The North Avenue Area was documented by the West0n Historical Commission in 1994 and includes the following properties: 75, 77, 81, 81A, 83, 85, and 87 Brook Rd; 248 [demolished], 256, 260, 263, 266, 269-71 [demolished], 270, 272, 273, 276, 277, 284, 290, 293, 297, and 306 North Ave; 108, 126-128 and 130-134 Viles St.
The properties on Brook Road and Viles Street were later included in the National Register of Historic Places as part the Kendal Green Historic District.
For the complete 1994 area form including data sheets and photographs, click here: North Avenue Area
The North Avenue Area is one of several places along this early main road where historic resources are concentrated (see also Kendal Green Area). The area retains much of the character of a small 19th century settlement despite traffic from the well-travelled road and the intrusion of a modern convenience store and gas station. Included within the area are 24 houses, 14 on North Avenue, three on Viles Street, and seven on Brook Road. Several are double houses, a housing type not common in Weston. The streetscape includes numerous outbuildings including barns, early 20th century one-car garages, and several 19th century shops now converted to storage uses. Lots are generally small, and setbacks range between 20 and 40 feet. The small lots and staggered setbacks give the area its “village” appearance. Mature trees, stone walls and rail fences also contribute to the streetscape.
The houses, which range in date from 1821 to 1947, are all of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 story frame construction and exemplify a range of styles including Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne and Colonial Revival. They are generally simple versions of these styles, although the area does include several well-detailed Queen Anne houses. The most typical form of house is oriented with gable end to the street and has a front porch. Houses are well-maintained but vary in the degree to which original architectural features have been preserved. Several now have asbestos shingles or aluminum siding. In general, the area has a cohesive quality because most of the houses were built within a relatively short time span, from 1821 to about 1895, as housing for small farmers, factory workers or small businessmen; and few of the original houses have been demolished.
The largest property in the area is the 8.6 acre “Weston Dog Ranch” at the corner of North Avenue and Viles Street. [demolished] Located here, set apart from other houses, is a late 19th century house and barn surrounded by evergreens. The house is set back about 250 feet from the street, and much of the rest of the property is flat, low-lying fields partly screened from the street by a deciduous border. This property has been approved for subdivision into ten house lots, with a requirement that a “perimeter buffer” of evergreens and other trees be planted along Viles and North Avenue. The other major open space is a 2.6-acre town recreation area including a baseball field and basketball court, located along Viles Street south of the railroad tracks and brook. Facing onto the baseball field is a row of seven late 19th century workers’ houses on Brook Road. Behind these houses, the grade rises as the topography changes to a series of low hills.
Important natural and man-made features have shaped the appearance of the area. This part of North Avenue passes between Cat Rock Hill and Stony Brook, and the land slopes downward from a high on the north side of the street to a low point along the brook. Along the north side of North Avenue, some of the houses have flat back yards extending a few hundred feet back, while behind other houses nearer to the intersection of Viles, the grade rises precipitously. Houses on the south side of the road are sandwiched between North Avenue and Stony Brook. Behind #248 North Avenue, Stony Brook crosses under the tracks of the Boston and Maine Railroad (Fitchburg Division) and is joined almost immediately by Cherry Brook. The combined waterway, which retains the name Stony Brook, runs through low-lying marshlands screened by a natural border of deciduous trees which grows at the edge of the wetlands. The brook crosses under Viles Street just south of the railroad tracks.
The oldest house in the North Avenue area is the Garfield Homestead (277 North Avenue, ca.1821, Map #4, MHC 237), a 2 1/2 story Federal house with a side gable and symmetrical five-bay front measuring 33 feet across. The house is one of less than 30 Federal period houses in Weston and is critical to the streetscape. The center entrance is framed by engaged pilasters and a simple entablature. Windows have simple lintels and 6/6 sash with shutters. The clapboard house has a box cornice, raking molding and returns on the gable end, and two brick chimneys at the ridge at each side. A modern two-car garage of compatible design projects east from the main block and a modern one-story glassed sunporch extends to the west. The present owner, Mrs. C.V.Cooke, has written the following history of alterations: “The original foundation is intact and measures approximately 18’ 9” X 28.’ ….the house was originally a saltbox, a duplicate of the Whitney Tavern (171 North Ave). It is understood that Mrs. Daniel Garfield did extensive remodeling (Daniel Garfield occupied the house between 1859 and 1904), raising the roof, removing the large central chimney…and adding 6 feet to the north side and 10 feet to the back…” An early 20th century photograph shows an Italianate hood over an Italianate-style front door; these were replaced by the present Federal style elements. The foundation of an early shop also dating from 1821 can still be seen on the northeast side of the house.
