Worcester To Boston
( Originally Published 1919 )
R. 1 § 5. Worcester to Boston. 44.0 m.
Via MARLBORO. STATE ROAD with red markers.
The route from Worcester to Boston traverses an undulating region, largely given over to agriculture and residential estates, Marlboro being the one industrial town of importance. Routes in and 24 combined afford a pleasant variant.
The State Road follows closely the course of the Old Boston Post Road which was built in 1808 by John Pease, who obtained the first State charter for a turnpike. Before that time the Post Road was a county road which followed the original course of the Indian trails regardless of bounds or compass. The new turnpike was built almost parallel to the old road and in Shrewsbury about a mile from it. Notwithstanding the increased tolls it was such an improvement over the old that it soon became the more traveled, and numerous taverns sprang up along its course.
Leaving Worcester City Hall the route follows Front St. under R.R. On the right is the new Union Station erected in 1913 at a cost of $1,500,000. Providence St. to the right leads to Worcester Academy, a large boys' preparatory school originally founded by the Baptists in 1832. At Washington Square the road bears left with trolley past the tall square granite tower of the old railway station, erected in 1875. Beyond the road widens appreciably and is divided by a grass plot through which the trolley runs. The road ascends a long grade. On Millstone Hill to the left are the beautiful buildings and grounds of the State Hospital for the Insane. This was the first State Asylum in the country, its establishment following the suggestion of Horace Mann in 1829 that the State should care for the insane, who previously had been confined in county jails. Lake Quinsigamond is crossed by a causeway at about its middle. The lake is a strip ,of water about six miles long with an area of over 1000 acres and a maximum depth of ninety feet. It is a popular canoeing place, and on its shores are many summer homes and camps. , On the Shrewsbury side is the White City, a local amusement resort. The Harvard-Yale boat races were held here (1860–69) in the days when `Prexy' Eliot was a member of the crew. Now the. only racing is by the crews of local clubs and high schools. The road ascends Shrewsbury Hill (600 ft). To the north there is a fine view of Mt. Wachusett (2000 ft) with a house on the summit. On the left is the large estate of C. H. Hutchins, president of the Crompton & Knowles Loom Works.
5.5 SHREWSBURY. Alt 700 ft. Pop 2794. Worcester Co. Settled 1717. Mfg. leather.
Though primarily a residential suburb of Worcester, with large farms on its borders, there still lingers here some manufacturing. On the Common in the center of the town is a little brick school house which has been in use since 1830, and at the opposite end a boulder in front of the Town Hall commemorates the march of 128 men from the town in response to the alarm at Lexington. In the church beside the old school house, John B. Gough, the noted temperance lecturer of the nineteenth century, delivered his first lecture. For many years all events, social and political, were held in the vestry of the old church, which later became the Lyceum when that institution became popular.
Further on, a tablet on the right marks the site where "Luther Goddard, a noted clock maker, established the first factory for the making of American watches, about 1790." The leather factory across the road has been in continuous operation since 1803.
Near the foot of the hill stands General Artemas Ward's house. Ward at the outbreak of the Revolution was in command of the Massachusetts troops until the arrival of Washington. It was Ward who suggested and executed the fortification of Dorchester Heights. After the Battle of Bunker Hill he was severely censured for his failure to send troops to the sup-port of Prescott, but he really showed wisdom and caution in not risking the whole of the provincial forces at Bunker Hill.
Half a mile beyond at a fork in the roads stands Farrar's Tavern, the most historic of the three old taverns of the town. It originally belonged to John Farrar, whose little daughter when Washington first stopped there exclaimed in disappointment: "Why, he is nothing but a man!" The inn was later bought by Levi Pease, the `Father of the Stage Coach' and the most famous innkeeper, stage driver and owner of the coaching days. He it was who in 1783 opened the first coach line from Boston to Hartford, which was later extended through to New York. Before long he made the journey from Boston to Worcester in one day and through to New York in six: The fare was at first fourpence, and later threepence a mile, making the charge between $18 and $20 through to New York. It was through his influence and his example that the turnpike roads, a great improvement over the old highway, were instituted. He drove the coach until old age forced him to retire, just before his death in 1824.
Shrewsbury was settled by people from Marlboro in 1717 under a grant which provided that "they number forty families, build them-selves houses and settle an orthodox minister within three years." In the eighteenth century there were some eccentric characters in the town. `Old Brazile (Basil Mann) was an Indian who had spent his early days as a pirate. Another was one Tombolin about whom many rhymes and doggerels were made:
"Tombolin had no breeches to wear,
Richard Grimes of Hubbardston used to come over to Shrewsbury for convivial purposes, and his memory has been perpetuated in the verses of Albert C. Green, the first of which follows:
"Old Grimes is dead, that good old man,
During stage coach days there were three good inns here. Probably the oldest of these was Baldwin's, where in 1727 General Artemas Ward was born. It later became the rendezvous of sympathizers with Shayse Rebellion, who used the lawn in front as a drill ground.
