The Boston Post Road Historic District, listed on the National Register on February 11, 1983, includes the following properties:
3 Applecrest Road; 104 through 863 Boston Post Road; 180 Boston Post Road By-pass; 6 Buckskin Drive; 22 Church Street; 3 and 6 Conant Road; 19 Concord Road; 10 to 49 Crescent Street; 10 Fiske Lane; 9, 11, 12 Hemlock Road; 7 Highland Street; 14 Irving Road; 3 Plain Road; 1, 8, and 11 Rolling Lane; 27 and 28 School Street; 18 Skating Pond Road; 5 Summer Street; Weston Town Hall on Townhouse Road; 1 and 10 Winsor Way.
The following information is excerpted from the 1983 National Register Nomination Form. It has been edited by Pamela W. Fox, and additions and changes are noted within brackets [ ]. Most photographs are by Fox and date between about 2005-2011.
Present and Original Physical Appearance
The Boston Post Road District in Weston runs east to west for 3 1/2 miles from the Waltham line to the Wayland line, dividing the town into two nearly equal parts. The district encompasses the historic town center of Weston, as well as the best preserved section of the state’s major 18th century east-west connector. Exhibiting residential, commercial, and public buildings that date from the 18th through 20th centuries, the district retains a rural atmosphere. Totaling approximately 760 acres in size, the Boston Post Road District contains 170 major buildings and many barns and outbuildings.
Upon entering Weston from the east on the Post Road, the landscape is dominated by the interchang ramps for Route 128 (not included). Past this, the gently curving Post Road becomes a tree-shaded highway with fine homes well spaced and set back from the street. On either side of the road the land is gently roling, with a slight drop-off on the north to the valley of Three Mile Brook. Approximately 1/2 mile westward into the district, the roadway splits to include Crescent Street (the old Post Road) and an 1855 by-pass which is currently termed the Post Road. In the middle third of the district, a 1931 by-pass circumvents the center of town in a southerly direction. Upon leaving Weston on the west, the character of the road changes dramatically to commercial strip development.
At either end, the Boston Post Road District is residential in character. Its rural atmosphere is perhaps more pronounced in the western section. In the middle (north of the 1931 by-pass) is Weston’s town center, which is dominated by the Weston Town House and extensive Town Green. The center consists of two other public buildings, an 18th century tavern, three churches, a few one- and two-story commercial buildings, and several residences converted to business use.
The significance of the Boston Post Road arose in prehistoric times, when the main native trail from the Boston basin to the Connecticut River Valley followed this axis. As a colonial period highway, the Post Road continued as a primary east-west connector and was the focus of settlement; high-style Georgian features distinguish this era of building. During the early 19th century, limited new construction and remodelling occurred on the Post Road. The late 19th and early 20th centuries were generally even less active, although almost all of the area’s public buildings — executed in the late Victorian and Colonial Revival styles– date from this period.
The district thus contains examples of architecture extending over a period of 250 years. Within the district are public buildings, residences, commercial buildings, barns, stables, outbuildings, two schools, two 1850s school buildings converted into residences, five churches, a former church that is now a residence, four parks, two old cemeteries, and two 18th century taverns. . . .
Most structures are 2 to 2 1/2 stories in height and of wood frame construction. In general, buildings and grounds are well preserved and well maintained. The district has no out-of-scale intrusions. Recent buildings are, for the most part, one- or two-story residences of Colonial or Georgian Revival styles which harmonize with the historic structures. . . .
The Georgian style in the Post Road District is typically represented in the two-story, five-bay structure with gable, hip, or gambreled roof, interior chimneys, and a rear ell. The Golden Ball Tavern, 1768, [662 Boston Post Rd] is probably the district’s best example of this style; listed in the Register in 1972, the building has a double hip roof, a classically framed doorway with fluted pilasters and transom, and 12/12 sash windows. More typical designs in this style include the . . . Josiah Smith Tavern, 1757 [358 Boston Post Rd] and the Artemus Ward House, 1785 [543 Boston Post Rd].
Federal period buildings along the Post Road are usually two stories high and five bays long, with a gable roof, interior chimneys, and a rear ell. Decorative details are generally confined to the entrances, featuring attenuated classical enframements and occasional fanlights. The district’s high-style standard for the period is the [Lemuel Jones-Jeptha Stearns House, 177 Boston Post Rd. The original 18th century structure was remodelled into this three-story, hip-roof house, which displays a pedimented two-story portico and corner pilasters.] The district is also notable for its non-residential structures of the period: the Alpheus Bigelow Jr. Law Office [c. 1827, 3 Applecrest Rd] and the Isaac Fiske Law Office, c. 1805 [626 Boston Post Rd], both one-story structures with hip roofs. Typical buildings of the period include the Abraham Hews House, 1766/1824 [510 Boston Post Rd], the Alpheus Bigelow Jr. House, 1827 [863 Boston Post Rd], and the [Luther Harrington House, 1812, 21 Crescent St].
The Post Road’s Greek Revival style is characterized by two-story buildings with gable roofs, about evenly divided between traditional five-bay, center entrance facades and the more up-to-date three-bay, front gable designs. Columned porches, pilasters, and rear ells are also popular. Representative examples include the [Samuel H. F. Bingham House, c. 1839, 39 Crescent St], John Paradee House, [c. 1852-1856, 27 School St] , Horatio N. Fiske House, c. 1839, 11 Rolling Lane], and Alfred Hobbs House, [c. 1848, 820 Boston Post Rd].
The Italianate style is sparsely represented and traditional in design, closely related to the area’s Greek Revival format. The few early examples here are generally 2 1/2 stories high with an end-gable roof, center entrance, paired eaves brackets, and corner pilasters. The best surviving designs are the Nathaniel Sibley House, 1854 [104 Boston Post Rd], Dr. Otis Hunt House, [c. 1851, 338 Boston Post Rd], and George Smith House, 1853, [27 School St].
Later Victorian styles are increasingly restrained. Several large, but plain Queen Anne and Stick style houses and a modest Mansard cottage reveal a generally inactive building period.
On the other hand, historical revival styles are prevalent in the Post Road district. These multifarious buildings are generally 2 and 2 1/2 stories in height, with hip or ridge roofs, often an academic entrance, and a plethora of wings, porches, pavilions, and dormers. Wood shingles are frequently used for wall sheathing. Eight public buildings demonstrate a variety of academic designs from medieval to Colonial Revival. All of these are constructed of masonry. Domestic structures, largely following Colonial Revival influences, range from the compact dignity of the Albert Horatio Hews House, 1880 [Stick style with Colonial Revival porch, 699 Boston Post Rd] to the exuberant Mrs. Francis Sparhawk Sears House, 1919 [293 Boston Post Rd].
Statement of Significance
The Boston Post Road District is important on both a local and state level. First, it is the historic center of Weston, which thrived on the travelers’ economy of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Second, Weston contains the state’s best preserved segment of this major east-west connector as it appeared in that era. The district contains important examples of architecture from that period as well as a significant collection of buildings from a much later period of suburbanization. The Post Road District retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, and location; it meets criteria A and C of the National Register.
First settled in the mid-17th century, the Town of Weston was incorporated in 1713. The area now comprising Weston was originally part of Watertown, known as the “Farmer’s Precinct” or “Watertown Farms.” The remoteness of the meetinghouse in Watertown led the settlers in 1665 to request a church of their own. The first church building was begun in 1695 and completed in 1710; the present church is the fourth on the site.
During the colonial period, Weston’s economy was based primarily on agriculture and grazing, serviced by a commercial center which emerged around the meetinghouse and spread along the Post Road. This center included a dry goods store, a tannery/ shoemaking shop, a redware pottery, some doctors, and probably lawyers as well. Stores most likely occupied part of houses during this period, while small shops were located in outbuildings.
The Boston Post Road, which was the primary route to New York for over a century, was a catalyst for development here. Originally an Indian trail, the first Post Rider traversed this road in 1673. In 1873 the first stagecoach traveled the road. Weston boasted four to five taverns within a mile and a half of each other along the Post Road, but only two are known to survive: Josiah Smith’s Tavern, 1757, [358 Boston Post Rd], and the Golden Ball Tavern, 1768, [662 Boston Post Rd].