In the late 1830’s, the 2 1/2 story Ebenezer Tucker House (306 North Avenue, 1838, Map #7, MHC 304) was constructed in the Greek Revival style, with a three-bay gable front and offset right entrance with sidelights typical of the period. The house has wide overhanging eaves which were enhanced with decorative paired brackets sometime before 1876, giving the house its present Italianate appearance. Corner pilasters and projecting lintels shown in an 1876 photo have been removed or obscured when the house was aluminum/vinyl sided. The house has 6/6 windows and a one-story rear ell which dates to the 19th century but has been modernized.
A few years later, about 1843, the George Garfield House (272 North Avenue, ca.1843, Map #11) was constructed. This may be the only house in Weston that would be considered Gothic Revival in style. The clapboard house is 1 1/2 stories with the one-bay gable end facing the street and a symmetrical five-bay facade facing east. The original Greek Revival main block was altered with the addition of two peaked wall gables on the east facade, giving it a Gothic spirit. The center entrance is flanked by sidelights and has a cornice over the door supported on small brackets. The house has 2/2 windows with shutters and a bay window with paired bracketed cornice located on the gable end. To the rear is a one-story ell and attached one-car garage.
The next house to be built in this “village” cluster along North Avenue was the Hiram Garfield Homestead (269-271 North Avenue, ca.1859-61 with 1887 addition, Map #2) [demolished], constructed with gable front to the street. This is a well-proportioned example of a simple Italianate house that harmonizes with the streetscape. The 2 1/2 story house is L-shaped, with a 3 X 3 bay main block and a 4 X 2 bay east wing. The front door is located offset left on the gable front and is flanked by sidelights. The house has 2/2 windows and is aluminum or vinyl sided. The principal architectural element of the simple house is a three-bay porch on the gable front, with decorative squared porch posts. The addition was built in 1887 and reflects later Queen Anne influences in the patterned glass window at the top half of the secondary entrance door, which is located in the second bay of the ell and is sheltered by a simple entrance porch. This property includes a detached two-car garage.
In the 1860’s, the house now known as the “Weston Dog Ranch” was built as the Small Homestead (248 North Avenue, ca.1864, Map #16) [demolished]. This house is set apart from the others and is set back about 250 feet compared to an average of under 50 feet. The 2 1/2 story house, oriented with its two-bay gable end to the street, is aluminum sided and has additions and alterations, including an enclosed porch across the front and a two-bay, two-story east wing with flat roof. A large 1 1/2 story barn with cupola is located to the northwest of the main house (Map #17). Also on the property are attached dog kennels and a detached two-car garage. The most distinctive feature of the Weston Dog Ranch property is the metal archway located at the top of the driveway on North Avenue.(Map #29, MHC 913, see inventory form) The Tudor arch is formed from a flat metal sheet cut out with shapes of dogs at the sides and birds along the top of the arch, with a central cartouche. Acting as a finial is a metal panel with the words “Weston Dog Ranch.” The archway is painted green and set into concrete pedestal bases. The arch was created by Alfred A. Lederhos, probably in the mid- 1920’s. Lederhos also made a metal gazebo on the property.
The 1 1/2 story, wood-shingled Samuel Patch Jr. House (263 North Avenue, ca. 1875, possibly altered ca.1890 and ca.1910, Map #1) is Colonial Revival in style, with a front-facing gambrel roof with cross gambrel. The three-bay gambrel end which faces the street features a bay window. The house has a two-bay east wing with gambrel roof set back from the main block, and an ell extending back from the east wing.Windows are 6/6. Map and deed evidence and an 1895 photograph suggests that the house began in the mid-1870’s with a gable-ended portion and rear ell located where the east wing and rear ell are today. What is now the main block of the house was probably added in the late 19th century, as the gambrel roof is more typical of the later Shingle and Colonial Revival styles. The gambrel-roofed main block appears in an 1895 photograph, along with what was probably the original section. Still later, perhaps in the early 20th century, the earliest gabled portion of the house was removed or rebuilt with a larger cross gambrel roof. Also on the property, set back on the east side, is a small one-story, three-bay gable-roofed outbuilding with cupola that was originally built as a shop (Map #1A) The cupola does not appear in the 1895 photo. A gambrel-roofed barn once located on the rise behind the house burned in the 1930’s.