10.0 NORTHBORO. Alt 311 ft. Pop (twp) 1713 (1910), 1797 (1915). Worcester Co. Settled 1700. Mfg. shoddy, woolens and worsteds, foundry and machine shop products.
The highway to Boston is the main street of the village and is lined on either side by fine old homes and spreading elms. This old town on the Assabet river is given over largely to dairy farming and the raising of apples, industries which have attracted a considerable number of French Canadians.
In 1884 a portion of the skeleton of a mastodon was unearthed about six feet below the surface on the property of W. U. Maynard, not far from the Shrewsbury line. This is the first and only proof of the existence of the mastodon in the country east of the Hudson (p 29).
About two miles beyond the town a tablet on the right marks the site of the Goodnow Garrison House. A large boulder with one side suitably engraved, on the sidehill about 300 yards southeast of the site, marks the spot where Mary Goodnow was killed by Indians.
In August, 1707, two women, Mrs. Fay and Mary Goodnow, were culling herbs in the meadow when a party of twenty-four Indians approached them from the woods. Mrs. Fay made her escape to the garrison and aided the sentinel on duty to defend it until the arrival of the townsmen who were at work in the fields. The following day in a furious conflict at Sterling nine of the Indians were killed. In the pack of one was found the scalp of Mary Goodnow, whose lameness had prevented her escape on the previous day. Soon afterward her body was found and buried here.
The route lies through a verdant farming country. To the north is the village of Chapinville, part of Northboro, at the confluence of the Assabet river and Stirrup Brook. On the left appear the stone arches of the Metropolitan aqueduct. The road, marked in red, ascends a gently sloping hill (400 ft) and follows the shore of Lake Williams. On the shore to the right is the old Gates Tavern established in 166z, the oldest commercial house in the country.
The original house was built in 1662 but was burned by the Indians in 1676. The present building was erected the following year by Lieutenant Abraham Williams and called Williams Tavern except for a period during the nineteenth century when it was called the Gates House. It became one of the three stopping places between Boston and Worcester when the second stage coach line in the country was established in 1772. For some years the front parlor served as the court room and in the cellar are two brick cells where prisoners were confined. Captain Edward Hutchinson, who was mortally wounded by the Indians at Brookfield, was brought here to die. His was the first grave in the old churchyard. The Duc de la Rochefoucauld stopped here for five days during an illness, and in his diary pays tribute to the kind treatment he received. Washington on his triumphal tour of 1789 was entertained here by the town authorities.
15.5 MARLBORO. Alt 400 ft. Pop 14,579 (1910), 15,250 (1915). Middlesex Co. Settled 1656. Indian names Ockoocangansett and Whipsuppenicke. Highest city in the State. Mfg. shoes, shoe dies, boxes, foundry and machine shop products; printing and publishing. Value of Product (1913),$9,481,000; Payroll, $2,027,000.
This busy little city with its attractive streets and hand-some public buildings is said to be the world's sixth shoe town. It is the most western city of the Massachusetts shoe belt and the Rice & Hutchins, Ashby-Crawford, John A. Frye, O'Keefe, and Howe Shoe Companies have factories here which turn out approximately 10,000 pairs a day. In 1905 the value of the shoe output was $7,468,000.
Entering the city from the west, on the left at the corner of Main and Pleasant Sts. is the Rev. Aaron Smith house. The Library stands on the site of the house of Rev. Asa Packard, father of the celebrated entomologist of Brown University. Opposite the Soldiers' Monument in Monument Square is the G.A.R. Hall, in front of which is the John Brown bell, brought from Harper's Ferry, which he planned to ring to signal the rising of the slaves. In 1861 it was seized by Federal soldiers from Marlboro, who left it at Williamsport, Va.,where it remained until the G.A.R. reunion at Washington, 1892. Some of the veterans recalled the incident and went to Williamsport in search of it. Finding it intact they shipped it home in triumph.
Ockoocangansett Hill to the north is said to have been an Indian burying ground and `planting field.' To the southeast is Pine Hill on the shores of Reservoir Number Five of the Metropolitan Water System.
