Introduction to the architecture of Marlborough

In 1994 and 1995 a comprehensive historic property survey was conducted in Marlborough(Some notable buildings torn down by the time of this survey are here.)

In 2008, as part of the Marlborough Historical Society's commitment to historic preservation and education, the entire contents of the five-volume historic property survey report were scanned and put online as searchable documents for everyone to use.  (Technical details are here.)

This work was conducted by the volunteers of the Society and is funded 100% by memberships in, contributions to, and purchases from the Society.  Learn how you can help support these and other efforts.

The narrative from the historic property survey is below; detailed information on neighborhoods and individual properties throughout Marlborough is here.

Research into a local park, the library, and old homesteads in Marlborough is in the Histories of Marlborough section.

The names of the buildings, historic districts, and cemeteries in Marlborough included on the National Register of Historic Places are here

Resources for owners of historic homes in Marlborough or those looking to buy one are here.

Background on the report

Entitled the Marlborough Survey of Historic, Architectural, and Cultural Resources, it was conducted in two phases in conjunction with the Marlborough Historical Commission, and was funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission and by the City of Marlborough.  It is an excellent resource for new or prospective owners or developers of historic residential or commercial properties in Marlborough. 

As described below, the first phase documented the center of the city and was completed in the fall of 1994.  The second, completed in 1995, continued the documentation of the center and downtown areas, and covered the rest of the city as well.

Detailed information on individual properties, streets, and and neighborhoods is here.

The entire five-volume set, with full text search, is also available on two CDs that can be purchased from the Society or checked out from the Marlborough Public Library.  In addition, a print version of the five-volume report is available from the reference desk of the public library and by appointment at the Marlborough Historical Society.





        Part 1 (Phase 1)

  •         Introduction
  •         Political Boundaries
  •         Topography
  •         Contact Period (1500 – 1620)
  •         First Settlement Period (1620 – 1675)
  •         Colonial Period (1676 – 1775)
  •         Federal Period (1775 – 1830)
  •         Early Industrial Period (1830 – 1870)
  •         Late Industrial Period (1870 – 1914)
  •         Early Modern Period (1914 – 1945)
  •         Modern Period (1945 – present)

    Part 2 (Phase 2)  

  •      Description of Project
  •         Methodology
  •         Explanation of Products and Accomplishments
  •         Recommendations for Further Study
  •         Credits

[Note: Descriptions of neighborhoods and details on individual properties are here.]



                                                                                    September 15, 1994
Revised June 1, 1995



Yonder on that hill is Marlborough, a town which in autumn, at least when I visited it,

wears a rich appearance of rustic plenty and comfort—ample farms, good houses,

profuse apple heaps, pumpkin mountains in every enclosure, orchards left ungathered,

and in the Grecian piazzas of the houses, squashes ripening between the columns.

-- Henry David Thoreau, quoted in Ella Bigelow


Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, Massachusetts. 1910


The city of Marlborough, incorporated as a town in 1660, has a long and varied history, from the period when its hospitable terrain of rolling hills and clear streams supported native activity, through over 150 years as an agricultural community, another century as one of the shoe-manufacturing capitals of New England, and on into a late-twentieth-century identity as a diversified residential, high-technology, and business city.  The Survey of Historic, Architectural, and Cultural Resources, through its comprehensive examination of the buildings, structures, landscapes and objects remaining from all historical periods, is a vital tool in forming an understanding of how the community has developed.  (Specific resources documented on the survey have been given an identification number by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.  In this history those numbers follow the name of a property.)


Marlborough is situated twenty-eight miles west of Boston and sixteen miles east of Worcester, at the western border of Middlesex County.  It is a six mile long east-west rectangle, bounded today on the north by Berlin and Hudson, on the east by Sudbury and Framingham, south by Southborough, and on the west by Northborough.  Its territory was included in the 1638 Sudbury grant, from which a section was set off for an "Indian Praying Town" in 1654.  In 1656 the English government issued a grant for a new plantation of "Whipsufferadge"  here at the western frontier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in 1660 the plantation was incorporated as the town of Marlborough.  In 1700 some former Indian lands were annexed, but from that time on the size of Marlborough was repeatedly reduced by the formation of new towns--Westborough (1717), Southborough (1727), Berlin (1784), and Hudson (1866).  


Throughout its history, Marlborough has been noted for the beauty of its rolling terrain and its hospitable topography, which is characterized by an abundance of hilly, glacially-formed uplands.  The landscape is dominated by twelve hills over 400-feet high, the tallest of which is Sligo Hill, at 590 feet.  One, Ockoocangansett, just north of the center of town, was the seventeenth-century site of the ca. 200-acre Indian "planting field".  The soil ranges from rocky to gravelly, and the vegetation is largely deciduous, interspersed with some stands of coniferous trees.  Marlborough has a highland watershed, with only one natural lake, Lake Williams, and several small ponds and minor brooks and streams.  Although a short section of the Assabet River bisects the northwest border on its way to Hudson, (once part of Marlborough), the community that is today the city of Marlborough developed without the advantage of water power from any major rivers.  Areas of upland bog and swamp occupy the rocky eastern third of the community, and large wetlands exist in the southern part, a portion of which may be a remnant of the original cedar swamp so desirable to the early settlers.  The southeastern-most wetlands, which supply the Sudbury Reservoir, are now part of the Boston water supply system.  The south and east sections drain into the Sudbury River; the north and west into the Assabet.  

CONTACT PERIOD   (1500 - 1620)

The fertile upland soil and the wetlands and streams of Marlborough supported Native American activity long before the European settlers arrived.  The area was peopled by inland Nipmuc groups, and others passed through on their seasonal migrations.  Indians could canoe from as far up as the "narrows" of Fort Meadow Brook down to the Assabet, and thence to the Sudbury, the Concord, and ultimately via the Merrimack River to the Atlantic.  Along the way, their principle objective would have been Wamesit (Lowell) near the confluence of the Concord and the Merrimack. 

