Wellesley Massachusetts, 1890

Wellesley, occupying a northern projection of Norfolk County, is an example of the beauty of nature enhanced and brought to a delightful climax by art. It is noted chiefly for Wellesley College, Waban Lake, and the Hunnewell Gardens; and (it might well be added) for its beautiful drives over roads ornamented and shaded to a very unusual extent by fine elms, maples, and various evergreens. The Boston and Albany Railroad. connects it with Boston; the first station (Rice's Crossing) being 12 miles, and the last (Lake Crossing) 16 miles from the metropolis, with Wellesley Hills and Wellesley (village) between. The last two are the post-offices. The other villages are known as Bostonville and Unionville.

The Charles River separates it from a corner of Dover on the southwest, and again from Newton on the northeast. Weston bounds it on the north, Needham on the southeast, and Natick on the west. The assessed area is 5,770 acres, of which 1,468 are forest, consisting chiefly of oak, with some chestnut, spruce and pine. Maugus and Moon hills are of the "Wellesley Hills" group, which occupy the central part of the town. Bullard's Hill is midway between the village and the college, — which occupies an eminence on the northeastern shore of Waban Lake. This noted body of water, quite irregular in contour, and covering about 300 acres, lies near the southern border of the town, and is a place of much attractiveness, both for the native beauty of its shores and the noble institution whose fine architecture is the crowning element in the scenery. Near this lake, too, are the splendid Hunnewell Gardens, where the skill of the landscape-gardener has joined with that of the florist in forming from trees, shrubbery, plants, and flowers, lawns, swells, and hollows, enlivened by fountains and mirrored by cosey ponds, one of the most extensive and delightful places of this country, requiring a dozen or more greenhouses as the temporary or permanent shelter of the choicest plants of every clime. The village, also, not far away, is one of the most animated and attractive in the suburbs of the metropolis. Northwest of it, beyond the railroad, is another fine body of water known as Morse's (or Wood's) Pond. Longfellow's Pond (a small but pretty sheet of water, with a paper-mill at its outlet) lies on the east of Wellesley Hills. The latter have become largely occupied by the residences of gentlemen engaged in business in Boston or elsewhere, and constitute a region of much beauty of aspect and salubrity of atmosphere. The Sudbury River conduit and the Cochituate aqueduct,— parts of the Boston Water-works system — cross the town and the Charles River at its eastern border,—the aqueduct sustained by the massive and picturesque "Echo Bridge," situated a short distance above the Lower Falls."

The bed-rock, blue or gray in color, occasionally appears. The soil is a sandy loam; and both cultivated and native fruits and berries abound. The greenhouse product is very large proportionately. The value of the product of the 215 farms in 1885 was $98,093. The largest factories in the town are a paper and a shoddy mill, There are also a hosiery mill and a shoe factory. Some of the smaller manufactures are machinery and other metallic goods, carriages, ink, mucilage, colors and crude chemicals, and food. preparations. The value of all goods made in 1885, as reported in the last census, was $1,062,895. The population was 3,013; of whom 551 were legal voters. The valuation, in 1888 was $5,575,782, with a tax-rate of $8 on $1,000.

Wellesley has a town-hall which is quite noted as a magnificent piece of architecture and for the unique material used in its exterior construction. This is ordinary field stone, combined with such art in respect to color as to impart a wonderfully pleasing tone to the whole. It was a gift to the town by Mr. H. H. Hunnewell. Within it, besides a hall and town offices, is a free public library of some 6,000 volumes. The other considerable library is that of Wellesley-College, comprising nearly 35,000 volumes. This institution is for the gentler sex only, and all officers, professors and other instructors are of the same sex. It was established by Henry F. Durant, Esq., and incorporated in 1870, with a capital of $600,000. The main building is of granite, rising in the form of a double cross, 600 feet in length, 150 feet in width, and five stories in height; and is fitted and furnished roost appropriately and richly. It is not at present endowed; but Mrs. Durant, the widow of the founder, the inheritor of the remainder of his large estate, is the treasurer of the institution, and looks carefully after its interests. There is associated with the college the Dana Hall Preparatory School, situated near by. The "Home School" also receives a sustaining patronage. The public schools of the town occupy four buildings, valued in 1885 at $45,000. The local publications of Wellesley village are the "Advertiser," issued weekly, and the "Family Mirror," a monthly; and Wellesley Hills has the weekly "Courant." The churches are two Congregationalist, a Unitarian, an Episcopal, and a Roman Catholic.

This town embraces the northwestern portion of Needham (about five sevenths of the territory), and was set apart and incorporated on April 6,1881. It took the name of its principal village, which had been previously adopted as the name of the college also.

pp. 670-671 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer