In 1852, master mechanic Silas Noble began manufacturing toy drums in his kitchen. In 1854, Noble and his partner, James Cooley (who handled the business side of their operation and whose descendants still run the business), built a factory in Granville (the current structure dates to 1872). Taking advantage of nearby water power (an electric generator was installed in 1915), the Noble & Cooley Drum Company prospered. They made marching drums for the Union Army during the Civil War, but their main business continued to be the production of toy drums. In the 1980s, the company entered the professional drum market, producing a highly regarded single-ply solid shell snare drum using an original steam bending machine from the nineteenth century. The factory, which has a drum weathervane, is now also home to a museum, the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation.
In the Spelman Genealogy (1910), Fannie Cooley Williams Barbour writes of Elizabeth Lucins Spelman Brown:
Mrs. Brown spent much of her girlhood in the “Old Spelman Red House,” and received the names of her two grandmothers, Hayes and Kent. Soon after her marriage, her husband purchased the old Joel Root homestead on the hill at East Granville, near the church. The house is built in the Colonial style, and the door and entrance is much admired. Mrs. Brown has lived in it for fifty years, and still continues to reside there. […] Mrs. Brown was a singer, taking part in the Granville Jubilee of 1845 and later in the Jubilee of 1895, having retained her vocal talent for the intervening years. She was prominent in the affairs of the schools of Granville, and did much to aid them. At the time of the Jubilee of 1895 a reunion of the Spelman family took place at her house, and a large gathering of descendants was present, coming from all parts of the United States.
The house, on Main Road in Granville Center, was built around 1816 by Joel Root, who married Sarah Ensign in 1803 and then, after her death, married her sister Clarissa Ensign in 1811. According to James Pierce Root in Root Genealogical Records (1870):
He commenced business in early life, and was a successful merchant for more than forty years in his native town, where, by honesty, integrity, and faithful application to business, he accumulated a property large for those days and the place in which he lived. He was postmaster for a series of years, and during his whole life had the confidence and respect of his fellow townsmen, being frequently honored with the highest offices within their gift. Mrs. C. Root has resided in Springfield, Mass., for the past few years, and though nearly eighty, has never used spectacles, and reads with ease the finest print.
Granville‘s first Congregational meeting house was built in 1747 and replaced by the current Old Meeting House in 1802. The gable-roofed structure, which lost its steeple in a gale in 1840, was remodeled in 1890. The present front columns were most likely added in 1862 or during the 1890 remodeling. The first permanent town hall was built in 1927. In 1937, the First Congregational Church is joined with the Baptist Church to form the Granville Federated Church. Since 1976, the Old Meeting House has been owned by the town and the restored building is rented out for various events. Read More
This week we’ll be looking at buildings in Granville, which is in Hampton County on the border with Connecticut. A local landmark is the Granville Country Store, famous for its cheese. John Murray Gibbons developed the recipe and aging process for what is known as Granville Cellar Aged Cheddar. At sixteen he had begun working in the Granville village store and a year later he owned the business. In 1851, he opened a new building for his store in Granville Center, which was also a post office (he served as postmaster) and had a school on the second floor. The store burned down in 1884 and was replaced by a new building. When that structure burned in 1934, it was replaced by the current Colonial Revival-style building, which has a pedimented gable and semicircular window. J.M. Gibbons Sons has had many owners over the years, but is seen by the people of Granville as “their” store.
The earliest Congregational Church in Natick was founded in 1651 by John Eliot and served the Natick Praying Indians, who were settled in what is now South Natick. After the retirement in 1799 of Rev. Stephen Badger, last pastor to the Praying Indians, a new First Congregational Church was organized to the north in 1802, with construction of a meeting house having already been started in 1799, in what is now the center of Natick. As described in the History of Middlesex County, Vol. I (1890):
The congregation having again outgrown the meeting-house, this was sold to a Universalist Society, which later, becoming extinct, sold the house to the Roman Catholic denomination. This, enlarged, is the Catholic Church of the present day in the centre of Natick. The Congregational Society then erected a third meeting-house upon the site of the one removed, during the years 1853-54, which was dedicated Nov. 15th of the latter year.
Disaster struck on January 13,1874 when, again quoting from the History,
nearly all the business portion of Natick was laid in ashes, including every hall in the place and the Congregational Church, just enlarged and improved at the cost of about $13,000. This loss of the sanctuary rendered necessary the building of a temporary tabernacle, which, in a rough way, was made ready for religious and other purposes as soon as possible, at the cost of about $1700. Additional land was purchased upon the east side of the old church lot, and the erection of the present beautiful brick church edifice commenced, and so far completed that the vestries could be used for public worship April 30, 1876.
The church, built in 1875-1880 and attributed to J.B. Goodall, is an an example of High Victorian Gothic, with a distinctive polychromatic steeple.
A famous Natick landmark is Casey’s Diner, famous for its steamed hot dogs. Casey’s began as a horse-drawn lunch cart on Natick Common. In 1927, Fred Casey purchased a 1922 Diner, originally located in Framingham, and brought it to Natick. The Diner, produced by the Worcester Lunch Car Company, was first on Washington Street and was moved to its current location, on South Avenue, in 1977, to make way for a bank parking lot.