The Post Road in Weston was the scene of much activity before and during the Revolution. In 1774, a group of irate citizens organized the “Weston Tea Party,” painting temselves like Indians and raiding the Golden Ball Tavern, bent on capturing its Tory landlord. Fortunately, he was out of town at the time, but a great deal of windows and crockery was smashed and the liquor supply seized.
A tablet in Lamson Park [adjacent to Town Hall on the west] commemorates Colonel Lamson and the 103 Weston men who gathered nearby to march to Lexington on April 19th, 1775. Also passing through Weston over the Post Road were the artillery brought from Fort Ticonderoga to relieve the siege of Boston, prisoners from the battles of Bennington and Saratoga, Burgoyne’s defeated army, General Knox, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere (who mentioned stopping at the Golden Ball Tavern for breakfast.)
Notable travelers in the federal period included the troops sent to quell Shay’s rebellion, Presidents Washington and John Adams, and General Lafayette.
Although the Post Road continued to carry as many as 40 stagecoaches a week by 1830, new turnpikes located north and south of Weston reduced the importance of the Post Road early in the 19th century. Commercial stagnation gradually set in, with cottage industries and crafts sustaining the area. Foremost among these were the Sibley Machine Shop behind the Nathaniel Sibley House [104 Boston Post Rd] and the Shattuck school desk factory behind the Luther Harrington House [21 Crescent St] Of special note is the pottery established by Abraham Hews in 1768 that operated for over a century in Weston– first, probably, near the Abraham Hews House [510 Boston Post Rd] and then at the Abraham Hews Jr. House [651 Boston Post Rd]
The later 19th century saw increasing development of the Post Road District, although suburbanization was the only new trend that directly affected or related to the district. After the middle of the century, Weston was served by two railroads running through the town, with one of a total of six stations located in the town center. The resulting ease of transportation between Boston and Weston caused many large country homes to be built throughout the district beginning about 1870.
Population increased steadily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and both elaborate and modest suburban homes clustered around the Post Road. Development peaked around the turn of this centjury with the construction of virtually all of the district’s institutional buildings. These include the town hall, four churches, a library, and fire station, all designed by Boston architects.
The later 20th century has been dominated by Boston-oriented suburbanization in the Post Road District as well as Weston as a whole. Several houses here have been converted to commercial use, but building activity is otherwise characterized by residential infill, especially in the western part of the district. Due to the foresight of its citizens in establishing parks and acairing conservation land, however, the district still retains its rural atmosphere.
Typical of the small town center, residents of the Post Road District have included an array of locally prominent citizens; farmers, town officials, ministers, military men, merchants, professionals, a few small manufacturers, and well-to-do suburbanites.
The architecture of the district reflects this social heterogeneity as well as the various trends of historical development. The best-developed styles found along the Post Road are from the Georgian and Federal Periods. Especially notable is the district’s collection of intact taverns and law offices. The Victorian residential styles are prettily designed but minor in general significance. The large scale but aesthetically modest institutional buildings from the turn of the century are the second most impressive category of buildings. A number of builders and architects are known to have worked here, beginning with housewrights Jeduthan Baldwin [22 Church St] and John Paradee [28 School St] and extending to the local architect Samuel Mead [293 and 770 Boston Post Rd], noted Boston architects such as Peabody and Stearns [First Parish Church, 349 Boston Post Rd], Joseph Chandler [6 Conant Rd addition, Sears estate outbuilding at 335 Boston Post Rd], and several lesser known regional architects (Fox, Jenny and Gale, Bigelow and Wadsworth, Clifford Albright)
A sampling of representative buildings with historical significance follows. The Nathaniel Sibley House [104 Boston Post Rd] was built in 1854, although use of the property for a grist and saw mills goes back to 1679. In 1831 Messrs. Coolidge, Sibley, and Treat bought the property and erected a machine shop and a mill for cotton yarns, which continued under the sole ownership of Nathaniel Sibley from  to 1890. Also manufactured here were iron and steel harware, wood planing machines, the Sibley dove-tailer, and the Sibley pencil sharpener. The house is noteworthy as a relatively unchanged example of the Italianate style.
