain and a piece of Rice's end (around Juniper Hill, just west of John Bent's land on the 1662 map below) were part of the Praying Indian Town of Natick, an Indian community led by John Eliot, a missionary minister.

Pike Row: Leased out to Jeremiah Pike, Abraham Belknap and others. Initially, it was just a tiny trail of about a mile connecting the houses of Jeremiah Pike and his son. Jeremiah Pike's house still stands today on Belknap Road.

Salem End: That's where the Salem refugees lived, in particular, Sarah and Peter Clayes (Cloyce in Salem), Benjamin Nurse and Caleb Bridges (all related to Sarah). Thomas Danforth was said to have helped Sarah and her family escape from persecution in Salem and establish themselves in what would be referred as Salem End.

Mellen's Neck: This land used to belong to Richard Wayte, Richard Russell and Col. William Crowne (granted in the 1660s, see 1662 map below). Danforth bought out Wayte's and Russell's land parcels before 1684 (maybe as early as 1669). In 1687, Simon Mellen and his son Thomas became two of the first Danforth Fams' tenants. The area became known as Mellen's Neck.

Sherborn Row: In 1662, it was mostly Natick land. The Eastern-most part belonged to the Rice family (see 1662 map below). Thomas Eames who probably was the first farmer to occupy land on Danforth Farms (Mount Wayte area) got a hold of the Natick part in 1677. He thought that this Natick land was actually his, considering what King Philip's men (King Philip was the anglicized name of Indian Chief Metacom) did to his family in 1676 (Eames Massacre). Eames kept a good piece of that newly acquired land for his homestead and sold off the rest to the Pratt family and Isaac Learned (of Learned Pond fame). The bit of land that belonged to the Rice family was bought off by Thomas Gleason (of Gleason Pond fame). The inhabitants of Sherborn Row were invoved with the Town of Sherborn, hence the name Sherborn Row.

Pratt's Plain: This Natick land was bought off by Samuel Gookin and Samuel How for next to nothing. The land was sold to the Pratt family and it became known as Pratt's Plain.

Rice's End: Henry Rice got land from his father Edmund, sold some of it to John Bent in 1662 (his original house was moved to Concord Street in 1745 where it still stands today). Thomas Drury, who married Henry Rice's daughter in 1688, bought land from Gookin and How next to the Rice farm and the land that was referred to as Appleton Farm (north of Cochituate Brook, see 1662 map below). The whole area was referred to as Rice's End.

Stone's End: John Stone's property. He erected a gristmill near The Falls in 1656. Stone's End would later become Saxonville.

Framingham 1662 land ownership. Thanks to "Framingham, An American Town" by Stephen Herring.

Saxonville Firehouse and Athenaeum video

The Saxonville Fire Station was built in 1902. The high tower was used to dry the hoses after a fire (there's a bell at the top). The close proximity of the firehouse to the Saxonville Mills complex didn't seem to help when a fire in 1883 destroyed most of the buildings. The Athenaeum Hall was built in 1847 and served as Town Hall, school, meeting hall, hospital, etc for Saxonville residents. They are located right next to each other on Watson Place. The Athenaeum portico is of course visible from Concord Street (Route 126).

Saxonville Mills video

The Saxonville Mills viewed from Water Street and from where Centennial Place gets into Central Street. Yep, it's pretty peaceful nowadays.

The Chestnut Cottage

Michael Simpson's mansion called The Chestnut Cottage or simply The Cottage was located at 50 Elm Street right across from what is now the Stapleton School. When Michael's son Frank died, the house was sold. At some point, (part of) it was a dance hall called The Casino. The house was razed in 1935.

The Cottage back in the day. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Elm Street going North. At the top of the hill, on the left side, The Cottage stood. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Elm Street today viewed from above. The Stapleton School is located on the East side right between right between Chestnut and Maplewood Streets. Right across the street, there was The Cottage. Thanks to googlemaps.

Saxonville's high school before it was razed in 1923 to make room for the Stapleton School. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The Michael H. Simpson mansion is across the street from the High Grammar School. Thanks to F. W. Beers, 1875.

