Kendal Green Historic District

The history of the Kendal Green district was greatly influenced by the construction of the Hook & Hastings Co organ factory in the late 1880s on Viles Street just north of the railroad tracks.

 

1917 brochure for the Hook & Hastings Co, once Weston's largest industry

The Kendal Green Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 1, 2001, includes the following properties:

75, 77, 81A, 81, 83, 85, 87 Brook Rd; 200, 205, 206, 214 Church St; 3 Hobbs Brook Rd; 9 Marshall Way; 70, 87, 88, 99, 107-109, 121, 126, 135, 147, 153, 163, 171, 189, 190, 191, 199, 219, 221, 225, 227, 231, 237 North Ave (also Kendal Green Fire Station); 108, 126-128, and 130-134 Viles St.

Kendal Green Historic District Nomination Form (text, data sheets, and photographs)

 

Map

Description

Summary of Significance

Criterion A: Significance to the history and development of Weston

Hobbs Tannery

Hook & Hastings Co organ factory

Criterion B: Associations with persons of significance: General James F.B. Marshall and Francis Henry Hastings

Criterion C: Architecturally significant structures

Recent history

Bibliography

 

Description

163 North Avenue was the home of prosperous farmers for more than a century.

The Kendal Green Historic District is a residential neighborhood in northeast Weston,approximately 50 acres in size, extending three-quarters of a mile along historic North Avenue(Route 117) between Hobbs Brook Road and Viles Street. North Avenue is a well-travelled two lane state highway running in a northwesterly direction from its point of origin on Route 20 in Waltham through Weston to Lincoln and points west. The district boundaries diverge from North Avenue to include a turn-of-the century railroad station on Church Street and factory worker housing on Viles Street and Brook Road. North Avenue has been an important road since the early days of settlement and the Kendal Green Historic District is the location of a diverse group of architecturally significant buildings dating from the early 18th to the early 20th century.

These buildings represent three historical themes in the development of Weston: its origins as arural, agricultural community, the importance of industry, and the appeal of Weston as a summer resort community. Because Kendal Green developed over time and includes many different building types–from farmsteads to worker housing to a summer resort hotel–the district has nosingle visual theme. Its appeal is, rather, the architectural significance of the individual structures and their irregular placement along the roadway to create a pleasant and diversified streetscapeenhanced by mature trees, fieldstone walls and retaining walls, and occasional open fields and woodland.

The district contains a total of 48 resources, of which 40 are contributing (36 buildings, two sites and two structures) and eight are non-contributing. Of the 36 contributing buildings, six are barns and outbuildings. The two contributing structures are a turn-of-the-century gazebo and well. The two contributing sites are the site of the Hobbs Tannery and the site of the Hook and Hastings Organ Factory playing field. The eight non-contributing resources are all small, one-story, post-World War II houses, in ranch, contemporary or traditional styles. Most are unobtrusive because of their setback, their siting either above or below the grade of North Avenue (Route 117), and/or ample vegetative screening. The district boundary has been drawn to exclude a number of 1950s ranch houses on the south side of North Avenue which do not contribute to the character of the district. The properties within the district are in good to excellent condition and have been well-maintained. In many cases, original design character and historic building fabric are completely intact. The houses at 225 North Avenue, 126 and 130 Viles and 83 and 85 Brook Road are covered with aluminum or vinyl siding which hides the trim boards and, in some cases, the original shingles; however, porch trim and hoods over doorways have been preserved.

Important natural and man-made features have shaped the appearance of the district. Just south of North Avenue, running roughly parallel to the road, is Stony Brook, a major tributary of the Charles River. Stony Brook flows through the district at only one point, when it crosses under Viles Street. Although otherwise just outside the boundary, Stony Brook represents the topographical low point of the area. A second major tributary, Hobbs Brook, flows through the southern end of the district and joins with Stony Brook just south of the railroad tracks. Hobbs Brook has been dammed since the early years of settlement to form a pond known as Hobbs Pond and later Brown’s Pond. Like Stony Brook, Hobbs Brook and Hobbs Pond are topographical low points.

The topographical high point of the area is Cat Rock Hill, which rises to an elevation of 90 feet above sea level just outside the district, on the north side of North Avenue near the intersection of Viles Street. Within a distance of little more than 1500 feet in some areas, the land slopes down from the high point of Cat Rock Hill to the low lying marshland along the banks of Stony Brook. The path of the roadway runs about halfway between the pinnacle and the brook. In the mid- 19th century, engineers for the Fitchburg Railroad (now the Boston and Maine) chose the same natural passageway for the route of the railroad tracks which form part of the southern boundary of the Kendal Green district.

The Whitney Tavern at 171 North Avenue is the oldest house in the district.

No other district or potential district in Weston includes such a wide variety of architectural styles and building types within such a small area. The oldest structure is an early 18th century tavern with a saltbox roofline. The area contains several 18th century houses and two Federal period farmhouses. Well-preserved early barns reflect the town’s rural, agricultural roots. In the period farmhouses. Well-preserved early barns reflect the town’s rural, agricultural roots. In the late 19th century an organ factory was located within the district, and the Shingle Style factory owner’s house, stable and caretaker’s house still survive, along with twelve Shingle Style and Queen Anne houses built by or for factory workers. Also within the district is a well-preserved Shingle Style resort hotel and two associated residences, one Shingle Style “cottage” and the second, an unusual log bungalow. The area includes a fine Mansard cottage and small shop, a turn-of-the-century railroad station, a house used for half a century as a general store and post office, and an all-concrete early 20th century fire station.

With only one exception, 18th and early 19th century houses were built on the north side of North Avenue, on the upland side of the road, where they face in a south or southwesterly direction. Land on this side of the road, especially from #87 to #199 is flat and well-drained. Between #219 and #237 North Avenue, house sites on the north side of the road are steeply sloped in back, as they are built along the side of Cat Rock Hill. The houses on Brook Road are located on a flat plain, but just behind them the grade rises steeply upward again.

Because the district developed over more than two centuries, the size and configuration of house lots, the type of houses, and the placement and setback of houses is irregular. Building setbacks vary between about 30 and 250 feet. The largest parcel within the district is 11.6 acres at the southwest corner of North Avenue and Viles Street and the second largest is the 5.58 acres of conservation land. With these two exceptions, few properties are over one acre. The largest lots are on the north side of North Avenue. Factory worker houses on Viles Street and Brook Road are built on small lots ranging from about 1/5th to 1/2 acre.

Landscape features contribute to the character of the district. Many of the houses have grassed lawns, perennial gardens and mature foundation plantings, along with mature trees– some of exceptional size. The district is notable for the quantity and variety of stone walls, particularly along North Avenue. Because many of the houses on the north side of the street are sited on slightly elevated lots, this side of the road has fieldstone retaining walls at 87, 135, 163, 191, 199, 219, 225, 227, 231 and 237 North Avenue and also 9 Marshall Way. The 11-acre property at 190 North Avenue at the corner of Viles Street is enclosed on the two street sides with single and double-laid pink granite walls. The wall in front of 237 North Avenue is fieldstone with a cast stone cap. Notable stone piers marking driveway entrances can be found at 163 North Avenue and at the former summer resort at 135 North Avenue, where the rock-faced granite block piers have pyramidal caps.