The imposing three-story Federal style [Lemuel Jones-Jeptha Stearns House, 177 Boston Post Rd] incorporates a house built by Lemuel Jones before 1757; the present appearance dates from c. 1807, when unrealized plans for use as a tavern were made. The building was occupied from 1815 to 1822 by Massachusetts Senator James Lloyd, who sold to John Mark Gorgas, a descendent of Huguenot nobility. The property is now used as a school.
Across the street stands the house [178 Boston Post Rd] built in 1842 for J. M. Gorgas’s son, John Louis Gorgas III. The house is an aspiring, though still traditional, example of the Greek Revival style.
The Edward Fiske House [215 Boston Post Rd] was built c. 1867; it is the first example of the Stick style in Weston. The assessment on the house when built was the highest in town for a residence.
In 1884 Robert Winsor built his house [9 Hemlock Rd] and stable [11 Hemlock Rd], the latter now a residence, in the simple Shingle style. Winsor was a partner in Kidder Peabody and Company and a local land developer. This was his first house in town and the first house designed by the young Weston architect, Samuel Mead. Three other Winsor houses were built across the Post Road on what is now Winsor Way. [Only two are now extant, One and 10 Winsor Way].
The Dr. Otis Hunt House [338 Boston Post Rd] was built [about 1851] for Dr. Hunt and stood on the north side of the Post Road until . Interrupting several doctors’ occupancies was the Rev. Edmund Sears, minister of the First Parish Church and author of the hymn “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” The house is a particularly lovely example of the Italianate style in Weston.
The Elisha Jones House [22 Church St], 1755, is an exceptionally fine Georgian building with an interesting history. The house was originally built for Elisha Jones, Weston’s first recorded storekeeper, by housewright Jeduthan Baldwin. It originally stood on Highland Street. Jones was active in twon government for 28 years, filling several important civic posts, but because of his Tory sympathies, in 1776 he was forced to flee to Boston. . . . The house was confiscated by the Commonwealth and sold in 1782 to Col. Thomas Marshall, one of George Washington’s officers. The house was moved twice in the 1880s, and additions were made in 1921 and 1932.
The First Parish Church [349 Boston Post Rd], 1888, is the fourth church building on this site; it replaces a series of structures dating from 1695, 1721 (with extensive renovations in 1800), and 1840 (a temple-front Greek Revival structure). The handsome cobblestone structure was designed by Peabody and Stearns in an English Gothic style and holds a dominant place in the town center near the Town Green. The Church contains stained glass windows by Tiffany and Connick along with a bell cast by Paul Revere.
Just behind on church property stands the David Lane Estate Ice House [since demolished.] . . .
Two important civic buildings face the large, roughly elliptical Town Green, which was carved out of a swamp in the mid-1910s by Arthur Shurcliff, landscape architect. To the north is the Weston Town Hall, an imposing Colonial Revival structure of 1917 by the Boston architects Bigelow and Wadsworth. The present structure replaced a Greek Revival-style town hall that stood directly on the Post Road.
Opposite the Town Green on the south is the Weston Public Library [356 Boston Post Rd], 1899-1900, Fox, Jenney, and Gale, architects. The Library was founded in 1857 and was originally located in the Old Town Hall.
Adjacent to the library is the Josiah Smith Tavern [358 Boston Post Rd], built in 1757 and enlarged in . In addition to innkeeper, Smith also acted as Justice of the Peace, Town Clerk, Selectman, and Delegate to the Provincial Congress in Concord. The building later housed a store, school, and shoe shop . . . .
The old commercial center is best represented by the Hersum Block [464-478 Boston Post Rd], which dates to 1890. This wood-frame, Italianate-style block is the only original commercial structure of its period remaining in the district, and by its small size and uniqueness illustrates the limited commercial function of the area. [Note: the Hersum Block was raised to three stories and heavily altered in 1989].
