During the 18th and much of the 19th century, the Maple Road / Wellesley Street Area was largely open land and farm fields. In the first years of settlement, the land belonged to First Parish Church and was the location of the first parsonage (1703), which still stands at 3 Maple Road and is one of the earliest houses in Weston. A few small houses were built in the 1860s and 70s, but the character of the area did not change significantly until the 1890s, when Maple Road was laid out and farmer and community leader Henry J. White began selling his farm land as house lots.
The newly-emerging middle class neighborhood was located within easy walking distance of the town center and Weston Station. In this pre-automobile era, before construction of the busy Boston Post Road by-pass, this neighborhood was as convenient to Weston Center as a similar neighborhood, which developed on the west side of town in the 600 block of what is now Boston Post Road (see Boston Post Road National Register District). At the turn of the century, the area was also more convenient to Weston Station than it would be today, since estate owner Horace Sears maintained a pathway through his property from the station to Wellesley Street and even kept it lighted at night until after the arrival of the midnight train.
Many of the original owners in the Maple Road / Wellesley Street Area were local tradesman, including a blacksmith, four carpenter / builders, a housepainter, truck-man, and the owner and operators of a well-known local general store. Some early residents may have worked in Boston, although this area was not as popular among Boston businessmen as the Pigeon Hill and Church Street area. A third group of area residents served as estate workers for three large estates located on the perimeter of the neighborhood. The three estate owners, Horace Sears, Robert Winsor, and James B. Case and his daughters Louisa and Marian, influenced the development of the area over the years, through the building of staff housing, subdivision of their property, and donation to the town of park land within the area.
First Parsonage of First Parish Church
The earliest house is the neighborhood is the First Parsonage of First Parish Church at 3 Maple Road (ca.1703, Map #20, MHC 312), built by Weston’s first parish for Joseph Mors, a teacher who became the first minister. The property originally included a large farm, which extended north of the Post Road and south to the Newton and Wellesley Street intersection. Mors left Weston in 1707 at the request of the parish. The house was enlarged in 1714 and given to the next minister, Rev. William Williams, who lived there until his death in 1760. After Williams' death, the house no longer served as a parsonage and passed into private ownership. The adjacent house at 5 Maple Road (Map #19) was originally connected to the parsonage and, according to the present owner, served as a blacksmith shop and later as a barn.
The area did not begin to develop until the early 1860s. The three small houses at 76, 80 and 84 Wellesley Street were all built between 1857 and 1866, according to map evidence.
76 and 80 Wellesley Street
The houses at 76 and 80 Wellesley Street (Map #37 and 39, MHC 336 and 333 - see also inventory forms) appear to have been built in 1862 by carpenter and builder Fitz A. Robinson, who lived at no. 80 into the 20th century. James W. Moore, the first owner of no. 76, is listed as a farmer in the 1893 directory. His descendants, including local teacher Pearl Moore, continued to live in the house until the mid 20th century. Robinson was probably also the builder of the similar house at 74 Wellesley Street, which does not appear on town maps until 1889.
84 Wellesley Street
The house at 84 Wellesley Street (located in the Case Estates Area E) was originally owned by Henry J. White, who was to become a central figure in the development of the Maple Road / Wellesley Street Area. “Deacon” Henry J. White, who is listed as a farmer in the 1887 directory and in early deeds, was very active in town affairs, serving as Weston’s representative in the General Court in 1883, a member of the Burial Ground Committee from 1879 to 1889, Overseer of the Poor (1880s), Selectman from 1881-1889, Town Treasurer from 1890 to 1913, and Town Assessor from 1882 to 1889. In 1869, White sold 84 Wellesley Street to James B. Case, who used it as housing for staff for his nearby estate. That same year, White purchased the former parsonage at 3 Maple Road, along with numerous acres of surrounding land.