At some time previous to 1665 the apostle Eliot had secured a grant of land from the General Court to the Indians, quaintly enough, where some of his converts built a village called Ockoocangansett, on the hill still known by this name. It was one of the seven principal `praying townse of Rev. John Eliot's Indians. Daniel Gookin wrote in 1676: "This village contains about ten families, and consequently about fifty souls. It bath several good orchards on it planted by the Indians. Their ruler here was Onomog who is lately deceased." Following the prevailing custom of the time the first meeting house was built upon a hill. In March, 1676, the Rev. Asa Packard says, "On the Sabbath when Mr. Brimsmead was in sermon, the worshipping assembly was suddenly dispersed by an outcry of `Indians at the doore but the God whom they were worshipping shielded their lives and limbs, excepting the arm of one Moses Newton. In a few minutes they were sheltered in their fort, with the mutual feelings peculiar to such a scene." From the garrison house they witnessed the destruction of their homes, though powerless to act. Following this event the town was deserted for a time, but the following year the settlers returned. After the abandonment of Brookfield this was the western-most town till the Connecticut was reached. Some of the early spellings of the town, "Marlberg" and "Marlbridge," would indicate that the name was derived from the presence of marl in the neighborhood.
The route follows Main St. past the City Hall, on the right, and one of the large shoe factories. At the end of the street the road to the right leads to Southboro where the Southboro Arms is located. Our route follows a branch trolley line to the left as indicated by the red bands on the telegraph poles.
The road emerges from the woods and crosses a drowsy little brook into a sylvan opening studded with enormous oaks.
"A region of repose it seems,
In the midst of a sparsely settled tract far from other houses, back from the road, which some years ago was altered to afford dooryard, stands The Wayside Inn (20.6) in the town of Sudbury. A famous old tavern in Colonial days, Longfellow by his "Tales of a Wayside Inn" has made it better known than any other American hostelry.
"As ancient is this hostelry
Here are shown the historic chambers occupied by Washing-ton, Lafayette, and Longfellow, furnished in the style of the period. The interesting old tap room retains its original form. The proprietor since 1897, Edward R. Lemon, is an antiquarian who has here brought together an interesting collection of oldtime furniture, utensils, books, and prints.
About 1700 David Howe received a grant of 130 acres here and began the erection of a house. The Howes, who came of good English stock, lost their fortune and took to inn-keeping. Colonel Ezekiel Howe succeeded in 1746 and reigned as landlord for half a century. He hung out the sign board with the red horse, and Howe's Tavern be-came the Red Horse Tavern. During the French and Indian Wars, as it was on the main route from Boston to Albany, it was frequently the halting place for troops. In 1796 Adam Howe became the proprietor and in 1836 was succeeded by Lyman Howe, who died in 1860, when the old house ceased to be a tavern, after a record of 160 years under four landlords. It was the last Howe who greeted Longfellow when he came to the inn.
"Grave in his aspect and attire;
The poetes first visit was in 1840 of which he writes: "The stage left Boston at about three oeclock in the morning; reaching the Sudbury tavern for breakfast, a considerable portion of the route being travelling in total darkness, and without your having the least idea who your companion inside might be."
The cheer he met brought him frequently thereafter, and he made this the scene of the Canterbury Tales of American literature. The narrators of the "Tales" have been identified as the poetes friends who gathered here with him: Henry Wales was the "Student of old books and ways"; Luigi Monti, American consul at Palermo, the young Sicilian, "in sight of Etna born and bred"; Professor Treadwell, the "Theologian, from the school of Cambridge on the Charles"; T. W. Parsons, translator of Dante, was the poet; and Ole Bull, the famous violinist, was the blue-eyed Norseman who sang "The Saga of King Olaf" and played his Stradivarius, "a marvel of the lutistes art."
Beyond the Inn, by the roadside a tablet marks the site of the old Parmenter garrison house, built before 1686. To the south Nobscot Hill (60z ft), a mountainous, wooded mass, rises precipitately. On its slopes is a famous spring whose waters are extensively bottled.
23.0 SOUTH SUDBURY. Alt 130 ft. Pop (Sudbury twp) 1120 (1910), 1206 (1915). Middlesex Co. Settled 1638. Indian name Musketaquid.
South Sudbury is probably the most important of the Sudbury villages. On Green Hill to the northeast are two monuments commemorating the massacre of 1676. The earlier was erected by President Wadsworth of Harvard College, whose father was captain of the ambushed troops. In 1852, the second of these, a granite shaft, was erected bearing this inscription: "This monument is erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and by the town of Sudbury in grateful remembrance of the service and sufferings of the founders of the state . . . who fell near this spot . . . while de-fending the frontier settlement against the allied Indian forces of Philip of Pokanoket."
