Criterion A: Significance in Development

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.
Photograph of the Hobbs-Hagar House at 88 North Avenue and elms
North Avenue
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.

Whitney Tavern
18th and early 19th century travelers may have stopped for refreshment at the Whitney Tavern at 171 North Avenue (ca.1707-8, Map #11, MHC 18), reputed to have been built for William Whitney, 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.

Josiah Hobbs
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.

Hide Tanning
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.

Generations of Hobbs
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 1834, Nathan and Mary Ann Hagar moved to the Hobbs-Hagar House, and their descendants occupied it into the 20th century.

Hobbs Property Appraisal
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.

Water-Powered Industries
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 boot maker and farmer, was the father of the organ manufacturer, Francis Henry Hastings, who was brought up in his grandfather’s house.
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.
163 North Avenue was occupied by generations of prosperous dairy farmers
Fitchburg Railroad
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.

General James F.B.Marshall
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.

Naming of Kendal Green
The property inherited by General Marshall included 3 houses on the north side of the street (#87, 107-9, and 121) and 30 acres. He enlarged and remodeled 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.
Post Office & General Store
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.
George Warren Brodrick ran the general store and post office located at 107-109 North Avenue
Hook & Hastings
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. 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.

Effect on Development
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.

History of the Organ Factory
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.
Seven Gables
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 built this house at 199 North Avenue in 1885
New Organ Factory
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.
Francis Henry Hastings house (190 North Ave) from the rear, in c. mid-1890s photograph
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.
The Hook and Hastings factory had an 80 foot center section and 2 100 foot wings
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.

Moving the Factory
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.
Employee Relations & Housing
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.” 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.
"White Lane" showing cottages built for workers at the nearby organ factory
Sell & Stipulations
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 craftsmen, 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.
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.
Houses on Viles Street and White Lane built for organ factory workers
Worker Houses
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.
North Avenue
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.
Row of 3 houses built for organ factory workers at 225- 231 North Avenue, mid-1890s
Hastings Hall
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.
Community Social Events
Hastings was the driving force behind many major community social events beginning with the 1893 reunion of the North Avenue School.

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.
District School #4 on North Avenue was the last of Weston's 6 district schools
At the reunion, visitors played badminton on his lawn and a reported 500 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.

Other Events
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 interior
Organ Production
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.

Change in Management
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.

Rockefeller Organ
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 was completed 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’.

Closing the Factory
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 the factory building was demolished by a professional wrecking company.

History of Firefighting
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 north side. 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.

Industry's Effect on the Landscape
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.

Summer Residents
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.

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.
Drabbington Lodge
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.
Drabbington Lodge, a popular summer resort established in the 1890s by the Thurston family
Structure & Amenities
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.
Thurston Cottage
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.
Additional buildings constructed by the Thurstons as part of Drabbington Lodge