68 School Street
Beginning about 1890, White began subdividing this land into house lots averaging about 1/4 to 1/2 acre. By 1897, he had sold over a dozen lots. One of the first to be sold was the large parcel at 68 School Street (Map #1), sold in November, 1890, to Josephine and George W. Cutting for $600. Cutting was the town postmaster and the owner of George W. Cutting & Sons, a general store located at the intersection of Central Avenue and Church Street on land now part of the Town Green. Cutting’s Store was central to town life in Weston during the turn of the century period. The store sold grain, groceries, boots, shoes and other items and also served as the main post office. Cutting’s father, also named George W. Cutting, had also been the leading storekeeper in Weston from about 1830 until his death in 1885. Cutting continued the family tradition, operating his own store with his sons and A. B. Nims (see below).
Also in November 1890, Henry J. White sold the three lots at 59, 55, and 51 Wellesley Street.
59 Wellesley Street
The lot at 59 Wellesley Street (Map #7) was bought by John J. Brown. Directory information suggests that Brown probably built his own house and that it was in place by 1893, as he is listed in the 1893 directory as a carpenter living on Wellesley Street. In the 1906 directory, he is listed as a contractor and builder, suggesting that he expanded his business in the next 13 years, perhaps by building similar houses in his own developing neighborhood.
55 Wellesley Street
White sold the adjacent lot at 55 Wellesley Street (Map #9) for $300 to Carrie L. Smith, who resold it in April of 1892 with “the buildings thereon.” The new owners were Fannie and E.W. Russell, who is listed in the 1893 directory as a housepainter on Wellesley Street.
51 Wellesley Street
White sold the lot at 51 Wellesley Street (Map #11) for $250 to Eliza M. and John C. McDonald. In the 1893 directory, John C. is listed as a carpenter and Mary E. as a bookkeeper, living on Wellesley Street. The 1908 map shows that Brown, Russell and McDonald all still owned their houses at that date.
49 Wellesley Street
White sold the lot at 49 Wellesley Street (Map #12) at the corner of Maple Road to Howard L. Cooper in February, 1892. Cooper did not build on the property and sold it to John S. Fuller in 1896. It is possible that Cooper was the carpenter for the house, which Fuller built in the ensuing year. Cooper is listed in the 1893 directory as a clerk at Cutting’s Store and in the 1906 directory as a carpenter. He lived at what is now 102 Wellesley Street in the Case Estates Area (E). Fuller resold the property in`1897 to John A. Crouse, “with the buildings thereon.” Crouse then sold the house to Carrie A. Cutting in 1898. On the 1908 map, it is shown as belonging to M. F. Childs.
29 Wellesley Street
In July of 1892, White sold the lot at 39 Wellesley Street (Map #21) for $300 to Delia and Merrill French, and in 1893 they were taxed for a dwelling valued at $2,500. Merrill French is listed in the 1906 directory as the “town auditor.” What was originally the adjacent lot at 35 Wellesley Street (Map #24) was sold by White in 1894 for $400 to Sidney B. Ross, a carpenter (see also 13 Maple Road). In 1896, Ross resold the property “with the buildings thereon” to Gustavus A. Smith, who moved here from his four-acre property at 138 Wellesley Street (see inventory form). Smith is listed in the 1893 directory as a farmer and in the 1906-1907 directory as “retired.”
10 Maple Road
Maple Road was laid out through White’s property about 1891-1892. In December, 1892, White sold the land at 10 Maple Road on the south side of the new street to George A. Hirtle, who is listed in the 1893 directory as a blacksmith, “practical horseshoer and carriage smith” with “particular attention to over-reaching and interfering horses.” Hirtle sold the house in 1903 to Milledge E. Crouse, who is listed in the 1906 directory as a blacksmith. Crouse may have taken over Hirtle’s business as well, as Hirtle is not listed in 1906. Crouse’s advertisement in that directory says “horseshoer, carriage ironer, general jobbing.” In 1907, Crouse moved across the street to 13 Maple Road (see below). He sold what was at that time two lots (now together at 10 Maple Road) with buildings to Patrick J. Connors, who is listed in the 1906 directory as a coachman.
13 Maple Road
In April, 1893, Henry J. White sold the lot at 13 Maple Road (Map #17) to Alberta and Sidney B. Ross. (Ross was also involved in the construction of 35 Wellesley Street - see above). Like his neighbor John J. Brown at 59 Wellesley Street, Ross is listed in the 1893 directory as a carpenter and in the 1906 directory as a contractor and builder.