 Marlborough is sited at the edge of the interior highland along an axis of western Indian trails.  The most important was the major native regional route, the Connecticut Path, which passed east/west through what later became the center of town roughly along the line of today's Boston Post Road/Route 20.  Secondary native routes are conjectured to have gone northeast along Concord Road and possibly Hemenway Street, and in the southeast section along Farm Road to Broadmeadow, with a possible branch down Parmenter Road.  It is also likely that a trail that skirted the base of Ockoocanganset Hill turned north toward the Assabet along the line of Pleasant Street, with branches up West Hill, Berlin, and Bigelow Streets.  

 Settlement Pattern/Archaeological Resources

Several native sites have been identified in Marlborough, including an early one overlooking Flagg Swamp in the northwest section of town.  Summer camps were situated near Causeway Street at the Hudson border, and on Mount Ward in the east part of the city.  Unspecified sites were also located on Ockoocanganset Hill, and adjacent to Fort Meadow Reservoir.  Other likely locations include the terraces and knolls at the northwest corner of town overlooking the Assabet River, the shores of Lake Williams, and at what may be native rock shelters along Flagg, Millham, and other brooks.  An Indian burial ground (Form 810) is located in the southwest part of town, and two others have been identified at Bolton and Union Streets and in the Highland/Union Street area.

 Subsistence Pattern

 The diverse upland terrain throughout Marlborough supported hunting and gathering activities, and there would have been abundant fishing in its ponds and streams, with seasonal runs in the Assabet of shad, herring, and salmon.  The local Indians took advantage of the good agricultural soils, establishing cornfields and orchards here by the first half of the seventeenth century. 


Today's Marlborough was originally included in the 1638 Sudbury grant to a group of English colonists.  Sudbury's territory was enlarged several times, including, in 1656, by the addition of a ca. six-mile-square plantation to its southwest first named "Whipsufferadge" ("Whipsuppenicke"), and later called Marlborough Plantation.  A provision of the granting of the plantation required that it be settled by at least twenty English families within three years' time.  Reserved out of the new area, however, were the 200-acre "Indian Planting Field", and a ca. 6400-acre tract that had been designated as an Indian "Praying Town" called Ockoocangansett, under the Rev. John Eliot, one of seven he established.  Another 842 acres of the plantation had been granted to John Alcock (e) in 1655, and the "Alcocke Farm" remained an independent area through several decades of Marlborough's early settlement. 

Situated here on the western frontier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Whippsufferadge soon became an intermediate post between Boston and the Connecticut River settlements to the west.  A fort was even established here sometime before 1675.

Transportation routes through the new territory at first followed the existing native trails, and the Bay Colony undertook the improvement of the section of the Connecticut Path that led to the Marlborough Plantation. 

 Population and Settlement

Fewer than fifty families from branches of the Natick and Wamesit tribes settled at Eliot's 1654 Praying Town, which was located in the northeast quadrant of present-day Marlborough.  The first Englishman to move here is believed to have been John Howe, who arrived early in 1658.  The rest of the first group of settlers to come from Sudbury, numbering 15 to 20 families, began to arrive by the next year.  In 1660, the Marlborough Plantation was incorporated as the town of Marlborough, with 38 house-lots granted to its proprietors.  The first eleven houses were arranged in a small nucleated settlement flanking the Connecticut Path between Ockoocangansett and Fairmount Hills.  Among the first orders of business in the new town was the building of a meetinghouse, which was constructed by 1662-63 at the southwest corner of the Indian Planting Field, apparently because that location, as was required in the siting of meetinghouses, was the geographical center of the town.  The Rev. William Brinsmead (Brimsmead) was chosen as the town minister, and shortly thereafter, possibly during the first year, approximately two acres of land on Spring Hill were designated as a burial ground.  Over the next fifteen years the settlement became more dispersed, with settlers establishing outlying farms and mills at locations some distance from the center where the soil was good or water power from the streams could be utilized.  Partly because of legal restrictions placed on any new settlers, initial population growth was slow.  By 1670 there were about forty English families here, numbering about 210 people.   Five years later, however, during King Philip's War, most of the settlers left Marlborough, some never to return. 

Small outlying communities were the most vulnerable during this two-year conflict, and Marlborough, like other towns near the frontier, experienced the violence of King Philip's War first-hand.  Eight or ten houses were designated as "garrisons" to which the English residents could flee during an attack, and, as a precaution, the Indian residents of the town were rounded up and sent to Deer Island in Boston harbor.  Marlborough became a depot for war provisions and munitions, and a regional base for the colonial operations against the Indians, especially for the campaigns to Lancaster and Sudbury.  Indian "depredations" were reported in the town, and several Marlborough men were killed in area battles and skirmishes.  In August of 1675 the town of Brookfield was destroyed, leaving Marlborough as the westernmost settlement between Boston and the Connecticut River.  Capt. Edward Hutchinson, who had been shot in the famous ambush near Brookfield, was brought to Marlborough, where he died of his wounds, and was interred in the first marked grave in the Spring Hill Cemetery(See Inventory Form 800.) Then, on March 26, 1676, a band of Indians attacked the town, burning thirteen houses, eleven barns, and the meetinghouse. 

Economic base

In the town's early years both its native and English economy were largely agriculturally-based; in fact, the English government had chosen the site for the Marlborough plantation because of the agricultural and grazing potential of its uplands and meadows.  The Colonists also engaged in some trade with Indians of the region.  As Marlborough was a primary transportation locus west of Sudbury, taverns were established here early.  The first, John How's Tavern, opened on the Post Road some time between 1661 and 1670.


Most of the first houses in Marlborough were undoubtedly small, and, if the meetinghouse is a typical example, had thatched roofs.  However, the description of the house of the Rev. Brinsmead, and the residence of citizen John Ruddocke, on which it was modeled, meet the definition of a true First Period "manor house".  The minister's house was 26 by 18 feet long, four by two bays, with two facade gables, each with two small windows.  It is not certain whether any buildings that may have survived the 1675 burning still remain, although, according to tradition, part of the John How(e) Houseat 29 Fowler Street, (Form 44), may pre-date King Philip's War.