In the late 1880’s and 1890’s, construction activity increased in the area with the building of the Hastings Organ Factory, located just outside the area on the east side of Viles Street at the railroad crossing. Even before the factory operation moved to Weston in 1889, owner Francis H. Hastings built the two double cottages at 130-134 and 126-128 Viles Street (1887, Map #18 and 19, MHC #184 and 185). Factory worker housing is unusual in Weston, and this is one of four groups of organ factory houses. (see MHC forms for 75-87 Brook Road, 225-231 North Avenue, 17-23 Lexington Street). The Viles Street houses are 2 1/2 story, 6 X 3 bays and are constructed on high fieldstone foundations which compensate for the changes in grade. The houses are oriented with the gable to the side, and the roofline on the front facade is broken by a two-bay front wall gable. The two entrances, located offset left and right, are sheltered with hoods supported on heavy brackets with incised decoration suggestive of Queen Anne influence. The houses have 6/1 windows and original front doors at #130-134. Both houses are aluminum sided. #130 Viles has a detached one-car garage.
In 1889, local resident Alfred Garfield built the house at 256 North Avenue (Map #15) for rental purposes. This simple two-story Colonial Revival house has a 2 X 2 bay main block and a 2 X 2 bay east wing. The hipped-roof structure is set on a high fieldstone foundation which accommodates the downward slope of the lot. The exterior is covered with wood clapboards, and the entrance is located offset left on the main block, with a bay window at right.
That same year, the Gilson House (260 North Avenue., 1890, Map #14) was built as organ factory worker housing. The 2 1/2 story house, a simple version of the Queen Anne, is 3 X 3 bays with gable front to the street. Now covered with asbestos shingles, the house retains its three-bay hip-roofed porch with chamfered porch posts and a simple railing and spindle screen. Windows are 6/2. On the property are two outbuildings, a one-car garage and a small 1 1/2 story, gable-front clapboard structure, 1 X 2 bays on a high fieldstone foundation, which may have been built as a shop (Map #14A, MHC 399)
The 2 1/2 story Guthrie House (293 North Avenue., 1891, Map #5) was also built by an organ factory employee in a slightly more detailed version of the Queen Anne style. The rectangular 3 X 2 bay clapboard house sits on a high fieldstone foundation with its gable front to the street. The house has an offset-left entrance and three-bay hip-roofed porch with turned posts. A patterned railing which appears in 1970’s photographs has been removed. A two-story bay window with cap is located on the first bay of the east facade. The house has 1/1 windows. A small outbuilding is located at the rear of the property.
Shortly thereafter, the Gowell House (266 North Avenue., ca.1893, Map #13) was built by a factory employee. The 2 1/2 story, shingled structure is 4 X 3 bays with a 4 X 3 bay porch which wraps around most of the east side. The porch, said to have been added later, has patterned railing and Doric columns which give the house its Colonial Revival appearance. Windows are 6/6. The house has a modern one-story east addition and two-car garage.
The most elaborate Queen Anne house built in the North Avenue area during this period, and one of the best examples in Weston of its type, is the Stevens House (297 North Avenue., ca.1892-6, Map #6) This house is one of the best detailed of Queen Anne houses of this type in Weston. The 2 1/2 story, 2 X 3 bay gable front house features a 2 X 4 bay porch which wraps around the west side and has decorative squared porch posts, a geometrical-patterned railing, a spindle screen, and latticework under the porch. A two-story bay located offset right on the front facade terminates in a secondary gable at the roofline, echoing the main gable. Corners under the secondary gable are highlighted with cut-out brackets. A combination of clapboards and patterned shingles creates additional visual interest. Fishscale shingles are used between the two stories of the bay, and two other patterns are used in the main and secondary gables. A similar two-story bay and secondary gable with cut-out brackets is located on the east facade. The bargeboards of all the gables are ornamented with a repeating parallel line pattern. The house sits on a high fieldstone foundation. Windows are generally 2/1 with shutters. Large windows in the bay at the first and second stories have a stained glass border around the upper sash. Also on the property is a matching one-story, one-vehicle garage.