199 North Avenue is a Shingle style house built for organ factory owner Francis Henry Hastings.

The principal open land within the district is the 11.6-acre Francis H. Hastings property, location of the factory owner’s home and the factory site. Except for the landscaped area around the house, this property is now deciduous woodland which has grown up on land which was previously deforested. This largely undeveloped land is important to the character of the district.

North of the F.H. Hastings House site, the property slopes down sharply toward the railroad tracks and Stony Brook. The second large parcel of open land, 5.5 acres, is town conservation land maintained as marsh and woodland. The town also owns a 2.6-acre field at the corner of Viles and Brook Road used for baseball and general recreational purposes. This open field enhances the streetscape at the south end of Brook Road.

1999 photograph of 225 North Avenue, one of a group of three houses built for organ factory workers on North Avenue. This house was destroyed in a gas explosion

(See nomination form for descriptions of individual properties within the district)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Significance

The Kendal Green Historic District, Weston, retains its integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association and fulfills Criteria A, B and C of the National Register at the local level.

Five generations of the Hobbs family operated a tannery on the property at 87 North Avenue.

Under Criterion A, the Kendal Green Historic District had a significant role in the development of Weston beginning in the early 1700s. The district extends along North Avenue, which was second only to Boston Post Road in historical importance and density of settlement. In the early days, North Avenue was known by other names, among them North Country Road, Concord Road, Lancaster Road, Lancaster Turnpike, Great Road, and “the road leading to Waltham.” The streetscape and buildings within the district reflect the gradual evolution of the Kendal Green area over two centuries from its rural, agrarian beginnings. The oldest building is a ca.1707 tavern built to serve travelers along North Avenue. Included within the district are important resources relating to two industries important in Weston history: the Hobbs Tannery, which prospered for over a century beginning about 1730 and spawned related businesses including shoe and bootmaking; and the Hook and Hastings Organ Factory, which moved here in 1889. The latter, a nationally-known company which manufactured music hall and church organs shipped all over the country, was for nearly half a century the largest industry in Weston. Although the factory itself has not survived, the district includes the owner’s house, stable and caretaker’s house and numerous workers’ cottages. The district also includes the former Drabbington Lodge, the only remaining hostelry from Weston’s period of popularity as a summer resort for Bostonians anxious for a respite from the city.

Under Criterion B, Kendal Green is associated with two men who made significant contributions to the history of the community, state or nation. General James F. B. Marshall was an Incorporator, Trustee and influential early administrator of the Hampton Institute of Virginia, a school founded after the Civil War for the education of black teachers. Upon his retirement to Weston in 1884, he remained active in many progressive causes on behalf of African Americans and Native Americans in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. Francis Henry Hastings was a partner and later sole owner of the prestigious Hook and Hastings Organ Factory. Under Hastings leadership, the company retained its preeminence after the death of the founding Hook brothers. When it closed in 1935, it was the oldest extant firm of pipe organ builders founded in the United States.1 After moving the factory from Roxbury to Weston in 1889, Hastings worked to create a “community of labor” with an atmosphere of mutual respect between employer and employee.

Under Criterion C , Kendal Green is a linear district extending along part of one of Weston’s earliest and most important transportation routes. It contains a rich and diverse collection of architecturally significant structures set within a 19th century rural landscape enhanced by mature trees and fieldstone walls. Included are a wide variety of building types, among them an early 18th century tavern, 19th century factory owner’s house and workers’ cottages, turn-of-the century summer resort hotel and early 20th century fire station. Buildings vary in size and include important Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Mansard, Queen Anne and Shingle Style examples characteristic of these styles. Architects were involved in the design of many of the post-Civil War buildings. Among their more unusual creations are a log bungalow in the Craftsman style and an all-concrete Classical Revival fire station–both unusual in style and use of materials. The period of significance spans from 1707 — the date of the earliest building, the Whitney Tavern–to 1950. The latter date marks the beginning of post-World War II development and also coincides with the 50-year cut-off which is customary for National Register listing.

Criterion A: Significance in the Development of the Town

 

 

Photograph of the Hobbs-Hagar house at 88 North Avenue shows the elms that once graced Weston’s roads.

Weston was originally the westernmost section of the Watertown settlement. The exact period when the town was first settled is unknown but is thought to have been about the mid-17th century, when land in “the Farms” was first allotted to residents. Farmers are documented to have moved to the north side of Weston by the late 17th century. In 1694, what is now Weston was set off as a separate “Farmer’s Precinct” with its own meeting house, which was located about a mile down Church Street from the Kendal Green district.

The importance of the Kendal Green area stems in part from its location at the convergence of three important roadways thought to have originated as Indian trails. North Avenue was a primary thoroughfare from Boston to New Hampshire and Vermont and then into Canada. Northern farmers used this route to drive livestock to slaughterhouses in Brighton and bring produce to Boston markets. Within the Kendal Green Historic District, North Avenue intersects with Church Street–which runs in a southwesterly direction to the Weston meeting house and town center– and with Lexington Street, which runs in a northeasterly direction to Lexington. 18th and early 19th century travelers may have stopped for refreshment at the Whitney Tavern at171 North Avenue (ca.1707-8, Map #11, MHC 18), reputed to have been built for WilliamWhitney, who married Martha Pierce of Weston in 1706. Little is known of the early history of the tavern except for a brief caption in Lamson’s History of the Town of Weston, which says that Mr. Whitney, who owned and occupied it as a tavern, once kept the famous “Punch Bowl” tavern in Brookline.

In 1729, Josiah Hobbs purchased 122 acres along North Avenue at the heart of the Kendal Green Historic District, including water rights to what is now known as “Hobbs Brook.” The Hobbs Tannery, which may have been established as early as 1730, was among the first tanneries in the Massachusetts colony and was so well-known that it was a custom in early days to locate houses and people in Weston by their distance from the tannery.

Tanning hides was an important colonial industry, as the tough, strong leather material was indispensable for use in harnesses, saddles and shoes. Making leather required an abundant water supply. Hides had to be washed and soaked in vats of lime solution to loosen the hair, then scraped, smoothed, and tanned in pits of water containing ground-up bark, which produced tannin. The tannin slowly penetrated the hides in the tan pits and turned them into leather, a process which took 12 to 18 months. The leather was pounded to make it flexible and then “dressed” by curriers who stretched the hides and kneaded them in oil.

Five generations of the Hobbs family operated the tannery for over a century and branched out into slaughtering cattle and making harnesses, carriages, whips, leather cartridge boxes, belts, boots and shoes. Of Josiah Hobbs’ eight children, the oldest, Ebenezer (b.1709) is the ancestor of all the Hobbs family in Weston. The houses at 121 North Avenue (18th c., Map #6, MHC 23) and 87 North Avenue (Map #2, MHC 27) are the earliest family dwelling houses. In 1786, the third son of Isaac Hobbs, also named Isaac (Jr.)(1765 – 1834) built the house now known as the Hobbs-Hagar House across the street at 88 North Avenue (Map #38, MHC 26). Isaac Jr. married Mary Baldwin in 1790 and their daughter, Mary Ann, married Nathan Hagar in 1832. Nathan Hagar formed the partnership of Hobbs and Hagar with his father-in-law. On the death of Isaac Hobbs Jr.in 1834, Nathan and Mary Ann Hagar moved to the Hobbs-Hagar House, and their descendants occupied it into the 20th century.

