| The Story of Wellesley Park by Adelaide M. Robertson
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A plan of land of Wellesley Park, dated September 1, 1887, was developed by the firm of Haddock & Allen and two civil engineers by the names of rank A. Foster and Charles F. Baxter.
This land was originally part of the Vinson farm. The plan shows house-lots on the East side of Wellesley Park going back to land on Upland Ave. On the West side the house-lots extend back to the Shawmut Branch of the N.Y.H.H. & R. R.R. Between these two sides was a plot of land containing about one acre.
As the house-lots were sold and the houses built thereon, the new owners were assured that the center piece of land would always be an open spot. However, a few years after the last house was built, the owners were amazed to find work being started to build houses on the center piece and surveyors were taking measurements.
A meeting was held at which all residents of Wellesley Park were present to determine a course of action by which the building on the center piece of land could be prevented. Messrs. Haddock & Allen were first approached but to no avail. It was then decided to take the matter up with the city of Boston and it was brought to the attention of the board of Aldermen through Alderman Frederick Brand of Melville Ave.
After much time and discussion the residents were told that the city had no money to buy the land, but if they, the owners, got together and bought it and would give it to the city of Boston, the City would make it a beauty spot and not a playground or park for strolling, and the City would keep it as such.
A committee was formed with Mr. Charles H. Wait, chairman, and Mr. John L. Farrell, treasurer. The money was subscribed for the purchase of the center piece of land by every house-owner, each one paying an equal amount. A lawyer by the name of Smith who lived at the Nickerson home, but not an owner, offered to take care of the legal side of the transaction.
When all the money was collected (my father?s receipt is dated Oct. 13, 1908), a banquet was held by the people of Wellesley Park at Hotel Thorndike on Boylston St. opposite the Public Garden. At this banquet the money was turned over to the City of Boston and the pen used in signing the necessary papers was presented to Alderman Brand. Later we had it framed for him. Also, at this time a purse of gold was given to Lawyer Smith for his work. The dinner was excellent and we all had a good time.
Up to this time the side-walks were much as they are today except that trees had been planted in the grass lawn which extended to Park St. at one end and to Melville Ave. at the other end. The gutter was made of paving stones. The center piece of land was an ordinary field.
The next spring, the city started the work of developing the Park. The center piece of land and the streets were dug up; the side-walks and the trees bordering them were removed; the center plot was shaped, curbed, and seeded, and young maple trees and gardens were planted; new side-walks were put in with grass lawn and curbing.
Beautiful tulip beds blossomed every spring and about the last of May there were replaced by other flowering plants. A gardener was stationed here four or five days a week in the summer to weed, water and mow.
After all this work was finished, the City of Boston assessed each owner for the work done. This was called a Betterment Tax and was payable in equal amounts over a period of years. If an owner sold his house before this tax was paid up, the new owner had to assume the rest of the payments.
The names of those who paid for the Park are as follows,
East Side West Side
E. Auerbach John F. Dacey
Charles Brandt Mary H. Erickson
Edwin E. Buzzell John L. Farrell
L. Isabelle Cohen Henry H. Green
Isaiah Hinckley Hosea Harden
William Houseman Eliott D. Jacques
James M. Robertson Ellen M. Murphy
G. Carleton Russell Ada M. Nickerson
Howard G. Salisbury Frank R. Thurston
Daniel J. Sullivan Soloman Weiscopf
Charles H. Wait John C. Weston
Charles S. Wentworth Arthur H. Woodcock
Frank T. Fuller Alex. McKinley
This list was given to each subscriber by Mr. John L. Farrell, treasurer.
Much credit for the preservation of Wellesley Park as a beauty spot should go to Mr. Charles H. Wait and to Mr. John L. Farrell who worked hard to bring it about. Also a tribute should go to the people of Wellesley Park for their splendid cooperation and unanimous response to the appeal for funds wherewith to purchase the center piece of land.
Thus it came about that our Park was bought and given to the city of Boston by twenty-six people of good will, representing the families of Wellesley Park.
Everything written in this Story of Wellesley Park is based on actual facts gathered from signed receipts, lists, map, records, and research, as well as certain matters that took place at the meetings which I attended with my father.
Wellesley Park is known as the nicest section of Dorchester. There is no other place that can surpass the spirit of this most friendly neighborhood.
In order to preserve the history of this pleasant community for those who are interested, and because I seem to have the honor of having lived here the longest time, I have been asked by several members of the Park to put in writing what I know.
Adelaide M. Robertson
56 Wellesley Park
| Detail from the 1899 Richards Atlas showing Wellesley Park.
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Source: Codman Square House Tour Booklet 1997
Like its predecessors, Beacon Hill?s Louisburg Square and the South End?s Union Park, Wellesley Park is organized about a central ornamental green. Unlike the masonry rowhouses of its urban counterparts, however, its houses are freestanding frame dwellings, suitable to a suburban context. Laid out in 1898 on the site of the former Vinson farm, Wellesley Park represents a virtual pattern book of turn-of-the-century residential design, many of the houses sharing similar floor plans. Lively Queen Anne silhouettes, often punctuated by corner turrets of various shapes, are ornamented with such Colonial revival details as classical porch columns, pediments, and swags. Handsome though they are in themselves, however, these houses attain more significance when viewed as a commendably coherent and remarkably intact ensemble. If streetscapes can be likened to a company assembled around a dinner table, Wellesley Park invites us to a veritable banquet.
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Created: March 6, 2006 Modified: April 14, 2009