The seven houses on Brook Road (75, 77, 81, 81A, 83, 85, 87 Brook Road, ca.1893-95, Map #21-28, MHC # 189-195) were the next to be built in the North Avenue area and were also constructed as factory worker housing with the exception of #81, which was purchased in 1895 for that use. Except for #81A, these houses are all sited with the gable facing the street, with a uniform setback of about 40 feet. 87 Brook Road (Map #21), the first in the row beginning at the corner of Viles Street, is two stories, 2 X 2 bays with a wrap around porch. This house has no architectural elements to define its style but all the houses are basically Queen Anne in form. 85 Brook Road (Map #22) is also two stories and 2 X 2 bays and has a front porch which is half enclosed and half open with a simple spindle screen. A one-car garage is located on the property. 83 Brook Road (Map #23) is a two-story, 2 X 2 bay house with a gambrel roof suggesting Colonial Revival influences. Like #85, the house has a front porch which is half enclosed and half open with a spindle screen. 81A Brook Road (Map #25) is set back behind #81 and is a 1 1/2 story, three-bay gable front structure with no style and no ornamentation.
81 Brook Road (Map #24), the most elaborate of the Brook Road houses and one of the best of its type in Weston, is 2 1/2 stories, 3 X 2 bays, with a decorative front porch with geometrical patterned railing and scalloped molding along the top edge between the turned porch posts. The house has wide eaves with exposed rafters. In the gable peaks at the front and intersecting gable peak on the west side are decorative trusses. 77 Brook Road (Map #26) is a 2 1/2 story Queen Anne with one-story porch with turned posts. This property has a narrow 1 1/2 story barn (Map #27) 1 X 2 bays with the door in the gable end. The clapboard barn has a cupola. 75 Brook Road (Map #28) is a two-story, two bay clapboard house and is the only Brook Road house to have a side wing, which extends four bays to the west and has a separate front entrance, suggesting that the house may have been built as a double house. The house has a front porch with is half enclosed and half open, similar to the arrangement on #85 and #83. The rest of Brook Road was developed in the 20th century with Colonial Revival and ranch houses not included in this area form.
In 1903, North Avenue was widened, putting the residences closer to the road. Prior to this, most houses were enclosed with a fence. The early 20th century Colonial Revival style is represented in the North Avenue area by two houses, at 276 North Avenue and 273 North Avenue. 276 North Avenue (1927 with 1960’s addition, Map #10) is a two-story, four-bay clapboard house with a three-bay wing to the west, an attached one-story garage, and a rear one-story screened porch. The roofline combines a hipped portion with a secondary wall gable. The house has a typical Colonial Revival entrance porch with triangular pediment supported on Doric columns. Windows are 6/1.
273 North Avenue (1930, Map #3) is a 1 1/2 stories, three bay Colonial Revival house with a main block, set gable front to the street, and a rear ell. Pent eaves divide the first story from the gable above. A triangular pediment above the door in the center bay breaks the pent eave to provide added visual interest. This pediment is supported on console brackets. The shingled house has 6/6 windows with shutters and dormers on either side of the roof. On the property is a small storage shed and a two-car garage. 270 North Avenue (1947, Map #12) is a small three-bay house, only 924 square feet, with a side gable and a center entrance.
The most recent structures in the North Avenue area are the ranch house at #108 Viles, the Kendal Green Market at 284 North Avenue (ca.1980, Map #9) and the Kendal Green Service Center gas station at 290 North Avenue ( Map #8). The former is a small one-story brick convenience store with parking lot in front. The market and gas station are the only modern structures in the area. In drawing the boundaries of the area, ranch houses from the 1950’s and1970’s at 241-257 and 307-319 North Avenue have been omitted.