After Isaac Jr. died, the family real estate and personal property was appraised. The resulting probate document provides insight into the extent of the business. Along with various dwelling houses, the property included a tanyard containing about 60 vats, bark houses, currying shop, and “all the necessary buildings for doing an extensive business” with sufficient water power for grinding the bark, pulling hides and rolling leather, “with mills for same.” Several thousand skins and hides are listed, along with over two thousand finished boots, bootees, shoes, slippers, pumps and brogans and great quantities of shoe-making supplies.

The Hobbs enterprises were typical of water-powered industries in rural towns throughout New England in the pre-Civil War period, before the establishment of large mechanized factories geared toward mass production. Probably because of the presence of the tannery, boots and shoes were the principal articles manufactured in Weston by the late 1830s, according to John Warner Barber’s Historical Collections. 5 Barber reported that in 1837, 5,606 pairs of boots and 17,182 pairs of shoes were manufactured in the town, a figure thought to represent about the peak of the leather industry here. The firm of Hobbs and Hagar continued the shoe factory until about 1850 and the tannery closed shortly before the death of Nathan Hagar in 1860.

Shoemaking was an important cottage industry in the Kendal Green area until the mid-19th century. Among those who made shoes in their homes was Jonas Hastings, a cordwainer born in Weston in 1784, Jonas acquired property on both sides of North Avenue over a period of about thirty years, from 1805 to 1834, and, in 1823, tore down an old house on the property now numbered 199 North Avenue and erected the Hastings Homestead (Map #14, MHC 14). By about 1833, the west end was occupied by his son, Francis Hastings, who married that year. This Francis Hastings, a bootmaker and farmer, was the father of the organ manufacturer, Francis Henry Hastings, who was brought up in his grandfather’s house.

163 North Avenue was occupied by generations of prosperous dairy farmers belonging to the Bigelow, Stone, and Coburn families.

Except for the tannery, land within the Kendal Green Historic District was used for farming. The Hastings land was farmed, as was the neighboring land which, by the 1820s, belonged to Converse Bigelow. In 1859, the Bigelow farmhouse (Map #10, MHC 19) and 70 acres were sold to Kendall H. Stone, who established a large dairy farm. In 1881, Stone sold the property to Edward Coburn, member of a prominent Weston farm family, who turned it over to his son, Thomas. The huge barn set right on North Avenue in front of the house had space for over 30 cows and five or six horses. Coburn’s dairy was large enough to support three or four regular employees. After Thomas’s death in 1916, his son Harold (Sr.) managed the farm, which continued in operation until after World War II.

The construction of the Fitchburg Railroad (later the Boston and Maine) in 1844-45 did not immediately change land use within the district, which remained predominantly agricultural until the late 1880s. The railroad stopped at what was then called the “Weston” station on Church Street, location of the present Kendal Green Railroad Station (c.1901, Map #36, MHC 247), which replaced an earlier depot shown on the 1875 map. A second stop just outside the Kendal Green Historic District, called “Hastings”, was added later when the organ factory was established here. Although the railroad increased transportation options, North Avenue continued to be heavily used. In 1874 the town established a watering place near the Hagar House with a pump and stone trough for the benefit of the traveling public.

In the early 1880s, the Hobbs land at the corner of North Avenue and Church Street was inherited by General James F.B.Marshall (1818-1891), nephew of Abigail and Samuel Hobbs. Marshall, who served as paymaster general of the Massachusetts militia during the Civil War, was one of several Weston residents important in the establishment of the Hampton Institute in Virginia, a school for the education of black teachers founded at the close of the Civil War.6 Marshall was an incorporator and original trustee who initially helped by raising money in Boston and later became the school’s treasurer, assistant principal, and bookkeeping teacher. With General Samuel Armstrong, Marshall is sometimes referred to as the co-founder of the Hampton Institute.

The property inherited by General Marshall included three houses on the north side of the street (#87, 107-9, and 121) and thirty acres. He enlarged and remodelled the 18th century Isaac Hobbs House at #87 and called his North Avenue estate “Kendal Green.” As a well-known educator, Marshall received many letters, and in 1885 the postal service decided to open an office to serve the northern part of Weston, to be located two doors down from Marshall’s retirement home. Marshall suggested the name “Kendal Green” as being “of pleasant sound and significance,” as he explained in a Letter to the Editor of December, 1885.7 According to the letter, “Kendal” commemorated Marshall’s grandfather, Rev. Samuel Kendal, last of Weston’s colonial pastors and an important figure in the early history of the town. “Kendal Green” was the name of a green cloth manufactured in the English town of Kendal and adopted as a uniform by Robert, Earl of Huntington, when he was outlawed and took the name of Robin Hood. Marshall’s letter quotes Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, Act II, Scene VI, when Prince Hall asks Falstaff, “How couldst thou know these men in Kendal Green, when ’twas so dark thou couldst not see thy hands?” By 1886, the Kendal Green Post office was in operation along with a small general store. The railroad station adopted the name as well.

George Warren Brodrick ran the general store and post office located at 107-109 North Avenue.

The post office and general store soon became an integral part of the Kendal Green neighborhood. In 1899, both were taken over by George Warren Brodrick (1872-1952), who ran Brodrick’s Store at 107-9 North Avenue (Map #4, MHC 24) for half a century. Residents who called for their mail at the post office lingered to discuss local or national politics or eat sandwiches at the “tea room” built off the end of the store. By 1897, the town installed a scale in front of the store for weighing coal and farm produce, and by the 1930s, Brodrick’s had a gasoline pump.

Major change came to the district in the late 1880s when the firm of E. and G.G. Hook and Hastings, nationally known manufacturer of church and concert hall organs, moved from Roxbury to Weston– to a large wooden factory in a farm field at the corner of Viles Street and the Fitchburg Railroad tracks.8 Hook and Hastings was the largest industry ever established in Weston and moved to town when many small local mills were closing. At a time when the town’s population was about 1,700 persons, the factory employed over 70 workers; and its presence influenced not only the Kendal Green area but also the economy of the town as a whole.

Because of the organ factory, Kendal Green developed somewhat differently from other parts of Weston. Because factory worker housing was scattered within the Kendal Green Historic District and just outside its boundaries, the area does not have the appearance of a “company town.” Nevertheless, almost one quarter of the district’s housing stock is made up of small houses on small lots built in the 1890s by and for workers. The center, south, and northwest sections of Weston tended to be more popular locations for large estates–a preference which reflects the impact not just of the factory but also of the railroad and busy North Avenue. The factory was quite compatible with existing farms, some of which remained in operation until the 1950s.

The history of the organ factory begins in 1827, when Elias Hook (1805-1881) and his brother, George G. Hook (1807-1880), formed the organ building firm of E. and G.G.Hook. By the 1850’s, the company was located on Tremont Street in Roxbury and was the largest organ factory in the country. Francis Henry Hastings (1836-1916) joined the firm in 1855 at age 19. Hastings had grown up in Weston in the “Hastings Homestead” at 199 North Avenue (Map #14, MHC 14), and received his only formal education at the nearby District School #4. He left school at age 14 to work as an apprentice, making tools in a machine shop, and five years later took a job at the Hook factory. His mechanical ability and business acumen proved valuable and in 1866, the Hook brothers took him into the firm as a co-partner, later changing the name to “E. and G.G. Hook and Hastings.” In 1880 and 1881 the Hook brothers died, and Hastings purchased their share of the business. Long after their deaths, Hastings kept the prestigious “Hook” name–even when the firm was reorganized as a corporation in 1893.