14 Maple Road
Ross sold the property in 1907 for $3,000 to Milledge E. Crouse. In November 1893, Henry J. White sold the lot across the street at 14 Maple Road (Map #14) to Arthur B. Nims, who worked at George W. Cutting and Sons store on Central Avenue (see also 68 School Street above). Nims was still working at the store at the time of the 1906 directory (Nims was married to George W. Cutting Jr.’s daughter). The lot at 9 Maple Road (Map #18) was sold by White to Kate and Alphonso H. Dunn in 1897. In December of that year, they took out a $2,000 mortgage from Waltham Savings Bank, presumably to build the present house. The 1906 directory lists Dunn as a “truckman.” The 1913 town report (juror’s list) lists him as a police officer.
5 Maple Road
Also in the 1890s, the link between 3 Maple Road and its outbuilding (now 5 Maple Road, Map #19) was removed (correction- link still there at the time of the Middlesex County Atlas of 1908. May have been removed after White’s death in 1915). The outbuilding was converted to a house with a porch around the front and side. This porch was removed about 1948-1949, and the present appearance of the house is the result of changes made at that time.
20 Maple Road
The lot at the corner of Maple Road and School Street, 20 Maple Road (Map #16) was owned by Alfred L. Cutting at the time of the 1908 map, but no house had been built by that date. The house was probably built shortly after 1908, as the style is very similar to nearby houses built in the early 20th century. The 1909 directory at the Weston Public Library lists Alfred L. Cutting as having a house on School Street, suggesting that it had been built by that time. Alfred L. Cutting was the son of George W. Cutting (Jr.), who owned the adjacent house at 68 School Street and also owned the general store where Alfred worked.
James B. Case Estate
In addition to local tradesmen and shopkeepers, early residents of the Maple Avenue / Wellesley Street Area included staff from three nearby estates.
The James B. Case Estate was located immediately to the south at the intersection of Wellesley and School Streets. As mentioned earlier, Case purchased 84 Wellesley Street (in Case Estates Area E just outside the Maple Road / Wellesley Street Area) in 1869 for use by his staff. Samuel G. Pennock, who for many years was the Case Estate foreman, probably lived in a house (no longer extant) on the property at 78 School Street (Map #3). This property was owned by A. Pennock on the 1908 map. The present house at this address appears to date from the 1920s.
John B. Fiske, who is listed in the 1906 directory as the Case gardener, is shown on the 1908 map as living at 17 Wellesley Street. (Map #28).
In 1912, Louisa Case bought 80 Wellesley Street (Map #39) and built a garage here which included an apartment for her chauffeur, Arthur J. Horrigan.
Horace S. Sears
The two houses at 23 and 27 Wellesley Street (Map #27, 26) were built by Horace S. Sears, apparently for his estate staff. They were constructed sometime between 1908, when he purchased the property from Francis B. Sears, and 1923, when the properties are listed in probate records just after his death. Sears, one of Weston’s wealthiest citizens, was a principal in the Boston firm of Wellington, Sears & Co, which operated textile mills in New England and later in the south. Probate records in 1923 show the value of his entire estate to be over $2.3 million dollars.
Sears has been called “the Town’s greatest benefactor,” as he made substantial contributions to the new Town Hall, Town Green, beautification of the center, and other improvements made during the early 20th century. The enormous 1902 Sears Italian villa-style mansion, “Haleiwa,“ was located on Central Avenue (now Boston Post Road) near what is now Hemlock Road Sears land holdings included large tracts both north and south of Central Avenue. Gardens were laid out in terraces from the mansion down to where the by-pass is now located. The land at 23 and 27 Wellesley Street was contiguous to the large Sears parcel between Central, School, Maple and Wellesley Street.