COLONIAL PERIOD   (1676 - 1775)

In the century between King Philip's War and the Revolution, Marlborough underwent a gradual evolution from a frontier town to a thriving regional center.  It was heterogeneous both socially and economically, and developed into a community that, while still largely rural, encompassed both yeoman farms and the stylish homes of the affluent gentry.

The early eighteenth century was a time of major losses and gains in territory for the town.  In 1700 the town acquired a large tract of land north of the Indian plantation which extended to the Stow border.  In 1716 another large parcel called "Agaganquamasset" was granted to Marlborough, in 1717-18, John Alcocke's farm, by then called "the farm", was annexed, and in 1718-19 the 6,000-acre Indian plantation was officially added to the town.  Some of Alcocke's land and nearly 14,000 acres in the western part of Marlborough were taken to form the new town of Westborough in 1717, (to be divided later in the century into Westborough and Northborough.)  In 1727 the town of Southborough was established, incorporating the territory in the southern part of Marlborough that had been called "Stony Brook."  

Transportation Routes

During this time, the main through-routes of the seventeenth century continued.  The Boston Post Road was still the primary axis through Marlborough center, and in 1772 the first stage coach on the official stage route from Boston to New York passed through town along it.  The County Road from Worcester to Concord ran along the Post Road, then turned northeast up Concord Road.  Several roads were extended during the eighteenth century, including Berlin Road and Millham and Elm Streets to the west, Williams and Forest Streets in the southwest, Bolton, Stevens, and Hosmer Streets to the north, Stow and Concord Roads to the northeast, and Framingham Road and Brigham Street in the south part of town. 


Marlborough experienced a steady growth after the mass exodus during King Philip's War.  By 1680 there were again ca. 200 residents, and by 1700 the population was up to 530.  A subsequent increase, when the population reached 800 by 1720, was associated with the annexation of the Indian lands.  The 1765 census recorded that the town had a population of 1,287 in 213 families, living in 183 houses.  Waves of disease frequently took a heavy toll, however, as in 1775, when 78 people in Marlborough died in an outbreak of dysentery. 


In the year of resettlement immediately after King Philip's War, at least 27 English families returned to Marlborough.  Some Indians returned from Boston, but most went to the western part of town, where they settled on the Thomas Brigham farm.  The forfeiting of the praying town/plantation lands by the Indians in this period led the way to the eventual acquisition of that property by the colonists, who by 1684 had illegally obtained a deed to the plantation, and laid out and divided lots upon it.  In 1695, four men from Watertown purchased 350 acres of the former Alcocke "farm" in the Farm Road area, and built several houses there.  Because of the continued threat of frontier warfare, however, settlement of the town through the beginning of the eighteenth century remained concentrated near the center.  Finally, with the end of "Queen Anne's War" in 1713, the number of outlying farms began to increase.  As early as 1720 there was actually a shortage of land, which led to the settlement of new outlying communities, as parents looked beyond the town borders to provide farms and dowries for their children.  Marlborough also became a way-station for settlers bound west to newly-established communities such as Grafton, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Rutland, and the re-established town of Brookfield.

Economic Base

By the later Colonial Period there were many farms operating in Marlborough.  A few were very large; many were about thirty acres in size.  Most raised cattle and grain, with apple orchards as an important secondary activity.  Enough apples were grown to support a substantial export of cider and brandy to markets outside the town.  Industry during this period encompassed the usual local mixture of several mills (both grist and lumber), and tanning, cooperage, blacksmithing, and tool-making activities.  By the latter part of the eighteenth century a small business district had developed at the center village, which included a few wholesale/retail suppliers.  At least two taverns were operating on the Boston Post Road--How's east of the village, and Williams' to the west, and another, the Asa Brigham Tavern, stood north of the section of the Old Connecticut Path along Elm Street that stage coaches followed before 1790.   


By 1740 the citizens of Marlborough were worshiping in their third meetinghouse (built 1688), under their fourth minister, the Rev. Aaron Smith.  The first recorded town-built schoolhouse was erected in 1698-99.  By the early eighteenth century the community was following the system of "moving" schools, in which the school was kept in different parts of town for designated periods of time.  By 1748, however, the town was divided into six school "squadrons", or societies, and by 1762 a schoolhouse had been built in each one. 


During the continuing conflicts between colonists and Indians subsequent to King Philip's War, Marlborough was still at risk of attack because of its remote location.  In Queen Anne's War of 1704-1713 the inhabitants were again assigned to garrison houses (to which they could flee in the event of an attack), and several residents of Marlborough were actually captured or killed.  Some of the most illustrious military leaders in this war came from Marlborough, of which the best-known was Capt. Thomas Howe, who led a force to Sterling.  

Large numbers of men from Marlborough participated in the French and Indian Wars from 1722 to 1763.  They were involved in all the major campaigns, including the 1741 Spanish West Indies expedition to Cuba, the 1745 capture of Louisburg on Cape Breton, and the 1746 campaign to Charlestown, New Hampshire.  In 1757 Marlborough had two large companies of militia and one alarm company, and two militia companies fought at the fall of Fort William Henry under local leaders Capt. Samuel Howe and Lt. Stephen Maynard. 

From the 1760's to the start of the Revolution in 1775 there was growing resistance in Marlborough to the policies of the English government.  Among the local patriot leaders at that time were Peter Bent, Edward Barnes, and George Brigham.  In 1770 the town voted sanctions against one of its wealthiest residents, Henry Barnes, a trader of English goods and a staunch loyalist, and in 1775 a group of angry townspeople marched on his house, where two British spies had stopped.  Barnes left town just prior to the start of the war, and his property was confiscated. 