Francis Henry Hastings built this house at 199 North Avenue in 1885.

Not long after Hastings took over control of the company, he moved his residence to Weston, to a fashionable new Shingle Style house built on family farmland almost directly across from his childhood home. The house, with the picturesque name “Seven Gables,” still stands at 190 North Avenue (Map #31, MHC 16). Across the street, he built a stable (191 North Avenue, Map #13, MHC 15) and caretaker’s house (189 North Avenue, Map #12, MHC 17).

Francis Henry Hastings house (190 North Ave) from the rear, in c. mid-1890s photograph.

In 1887, Hastings began building the west wing of a new organ factory located just a few hundred yards from his house. As the town had no zoning regulations, nothing prevented construction of a factory amidst farm fields, nor did local residents seem to object. The company moved to the new building in 1889 and the east wing was added in 1891.

The Hook & Hastings factory had an 80 foot center section and two 100 foot wings.

Postcards and photographs document the appearance of the huge wooden building, torn down in 1936. The three-story structure had an 80-foot long center section with a hip roof plus the two flat-roofed 100-foot wings. The complex included a lumber storage shed and railroad spur line used to bring lumber and materials directly onto the property and load finished organs onto railroad cars for shipment throughout the country. Inside the factory were rooms for the manufacture of wood and metal pipes, mill rooms where fine cabinets were constructed to house the organs, and a “Voicing Room” where employees perfected the individual sounds of each stop and the proper blending of the whole. The finished organs could be assembled in the monumental central “finishing” or “erecting” room, where hundreds of employees and neighborhood residents would assemble for a concert before an important organ was dismantled and crated for shipment.

Numerous reasons have been put forward as to why Hastings chose to move the factory to Weston. His parents were growing older (his mother died in 1888 and his father in 1889). Family farmland now available for new uses was conveniently located on the railroad line. Hasting’s only child was sickly and might benefit from the rural air. Labor troubles may also have been a factor. In an article in the Boston Herald in 1890, Hastings outlined his hope to create both a harmonious work-place and community at Kendal Green. Histories of the company indicate that he succeeded in avoiding the strikes which were endemic to the period.

"White Lane" (now Brook Road) showing cottages built for workers at the nearby organ factory.

The Boston Herald discussed at length the harmonious relations between Francis H.Hastings and workers at his factory and how the community which grew up around the factory “represents almost the ideal of relations between man and man.”9 It described 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. 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 the south end 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 by grading the land and assisting with finding a water supply.

The factory employed highly skilled craftsman, many of whom worked for the company for decades. Hastings once remarked that “a large factory like ours must comprise almost every branch of mechanics…workmen in wood, in metal, in leather, knowledge of music and acoustics, architecture, electricity, pneumatics, hydraulics….”10 Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians and Swedes, were well-represented in the workforce.

This photograph shows houses on Viles St and White Lane (now Brook Road) built for organ factory workers and the Hook & Hastings Co.

The Kendal Green Historic District contains three groups of cottages built by Hastings or by employees themselves. Another cluster of three double cottages is located on Lexington Street just outside the district (MHC 183). According to newspaper sources, workers’ cottages were deliberately scattered on three different farms owned by Hastings to avoid the appearance of a “factory town.” The first worker housing to be built were the two double houses at 126 and 130 Viles (Map #22 and 21, MHC 184 and 185) and three cottages on Lexington Street, built in 1887 when the factory was still under construction. A third house of a different style called the “Block House ”(since demolished) was already located on Viles Street close to the railroad tracks and had four three-room apartments for factory workers.

Group of three cottages built for organ factory workers at 225-231 North Avenue, in c. mid-1890s photograph.

Row of three houses built for organ factory workers at 225 - 231 North Avenue, in mid-1890s photograph.

In 1893, Hastings built the three cottages on North Avenue (#225,227 and 231 North Avenue, Map #17,18,19, MHC 186-188) 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 #30-25, MHC 189-195) One of these was purchased from its first owner, a Mr. Andrews, in 1895. The Andrews House is believed to be 81 Brook Road (Map #28). A reservoir built in the woods on the west side of Cat Rock Hill supplied water to workers cottages and factory buildings.

Hastings also built Hastings Hall, a community center used by both employees and neighborhood residents. Hastings Hall, which was demolished in 1944, was located on the west side of Viles Street just north of the railroad tracks. The two-story building had meeting rooms used for entertainments and lectures, a reading room with daily and weekly papers, journals and magazines, a small library, and a room for games. Near the hall was the large playing field which now belongs to the Town of Weston (Map #24) and was used, when the factory was in operation, for events like company baseball games against the rival Waltham Watch Company.

District School #4 on North Avenue was the last of Weston's six district schools to be closed.

Hastings was the driving force behind many major community social events beginning with the 1893 reunion of the North Avenue School. The one-room schoolhouse, which was used until the 1930s and has since been demolished, was located on the north side of North Avenue just southeast of the three North Avenue worker’s cottages. The schoolhouse was built in the early 1850s to replace an earlier one-room schoolhouse which appears on the 1795 map at the same location. Francis Henry Hastings himself received all his formal education in the 18th century schoolhouse. At the reunion, visitors played badminton on his lawn and a reported five hundred former students and their families and guests enjoyed a catered supper served under a large tent on the Hastings property. Six years later, at age 62, Hastings married the schoolmistress, Miss Anna Coburn, who was then 46 years old.

The company frequently sponsored recitals showcasing newly completed organs and, in 1904, held a banquet and recital at Hastings Hall for employees and their families to celebrate the completion of the company’s 2,000th organ. In 1906, when Hastings was 70 years old, his employees gave him a party reportedly attended by 300 neighbors and friends who gathered at “Seven Gables.” Seventy-one employees signed an engraved testimonial recognizing not only his important influence on the community but also his position as “head of his profession–that of The Art of Organ Building.” Hastings died in 1916 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Arthur Coburn, who had joined the company as Secretary of the Corporation and Superintendent in 1897.

Hook and Hastings Co was a nationally known manufacturer of church and concert hall organs.

In its 108 years of operation in Boston and Weston, E.and G.G.Hook and Hook and Hastings produced an estimated 2614 organs ranging in size from eight to 80 feet and costing from $900 to $40,000 or more. The company made 650 organs for churches and halls in Massachusetts, including instruments for the Tremont Temple (1845, 1853, 1880), Church of the Immaculate Conception in Boston (1863), First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston (1906, 1928), and St. Paul’s Cathedral in Boston (1921). Their works were known for superior standards of craftsmanship and are considered among the finest examples of 19th and early 20th century organ building. Organs such as the one built for the Cincinnati Music Hall in 1877–with its four manuals, 96 speaking registers, and 6237 pipes–were the largest in the country when built. Such organs attracted widespread public attention, and the firm’s ability to handle the problems of producing and installing large instruments contributed to its fame.

After Hastings death in 1916, management of the company passed to Arthur Coburn, president, Norman Jacobsen, vice-president and supervising designer, and Alfred R. Pratt, secretary and superintendent– all associates of Hastings for two decades. In the late 1920s, the company built its most famous modern organ, the “Rockefeller Organ” for the Riverside Church in New York City. The instrument required one year to construct at the factory and nine-months to install the 20 truckloads of organ parts. It contained 167 stops, 2900 magnets, and 22,000 contacts, and the wires, if placed end to end, would extend a distance of more than 100 miles.