The Simpson mansion is still across the street from the High School, but it is now the property of Frank Ernest Simpson, Michael's son. Thanks to Geo. H. Walker & Co., 1889.

Saxonville Mills

Saxonville is named after the Saxon Factory Company, a woolen mill established there in 1824 by Abner, Benjamin, and Eliphalet Wheeler with several Boston partners. Later owners Michael Simpson and Nathaniel Francis changed the factory's name to the Saxonville Mills. Saxonville Mills merged with the Roxbury Carpet Company in 1919 and assumed the name of the latter.

Excerpt taken from Images of America, Framingham.

In the Framingham town vital statistics for 1874, we find that the mills paid the highest taxes in town, $3,679.39, indicating that Saxonville was the industrial center of all of Framingham. Framingham had a population of 5,167 in 1875, [and] fully ten percent of the whole population was employed by the mills.

Excerpt taken from the Winter 2003 newsletter available at the friends of Saxonville.

The Saxonville Mill buildings were destroyed in the fire of 1883, except for mill building #7 made out of brick. The wooden mill buildings that had burnt down were rebuilt soon after and are still standing today. The Roxbury Carpet Company ceased its operations in the early 70s.

The Saxonville mills ca 1859. Notice the Athenaeum on the lower left. Mill building #7 (with the railroad track going inside) is the only building that survived the 1883 fire. The tower on top of the mill building on the upper right housed a Paul Revere bell that was used to call workers. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Tenements built by Michael Simpson for his workers (right), viewed from Water Street (on the other side of the Sudbury River). The building is still standing on Centennial Place. Note that Simpson had quite a few buildings built in Saxonville for his workers. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The Saxonville mills as they appear today. The mill building #7 stands across Fuller Street (when on the site, easily recognizable by its bricks which look much older than the ones on the other buildings). The Athenaeum is at the corner of Concord Street and Watson Place, the Fire Station is right next door along Watson Place. Notice the row house(s) along Danforth Street (just before the bridge) as mentioned in Michael Simpson of Saxonville. Thanks to googlemaps.

The Saxonville Mills in 1875, before the 1883 fire. Thanks to F. W. Beers.

The Saxonville Mills in 1889, after the 1883 fire. Thanks to Geo. H. Walker & Co., 1889.

Michael Simpson of Saxonville

Michael H. Simpson (1809-1884). Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Michael Hodge Simpson was a son of Massachusetts, born in Newburyport on November 15, 1809, the son of Abigail Hodge and Paul S. Simpson.

By the time he was twenty-one he was in the Calcutta, India and Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America trade dealing in hides, horn, and wool. At the age of twenty six, in 1835, a period of change began that quickly redirected his career and set the pattern for the next fifty years. He had a problem. He is said to have had one million pounds of burry wool (raw, dirty, low grade) on his hands.

In 1835 he advertised for machinery to deburr his wool. He did not like any of the offerings, but took one of Couillard's machines. He had established his own mill (the Simpson Worsted Mill, location unknown but perhaps Roxbury) and with his mechanics, improved on Couillard's patent so that when it removed the burrs it did not cut the staple (fibers).

At this point, he sold his import business to [the] principal owners of the Saxon Factory in Saxonville. He moved his machinery to Saxonville and became part owner. In the panic of 1837, the company had financial problems and Michael became its principal creditor. He was elected General Agent (Manager) of the two companies involved, The Saxon Factory Co., and the New England Worsted Co. The N.E. Worsted Co., which produced carpet yarn, had originally been in Lowell and may have had control of the patents that were issued there.

He married Elizabeth Davies Kilham of Boston and daughter of Jeremiah Kilham (who was involved in the clothing business).

The Roxbury Carpet Co. was formed when, in 1854, Michael met John Johnson, an Englishman operating mills in Troy, N.Y. and a textile expert who had perfected tapestry carpet power looms. Michael had the looms installed in the Roxbury mill and Johnson was made Manager. [However, Roxbury Carpet Co. did not move to Saxonville until 1919.] The line was very successful and was the company's line until its closing in 1973.