A few known First Period houses built between 1676 and 1725 survive in Marlborough, most as 5-bay, 2 1/2-story buildings that have been expanded over the years.  One of the best-preserved is the Peter Rice House, 377 Elm Street (Form 42; NR) of about 1700, which incorporates a smaller, early house.  The first part of the John/Gershom Bigelow Homestead (Form 46) at 327 Farm Road may date to the late 1690's, the Harrington House at 180 Farm Road (Form 58) is believed to date from about 1705, sections of the Stow Homestead at 33 Spoonhill Avenue (Form 12) date from at least 1713 (Form 12), and #340 Bigelow Street, the Abraham Howe House (Form 38) was probably built in 1720.  The Joseph Morse House at 418 Farm Road (Form 59), in which the original exposed frame is still visible, is an early "half-house;” the John Weeks House, possibly of ca. 1705, at 1126 Concord Road (Form 55) is another of the same type.  Upon the residents' return to Marlborough after King Philip's War a thatch-roofed meetinghouse was built to replace the one that was burned, but it was left unfinished.  It was replaced by a larger one in 1688.

More houses remain from the Georgian or "second" period of Colonial architecture.  Most of these, too, are 5-bay, 2 1/2-story, side-gabled houses.  Some, like the William Gates House at 77 Lakeside Avenue (Form 62), are two-story half-houses.   475 Elm Street, the Jacob and Thomas Rice House (Form 57) was expanded at least twice, resulting in a "saltbox" profile with a rear lean-to, and a long, asymmetrical 7-bay facade.  982 Boston Post Road, the Amos/Jonas Darling House (Form 15),  and the Francis Barnard Homestead at 218 Farm Road (Form 13) are rare examples in Marlborough of the Cape Cod cottage in its center-chimney, five-bay form, and the little Felton/Brown/Dunton House of ca. 1738 at 31 Northborough Road (Form 91) is an even more rare gambrel-roofed cottage. 

As far as is known, no commercial or institutional structures survive from the Colonial Period in Marlborough.  In the Spring Hill Cemetery and Marlborough's second burial ground, the Old Common Cemetery (Form 805), established 1706, are many outstanding and well-preserved eighteenth-century slate gravestones, including early ones with flat geometric designs, and post-1750 examples embellished with effigies, skulls, cherubs, etc. 

FEDERAL PERIOD    (1775 - 1830)

 As its citizens struggled to free themselves from British rule during the Revolution, and subsequently to help form the foundations of a nation, Marlborough, like other communities, adjusted to new policies, ideas, beliefs, and a new-found freedom and independence.  New hardships were endured, as well, from the sorrows and deprivations of large-scale war to the severe economic conditions of the recession and restructuring that followed it.  Finally, by 1830 Marlborough found itself poised on the brink of the industrial age that was to transform the town into a different type of community altogether.   

After the Revolution, Marlborough's borders again underwent some changes.  In 1784 part of the northwestern section of town was included in the new district of Berlin.  In 1791 a small section of Framingham was annexed to Marlborough, but in 1807 part of Marlborough was annexed to Northborough, and in 1829 another section became part of Bolton.

 Transportation routes

The colonial highways remained during this period, with the Boston Post Road still the primary long-distance route.  The new Boston to Worcester Turnpike, however, bypassed Marlborough by following a westerly course through Southborough.  Two roads, Bolton Street as "the Road to Bolton", and Elm, Union, lower Stevens Streets and Concord Road as "the Road from Marlborough to Concord" became part of the county road system after the Revolution.  By about 1800, Elm and Union Streets were extended from west to east north of the center, and Mechanic and Prospect Streets were in existence as far as Elm and Union.  A wide network of local roads through the farming districts remained largely unchanged from 1800 to 1830.  At the center, Pleasant Street was extended south from Elm to West Main Street between ca. 1810 and 1815.  


Growth slowed during this period, beginning with the Revolutionary years and continuing in the 1780's with a heavy drain to other towns, including Henniker and Marlborough, New Hampshire.  In 1784 there was some loss to the new district of Berlin.  In 1780 the town's population was ca. 1,465, and only 1,635 in 1800, with only 40 more people by 1810.  In 1820 the population was 1,952.  All slaves were officially freed in Massachusetts in the 1780's, and in 1810 Marlborough had only two black citizens.  Throughout the period there was no significant foreign-born population.

Settlement Pattern

During this period two separate villages were developing at the center, one near the meetinghouse and adjacent common at the base of today's Prospect and Rawlins Streets, the other a third of a mile to the east along the intersection of the Post Road and the road to Bolton.  Around and between the center villages were the agricultural districts, still composed mainly of small to medium-sized farms. 

 Economic Base

 Economic growth stopped during the severe recession that followed the Revolution, and slowed again during the embargo period associated with the War of 1812.  Marlborough still had a primarily agricultural economy, with land used mainly for general farming and grazing, but fruit growing, especially apples, continued as an important secondary activity.  During the early part of the period, cider and brandy production, marketed in Boston, increased, and by 1812 there were two large distilleries in town.  Toward the end of the period, however, with the growing influence of the temperance movement, many orchards were converted to growing apples for "winter fruit" (eating), rather than for cider.

Over all, industrial activity expanded steadily but gradually during the Federal period.  While other communities were beginning to develop larger mills at the start of the nineteenth century, that potential was limited here because of the general lack of water power.  The village of Feltonville that had grown up along the Assabet in the north part of town, (today part of Hudson), however, was an exception, and there mill activity increased rapidly.  By 1794, five grist mills were operating in Marlborough--two in the north section of town that later became part of Hudson, Hezekiah Maynard's on the South Brook, Gill's on Millham Brook, and Cotting's on Broad Meadow Brook.  There were two saw mills, Hager's on Hop Brook at the east end of town, and Cogswell's on the Assabet at the north, where a fulling mill was also located.  Simon Maynard was operating another saw mill by 1803 on Fort Meadow Brook off upper Hosmer Street, just over the border of today's Hudson.

 Also by 1803 there were two tan yards in town, both run by members of the Brigham family--Aaron at Lake Williams, and Jedediah on East Main Street.  There was a basket shop at the south on Walker Street, and three stores at the center.  Home production of straw bonnets was a significant source of income, especially for women, in the early nineteenth century, declining after 1830.  Around 1815 the beginnings of a cottage industry in shoe-making were evident, with many residents setting up small cobbler's shops at home.  Another tavern/hotel, Thayer's Tavern, (Form 112) opened on the section of the Boston Post Road that is today's Main Street.  In 1799 the post office was established, located first in private houses, and later in the Thayer Tavern and nearby stores.