The following accolade was written by the organist and choir director after the job wascompleted in 1931:

In this age of mass production and constantly increasing mechanization of life, it is encouraging to find at least one group of highly skilled artisans such as your company has, who put into their work the best that is in them, and who obviously regard the construction of an organ as a work of art and not merely a commercial ‘job’.

Despite its continued reputation for excellence, the factory closed not long thereafter. Talking pictures had eliminated the need for organ accompaniment, and municipal and church budgets were drastically reduced during the Depression. After A.L.Coburn died in 1931, the company continued for a few years under Alfred Pratt and then closed its doors in 1935. In 1936 thefactory building was demolished by a professional wrecking company.

The history of firefighting in the Kendal Green district is, not surprisingly, linked to the history of the Hook and Hastings and its large wooden factory building. Francis Hastings was instrumental in the establishment of fire protection services in the area; and firefighting apparatus was stored in the Hastings Barn until 1908, when the Kendal Green Fire Station was built (Map #32, MHC 240). This station was used only until 1917, when it was closed because of World War I to save money. By that time motorized fire trucks from the town center could reach the northside. Local tradition holds that the reinforced concrete fire station, which is sited directly at the edge of the road pavement, was part of a decade-long effort to prevent the establishment of a trolley line along North Avenue.

Although the tannery and later the organ factory were major industries in the Kendal Green area, they do not appear to have detracted from the picturesque quality of the rural landscape. Late 19th century photographs show the factory set within a landscape of rolling hills and open fields divided by stone walls, with many fewer trees than exist today.

Beginning in the early 19th century, this pastoral landscape attracted city dwellers during the summer. The earliest known summer resident was Deacon Samuel Barrett, who lived in the house that Jonas Hastings tore down in 1823. In the late 1870s, Boston wool merchant Albert L. Brown and his wife, Mary, purchased several parcels totaling 60 acres extending from North Avenue to the railroad tracks and the Waltham town line and also including the old tanyard (Map #1) and part of Hobbs Pond, which became known as Brown’s Pond. The Browns built a large clapboard house in the Italianate style where they spent each summer (70 North Avenue, Map #40, MHC 28). Brown laid out private roads through the woods and fields of his estate so the family could drive their guests around in carriages without being inconvenienced by traffic on the road. Although the family returned to Cambridge each winter, local residents used Brown’s Pond for skating and cutting ice.

The Drabbington Lodge, a popular summer resort, was established in the 1890s by the Thurston family.

Those who could not afford their own country place could stay at the Drabbington Lodge (Map #7, MHC 22), Weston’s most important summer resort hotel, established in the 1890s by George A. Thurston and his wife Sarah, who came from Drabbington, England. Initially, the operation was housed in a picturesque early farmhouse and barn which burned to the ground in 1898 and was replaced by the present Shingle Style structure designed by architect Frank W. Weston in 1899. The lodge had an open porch across the front, first floor reception rooms, parlors, sitting and dining rooms, and about 30 bedrooms on the second and third floors, with two bathrooms on each floor.13 The location on North Avenue combined all the advantages of the country within easy commuting distance of the city. According to early advertisements, the lodge was “delightfully located on high land, where cool breezes blow in the summer and a charming view may be had all the year around. There is every opportunity there for golf, tennis, croquet and other amusements, while the ample gardens furnish a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as flowers.” The lodge had its own nine-hole golf course behind the inn. As described in a local anecdotal history,Once Upon a Pung, “well-to-do people would spend several weeks there rocking on the porch, playing golf, or walking….” Newspaper clippings from the early 20th century gave the names of guests arriving each week, usually from Boston. In the early 20th century, Drabbington Lodge was also open during the winter, with coasting and sledding as two favorite activities.

This early postcard shows two additional buildings constructed by the Thurstons as part of the Drabbington Lodge operation: the "cottage" at left (153 North Ave) and "bungalow" at right (147 North Ave)

The “Thurston Cottage” to the west of the lodge at 153 North Avenue (Map #9, MHC 20) was built in 1902 and used as overflow guest quarters and the Thurston family summer home. In 1904, the Thurstons built the “Bungalow,” (147 North Avenue, Map #8, MHC 21) a rustic log cabin style house reportedly used as the family’s winter residence. Postcards show the log cabin labeled as the “Drabbington Annex.” In the height of the season, all three buildings were filled. The stable for the lodge was located across the road until it burned down in 1928. Sarah Thurston died in 1910 and a year later, George married Lenore Allen. Lenore ran the inn from the time of her husband’s death in 1923 until about 1935.

Recent History of the District (1930 to the present)

The North Avenue School (District School #4) closed at the end of the 1931-32 school year.

Kendal Green had strongly supported its neighborhood school even after more than three decades of centralized schooling. School #4 was the last of Weston’s six one-room schoolhouses to remain in use, and its closure marked the beginning of change in this close-knit community.

The Hastings Organ Factory closed in 1935 and was demolished in 1936, marking the end of the industrial era in Weston. The closure and subsequent removal of the huge wooden factory building took away an institution which had been central to the Kendal Green community for over 45 years. By that time, in the middle of the depression, the factory had been faltering for some time, and many workers had already been let go. For some employees, the transition was eased by the fact that they could continue to rent their company-owned houses. The extensive organ factory land holdings– including worker housing on Brook Road, Viles Street, North Avenue and Lexington Street– were not subdivided and sold until 1951, after the death of Anna Coburn Hastings. By that time, the economy had improved, and some families were able to purchase the homes they had rented for decades.

The Drabbington Lodge also closed during the Depression, and the building was leased to the Posse-Nissen School, where girls were trained in physical education. In later years, the former lodge was adapted for its present use as a retirement home. The Kendal Green Post Office and Brodrick’s general store closed during World War II and the building was converted into a private residence. The Coburn dairy farm (163 North Avenue, Map #10) continued in operation into the 1950s, and Coburn descendants recall that the fields around Kendal Green were still planted with corn until the post-war building boom began.

The Weston section of Route 128 opened in 1951 and the road was completed to Braintree in 1958. Technology firms flocked to the Route 128 corridor, increasing the value of land in Weston as well as the volume of traffic along North Avenue (Route 117). Although North Avenue does not connect directly to Route 128, it still carries traffic to the highway and to the many industrial complexes which lie in Waltham just over the town line. The speed, volume and noise of vehicles is a continuing cause of complaint.

Like other cities and towns along the 128 corridor, Weston experienced explosive growth beginning in the 1950s–growth which resulted in subdivision of larger properties. Within the Kendal Green Historic District, the first parcels to be subdivided were the Coburn farmland south of North Avenue and the land behind the Drabbington Lodge, which had once been the golf course for the hostelry. Modest Colonial and ranch houses were built here in the early 1950s.

After Philip Miller’s death in 1956, the Miller Farm was subdivided and 28 acres, largely outside the district, were developed on Hobbs Brook and Forest Ridge Roads. Hobbs Brook Road was put through the former Brown Estate/Miller Farm in the early 1960s. Overlook Road was developed on former Hastings land in the late 1950s and Whitney Tavern Road on former Coburn farmland in the late 1960s.

Although development clearly changed the Kendal Green district, residential buildings in place by the turn of the century still remain except for an organ factory tenement house on Viles Street.

Industrial and institutional buildings have been lost, including the organ factory, Hastings Hall (demolished 1944) and the North Avenue School. Substantial outbuildings have also been lost, including the Drabbington Lodge stable, which burned down in 1928, and two large dairy barns on North Avenue belonging to the Coburn and Miller farms, which burned down or were demolished after World War II.