North Avenue was one of the earliest areas of settlement in Weston. In the 18th and early 19th century, the road was the main link between Boston and New Hampshire and Canada. Stage coaches used this route, as did farmers driving livestock to market. The location was also favored because of its proximity to Stony Brook, one of the tributaries of the Charles River. Water power from Stony Brook was used by some of the small industries which sprang up during the 19th century. In addition to farming, commercial enterprises established in the North Avenue Area covered by this form include a blacksmith shop, wheelwright, carriage making shop, cider and vinegar manufactory, and, in the 20th century, stores for the sale of food and gasoline. The building of the railroad in 1844 enhanced the transportation advantages of the area; and by the mid-1850’s, North Avenue was second only to Boston Post Road as a center of population in Weston. The railroad made possible the location here in the late 1880’s of the Hastings Organ Factory, the largest industry ever to operate in Weston. The main factory building was located just across Viles Street from the area covered in this form (see Kendal Green Area), but the social hall and many factory workers houses were located within the North Avenue Area. The organ factory was a major presence in the community until it closed in 1936.
In examining the history of the area, it is clear that family connections were very important to its development, and that families remained here over many generations. Of particular importance are the Fiske, Garfield and Hastings families. The area exemplifies the 19th century evolution of Weston from a farming community to one with a more broad-based economy based not only on agriculture but also on small family industries and, later, on the larger organ maufacturing industry. Since the early 1600’s, North Avenue has been known by many names, among them Concord Road, Conant Road, County Road, the Lancaster Road or Turnpike, Great Road, and “the road leading to Waltham.” According to Lamson’s History of Weston, North Avenue was “the great thoroughfare” between Boston and New Hampshire and into Canada during the early years of town history. Large droves of cattle and hogs were driven to market in Brighton and Charlestown. According to Badger & Porter’s Stage Register for the year 1830, there were 42 stage coaches a week passing over North Avenue, a number which decreased greatly with the advent of the railroad in 1844. Road traffic remained sufficient to encourage businesses such as blacksmithing and wheelwrighting that were established here during the 19th century.
In the North Avenue Area, the most important early settler was Nathan Fiske, who purchased 220 acres from Thomas Underwood in 1673. The Fiske homestead was located along North Avenue near the intersection of Kings Grant Road just north of the area covered by this form. The Fiske farm, reputed to be “a mile square,” extended to the Lincoln line and was for many years one of the largest in Weston. The Fiske family farmed the land until 1912; it remained in use as a farm until the mid-20th century, when it was sold for development and the homestead demolished. Beginning in the early 19th century, Fiske descendants gradually sold off parcels of land along North Avenue, as this property was highly desirable for commercial enterprises serving travelers and later for house lots for organ factory workers.
In 1820, another Nathan Fiske sold George W. Garfield two acres on which he built the Garfield Homestead (277 North Avenue, ca.1821, Map #4, MHC 237). Fiske also sold Garfield an additional eight acre parcel across the road. George W. Garfield, who came from Lincoln, had married Rebecca Weston in March of 1819. In 1821, he was assessed for “1 shop within or adjoining to dwelling house, 2 acres tillage land, 3 acres English mowing and 3 acres pasture.” Garfield farmed the land and may also have earned additional income from the shop. Garfield had three sons and six daughters. The three sons– George (1820-1905), Hiram (1929-1889) and Daniel (1833-1905)– remained in the area and are important to its later history.The house remained in the Garfield family until 1906, owned by George W. Garfield until 1852, by his son Hiram until 1859, by his son Daniel until 1904, and Daniel’s son Frank until 1906. The barn, originally located across the road, blew down in the 1938 hurricane.
A second early house in the area, on the site of the ranch houses at 237 to 257 North Avenue, was the Jonathan Warren house, which was torn down in the 1930’s. The Garfield and Warren houses are the only two within the boundaries of this form which appear on the 1830 map.
The Ebenezer Tucker House (306 North Avenue, Map #7, MHC 304) was probably built shortly after 1838, when Ebenezer Tucker, a blacksmith, purchased the land from George W. Garfield. Tucker raised nine children in this house, and three of his sons served in the Civil War. There were two other buildings east of the Tucker house facing the road: a dairy barn and a blacksmith shop. At one time tools were made by hand in the shop for “Brecks,” a well-known flower and seed company. Both these buildings were torn down shortly after the turn of the century. In the early 20th century the house was owned by Henry G. Russell, who is listed in the 1909 directory as a farmer. Henry Russell had married one of the Tucker daughters; when she died he married a younger Tucker daughter.