The first years of the period were dominated by the town's involvement in the Revolution.  On April 19, 1775, four Militia companies, numbering 190 men—1/7 of the town population—marched from Marlborough to Cambridge under Captains Cyprian Howe, William Brigham, Daniel Barnes, and Silas Gates.  Some Marlborough men also saw action at Bunker Hill under two other local commanders, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ward and Maj. Edward Barnes.  Other campaigns in which soldiers from Marlborough were involved included White Plains, and the Rhode Island campaign. 


 The Federal period in Marlborough was marked by considerable religious conflict, and by a growing diversity within what was still a solidly protestant community.  The first Methodist services in Marlborough were held about 1798 in Feltonville, in 1800 a Methodist Society was officially formed, and a Methodist Church was built in the northeast section of town in 1827-28.  Before the period was over a Universalist Society had also been founded (1818), and a Universalist Church was built on Main Street in the East Village in the late 1820's. 

From the standpoint of the community's development, however, by far the most important religious event of the period was the splitting of the old Congregational town church into two institutions.  By the turn of the nineteenth century, when it became apparent that the 1688 meetinghouse needed to be replaced, the geographic center of town had shifted east from the old meetinghouse location, and measurements from the boundaries showed it was now centered at Spring Hill in the East Village.  While town meeting voted to place the new meetinghouse there, a strong contingent of residents of the West Village fought to keep it at or near the old location.  The ultimate result was the division of the town into two parishes, with a town-built church erected at Spring Hill, and another, the "West Church", built with private funds, on Pleasant Street.  Both buildings opened for worship on the same day in April, 1806, and the presence of each was a catalyst for the development of the area around it for the next several decades.  Gradually, the West Church moved toward Unitarianism, while the other church, officially designated the Union Church in 1835, continued as the town's "orthodox" Congregational institution  (see Forms 194 and 74).

After the Revolution, Marlborough's educational system also underwent a transformation.  In 1790, in accordance with an order by the General Court, the town established a district school system, beginning with seven district schools meeting fifteen weeks per year.  By 1835 there were ten districts.  In 1826, a private academy was established, which erected a school building at the old town common in 1827.  After some generous gifts by Silas and Abraham Gates, it was renamed the Gates Academy.


Building slowed during the years of the Revolution and the hard economic times that followed.  Most of the few houses of the period known to have been built or enlarged prior to the 1790's continued the old Georgian forms, especially the 2-1/2-story, five-bay, side-gabled type.  By the 1790's, however, the old lobby-entrance, center-chimney house plan was being replaced by an arrangement of rooms flanking a central through-hallway.  In a house that was two-rooms deep, this resulted in twin ridge chimneys, as in the massive Solomon Barnes House at 19 Ash Street (Form 11), which retains its pedimented, late Georgian doorway.  Another excellent example is the Supply Weeks Homestead at 768 Hemenway Street (Form 55), which has a slightly later, true Federal-style entry, with sidelights and an elliptical fanlight.  In a house that was one-room deep, such as the Stephen Eager House at 45 Eager Court (Form 21), the twin chimneys were located at the rear.  Some houses of the Federal period, such as the large Uriah Maynard House at 616 Hosmer Street (Form 52), were built with shallow hipped roofs. 

After the turn of the nineteenth century, scattered examples of several other Federal house-types appeared.  Several "brick-enders" were constructed, including a 1 1/2-story gable-roofed cottage at 275 Boston Post Road in west Marlborough (MHC #1239), the hip-roofed, one-room-deep house built by Samuel Howe in the 1820's, later moved to 159 Elm Street (Form 69), and its near-twin, the well-preserved Brigham House at 228 Glen Street (Form 650).  A large gable-roofed, rear-chimney house with one brick end stands at 38 Maple Street (MHC #1143), and two older houses were enlarged to two-rooms-deep, with one brick end and three chimneys, 200 East Main Street (Form 41) and 540 Concord Road (Form 56) in the early 1800's.  The largest of the two-story brick-enders is the imposing Gershom Rice, II House at 139 Northborough Road (Form 24), a true "double-pile", hip-roofed house of 1803-04.  One three-story Federal brick-ended house also exists--the Joab Stow House of ca. 1795, at 200 Concord Road (Form 8).

Marlborough once had several examples of the large five-bay late Federal-period house with front-facing gabled roof and two or four interior corner chimneys.  Remaining today of this type are the brick Thayer Tavern at 51 Main Street (Form 112), which may have been standing as early as 1800, and the Farwell/O'Connell House at 63 Maple Street of ca. 1825 (Form 92).  (One of the best-known buildings in Marlborough, the Williams Tavern/Gates Hotel (pictured below), rebuilt about 1815 and later demolished, was of this  type.)

Most vernacular buildings from this period have the somewhat shallow-pitched gabled roofs, high-shouldered proportions, and the 6-over-9- or, in later examples, 6-over-6-sash windows that were universal throughout New England at this time.  Somewhat altered examples from the 1810's still exist across the street from each other at 117 Pleasant Street (Dr. John Baker House--Form 75,) and 126 Pleasant Street (Rice/Holyoke House--Form 143).  The front part of the Sylvanus/Eber Howe House at 615 Berlin Road (Form 4), built of brick in about 1824 at the transition of the Federal style to the Greek Revival, is Marlborough's only example of a two-story, one-room-deep "I-house", with a pair of chimneys integral to the end walls.

Between 1790 and 1803 several one-room schoolhouses were erected, each 24-feet square, and some with a six-foot-square projecting lobby entrance, or "porch."  None, however, is known to survive today.