 

Criterion B: Association with persons of significance: James F. B. Marshall and Francis Henry Hastings


General James F. B. Marshall

The Kendal Green Historic District was the home of two men whose distinguished careers were of significance in the fields of education (General James Marshall) and music (Francis Henry Hastings). James Fowle Baldwin Marshall (1818-1891) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.14 He entered Harvard College in 1834 but was forced to drop out during his second year because of poor eyesight– a lifelong problem. He moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1838 and eventually became a partner in one of the islands’ largest trading firms. He was elected to the legislature, where he became chairman of the Education Committee and worked actively on behalf of native rights, agricultural improvements, temperance, and abolition of land tenure.

Just before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Marshalls returned to Boston with a modest fortune. He continued his interest in the islands; and in January, 1866, he was among the founders of the Hawaiian Club of Boston “…to advance the interests of the Unites States at the Islands and the welfare of the Hawaiian nation….” During the war, Marshall served as paymaster general of the Massachusetts’ militia. Although not a general in the unusual military sense, he was later referred to as the “wise, gentle General.”

At the close of the war, Marshall became an incorporator and trustee for the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute for the education of black teachers, male and female, founded by his former Honolulu Sunday School pupil, Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Initially, Marshall helped raise funds from the Boston community. He visited Hampton for the first time in 1870 and was so impressed with the work that he agreed to move to Hampton and take on the roles of treasurer, acting assistant principal, and book-keeping teacher. His best known pupil, Booker T. Washington, went on to become the first head of the newly formed Tuskegee Institute, which Marshall referred to proudly as “Hampton’s proudest monument.” Washington sought Marshall’s advice on how to begin the school and requested money from Hampton’s funds to buy land for a campus. Marshall loaned him money from his own funds–the first of many such loans and gifts–and continued a steady stream of correspondence in which he advice Washington on how to keep his books in order and from whom to solicit funds.

Marshall remained at Hampton for 14 years, until his retirement to Weston in 1884. During the seven years in Weston before his death in 1891, Marshall regularly took the train into Boston. He was an active officer of the American Unitarian Society, serving as the Association’s Secretary for Southern and Indian Educational Work and working vigorously to aid projects on Indian reservations. He was particularly interested in the Montana Industrial School for Crow Indians, a school which used the Hampton and Tuskegee model of combining education and work. In June, 1890, the Marshalls visited the Montana school. He retained his ties with Hampton and Tuskegee, and in November, 1890, Booker T. Washington visited the Marshalls at 87 North Avenue and spoke at the Weston Town Hall.

Marshall died on May 6, 1891. That year, Samuel Armstrong wrote in the Hampton annual report:

“He organized out system of accounts, trained students to be efficient clerks, and the good conditions of our business affairs is largely due to him. But his influence and value extended far beyond his office duties. He gave tone to the entire work, and impressed his noble, kindly character on hundreds of students, who will always look on him as a father and true friend…He will be remembered and mourned by many in this and other lands.”


Francis Henry Hastings

Francis Henry Hastings (1836-1916) grew up on the family farm at 199 North Avenue and attended the North Avenue district school until age 14, when he refused to continue his schooling or to begin work on the farm. He became a machine-shop apprentice in Boston and in 1855, received a recommendation from his employer stating that “…for honesty, integrity, and industrious habits and good moral principles I would cheerfully recommend him…”16 Hastings was 19 years old in 1855 when he went to work for E. and G.G. Hook organ manufacturers in Roxbury, first as a draftsman and later as a representative.

By this time the firm, which had been building organs since the 1820s, had already achieved its reputation as one of the best in the nation. In May, 1866, the Hook brothers took Hastings into the firm as a co-partner and in January, 1871, the co-partnership was extended and the name of the firm changed to “E. and G.G. Hook and Hastings.” During the period when the Hook brothers and Hastings worked in partnership, the firm constructed some of its largest and best known instruments, including the 1875 organ for Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the 1876 organ for the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition and the 1877 organ for the Cincinnati Music Hall, the largest in the company’s history.

According to the publication The Hook Opus List, 1829-1916 in Facsimile, the firm was already using modern methods of mass production by the time Hastings became a partner.17 Hastings introduced stock models and greatly-increased advertising as a marketing tool. His inventive talent earned him two patents, one in 1872 for improvement in the swells for pipe organs, and another in 1897 for electro-pneumatic organ action.

After the death of the brothers, Hastings moved the company to Weston, where he built a modern, up-to-date facility for the production of these fine musical instruments. Hastings always maintained not only the prestigious “Hook” name but also its superior standards of craftsmanship. Under Hasting’s leadership, the firm continued to ship important organs throughout the country.

In 1895, Hook and Hastings became one of the first firms to successfully install electric action in an organ. His contribution to the success of the firm has been summarized as follows: “His artistic skills and good business judgment assured the company a continuing period of prosperity which extended well into our own century.”19 As one early 20th century writer noted in the Church Music Review, “It is indeed seldom that a firm remains at the head of its profession continuously for so many years with uninterrupted success.”

In his history of the organ factory published in the 1983 Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Philip Coburn calls Francis Henry Hastings ” a typical New Englander with strong puritanical ideas of the right.”21 He was a student of nature, fond of good books, especially books of history, art, and science. He enjoyed horseback riding and driving. Hastings was a Republican and staunch Unitarian who supported First Parish Church and the American Unitarian Association.

He was interested in Weston history and, in 1894, compiled a history of the oldest houses for the Friendly Society. He arranged for about 20 of these houses to be photographed, and two decades later the photographs appeared in Lamson’s History of the Town of Weston.

Hastings effort to create a harmonious work-place and community at Kendal Green was well known enough to inspire a story in the Boston Sunday Herald of July 13, 1890, entitled “A Community of Labor” and subtitled “An Object Lesson for Employers and Employed – The Labor Experiment at Kendal Green….A Neighborhood Like a Family. ” The reporter praises Francis Henry Hastings for his thoughtful efforts to plan a community “so united in its aims and its work that it represents almost the ideal of relations between man and man.” The article mentions the varied housing opportunities for workers, Hastings’ encouragement of home ownership, and his provision for an active center for community and cultural events. All reports tell of his personal interest in all his employees, whom he regarded as part of his family.

On his 70th birthday in 1906, his employees presented him with an engraved testimonial signed by 71 employees, praising his energy, perseverance and able administration:

“Whereas, We recognize in you not only one whose powerful influence is of great gain to the community in which you live, but one whose name is recognized throughout the width and breadth of the land among musical people as the head of his profession–that of The Art of Organ Building-and rejoice greatly in the fact that you are…among us, a recognized leader and wise counsellor. . .”

Criterion C: Architecturally Significant Structures

These five houses, still standing on Brook Road, were built in the 1890s and housed organ factory workers.

The Kendal Green Historic District developed gradually over two centuries, and because of this long evolutionary process, contains diverse building styles and types. Except for Boston Post Road in the town center, no other area of Weston encompasses the same high quality and diversity. Because of its unique history and associations with the Hobbs Tannery, Hastings Organ Factory and the Thurston family’s Drabbington Lodge, the area contains unique buildings designed to serve specialized functions or, in the case of the lodge, to provide a resort atmosphere. Important groups of buildings are related geographically, in their proximity to each other, and historically because of their associations with the Hobbs, Hastings or Thurston families. With a few notable exceptions, important buildings are located on the north side of the road, where the ground is higher than on the south side. The continuity of the streetscape on the north side of the road has been largely maintained.