Sudbury Center lies a mile and a half to the north. A mile to the north of this is Whitehall, the summer home of Ralph Adams Cram, the Boston architect, whose cult is the Gothic, and who has demonstrated his genius notably at Princeton and West Point. Like the surrounding towns Sudbury is rapidly being transformed from an agricultural community into a region of gentlemen's suburban estates. Joe Chandler, restorer of the Old South Church and the Old State House, lives here.
Some men of Watertown complaining of the "straightness of accommodation and want of meadow" were granted land here in 1638. The first settlement was on the east side of Sudbury river, in what is now Wayland. On the outbreak of King Philipes War, the day after the Indians had burned the deserted houses at Marlboro they attacked Sudbury, then a frontier town, killed several, and burned a number of houses and barns. In the graphic words of Mather, "Mischief was done and several lives cut off by the Indians." Captain Wadsworth with seventy men who had been sent to the aid of Marlboro learned that the Indians had turned on Sudbury. Marching post haste in that direction he was led into an ambush on Green Hill near the site of the monument. The woods were set on fire, the little band surrounded, and only about twelve of them escaped. Many of those captured were subjected to horrible tortures. In 1776 Sudbury was the most populous town in Middlesex County and took a prominent part in the pre-Revolutionary events. More Revolutionary soldiers lie buried in Sudbury cemetery than in any other in the State.
From South Sudbury the route lies across the marshy meadows of the Sudbury river. To the south of the road and just west of the river is Heard's Island, a low drumlin with Heard's Pond on one side and the river on the other. The old homestead here, built in 1714, now the residence of Edmund H. Sears, has been carefully restored. The doorway is from Oliver Wendell Holmes' birthplace. Before this stands one of the largest elms in Massachusetts. At a distance of five feet from the ground it measures 21 feet in circumference, and its pendant branches touch the ground at a distance of 65 feet from the trunk, thus covering a space 130 feet in diameter.
26.0 WAYLAND. Alt 128 ft. Pop (twp) 2206 (1910), 2033 (1915). Middlesex Co. Settled 1638.
Once a rich agricultural town, most of the valuable farms have been taken up in the last decade for the homes of Boston professional and business men.
The Library was the first free public library in Massachusetts. It was founded in 1848, though a circulating library association had been formed as early as 1795. One of the founders of the library was President Francis Wayland of Brown University, for whom the town was named in 1835. The Unitarian Church, in the Bulfinch style, built in 1815, has not been modernized, and still retains its old bell cast by Paul Revere, double windows, and huge shoe scrapers on the en-trance porch. Across the street is the little white building formerly the law office of Judge Mellen, the last presiding judge of the Court of Common Pleas. At his death in 1875 his office was sealed and has never been opened since.
The Wayland Inn since its establishment in 1771 has constantly kept its latch string out. It was patronized by Washington on his way to take command of the Continental Army in 1775. For a time it was called the Pequod House. On Bow Road just outside the village stood the Parmenter Tavern. The farm is still in the family, no deed ever having been passed since 1638 when it was granted to John Parmenter. Here too were located most of the early houses, because the General Court in 1635 ordered that no dwelling be built over half a mile from the meeting house in any new plantation. The old Morse House of 1758 is a splendid example of the square homestead with the huge center chimney.
Another notable estate in Wayland is that of Francis Shaw, The Five Paths, on Overthrow Hill, comprising some thousand acres. The house is an exact copy of one of Bulfinch's finest Colonial mansions built by him near Boston. On one of the highest hilltops of Wayland is Perkins Farm, the summer home of the Misses Loring of Boston, covering about five hundred acres, from whose beautiful house half of Massachusetts is visible. The house has stood for over a hundred years.
From Wayland the route follows the red markers through a country of beautifully diversified stretches of meadow with meandering streams alternating with wooded hills and rocky ledges. The road is lined with an ever increasing number of residences of Boston people.
Among these is the fine century-old Hayward house, standing back from the road on rising ground surrounded by wide-spreading lawns dotted with noble oaks, which once sheltered the Indians. The winding avenue is shaded by great lindens. Mrs. Hayward, its present mistress, is more widely known as `Beatrice Herford,' whose monologues have achieved an international fame.
29.5 WESTON. Alt 161 ft. Pop (top) 2106 (1910), 2342 (1915). Middlesex Co. Settled 1630. Mfg. organs.
This is one of the most attractive of the old towns about the fringe of greater Boston and has become a favorite residential region with numerous beautiful estates upon its outskirts. The stone church in the village square has a bell cast by Paul Revere in 1801. Not far from the square is the Sears place, the Italian gardens of which can be glimpsed from the road. Nearly all the quaint Colonial houses have been remodeled by Boston business and professional men for residences.
