Travel Back in Time: Weston's Town Green
Travel Back in Time with the Wednesday Patch Passport, to discover the history and roots of Weston.
Editor's note: Information for this article was taken from Farm Town to Suburb: The History and Architecture of Weston, Massachusetts, 1830-1980, by Weston Historical Society President Pamela Fox.
Like many New England towns, Weston's town green started off as a pasture and was later turned into a center for gathering, commerce and official government business.
One of the first buildings erected in Weston's town square was the Josiah Smith Tavern, built in the mid-1700s and remains standing today as a historical artifact.
Where the town green currently is was a cow pasture, and initially also held a meetinghouse, used for both town meetings and religious meetings. The first meetinghouse was built in 1695 and a second one was built in 1722, which eventually became the home of the First Parish Church.
First Parish built a new church in 1840, and from then until 1847, town meetings were held at the Josiah Smith Tavern.
A new Town Hall was built in 1847 and was also the first home of the high school, library and fire department. That building stood directly across Boston Post Road and Church Street from the tavern.
It was a two-story Greek Revival building, costing $4,078.
Directly next to Town Hall on Boston Post Road was Cutting's Store, opened by George Warren Cutting Sr., who leased the building from John Lamson in 1856. Cutting later purchased the building in 1875. It was a general dry goods store, selling items for both farmers and households.
“[The store] became a central spot, a sort of focus for the social and business interests of the place,” according to a clipping from an 1888 newspaper article.
The stone church of First Parish was built in 1888, inspired by medieval stone churches in England.
In 1892, “a plan was published in the annual town report showing a new layout for the ‘town square’ at the intersection of Church Street, Boston Post Road and School Street. Two decades later, Weston adopted a more sweeping plan to create a town green out of swampland and build a new town hall and fire station," writes Fox.
Fox praises the adopters of this plan for their foresight and ability to rally public support to spend tax dollars on such a major project.
Creating a New England town green, surrounding it with red-brick colonial revival town buildings, “brought Weston into the modern era," writes Fox.
The town green reconstruction was many years in the making, with the demolition of the old town hall not happening until 1919.
The Cutting family was probably one of the most affected families in Weston by the new town green reconstruction. Not only was the store's building scheduled to be demolished, the family lived on the corner of School Street and Boston Post Road, where a library (currently called the Old Library) was to be built.
However, Fox writes, when Charles H. Fiske Jr. heard the Cutting house was going to be demolished, he bought it and moved it to its current locale, 36 Church St.
The library was built in 1899 to 1900 and the town green itself began reconstruction around about 1918. The current Town Hall was constructed in 1917.
Commissioners on the planning committee wrote about the demolition of the old Town Hall in 1919:
It was with a certain tinge of sadness that the citizens of the town watched the demolition of the old Town Hall with all its precious associations and memories—of merrymakings and parties—of the schoolroom which it sheltered long ago, with its happy school life, exhibitions and graduation exercises—of the pleasant library room when the library was in its small beginnings—and of patriotic and philanthropic meetings when the walls echoed with eloquent and moving appeals.
With debate currently in the process regarding the future of the Old Library and the Josiah Smith Tavern, it remains to be seen what will happen to Weston's town green, which has stayed, somewhat relatively, in its current state for nearly 100 years.