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I FORM A - AREA Assessor's Sheets USGS Quad Area Letter Form Numbers in Area

Massachusetts Historical Commission ===6=9====1 Marlborough I I I~M I 269-281


80 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Town Marlborough

Place (neighborhood or village)

West Village

Name of Area Witherbee Street

Present Use residential

Construction Dates or Period 1860'5-1920's

Overall Condition good

Major Intrusions and Alterations parking

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lot, S.E. section; some visible alteration
,., \ 1 I. \ Lv t, ,\~.".i
(J}-' ,,('(i)ketch Ma~,;n)) (Jt: :;Z·i.l ) Acreage ca. 2.5 acres
/Draw a map of the area indicating properties within
it. Number each property for which individual Recorded by Anne Forbes, consultant
inventory forms have been completed. Label streets
including route numbers, if any. Attach a separate Organization Marlborough Historical Comm.
sheet if space is not sufficient here. Indicate North.
8/15/94

Follow Massachusetts Historical Commission Survey Manual instructions for completing this form
AREA FORM

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION [X] see continuation sheet


Describe architectural, structural and landscape features and evaluate in terms of other areas within the
community.

In spite of the removal of at least three houses, the addition of one in the 1920's, and some recent
. alteration and the removal of some architectural details, Witherbee Street is still one of
Marlborough's most intact examples of a small, comfortable late-nineteenth-century neighborhood.
Most of its gracious houses are set back from the street on large lots, and a few small barns and
carriage houses remain. On the north side of the eastern section of the street, Witherbee Terrace,
with its four large multi-unit houses, was cut through to Gay Street at the tum of the century.
Across from it is the rear part of the public library property, now paved for a small parking lot. "

The street is anchored at the west end by what are apparently its two earliest houses, #59 and 60,
both probably built in the late 1860's. 59 Witherbee, the Elbridge Howe House (MHC #270), is a
large three-story, three-bay Second Empire house, which still has its slate roof and wraparound porch
on square posts. The Reuben Dole House at #60 (MHC #269) is an early Italianate type; two-
stories, side-gabled, with a three bay facade, large 2-over-2-sash windows, and an entry canopy on
square, chamfered posts. (Cont.)

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE [X] see continuation sheet r,


Explain historical development of the area. Discuss how this area relates to the historical development e
of the community. i

As Marlborough's prosperity grew along with the rapidly-expanding local shoe industry over the
1860's and early 1870's, several stylish residential neighborhoods were developed on the side streets
near the center of town. In general, businessmen and manufacturers whose enterprises were located
south of Main Street built their homes on Fairmount Hill, and many of those with business interests
at Middlesex Square constructed houses in the upper Church Street area. Industrialists and business
owners in the West Village tended to settle first on Pleasant Street, a few located on Chestnut
Street, and, from the 1860's through 1880's, several built their homes here on Witherbee Street.

The street was apparently laid out around the time of the Civil War, probably shortly after the
adjacent Winthrop Street. Both streets were named after nearby residents and landowners--
Winthrop Street for Winthrop Arnold, son of William Arnold, who had lived on the site of the
present Christian Science Church, and Witherbee Street after members of the Witherbee family,
whose homestead (the former Rev. Asa Packard House) stood just south of here on the site of the
present public library. The longtime head of the family, Caleb Witherbee, died in 1853, and his son,
Dennis, who had acquired the homestead from him, died in 1857. It is likely that the name of the
street was intended to honor them both. Witherbee heirs continued to own nearly half the land at
the east end of the south side of the street until the tum of the twentieth century. (Cont.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES [ ] see continuation sheet


Bigelow. Historic Reminiscences of Marlborough. 1910.
Hudson. History of the Town of Marlborough, 1862.
Hurd. History of Middlesex County. 1890.
Maps, birdseye views, and atlases: 1871, 1875, 1878, 1889, Sanboms.
Marlborough directories and tax valuations.