The forty-year period spanning the middle of the nineteenth century was one of extremely rapid growth in Marlborough, sparked by an explosion in industrial development, the shoe industry, in particular.  In spite of the lack of water power, new advancements in technology in both power generation and production machinery set the stage for large factories in Marlborough, as did the arrival of two railroads in the 1850's, and the ready availability of willing workers.     

 The annexation of part of Southborough in 1843 enlarged the town, but its size was later greatly reduced in 1866, when the entire north section of Marlborough was incorporated into the new town of Hudson.

 There was a hiatus in the town's development in the 1860's during the Civil War, in which 869 men from Marlborough served.  The Soldiers' Monument at Monument Square (Form 900) was erected shortly after the war was over, in 1869.

Transportation Routes

The old turnpikes and highways remained from the early nineteenth century, with their main intersections still at the center of town.  Existing streets were improved and extended, and secondary local roads multiplied, especially at the center, to access the new factories and to accommodate nearby residential development.  By the 1850's Chestnut Street, the first blocks of Lincoln Street, and the lower section of Broad Street had been built, and South Street, part of the old road to Southborough, had been extended north to West Main.  In the third quarter of the century the east end of Lincoln Street, as Palfrey Street, was developed, Broad Street was extended to Sligo Hill, and Mechanic was continued north of Elm.  In that period residential side streets proliferated at the center, as much of the farmland between and around the two villages was subdivided for house lots. 

Although Marlborough farmers could ship some produce via railroad as early as 1834 when the Boston & Worcester was built through Westborough, the major transportation change in this period was the coming of the railroads first to Feltonville (today the center of Hudson), then to Marlborough center in the 1850s.  The "North" (Marlborough) Branch of the Fitchburg Railroad, incorporated by Mark Fay and Richard Farwell, reached Feltonville in 1852, and was extended to Marlborough center at Prospect Street in 1855, the same year that the "South" (Agricultural) Branch Railroad came northwest from the Boston & Worcester in Framingham through Southborough and south Marlborough to end at the center just south of Main Street. 


Marlborough's population increased very rapidly after 1840, especially at Feltonville, which grew so large that it was set off as the separate town of Hudson in 1866.  In about 1850, a large influx of foreign-born residents began, first with the Irish, followed just after the Civil War by French Canadians.  In less than twenty-five years, the town's population more than doubled, from 2,500 in 1836 to 5,911 in 1860.


Both the Congregational and the Methodist churches burned down in 1852.  Both religious groups constructed new buildings the next year, with a minority of the Methodist Society building theirs just east of the center on what was to become Church Street.  Roman Catholics were holding services in Marlborough as early as 1850. The Immaculate Conception parish was formed in 1864, but the first Immaculate Conception Church was built a decade earlier on Mount Pleasant Hill in 1854-55.  It was replaced by the present Immaculate Conception Church on Prospect Street in 1871 (Form 98).  A second Catholic parish, St. Mary's, was established in 1870, with its church building on Broad Street begun the same year (Form 96).  After a period of inactivity, the Universalists reorganized in 1865, and built a new academic Italianate church on Main Street.  A Baptist Society was formed in 1868, and in 1869 they acquired the former Town Hall, moved it to the north side of Main Street, and remodeled it for their church. 

In 1855 a state law was passed outlawing interments in family cemeteries, and the town took over the ownership and management of five neighborhood/family cemeteries that had been in existence since the first quarter of the nineteenth century (and, in the case of the Wilson Cemetery [Form 804], since the eighteenth century).  Two of them, the Maplewood Cemetery on Pleasant Street and the Chipman (later Rocklawn) Cemetery on Stevens Street, were greatly enlarged in the 1860's, and became the major publicly-owned replacements for the overcrowded Spring Hill and Old Common Cemeteries.  (See Forms 801 and 809.) 

The Gates Academy had declined by the early 1830's, but was rejuvenated under Marlborough's foremost educator, Obadiah W. Albee, in 1833.  Education for everyone was advanced by the establishment of a public high school in 1849.  The new high school incorporated the former Gates Academy, and O.W. Albee became its first principal.  By 1855 there were two large graded schoolhouses, one at the center, and another at Feltonville, and soon the larger district schools were graded, as well.  In 1860 the town built a new mansard-roofed High School on the common.

This was an era when adult education and intellectual enhancement was widely valued.  In 1853 the Marlborough Mechanics Institute was organized to present lectures and establish a collection of books for a private library.  In 1870, when the public library was incorporated, the Mechanics Institute donated its sizable collection to it.

 Settlement Pattern

The town's topography changed somewhat in 1849, when Fort Meadow Brook was dammed by the city of Boston for a "capacious reservoir", eliminating the former "dismal swamp".  (See Form 914.)  Density of development increased rapidly at the center, with high-style residences appearing on the lower sections of Pleasant and West Main Streets, and more modest houses, many put up in small groups by local entrepreneurs, spreading down the major cross streets of Lincoln and Chestnut, and on small streets opened between them.  With the coming of the railroads and the subdivision of the large farm of Maj. Henry Rice, the East and West Villages gradually grew together to form a single town center.  In the West Village, now often called the "West End", the Shenstone Society was formed to beautify the new streets with trees, shrubs, and sidewalks. 

In the late 1850's and 1860's, shoe-manufacturers Samuel Boyd and John O'Connell acquired large acreages south of Main Street.  Boyd and his associates laid out large house lots on Fairmount Hill for a stylish neighborhood with both scenic views and ready access to the factories and businesses downtown, while both he and John O'Connell developed clusters of smaller, more affordable houses in the Howe Street area as homes for their shoeworkers.  (See Area Forms F and G).  To a lesser degree, Samuel Boyd's longtime partner, Thomas Corey, did the same on land near his large estate in the Church Street area.  In 1855, Major Henry Rice had already laid out lots on his old family farm north of Main Street, between the East and West Villages.  Well before his death in 1867 houses had begun to fill lower Washington Street and the new Rice and Palfrey Streets (the first name of eastern Lincoln Street).  After he died, much of his real estate was bought by Samuel Boyd and others, who subsequently developed Devens Street, linked the two ends of Lincoln Street, and sold off more lots to complete the joining of the two villages.  (See Area Form H.)       