The George Garfield House (272 North Avenue, Map #11) was built about 1843 by the oldest son of George W. Garfield on land purchased from his father. The younger George Garfield was a wheelwright. He remained in the house until 1860. In 1876 the house was purchased by Henry Russell, son-in-law of Ebenezer Tucker.
The 1852 map shows these two additional houses as well as the railroad line of the Boston and Maine Railroad (Fitchburg Division– called the Fitchburg Railroad on the 1866 map) with depot near the intersection of Church and North Avenue in the Kendal Green Area. The building of the railroad was certainly a factor in the increase in population along North Avenue. By that date, North Avenue was second only to Boston Post Road as a center of settlement in Weston, with houses located all along the length of the road.
Hiram Garfield, another son of George W. Garfield, purchased land from his father in 1852 and built the Hiram Garfield Homestead (269-271 North Avenue, ca.1859-61, Map #2). The house was probably begun about 1859, when Hiram sold the family homestead at #277 to his brother Daniel, and completed by 1861, when the house first appears on the tax lists, valued at $600. Hiram Garfield is listed in early directories as a farmer and blacksmith. In 1885, he was assessed for one dwelling, three barns, one shop and two parcels of land, 12 and 15 acres. Hiram had three children: Walter, Alice and Alfred. In 1887, Hiram sold the house to Hiram Bennett, listed in directories as a house painter. Mrs. Bennett built the wing to house a maiden aunt; later this portion of the house was rented.
The third son of George W. Garfield, Daniel, was the owner of the Garfield Homestead at #277 from 1859 to 1904. Daniel also owned part of what was originally his father’s land across the street at 282 North Avenue, now the location of the Kendal Green Market. On this site was the large Garfield barn, said to date to 1820, used as a blacksmith shop and a cider mill combined. The deed gave the owner “flowage rights” and there was a dam on the brook with a sluiceway which, when opened, turned the undershot waterwheel that ran the presses for making cider. This operation continued under later owners until about 1915, when the cider mill was moved up closer to the street and combined with a small general store. Daniel is listed in the 1893 directory as a carriage maker, cider and vinegar manufacturer, and blacksmith. An 1889 photo at SPNEA shows “Garfield’s carriage shop on the Waltham Road, Weston.” The photo shows a frame building on the south side of the road, with large 2 1/2 story ell extending all the way to the edge of Stony Brook.
Between 1860 and 1875, two additional houses were built in the North Avenue Area. In 1864, Lydia Small was taxed for two dwellings, one of which was probably the Small Homestead (248 North Avenue, ca.1860’s, Map #16), as well as a barn and 32 acres. The house was assessed to Hanford Warner in 1869, and in 1888 was bought by Hiram Garfield. After Garfield’s death, his widow and children Alfred and Alice moved from #271 North Avenue into this house, where they lived until the death of the mother. The Samuel Patch Jr. House (263 North Avenue, ca.1875, Map #1) appears to have been built in stages, with part of the house possibly dating about 1875, although the present appearance of the house was shaped by late 19th and early 20th century additions and alterations. Samuel Patch, Jr. first appears on the Weston tax lists in 1867, when he is assessed for one dwelling and five acres. In 1875 he is assessed for two dwellings at considerably higher value, as well as a barn and 4 1/2 acres. In the last listing for Patch, in 1879, he is assessed for one dwelling, a shop, and 1/2 acre. The shop remains behind the house. By 1880 the house was owned by Henry A. Dwelle, a carpenter and builder who may be responsible for later changes to the house.
In the mid-1880’s, the establishment of the Hastings Organ Factory brought major changes to the North Avenue Area. The factory was established by Francis Henry Hastings (1836-1916), a local resident who had grown up just outside the North Avenue Area at 199 North Avenue in a house built by his grandfather in 1823. (For more extensive information on the Hastings family and the organ factory, see MHC forms 14 and 16 and also the Kendal Green Area form). At the age of 19, Hastings entered the service of E. and G .G.Hook Brothers, organ builders in Boston, where in 1866 he became a partner in the firm, later renamed E. and G. G.Hook and Hastings. In 1885, Hastings, now the sole proprietor of the company, built his own residence at 190 North Avenue (MHC 16) and in 1887, he commenced the west wing of a new factory on the south side of Viles Street just outside the North Avenue Area, on farm fields which had been in the family since the early 19th century.