The earliest house within the district and one of the most important of Weston’s Colonial houses is the Whitney Tavern (171 North Avenue, Map #11, MHC 18). The angled placement of the house to face directly south, along with its corner location and saltbox profile, make the former tavern a prominent feature of the streetscape. Not only has the original saltbox shape been preserved, but the interior detailing has remained remarkably unchanged.

When Josiah Hobbs purchased 122 acres on North Avenue in 1729, the deed from John Cheney Jr. mentions a “house and barn” and also “houses.” Parts of the house at 121 North Avenue (Map #6, MHC 23) as well as the small north ell on the Isaac Hobbs House (87 North Avenue, Map #2, MHC 27, NR) may date to that period. The ell has also been dated to the 1730’s-40’s.

In 1758, Josiah’s son, Ebenezer gave his son Isaac one-third part of the house at #87 and a half interest in the tannery. Isaac built a large addition onto 87 North Avenue by 1761, and from then on it was always called the “double house.” The house remained in the Hobbs family until the end of the 19th century and was shared by various members of the family, each of whom took part in family business centered around the tannery. The architecture was further updated in the 1880s, when General James F.B.Marshall–the grand-nephew of Isaac Hobbs, added the central pediment and entrance porch to his new country retirement home.

The Hobbs-Hagar House at 88 North Avenue (Map #38, MHC 26) is significant architecturally because of its age, prominent location, decorative detailing and intact quality. The house was built in two sections, a fact which adds to its architectural interest. On the exterior, the house incorporates Georgian features– thick corner quoins, eight-panel front doors, and heavy window caps on the first floor –with Federal front door surrounds with an elaborately molded cornice and fluted pilasters, 6/6 sash, and a roof cornice with fine dentils. On the inside, the house retains fine late Georgian paneling in the earlier section and Federal mantels and trim in the addition, including an elliptical staircase sometimes attributed to Charles Bulfinch. Although no documentation exists to support the attribution, the staircase does have a refined and graceful quality typical of the best of Federal design. According to neighborhood tradition, the houses at 99 North Avenue (Map #3, MHC 25) and 107-9 North Avenue (Map #4, MHC 24) were originally ells of the Hobbs-Hagar House. Map evidence suggests that they were moved across the street to their present position sometime between 1852 and 1866.

The Hastings Homestead at 190 North Avenue

The Hastings Homestead at 199 North Ave (Map # 17, MHC 14)) was built in 1823 by Jonas Hastings. Of architectural significance is the agreement between Jonas Hastings and the housewright, Phinehas Conant of Stow, recorded in the Middlesex Registry of Deeds (Book 250/67). Conant was to receive $527 to build a house 40 feet long, 18 feet wide, and two stories high, with one chimney and three fire places. The description includes other specific details of construction and indicates that an “old house” was to be taken down. The Hastings Homestead Barn (Map #16) is thought to have been built several years before the house. Together, the house and barn form a well-preserved ensemble representative of early 19th century farmsteads in Weston. A second fine example is the Bigelow-Coburn House at 161-163 North Avenue (formerly called the Abijah Whitney House)(c.1820, Map 10, MHC 19). The house bears similarities to the Hastings Homestead and is thought to have been built about the same time, although some of the architectural fabric may be earlier.

In 1885, at age 49, Francis Henry Hastings built himself a new house, “Seven Gables,” at 190 North Avenue (Map #22, MHC 16), designed by the Boston firm of Hartwell and Richardson and located almost directly across from the Hastings Homestead. The same architectural firm is thought to have designed the shingled stable at 191 North Avenue (1885, Map #14, MHC 15) across the street adjacent to the Hastings barn.

In her monograph “Hartwell and Richardson: An Introduction to Their Work,” published in an issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians devoted to Victorian Architecture in Boston, Susan Maycock Vogel analyzes the career of Henry Walker Hartwell (1833-1919) and William Cummings Richardson (1854-1935), who established their practice in Boston in 1881. Hartwell was one of the founders of the Boston Society of Architects in 1867. Richardson, a Boston-trained architect, was more than twenty years his junior and became the principal designer for the firm, with Hartwell primarily responsible for construction. The two practiced together for almost forty years and, according to Vogel, achieved particular success in the 1880s and 1890s, though as “followers rather than innovators:

“Hartwell and Richardson’s buildings were neither forward in style nor innovative in interior planning. Rather, Hartwell and Richardson were successful apparently because they could be relied upon to provide buildings which were competently designed, excellently constructed, and comfortably up-to-date in the accepted styles of the day. . . . Vogel adds that “. . . their work, especially in the 1880s, provides an excellent example of both popular architectural taste in Boston and the influence of H.H.Richardson on his contemporaries.”

Vogel notes that most of the firm’s large suburban houses were built for newly successful businessmen and merchants, rather than for member of Boston society. This is true in Weston, where the firm designed the homes of F.H. Hastings and another manufacturer, Charles Dean, also a self-made man. The Charles Dean estate house was built at the turn of the century in the Colonial Revival style and has since been demolished.

The Francis Henry Hastings House is an notable example of the firm’s Shingle Style houses, which they produced only between about 1884 and 1889. Their first Shingle Style house, built just a year before the Hastings house, reportedly included Queen Anne exterior features, whereas the Weston example is “pure” Shingle Style– horizontal in orientation, with a round tower and large dormers balanced against the recessed porch to create a well-balanced sculptural composition. The house has a uniform shingle covering, including shingled gunstock porch posts. Diamond shingle patterns like those in the gable of the F.H.Hastings House became a trademark of Hartwell and Richardson houses of the 1880s. Otherwise, ornament has been largely eliminated and the success of the design depends on massing and a pleasing simplicity in the handling of the shingled surfaces. The shingles on the Hastings House–like those on nearby shingled houses described below–were originally stained a dark brown color.

Six years after he built his own house, Hastings built a house behind his stable for his caretaker/gardener (189 North Avenue, 1891, Map #13, MHC 17). This simple shingled residence represents the first use in the district of the gambrel roof–a popular Colonial Revival form repeated on many nearby Shingle Style structures built over the next decade. The caretaker’s house is built with a cross-gambrel plan, which Hastings used again in 1893 for the building of the three workers’ cottages at 225, 227 and 231 North Avenue (Map 17,18,19).

The same cross-gambrel form was used on a larger scale for the construction of the new Drabbington Lodge (135 North Avenue, 1899, Map #7, MHC #22), which replaced an 18th century farmhouse used as a lodge until it burned in 1898. Thus the new building, unlike many small summer hotels of the period, was built specifically as a hotel and incorporates the latest amenities. Designed by architect Frank Weston, the lodge was completed in 1899. A newspaper article written at the time of the opening called it “one of the best of suburban hotels.” The first floor was devoted to lounges and dining rooms and the second and third floors to sleeping rooms “beautifully furnished, according to the price paid for their occupancy.” Guests enjoyed the luxury of two bathrooms per floor. Servants’ apartments were in the basement, along with the kitchen, vegetable cellar and laundry. Drabbington Lodge was probably the first major building in Weston wired for electricity, introduced into the town about 1897. Although Weston had one other resort hotel, located on Glen Road on the south side, Drabbington Lodge is the only one still remaining. The building, now used as a retirement home, is significant not only as an uncommon building type, but also as a well-preserved example of the late Shingle Style with its original first floor plan and detailing.