The Abraham Hews House [510 Boston Post Road] was built in 1765 by Abraham Hews, who established a small redware pottery. Sometime after 1794 the pottery was moved down the road to the property of Abraham Hews Jr. Hews Sr. marched to Lexington with Col. Lamson on April 19, 1775, and filled a umber of civic positions as well. The delicate federal styling appearing on the house at present probably results from Marshall Jones, who purchased the property in 1824. Jones established a harness and paint shop in the carriage house next door; he also served as Selectman and Town Treasurer.
The intersection of the Post Road and Concord Road–a triangle filled by Soldiers Park–features several properties of historic significance. The Rev. Samuel Woodward House [10 Concord Rd] 1753, was the home of the second ordained minister of the First Parish Church. . . .
On the south side of the intersection lie two historic cemeteries: the Farmers Burying Ground, Weston’s oldest with the earliest interrment dating to 1703, and, farther west, the Central Cemetery, first interrment 1792.
Prominently located opposite the Central Cemetery is the Fiske-Field House [639 Boston Post Rd], a distinguished Federal-style building of 1805. The house was built by Isaac Fiske, a Harvard graduate who practiced law in Weston for 30 years. The Fiske Law Office [626 Boston Post Rd], also built in 1805, stands across the street. . . . Fiske served over many decades as Town Clerk, Selectman, Representative to the General Court, and Registrar of Probate Records for Middlesex County. From 1816 to 1869 the house was occupied by the Rev. Joseph Field, the fourth ordained minister of the First Parish Church, under whose leadership the church quietly changed from Congregational to Unitarian.
Further west on the Post Road stands the Abraham Hews Jr. House [651 Boston Post Rd c. 1794]. The family pottery operated on this site from c. 1815 until 1871, when the business was moved to Cambridge. Shards are still found behind houses [in the area.] Not only a successful businessman, Hews Jr. was appointed Weston’s first postmaster in 1812 and acted as Surveyor of Lumber, school committee member, and assessor. Hews gave the land nearby for the second building of the First Baptist Church, constructed in 1828. Hews’s simple, refined Federal-style house is noteworthy for its brick ends.
The Albert Horatio Hews Mansion [699 Boston Post Rd ] 1880, reflects the later period of prosperity for the pottery, which was known as A.H. Hews & Company after 1871, [the year the company moved to North Cambridge.] Albert Horatio Hews owned one-third of the expanded business, which by 1889 employed 80-100 people and manufactured seven million pieces of pottery. . . .
The First Baptist Church [ ] 1923, replaced the second Baptist Church building, which was constructed on this site in 1828. The Baptist Society was formed in Weston in 1784, first occupying a small building on the south side of town. The congregation first protested paying the tax for the town-supported First Parish Church in 1780.
Opposite the First Baptist Church is the Golden Ball Tavern [662 Boston Post Rd], 1768, whose property includes an 18th century barn. Both Isaac Jones and the tavern he built played a significant role in Weston’s history. Despite being considered a Tory at the beginning of the Revolution, Jones was re-elected Selectman before the end of the war and continied in office for 10 years; for six years he was Representative to the General Court. The building is open as a museum and is included in the Historic American Building Survey.
The West Center School [700 Boston Post Rd], 1852, was one of six schools built by the town in the 1850s. This small Greek Revival structure was moved from Highland Avenue in 1931 when the by-pass was constructed. It is now used as a residence.
The [Mirick/Farnsworth House at 751 Boston Post Rd, c. 1721] is set far back and down from the road, behind an orchard– its third location on the same property. . . .The main part of the house was probably built [c. 1721] making it one of the oldest houses in Weston. The property still contains 47 1/2 acres of land.
]Nearby at 787 Boston Post Road is the “Vineyard” ] c. 1777– a transition between the Georgian and Federal styles. It was probably built by Enoch Greenleaf, a merchant dealing in West Indian and English goods. Although Greenleaf had Tory sympathies during the Revolution, he loaned large sums to the town.]
The Alpheus Bigelow Jr. House [863 Boston Post Rd], 1827, is a large Federal style building. A graduate of Harvard, Bigelow later studied law with Isaac Fiske and Tyler Bigelow. The Bigelow Law Office [3 Applecrest Rd] was built across the road and has been recorded by HABS.