It can be argued that at least one of the places that the Industrial Revolution in America began was in Waltham in 1813, when Francis Cabot Lowell and The Boston Associates established the Boston Manufacturing Company, which produced cotton textiles. They hired mechanic Paul Moody of Amesbury to design and build the machinery and mill along the Charles River in Waltham. The BMC mills employed a method of production called the Waltham-Lowell System that was later duplicated by the Boston Associates on a larger scale at the famous mills in Lowell and would be copied by other industries. The image above displays the long factory building of the Boston Manufacturing Company which was constructed in three sections. The section on the far right, up to the tower, was built in 1813-1814. Closer to the second tower (seen in the distance) is the mill constructed in 1816. These two buildings were later joined by the middle section, built in 1843. Beyond the second tower, at an angle to the earlier buildings, is a mill constructed in 1852. The 1813-1843 buildings now contain senior housing and artists lofts. The image below shows the 1873-1880 mill building with attached smokestack along the Charles River. This section is now the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.
An earlier building that had served the Hancock Shaker Village as a Cider House was enlarged in 1835 (the foundation wall has a stone inscribed with the date 1835) for use as a Tannery. By 1875, the Shakers were unable to compete with other large tanneries in the area. The building was then converted into a cider press and a forge was installed in the north end. The upper floor of the structure was later used as a carpenters shop.
It’s not a great picture above, but since Watertown is making headlines I’m featuring one of its most historic buildings. The Browne House at 562 Main Street in Watertown was built in 1698 by Captain Abraham Browne (1671-1729). The earliest section of the house is located on the far left of the image. On the right is the north ell, which was built in 1725. Browne descendents lived in the house until 1897. The house became dilapidated. It was purchased by preservationist William Sumner Appleton in 1919, just days before it was to be demolished. He restored the house, which is considered to be one of the best examples of a “First Period” New England residence. Appleton had founded the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1910, but the trustees had not thought the house could be salvaged. Having purchased and restored it, Appleton gave the house to the Society in 1922, subject to a mortgage that was finally discharged in 1949. With its unique architectural features, it is now used by Historic New England as a study property.
The Merwin House in Stockbridge was constructed around 1825 by Francis and Clarissa Dresser. It remained in the Dresser family until 1875, when they sold it to William and Elizabeth Doane of New York City. The couple named the house “Tranquility” and used it as a summer home. They substantially renovated the house in 1900, remodeling the interior and doubling the home’s by adding a shingle-style ell. The house was later the year-round home of the Doanes’ daughter, Vipont Merwin (1878-1965), and her third husband Edward Merwin, who died in 1932. She wanted the house, which was acquired by Historic New England in 1966, to become a museum and it is now open to the public several times a year. Read More
Rev. John Sergeant was the first missionary to the Mohicans of Western Massachusetts. He came to Stockbridge in the mid-1730s and lived at first in a small cabin. In 1739, he married Abigail Williams and by 1742 had built what is now known as the Mission House. In 1751, Jonathan Edwards succeeded Rev. Sergeant as missionary. The Sergeant family continued to occupy the house until 1867. The elaborate front doorway was added in the 1760s. The house originally stood on Prospect Hill, but between 1926 and 1930, it was moved to its current location at 19 Main Street and was restored by Miss Mabel Choate, the owner of nearby Naumkeag. The Mission House’s gardens were designed from 1928 to 1933 by Fletcher Steele. The Mission House is now a property of the Trustees of Reservations. Read More
In 1896, sculptor Daniel Chester French purchased the Warner farm in Stockbridge. Naming his new estate Chesterwood, he soon built his studio next to the C. 1820 farmhouse. In 1901 French replaced the farmhouse with a new Georgian Revival residence designed by Henry Bacon. Like the studio, also designed by Bacon, the house is covered with stucco that is studded with marble and coal chips. The sitting room is a replica of the Best Parlor in the French family homestead in Chester, New Hampshire. Chesterwood was inherited by French’s daughter, Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973), who was also a sculptor. She donated Chesterwood to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Read More
Chesterwood is the 122-acre estate that was once the summer home of sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850–1931). French is famous for such sculptures as the Minuteman in Concord and the seated Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Chesterwood, located in Stockbridge, is now owned by the National Trust for Historic preservation and is open to the public. In 1896, French purchased the farm of Marshall Warner. The following year, he moved the Warner barn, adjacent to the Warner House, to make way for his new studio. Designed by Henry Bacon (architect of the Lincoln Memorial), the Studio has a workroom, a reception area with a piano and a 50-foot veranda. The wooden frame building is covered with stucco in which marble and coal chips were mixed to provide texture. So that French could work on his pieces in natural light, the workroom has 30-foot high double doors through which sculptures could be brought outside on a flatcar along a short railway track. Read More