[ X] Recommended as a National Register District. If checked, you must attach a completed


National Register Criteria Statement form.
INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET Community Property

Marlborough Witherbee Street

Massachusetts Historical Commission


80 Boylston Street Area(s) Form Nos.
Boston, Massachusetts 02116 C:J M 269-281

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION, cont.


Seven other houses built about 1870 are also typical of the Italianate period, although most appear
to have lost some of their characteristic Italianate detail. Another, 25 Witherbee (MHC #280), was
constructed a few years later, between 1871 nd 1875. All are 2 112-stories, and present their main
gable-ends to the street. 35,50, and 51 (MHC #s 277, 272, and 271) are of the "upright-and-wing"
form that was frequently built on the larger lots of the period; #s 25, 29, 40, and 44 (MHC #s 280,
278, 275, and 273) are all three-bay, side-hall-entry gable-end houses. The polygonal bay windows
on #s 40, 44, and 50 are typical of the times. 43 Witherbee (MHC #274), a cross-gabled house
which has its entry in one of its side bays, has the same type of rectangular bay windows as #60,
chamfered posts on a comer porch, and two typically Italianate windows in the gables--a
roundheaded window on the west, and a circular window on the south. Although many doors have
been replaced, several of these houses retain their 2-over-2-sash windows. #44 also has a bracketed
door canopy, and #50 has a porch with chamfered posts on its wing. A wraparound porch on turned
posts at #29 was probably added in the 1890's, and tum-of-the-century Tuscan-columned porches
and entry porticos were added at #s 35, 40, 51, and on the main section of #50. One of the most
intact houses on the block, another three-bay gable-end at 39 Witherbee (MHC #276), was built in
the 1880's. Although its Tuscan-columned porch is likely to be a later addition, it retains its
clapboard siding, 2-over-2-sash windows with molded surrounds, glass-and-panel door with two
roun~headed lights, and its typical architectural trim of narrow cornerboards and a molded, boxed
cormce.

The two latest houses are also quite well-preserved. 19 Witherbee (MHC #269) is a smaller, 3-bay
gable-end with a Tuscan-columned facade porch, built close to the street in the 1890's. #28, (MHC
#279), an "infill" house of the 1910's-20's, is good example of an early-twentieth-century Colonial
Revival house--2 1/2-stories, five-bays wide, with three pedimented dormers on its side-gabled roof,
wide siding, and large modillions at its main cornice and in its Tuscan-columned entry canopy.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE, cont.


Nine of the houses standing today had been built by 1870. The largest, and probably the earliest,
are 59 and 60, which formerly had Winthrop Street addresses. #59 was built for Elbridge Howe, who
may have constructed it himself. Long-remembered as the president and chief organizer of the
People's National Bank, founded in 1878, and the president of the Marlborough Savings Bank, he
was also a carpenter/builder, and in his youth he had built the first Town Hall (1840), with David
Brown. After his death, the house was owned by his son, George A. Howe, who ran the box factory
and the Howe Lumber Company on Florence Street, and was Mayor of Marlborough in 1892.
Cooper Reuben Dole built the house opposite, at 60 Witherbee Street, where he lived until his death
at the age of 99.

Other early houses were the homes of George Fletcher, a foreman in one of the shoe factories, and
L.E. Fletcher, at #s 29 and 35, electrician Sidney A. Brigham at #50, and skilled shoe-worker
Thomas Boggs at #44. Two widows owned houses here for many years, Mrs. George F. Brown
(Harriet P.) at #51, and Mrs. C. Phelps at #40. #43 was for decades owned by highly-honored
Civil-War veteran John S. Fay, who was appointed Marlborough postmaster in 1865, and served for
over 45 years. Slightly later was the J.T. Wheeler House at 25 Witherbee Street (ca. 1875), and the
home of L.C. Holden at #39, built in the 1880's. (Cont.)
INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET Community Property

Marlborough Witherbee Street

Massachusetts Historical Commission


80 Boylston Street Areais) Form Nos.
Boston, Massachusetts 02116 C~ M 269-281

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE, cont.