23 Wellesley Street
The house at 23 Wellesley Street was reportedly built about 1910 for the Sears gardener or estate manager and is attributed to architect Harold S. Graves (d.1952). Graves worked alone after the death of James T. Kelley, his early partner. He moved to Weston about 1900 and built his own house on Old Road. Graves built the theater wing on the main Sears House, the bell tower on the Morrison estate, now Regis College, and many of the houses in the Meadowbrook Road area. After the death of Horace Sears in 1923, the house at no. 23 was purchased from the Sears Estate by Henry (Harry) Bailey, who was a business partner of Sears and one of three executors of the estate. Bailey lived in the main Sears mansion after Sears’ death and appears to have rented 23 Wellesley Street, which he owned until 1948.
33 Wellesley Street
The house at 33 Wellesley Street (Map #25) is thought by one area resident to have been built for the chauffeur of the Winsor Estate, the third large estate bordering the Maple Road / Wellesley Street neighborhood. At the time of the 1908 map, Robert Winsor owned all the land on the east side of Wellesley Street between what is now 18 and 70 Wellesley Street, along with the Weston Golf Club land and much of Meadowbrook Road. Winsor, a partner of Kidder, Peabody and Co., first came to Weston in 1884. Over a period of 35 years, he bought property in the central part of Weston, until by 1919 he owned 488 acres, valued at $61,500. About that time, he divided his property, retaining for his own use his mansion at 68 Winsor Way and Bryden Road (now destroyed) and 16 acres. He established the Weston Golf Club, with 50 acres, and the remaining 422 acres he placed in the Weston Real Estate Trust.
Robert Winsor Properties
According to Phil Coburn’s autobiographical account, "Growing Up in Weston," Mr. Winsor wanted to attract young married couples to Weston to live around the new golf club. He offered a prize of $1,000 to the architect who designed for these young couples a house that could be enlarged to accommodate growing families.
According to Coburn’s account, “There were two leading architects in Town - Sam Mead and Harold Graves. Their work was displayed on easels for the judges to evaluate at the Golf Club. The seven houses on the Golf Club side of Wellesley Street are the result of the competition.” Coburn was incorrect about the number of houses actually built on Winsor’s Wellesley Street property. Because no. 64 is on a double lot, only six houses were actually built, at 40, 44, 56, 60, 64 and 70 Wellesley Street (Map #29 A-35). All appear to have been built between about 1920 and 1926.
Architect Samuel Mead is described in the Biographical Dictionary of American Architects as being “remembered for his work in the field of residence design. He was associated, intermittently, with E. C. Cabot, Francis W. Chandler, and Arthur G. Everett in planning numerous suburban houses in the rambling and picturesque style of that period.” Mead designed many houses in Weston, including his own house at 50 Pigeon Hill Road (see inventory form), the first Robert Winsor house at 309 Boston Post Road, Lorenzo Kettle estate mansion at 770 Boston Post Road, the Grant Walker estate mansion at 319 Concord Road (see inventory form) and the brick façade of the Demmon-Morrison House at 235 Wellesley Street, now the Regis College president’s house (see inventory form. Information about Harold Graves is included in the discussion of 23 Wellesley.
Other Colonial Revival Houses
Other Colonial Revival houses were also built in the area in the early to mid-1920s:
- 63 and 67 Wellesley Street (Map #6 and #5) appear to date from that time, as does the present façade at 78 School Street
- 63 and 67 Wellesley Street were built on land that formerly belonged to the property at 78 School Street, and further research is needed to determine whether there is a connection between these three houses, which are all well-crafted 1920s Colonial Revival examples
- The houses at 33 and 37 Wellesley Street (Map #25 and #22) were probably also constructed at that time, as indicated by assessor’s information
Weston Scout House
The last building to be constructed in the Maple Road / Wellesley Street Area was the Weston Scout House at 86 School Street, (Map #4) which dates from 1941. The Weston Scouts, Inc. was incorporated in 1938, and leaders immediately enlisted the support of the community in raising funds for a Girl Scout house.
After being asked to sell some of their land for the Scout House, the Case sisters, Louisa and Marion, decided to give the the scouts about one acre and to give the adjacent parcel at the “apex” of the Wellesley- School Street intersection to the Town as a permanent park in memory of their parents.
Samuel Mead was asked to design the Scout House, but his plan proved to be more elaborate than the board wanted, and Mrs. Stanley Kellogg, also an architect, was enlisted to revise the plan. The building continues to be used by Weston scout troops.