In 1887, Hastings built three cottages on Lexington Street (MHC 183) and two double houses at 130 and 126 Viles (Map #18 and19, MHC 184 and 185), the first to be built by Hastings to house workers at the factory which was then under construction. A third house of a different style called the “Block House”(since demolished) was also located on Viles Street closer to the railroad tracks and had four three-room apartments for factory workers. A long storage shed stood between Block House and Hastings Hall (demolished 1944), the latter built in 1889 as a combined clubhouse and hall. A spur track ran between the shed and the hall, which was very near the Fitchburg line tracks.
In 1889 the organ business moved from Tremont Street in the Roxbury area of Boston to the Viles Street site in Weston. In 1891, the east wing was added to the factory, the gardener’s cottage was built at 189 North Avenue (MHC 17) in the Kendal Green Area and a reservoir was built in the woods on the west side of Cat Rock Hill to supply water to workers cottages being built on North Avenue, and also to Hastings Hall and existing workers houses on Viles. In 1893, Hastings built the three North Avenue cottages (#225,227 and 231, MHC 186-188, see Kendal Green Area) and also #6 White Lane, which was one of the row of houses on what is now Brook Road. By 1895, seven houses on White Lane housed factory employees (now 75 to 87 Brook Road, Map #21-28, MHC 189-195) One of these was purchased by Francis Hastings from its first owner, a Mr. Andrews, in 1895. The Andrews House is believed to be 81 Brook Road (Map #24).
An early (undated) newspaper article written about the Hastings Organ Factory talks at length about the harmonious relations between Francis H. Hastings and the workers at his factory and how the community which grew up around the factory “represents almost the ideal of relations between man and man.” It describes how Hastings helped workers who decided they wanted to live in the Weston rather than commuting back to Boston on the train each night. He built the cottages, “renting them for less than you could get two or three rooms in the city” for rental periods of one year duration. He purchased existing houses and rented them to employees. He also encouraged the men to buy their own land and build their own houses, thus becoming “resident proprietors.” According to this article, Hastings laid out White Lane (now part of Brook Road) and sold the lots for a moderate price, asking only that houses be built within two years and that none cost less than $1000. This stipulation was made “as much in the interest of the men as of Mr. Hastings, for the better the house, the more assured the value of the property.” Hastings helped with the building of the houses by grading the land and assisting with finding a water supply. As the community grew, there was a need for a place to socialize. Hastings Hall was used for entertainments and lectures and had a reading room with daily and weekly papers, journals and magazines, a small library, and a room for games. Near the hall was a large playground. As a result of his concern for the well-being of his workers, the Hastings Organ Factory had good employee relations.
Photographs of the area in albums compiled by Francis H. Hastings show the factory as a large three-story clapboard structure with a seven-bay center section and symmetrical eight bay east and west wings. The factory was built on a raised fieldstone foundation and was located right at the railroad tracks. A train station was located on the factory side of Viles Street between the tracks and Stony Brook. Looking south from the factory, the landscape was much more open than it is today, with rolling hills and large open fields separated by stone walls.
The construction of the Hastings organ factory had a major impact on nearby North Avenue, as demand increased for worker housing. The three houses at 256, 260 and 266 North Avenue were all built about 1889-1890 on land formerly belonging to Hiram Garfield. In 1889, Alfred Garfield, son of Hiram Garfield, bought half an acre from his father and built the house at 256 North Avenue (Map #15) for rental purposes. Francis Hastings bought the land at 260 North Avenue from Hiram Garfield in 1888 and, in 1890, he built the house now known as The Gilson House (Map #14) to house an employee of the factory. In 1909 this house was sold to Joseph Gilson, a mechanic who was also an employee of the organ factory, whose family remained there for several generations. Also in 1888, Hiram Garfield sold a parcel of land at 266 North Avenue (The Gowell House, Map #13) to Francis Hastings, who sold it to a Mr. Gowell. This was probably Frank N. Gowell, an organ builder at the factory. Gowell ran into financial difficulties and had to sell the property back to Hastings before the house was finished.