The house at 19 Witherbee, built in about 1900, replaces an earlier small house on the site, and 28
Witherbee Street occupies part of the former Witherbee property, where two houses formerly stood.
Another house at #9 Witherbee, which was demolished in this century, was the former home of
several notable citizens, including Mayor William N. Davenport (see Form 171: 105 Newton Street),
lawyer Edgar Weeks, city marshal Chester W. Curtis, and florist F.B. Gleason.

AREA DATA SHEET

MHC# Parcel # Street Address Historic Name Date Style/type

281 69-243 19 Witherbee Street 1890's Vernac. gable-end

280 69-244 25 Witherbee Street J.T. Wheeler House ca. 1875 Vemac. gable-end

279 69-235 28 Witherbee Street 1920's Col. Revival

278 69-245 29 Witherbee Street G. Fletcher House ca. 1870 Vemac. Q. Anne

277 69-246 35 Witherbee Street L.E. Fletcher House ca. 1870 Vernac. gable-end

276 69-247 39 Witherbee Street i.c Holden House 1880's Italianate vemac.

275 69-234 40 Witherbee Street Mrs. C. Phelps House ca. 1870 Vemac. gable-end

274 69-248 43 Witherbee Street John S. Fay House ca. 1870 Italianate

273 69-233 44 Witherbee Street Thomas Boggs House ca. 1870 Italianate

272 69-232 50 Witherbee Street S.A. Brigham House ca. 1870 Italianate

271 69-249 51 Witherbee Street Harriet Brown House ca. 1870 Vernac. gable-end

270 69-250 59 Witherbee Street E./G.A. Howe House 1860's 2nd Empire

269 69-231 60 Witherbee Street Reuben Dole House ca. 1868-70 Italianate vernac.
INVENTORY FORl\1 CONTINUATION SHEET Community Property

Marlborough Witherbee Street

Massachusetts Historic-al Commission


80 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116

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INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET Community Property

Marlborough Witherbee Street

Massachusetts Historical Commission


80 Boylston Street Area(s) Form Nos.
Boston, Massachusetts 02116 <:.,-.. M 269-281

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Massachusetts Historical Commission Community Property Address
80 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116 Marlborough West Main Street district

Area(s) Form No(s).


B 84, 136, 137, 138, 139, 210-233, 263,
~ea M: 269-28:!)

National Register of Historic Places Criteria Statement Form

Check all that apply:

[ ] Individually eligible [ ] Eligible only in a historic district


[x] Contributing to a potential historic district [x] Potential historic district

Criteria: [x] A [] B [x] C [] D

Criteria Considerations: [] A [] B [] C [] D [] E [] F [] G

Statement of Significance by __ F_o_rb_e_s_I_S_c_h_u_le_r _


The criteria that are checked in the above sections must be justified here.

A potential National Register District, meeting Criteria A and C of the National Register, exists
along the lower section of West Main Street from Bates Avenue to Pleasant and South Streets, and
could include, as part of its late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century residential component,
Witherbee Street and Winthrop from West Main to Witherbee. This area embodies and articulates
a distinct part of the community's residential and institutional history--the evolution of the original
clustered seventeenth-century settlement west of the Town Common to become a stylish late-
nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century neighborhood for bankers, industrialists, and professionals
at the town, and later the city, center. The district is anchored by Peabody & Steam's Renaissance
Revival Marlborough Public Library of 1905; another focal point is the Howard Cheney's Federal
Revival stucco Christian Science Church of 1920.

Contributing to such a district are all but one of the West Main Street properties from the Bradley
House at 32 West Main to the east comer of Pleasant Street, the first block of Winthrop, and all
the houses on Witherbee Street.