By 1861 there were 500 dwellings and 3,000 inhabitants in the center villages.  Between 1849 and 1853 two firehouses were built in the East and West Villages, and in 1869 the town built a large Victorian Gothic town house on Main Street, which incorporated under its roof the post office, police station, court room and jail, library, armory, three stores, and a bank.

Economic Base

Agriculture continued as an important base for the economy throughout the period, boosted by advancements in farm implements and machinery, and, especially from the 1850's on, by the railroads, which opened up new major markets for agricultural products.  For both reasons, the period saw a shift from general farming to more milk production and fruit raising.  In 1845 the town produced 31,772 bushels of apples for vinegar, and in 1855 there were 25,000 apple trees growing fruit for eating, and 50 acres in cranberry production.  In the 1830's John Clisbee conducted a brief experiment in silk-raising on his farm at the west end of Lincoln Street, which for years was called Mulberry Street after the trees he planted there for his silk worms. 

The commercial base of the economy expanded too.  In 1837 there were three hotels and four stores at or near the center.  In 1822 Lambert Bigelow founded the store that, as Morse & Bigelow, became known throughout the region, and was one of Marlborough's longest-running commercial enterprises.  Two banks were founded in the 1860's--the Marlborough Savings Bank in 1860, and the First National in 1863. 

This was the period, however, when the main base of Marlborough's economy shifted to the industrial sector, a fact that is all the more remarkable because, with the exception of the factories at Feltonville on the Assabet, all the town's enterprises developed without the aid of major water power.  Prior to the 1830's, industry in Marlborough had consisted of a largely local mix of shoemakers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, tanners, etc.  In the 1830's there were two chair/cabinet makers in town, and there was wide-spread straw-bonnet-making in the area, supported by cottage-industry straw braiding.  Then, in 1835, Marlborough's shoe industry began when Joseph Boyd started manufacturing shoes at his father's house at 85 Maple Street (MHC #1137).  He was joined the next year by his brother Samuel, and in 1837 they opened the first shoe factory on Main Street, subsequently expanded and relocated many times.  In 1841 they took in their brother, John, who went into the business for himself in 1846.  (It was John Boyd's 1842 invention of the shoe die that, along with other innovations, gave Marlborough an advantage over adjoining towns.)  Others who were part of the first generation of shoe manufacturers in the late 1830's and '40's included John Chipman, who began in 1836 and was later joined by his brother, Samuel; L & L Bigelow (began 1836, and sold out to William Dadmun in 1840); John Winslow Stevens (1838); Charles Dana Bigelow (1842); Josiah Howe (1845); and Freeman Morse of F.W. and G.H. Morse Co. (1846).

In the 1850's the industry was boosted further by the introduction of shoemaking by teams, the 1852 adoption of the sewing machine in shoe production (by John Chipman), and, in 1858, the introduction of steam power.  The decade before the Civil War saw several more shoe companies established, some of which went on to join the Boyds and their associates as the largest concerns of the end of the nineteenth century.  Those with the largest and longest production were Henry Russell, who began in 1853 and soon merged with Abel Howe as Russell & Howe, John O'Connell, who began on Howe Street in 1854, S.H. Howe (1855), and in 1858, Timothy Coolidge and John E. Curtis.  In the 1860's two more major manufacturers John A. Frye (1863) and Rice & Hutchins (1867) began production that lasted through the turn of the century.  In 1845, 302,725 pairs of shoes and 624 pairs of boots were produced in Marlborough.  In 1860, 17 shoe factories were operating here, with over $1 million per year in production. 

Along with the shoe industry, by the end of the 1860's a significant number of associated concerns, including machine shops, shoe-die and other manufacturing equipment makers, and shoe-box manufacturers,  such as E.F. Longley's Box Factory off Elm and Mechanic Streets, were established here. 

Other types of manufacturing not associated with the shoe industry included the quarrying of building stone, and the continuing production of lumber at the local sawmills.  By 1855 there was also a harness and saddle shop, two tinware makers, and a sash-and-blind factory was operating south of West Main.  Sometime before 1840 John Clisbee began manufacturing church organs, a business that was continued by his son, George, until the end of the century.  Businesses that grew up along the railroads included George Cate's lumber yard (established 1856), two planing mills, and Levi Taylor's carriage factory.


The Early Industrial period produced a rich collection of architecture in Marlborough, and the prosperity of the first shoe manufacturers led to the building of some of the community's finest residences.  Several high-style, "temple-front" examples of the Greek Revival were constructed by Hiram Fay, Amory Maynard, and other builders from the late 1830's through the early 1850's.  A cluster of three stands at the foot of Stevens Street, the best-preserved of which is the John Chipman House, built by Amory Maynard in about 1838 (Form 85).  Both the tetrastyle John Cotting House of 1851 (Form 74--NR) and its slightly earlier tristyle neighbor across Main Street, the Hollis Loring House (Form 113), were probably built by Hiram Fay.  There are also a few examples of temple-front, 1 1/2-story cottages, such as the Lewis Frye House at 154 Pleasant Street (MHC #259); most today are severely altered.  O.W. Albee's House at 53 Mechanic Street (Form 70), built ca. 1835, is an unusual instance in Marlborough of a brick gable-end Greek Revival house with a clapboarded pediment and fretwork entry surround, and the Silas Howe farmhouse at 616 Berlin Road (Form 652) is a rare example of a small gable-end with a two-story facade colonnade with columns of unequal height.  Another Greek Revival house type, the gable-roofed house with pedimented ends, is exemplified here by the house built ca. 1846 for the Rev. Horatio Alger, Sr., at 9 Broad Street (Form 141).

The Gothic Revival has few surviving representatives in Marlborough.  It is most apparent in the applied decoration of some vernacular houses, including the gable-end cottage at 24 High Street (MHC #526).  Two Octagons, one of which was the ca. 1870 town-owned gasometer (demolished) were built during this period.  The other is a true octagonal house, at 43 (45) Mt. Pleasant Street (MHC #357), built in ca. 1855, now greatly altered. 