Excerpt taken from the Fall 2001 newsletter available at the friends of Saxonville.

[In the 1850s], continuing to keep up with modern methods and exercising his inventive urges, Michael received a patent, #16864, for a wool combing machine. This was another improvement on Couillard's original machine. It added combing to the deburring process. The machine was larger and made of metal instead of wood. His contemporaries felt that his machines were the basis for much of the American wool industry. However, the Saxonville mills failed again in the panic of 1857. This time Michael stepped in and took full control. He convinced Nathaniel Francis to join him in buying up the entire Saxonville and Roxbury operations. Michael bought up two thirds and Francis took the other third.

[On Feb. 7], 1859, Michael's eventual business successor was born as Frank Ernest Simpson.

In 1871, we find Michael is still listed as Agent, and now principal owner of the Saxonville Mills. J.W. Blake is Treasurer and John Simpson (a cousin) is superintendent; 475 hands are working at the mills, and there is a Boston office at 127 Milk Street.

[He] was also building a great deal of housing for the mill operatives, for which they would pay him rent. In January, 1872 there were more than sixty applications for this housing. In February, Number One mill burned to the ground, and it was feared for a while that the whole village would go up in flames. The villagers and mill hands put the fire out. They protected some of the nearby mill buildings by spreading wool blankets on their roofs and soaking them with water. One of the large row houses at the foot of Danforth Street was finished in October. It was described as 30' x 140' and as having seven tenements (it still has seven front doors). The building projects continued into 1873 when the newspapers commented that Michael appears to want them to be models of comfort and convenience.

On June 23, 1878, his wife Elizabeth suddenly died.

The year 1880 was a happy one for Michael and the village of Saxonville in regard to one family matter. After a year in Harvard Law School, Frank [Ernest Simpson] decided to forsake a career in law and devote his life to the mills and the village. The mills in Saxonville were producing white and gray blankets, worsted carpet yarn and haircloth overcoats. Frank decided to stay in the village through the winter to learn the business better. [Frank would later take over the Presidency of the mills].

The climax of Michael's life and career began in 1882. On June 1st he married a twenty-seven-year-old Saxonville woman named Evangeline E. Thurston Marrs; he was almost seventy-three. They were married by Rev. Lucius Eastman of Framingham and the wedding was quite an affair according to the newspaper. They went off to Europe for their honeymoon. He ordered the construction of an enormous mansion for her, overlooking the Dudley Pond on Old Connecticut Path, just over the town line in Wayland. It was 50' x 200' and cost about $150,000 (the equivalent of several million dollars today).

Excerpt taken from the Winter 2003 newsletter available at the friends of Saxonville.

After Michael's death, Evangeline Simpson became a dear friend of Rose Cleveland, sister of President Grover Cleveland. Well, maybe it was a bit more than friendship.

Framingham Centre Common video

The video starts North with the First Parish Church, continues on Grove Street with the Framingham Historical Society and the Jonathan Maynard Elementary School. Next, you have the Village Hall and the "old" Moses Edgell library on the Southern end of the Common. Finishes with the Plymouth Church right across from First Parish, where it all started.

Thanks to Mary for the commentaries.

Framingham Centre Common

The Framingham Centre Common is the area between Edgell Road and Grove Street, just North of Route 9.

1735: After a long dispute over the location of a new meetinghouse (the "old" meetinghouse was located in the Old Burying Ground on Main Street), the Town purchases four acres from William Pike, which will become the Framingham Centre Common.

Excerpt taken from's Framingham history timeline.

The "old" Edgell public library. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The Village Hall. Built in 1834 as a Town Hall. A portico (with columns and all) would be added in 1907 to the wing facing the Common. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The Old Academy (school). It is now the home of the Framingham Historical Society and Museum. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

The Common viewed from above as it is today. Thanks googlemaps.