In 1902, the Thurston family, owners of the Drabbington Lodge, built a handsome house on a ledge just west of the lodge (153 North Avenue, 1902, Map #9, MHC 20). This fine example of the Shingle Style was designed by architect George E. Strout of Wareham, who three years earlier had designed the Methodist Church down the street (since demolished). The house became known as the “Thurston Cottage.” The use of a gambrel roof repeats the roof form of the earlier lodge. The gambrel end faces south for maximum visual prominence. Skilled craftsmanship is evident in the high fieldstone foundation, fieldstone steps and terracing, used artfully to adapt the house to a difficult site.

Two years later, the Thurstons built a second house which became known as the “Thurston Bungalow” (147 North Avenue, 1904, Map #8, MHC 21). Also designed by George E. Strout, this house is unique in Weston and represents an adaptation of the bungaloid form for use in a summer resort setting. According to Marcus Whiffen’s American Architecture Since 1780, the word “bungalow” is a corruption of a Hindustani adjective used by the British in India to signify a type of low house surrounded by a veranda, built by the Indian Government along main roads to serve as resthouses for travelers. The name is now associated predominantly with small single-story houses; however, late 19th and early 20th century bungalows came in all sizes and styles, often inspired by exotic architecture from Japanese and Spanish to the Swiss chalet.

Whiffen refers to a book on bungalows from the second decade of the century which divides American bungalows into nine types, of which the relevant two types here are the “retreat or summer house,” and the “Adirondack lodge,” built of logs.

The popularity of the bungalow form in the early 20th century stems largely from the work of Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene, two brothers who practiced together in Pasadena, California. About 1903, they began designing houses influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, oriental wooden architecture, and their early training in the manual arts.

These houses, now known as “Craftsman” style, include not only the small one-story Craftsman bungalows which swept the country but also large, intricately designed landmark examples which have been called “ultimate bungalows.”

The Thurston Bungalow is unique in Weston in its Adirondack lodge style and log construction.

The Thurston Bungalow exemplifies an interest in materials and craftsmanship typical of the Craftsman movement. It is built of large round logs (probably early telephone poles) notched at the corners. The one-story porch, which extends the entire width of the front facade, carries out the rustic theme by using a fieldstone base and log posts and brackets. The wide unenclosed eave overhang with exposed roof rafters and a decorative brace under the gable is typical of the style. Also notable are the paired fieldstone chimneys. On the property is a gazebo probably built at the same time as the house using a fieldstone base and log posts.

Another building within the district is unusual in its use of another–this time very modern–material, reinforced concrete. The Classical Revival Kendal Green Fire Station (no # North Avenue, Map #32, MHC 240) was constructed in 1908 from designs by Boston architect

Alexander S. Jenney, a resident of Weston who did this as an independent commission but previously practiced as a partner in the firm of Fox, Jenney and Gale. Kendal Green was the first fire station built by the Town of Weston. Previously, fire apparatus for the area had been housed in a barn on the Hastings property. Although the apparatus was horse drawn, the new building makes no provision for horses, which were borrowed from local farmers when the need arose.

According to a 1909 article in The Municipal Journal and Engineer, the new station was designed to be not only functional but also attractive. The use of reinforced concrete made the building “practically uninflammable.” In the design, “an effort was made to give [the new station] an appearance which would be sufficiently artistic for its surroundings…simple in outline but of attractive proportions.”25 The 1908 Town Report discusses the fire station at length and includes the following statement about the design and innovative nature of the reinforced concrete material:

“That the general appearance of the house is satisfactory is shown by the fact that the Sunday “Herald” of a few weeks since included a photograph of the building taken by a stranger who seemed to consider it a thing of beauty. The “Christian Science Monitor” has exploited the building as an illustration of the best of work in reinforced concrete and as being conspicuous from the fact that it is the only fireproof station in the United States. The article adds that “the building has been commended by prominent architects, and all of this praise has come unsolicited.”

Only six years later, when a second fire station was built in the town center, the town’s needs had changed, as fire fighting apparatus was by that time motorized. The Kendal Green Fire Station was closed in 1917 as an economy measure in World War I and never reopened. The high cost of wrecking the building and removing the concrete has kept this unusual building standing to the present day.

Major Bibliographical References

Ayars, Christine M., Contributions to the Art of Music in America by the Music Industries of Boston, 1640-1936 (New York, H.W.Wilson Co., 1937)

Boston Herald, “A Community of Labor,” July 13, 1890.

Coburn, Philip F., “Weston’s Hook-Hastings Organ Factory” and “Factories and Organs,”Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vox.XX, No.1, October, 1983

Coburn scrapbooks. “New Hotel: Drabbington Lodge Just Opened at Kendal Green: A Modern House: Conveniently Arranged, with Nicely Furnished Rooms,” 1899 newspaper article clipped and pasted in scrapbook.

Dickson, Brenton H.III, Once Upon a Pung (Weston, 1963).

Dickson, Brenton H. III,”More about the Jonas Hastings Homestead,” p.3 and “Weston’s Three Railroads, Part II, The Fitchburg,” Vol.XVI, #3, March 1980.

Kennedy, Donald G.,”Francis Hastings’ Labor Experiment,” Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vol.XX, No.2, January, 1984. This article reprints the Boston Herald article of Sunday, July 13, 1890.

Kennedy, Donald G., “James Marshall, Part I” and “James Marshall, Part II,” Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vol.XXI, No. 3 and No.4, March, 1985 and May, 1985 (issued January, 1987).

Lamson, Col.Daniel S., History of the Town of Weston, 1630-1890, (Boston, 1913).

1794-5 Kingsbury Map

1875 Middlesex County Atlas

1908 Middlesex County Atlas

Marshall, Francis V., “The Hobbs Tannery,” Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vol.XXIV, No.1, July, 1990.

Massachusetts Archives, plans for Drabbington Lodge dated January, 1899.

Middlesex County Registry of Deeds and Registry of Probate, So. District, Cambridge, MA. See especially Book 30/118, John Cheney, Jr. to Josiah Hobbs, 1729, and Probate of Will of Isaac Hobbs, Jr., 11618, 1834, and “Plan of Estate of J.F.B. Marshall, 1889, Plan Book 67/51.

Town of Weston, tax records and directories.

Weston Historical Society Bulletin, “Robin Hood Played Part in Naming KENDAL GREEN,” Vol.XVI, No.2, January, 1980. This article reprints much of the letter which Gen. James Marshall wrote as a Letter to the Editor.

Weston Historical Society Bulletin, “From the Editor,” March 1984, Vol.XX, No.3, p.9-10.

Additions and corrections from the Hastings Organ Factory article, Weston Historical Society Bulletin, Vol.XVI, No.2, January 1980, p.5. Shows painting by J.J.Enneking, 1884, of North Avenue showing the Hastings Homestead and Northeast District Schoolhouse

Weston Historical Society archives, includes scrapbook, photograph albums, brochures and memorabilia from the Hook and Hastings Organ Factory; also postcards from the district.

VanPelt, Wm.T., compiler, The Hook Opus List, 1829-1916 in Facsimile, with a Compiled List of Organs, 1916 and Facsimiles of Promotional Productions, (Organ Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia, 1991.

 

 

 




 


 



 

 


 



 

 


 



 

 


 

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