In 1890, Alonzo and Nathan Fiske sold part of their family farm land on the other side of the street at 297 North Avenue (Map #6) to George N. Stevens (lot “C” on a plan drawn by F.P. Johnson in 1890). Stevens was another employee at the organ factory. The first house built here was destroyed by fire and the second house, the present well-detailed Queen Anne, was sold by Stevens to Andrew J. Winslow in 1896. The next year, the Fiskes sold lot “B” at 293 North Avenue to John Guthrie, also an employee at the organ factory. Guthrie was taxed in 1891 for one unfinished house and one acre of land. The Guthrie House (Map #5) remained in the Guthrie family until 1971.
In 1901, Daniel Garfield sold the property at 282 North Avenue to William Foote, who sold it to his brother James T. Foote in 1903. This was the property where Garfield had operated the combined blacksmith shop, carriage shop, and cider and vinegar manufactory during the last half of the 19th century. In 1903 James Foote built a 2-bay gable front house with porch on the edge of the property directly on North Avenue. This house was torn down in 1979 to make way for the present Kendal Green Market (Map #9). Early 20th century photographs on display at the market show Foote’s business as it evolved during the 20th century. The first photo, dated ca.1901, shows a frame commercial building with sign “J. T. Foote, Carriage Smith and Horse Shoeing.”
About 1915, with the advent of the automobile age, Foote tore down the blacksmith shop and built a general store and cider mill nearer to the road. A second photo shows the 1903 house and newer commercial buildings. A little building between the house and store was used as an oil shed, selling kerosene and oil for automobiles. This photo also shows two gasoline pumps, the first in Weston. A third photo shows a long, one-story Colonial Revival grocery and ice-cream market, “Foote Brothers,” located where the filling station is today. This building was built after World War II, during the 1940’s, and was operated by brothers Harold and Earle Foote. Sold to George Gordon in the 1960’s, it served for many years as a morning meeting place for neighbors and regular users of North Avenue.
After Daniel Garfield died in 1905, the Garfield Homestead at #277 was sold to Jeremiah Cronin, who left it to his son Grover upon his death. Grover Cronin, who owned the department store in Waltham which bore his name, sold it in 1921 to James Foote, and Foote’s daughter still lives there.
About 1926, Alfred A. Lederhos established the Weston Dog Ranch, a dog boarding kennel, at his home at 248 North Avenue. Lederhos was treasurer and superintendent of E.T. Ryan Iron Works, Inc. in Allston. He is credited with designing and manufacturing the arched metal gateway (Map #29, MHC 913, see inventory form) at the entrance to the property and also the metal gazebo. The property continued in use as a veterinary clinic and kennel until about 1992, under the auspices of Lederhos, Terrance Burke, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Lee Schulmann (1950-d.1970) and then Mrs.Leonard (Edith) Schulmann alone.
The William Otto House (276 North Avenue, Map #10) was built in 1927 by William Otto. Mrs. Otto was the granddaughter of Ebenezer Tucker, who built the house at 306 North Avenue in 1838; her father was Henry Russell. Mrs. Otto built 270 North Avenue (Map #12) as a retirement home in 1947. 273 North Avenue (Map #3) was built in 1930 by Earle F. Foote, son of James T. Foote. Earle and his brother were proprietors of the general store located across the street .
1. Research, including deed research, by Elsie Ann Cooke (Mrs.C.V.Cooke), from the files of the Weston Historical Commission. Mrs. Cooke is the daughter of James T. Foote and a life-long resident of the area. Mrs. Cooke’s booklet on houses from #237 to #306 North Avenue was particularly useful.
2. Hastings Organ Factory materials at Weston Historical Society, including Hastings family files and also company scrapbooks with newspaper clippings and photographs (WHS #755 and 927)
3. “Weston’s Hook-Hastings Organ Factory,” Weston Historical Society Bulletin, October, 1983, Vol.XX, No.1.
4. Lamson, Col.Daniel S.,History of the Town of Weston, Massachusetts, 1860-1890, (Boston, 1913)
5. Wayland, Weston and Lincoln Directory, 1893 and other directories.6.Oral histories of Weston, particularly by Elsie Cooke
7. Interview with Mrs. Edith Schulmann about the Weston Dog Ranch property and the metal gate
8. “North Avenue: A Quarter Mile of Change,” Weston Historical Society Bulletin, May, 1984, Vol.XX, No.4, p. 9-10.
9. [added 2011] Farm Town to Suburb: The History and Architecture of Weston, Massachusetts, 1830-1980 by Pamela W. Fox (2002)