The old Edgell library and the circular Putnam office building (formerly a library built on the site of the Framingham Hotel) can be seen between Edgell Road and Library Street. The Village Hall is located right north of Oak Street. The Old Framingham Academy is at the corner of Vernon and Grove Streets. Just South of the Old Academy is the Jonathan Maynard Elementary School. Up North, there are two churches, the First Parish Unitarian Universalist and Plymouth Church UCC (they occupy the sites of two older churches).

Mount Wayte

In 1874, two Methodist ministers founded the New England Branch of Chautauqua at Mount Wayte. Families could come for a few days (ten-day sessions in the summer) and be instructed on religious and educational matters. Early on, families were lodged in tents. Later, as the center became more established, cottages were built to accommodate them.

Victorian cottages at Mount Wayte aligned along what is today known as Mount Wayte Avenue (I think). Some of those cottages are still standing today. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Rows and rows of benches in front of the auditorium where lectures were given. Family tents can be seen in the background. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Mount Wayte ca 1951. Thanks to USGS.

Thomas Eames, an early Framingham settler, had his homestead at Mount Wayte. In 1676, his family was slain by Indians while he was away in Boston. The boulder commemorates that event. Notice the Victorian cottages of Chautauqua on the right.

Mount Wayte today. Right is the Framingham recycling center. The Eames boulder is located at the Eastern end of the park delimited by Mount Wayte, Oriole and Chautauqua Avenues. Thanks to googlemaps.

Cushing General Hospital

The Cushing General Hospital, located between Winter Street and Dudley Road just south of Mount Wayte, was a military hospital for the wounded soldiers of World War II. It was dedicated in 1944 and had a capacity of 1,800 beds.

At some point, the State of Massachusetts took over the Veterans Hospital and its capacity was reduced to 600 beds. It served as an hospital for aging citizens and a research center for diseases relating to aging. In the 90s, it was all torn down except for the (Cushing) Chapel, the only structure remaining.

Dr. Harvey Cushing, whom the Hospital is named after, was a brilliant neurosurgeon and a brain surgery pioneer. A Cleveland native, he had many ties with the Boston Massachusetts area.

Cushing Hospital ca 1951. Thanks to USGS.

Cushing Hospital back when it was a military hospital. Picture taken at the South end looking North. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.

Cushing Hospital today. The chapel is the only structure remaining. The pathways between the buildings show the hospital layout. Thanks to googlemaps.


Raceland was the name of the estate owned by John R. Macomber. It is located off Salem End Road between Singletary lane and Badger Road. Macomber had a couple of horse race tracks built on the property. The Eastern Horse Club had annual race meets there, attended by thousands.

John Macomber lived in a pretty large mansion with built-in stables. Yes, he was single (never married). The mansion burnt down in 1930.

Sportsman Macomber last week collected $125,000 fire insurance on Raceland, his home and track in Framingham Centre, Mass., announced he will rebuild.

Excerpt taken from a Times article dated Monday, Aug. 25, 1930. Macomber did indeed rebuild the mansion but using more fire-resistant materials like brick and mortar. It is still standing today.

John R. Macomber was in the finance business. He was President of Harris and Forbes Co., a financial company that specialized in the marketing of municipal bonds. He later became President and then Board Chairman of the First Boston Bank (now part of Crédit Suisse), a New-York based investment bank.

He must have loved his animals because he arranged a trust that would take care of them after his death. He apparently also had an interest in automobiles because Raceland was the location for the first VMCCA (Veteran Motor Car Club of America) auto meeting in 1939.

After the death of Macomber in 1955, the property was managed by his estate manager, Adnah Neyhart. When she passed away in 1971, the MSPCA (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) took over. In the 80s, it was known as the Macomber Farm, a place to learn about farm animals. The property was later sold to real estate investors. If you go there today, the residences in the "old" Macomber Farm are quite few and expensive.

A bird's eye view of the area around the old Macomber estate. Thanks to googlemaps.

The Raceland estate ca 1951. The building right above the 'ac' of Raceland is the mansion. Thanks to USGS.

The "new" mansion viewed from above (it is very huge). Thanks to googlemaps.

The stables at Raceland. The wood used was mahogany. Thanks to Images of America, Framingham.