The most interesting of the ancient buildings in the town is the old Golden Ball Tavern on Central Ave., erected in 1751 by Colonel Elisha Jones. He was an ardent Tory in constant communication with the headquarters of General Gage in Boston, who frequently came here with his staff for convivial suppers. It was here that John Howe, one of Gage's spies, disguised as a Yankee farmer, was discovered by the patriotic townspeople, but with the inn-keeper's aid escaped. On this trip he went as far as Worcester, returning by way of Concord, where he learned of the military stores that had been gathered there. He informed General Gage that any attempt to send artillery over the Weston Road would be disastrous. Howe's information was the direct cause of the Lexington and Concord fights.
The early settlement at Weston was known as the Farms or the Farm Lands. The site at the junction of Charles River and Stony Brook was originally selected by Winthrop for the capital city of the Bay Colony and a palisaded wall was begun, but fearing attacks from the French the work was stopped and the present site of Boston was selected instead. From Weston the Old Connecticut Path to the Connecticut Valley plunged into the wilderness.
The pleasantest and most direct of the various routes into Boston is by way of Commonwealth Ave. From the Village Square, turn sharp right into Newton St. which runs across a pleasant hill country overlooking the Charles river. The road passes over the western slopes of Doublet Hill (360 ft) on which is an equalizing reservoir of the Metropolitan Water Board. On South Ave. turn left, crossing the Charles river by the old Weston stone bridge which is to be rebuilt in 1916. The Charles river here is a favorite canoeing resort. To the right upstream are the Riverside Recreation Ground and the boathouses of numerous canoe clubs.
Half a mile to the left, on the western side of the river, a wood road leads to Norumbega Tower, erected by Eben N. Horsford, professor of chemistry at Harvard, who made a fortune from Acid Phosphate, a simple chemical compound sold as a proprietary article. As the elaborate inscription on the tower indicates, Horsford believed this to be the site of a Norse settlement of about the year 1000, mentioned in the Saga of Eric the Red.
Commonwealth Ave., laid out about twenty-five years ago, runs in graceful sweeping curves from the Weston bridge through the Newtons into the heart of
44.0 BOSTON (R. 20).
From Weston the State Highway, with red markers, continues along the course of the Old Post Road to WALTHAM (33.0), on Route 21.
Note. The North Shore, avoiding Boston, is reached via Route 21, following Trapelo Road and Pleasant St., through Medford and Middlesex Fells to Stoneham, Saugus, and Lynn, there joining Route 36.
From Waltham the Post Road continues on Main St. to
36.0 WATERTOWN. Alt 19 ft. Pop 12,875 (1910), 16,515 (1915). Middlesex Co. Settled 1630. Indian name Pequasset. Mfg. woolen and knit goods, rubber boots, paint, soap, stoves, and machine shop products.
The stone bridge over the Charles commemorates the visit of the Norsemen, whose mounds, earthworks,. and foundations Professor Horsford believed are found in the town, both above the bridge at Norumbega and below near Mt. Auburn Cemetery. The sole relics of the town's early days are the old burying grounds, one on Grove St., first used in 1642, the other at the site of the First Parish Church. Harriet G. Hosmer, the sculptor, was a native of the town. The Government Arsenal is the most notable institution here.
One of the oldest towns of the Bay Colony, at first called Salton-stalls Plantation, this was the source of many other settlements, for its discontented inhabitants soon finding themselves crowded established Wethersfield, Conn., called the mother of towns.
Here occurred the first recorded American protest against taxation without representation, in 1632, when the inhabitants objected to paying for the erection of a fort in Cambridge without having had a voice in the matter. The Provincial Congress met in the First Parish Church, April–July, 1775.
From the Square in Watertown, various routes lead into Boston. 1, via North Beacon St. along the river into Brighton and Allston and Commonwealth Ave.; 2, via Arsenal St. and Central Square, Cambridge, into Cambridge and across Harvard Bridge, Boston; 3, via Mt. Auburn St. and Harvard Square.
The second route passes the U.S. Arsenal, occupying about one hundred acres, between Arsenal St. and the river. Carriages for the largest pieces of artillery are manufactured here. Permission to enter must be obtained at the Commandant's office. Just below is the notable group of Gothic buildings of the Perkins Institution for the Blind.
The third route follows Mt. Auburn St., which diverges from Watertown Square to the left of the other two, passing Mt. Auburn Cemetery and Harvard University, reaching Boston by Harvard Bridge (R. 20).