Marlborough has many examples of Second Empire architecture, which was the most common style used in the residences of the town's most prominent families in the 1860's.  Among the best surviving houses are the ca. 1860 residence of William Dadmun at 47 Pleasant Street (Form 147), and, in spite of its altered roof, the house of William Morse, built across the street at #40 (Form 150), in about 1861, which has a rare example of wooden, imitation-stone siding.  The smaller S.N. Aldrich House at 49 Fairmount Street, built ca. 1865, is a hybrid of the Second Empire and the Stick Style (Form 166).  Several smaller mansard cottages, a variant of the Second Empire, were also built during the 1860's and 1870's.  Excellent examples are located at 7 Walnut Street (the Thomas Jackson  House--Form 202), and several on Newton Street, among them the home of builder Hiram Fay at #58 (MHC #N-403), which was probably designed and built by him.   The main municipal buildings of the era, the Second Empire high school of 1860 and the mansard-roofed, Victorian Gothic Town House of 1869, are gone. 

None of the early shoe factories from the 1830's through '50's is known to remain in its intact, wood-frame, gable-roofed form.  Most of those built or enlarged in the 1860's had mansard roofs, and were a utilitarian version of the Second Empire.  The only one that remains from the Civil War era, the first section of the Frye Shoe Factory (Form 112), has a shallow-pitched gabled roof.

Four churches were built during this period, of which one of the latest, the simple brick Gothic Church of the Immaculate Conception of 1868-1871, remains closest to its original appearance (see Form 98).  Even that building had its tower added later, however.  Of the others, the 1853 Greek Revival First Methodist Church (Form 97) was updated to the Italianate later on, and radically altered in this century, the First Congregational (Union) Church of the same year later had its roof and tower replaced and lost most of its detail to a change in siding (see Form 194), and St. Mary's (Form 96) was rebuilt and enlarged in the 1930's to a more 20th-century version of the Gothic.   In the middle of the nineteenth century the old 1790's district schoolhouses were replaced with larger buildings.  One, the 3-bay, gable-end Williams School remains, complete with its rear gable-end chimney, at 27 Forest Street (MHC #1199).


The last third of the nineteenth and the early years of the twentieth century were a time of continued growth and development in Marlborough, as expansions in the shoe industry brought new factories, and new residential neighborhoods at the center and in south Marlborough were developed to accommodate the increasing population.  Advances in technology made life easier for all Marlborough citizens, but to manage both the larger population and the need for an increasingly complex infrastructure, the government was re-organized, and in 1890, 230 years after the town was incorporated, Marlborough became a city.  One short war, the Spanish-American War of 1898-99, was endured during this period, and several Marlborough soldiers fought with Co. F. of the Mass. 6th Infantry First Brigade.  An era ended in 1914, with the outbreak of World War I. 


The major road system of the mid-nineteenth century remained intact during this period, with a continuing proliferation of residential side streets at or near the center of town.  Some major streets were lengthened:  Church Street was extended south, and the streets of the Greenwood and Chestnut Hill developments were laid out across it; the west and east ends of Lincoln Street were linked by a new section across the base of Prospect Hill, and new streets were laid out north of it between Bolton and Prospect Streets.  This era saw the first paving of roads; sections of Lincoln Street were the first, and Main Street was paved in 1895.    

Although the north and south branch railroads never connected with each other at the center, under new ownership the railroad companies built new spurs and facilities.  In 1893 a spur was extended southwest from the former Marlborough Branch to the corner of Mechanic and Lincoln Streets, where a new depot and freighthouse were built.  On the old Agricultural Branch, freight and coal houses were built in the yards behind Main Street in the 1890's, and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford constructed a new depot at Main and Florence Streets in 1902.  (All railroad buildings but the northern freighthouse, at 305/307 Lincoln Street (Form 188) were gone by the latter part of this century).

A radical transportation change took place in 1889, with the opening of the electric Marlborough Street Railway line, the second of its kind in the country.  It initially ran for 2.5 miles west from Middlesex Square down East Main to Main, up Mechanic, Pleasant, and Broad to Lincoln Street, and had a branch down Maple Street to a car house located just south of Valley Street.  The line was extended half a mile in 1890, and in 1895 was linked to Hudson and Northborough, making it possible for passengers to ride the streetcar all the way to Boston or Worcester.  In 1903 the Marlborough line was taken over by the Boston & Worcester Railway Company.         

Population and settlement pattern

By 1900, with the influx of additional waves of immigrants, which now included Italians, some Greeks, and a scattering of Eastern European Jews, the population of Marlborough reached 13,609.  Density still increased at the center, with new neighborhoods of worker's housing opening up especially on "French Hill" to the west of the old West Village, and "infill" houses continued to be built throughout the period, especially near the factories.  The largest new subdivisions were Samuel Boyd's 60-acre planned development on Chestnut Hill (Area T), and the streets that were laid out by Hollis Tayntor and others across the former farmland of Prospect Hill (Area Y).  North of the old West Village, shoe-manufacturer J.A. Frye divided much of his land for house lots, as did Jonas Brigham in the Spring Street area (see Area Form V).  Another major shoe-manufacturer, S.H. Howe, put up smaller groups of houses near his four factories in the West Village.

Religion/education/arts and culture/recreation

A new Episcopalian congregation built a Shingle-Style church, the Church of the Holy Trinity, at the east end of Main Street in 1887.  In 1890 a wood-frame church was built at the corner of Lincoln and Gibbon Street in "French Hill" by the French Evangelical Mission, on land donated by Samuel Boyd, to serve the first French-speaking protestants of Marlborough.  A Christian Science Society was founded here in 1895.  It began holding services in the Grand Army hall on Main Street in 1896, and became a branch of the mother church in 1899.

The 1890's -1910's were a time of educational expansion at the center, where St. Mary's Parish built the first section of St. Anne's Academy in 1888 (expanded 1894), and St. Anthony's School in 1894 (demolished).  The city built a new, larger High School at the old common in 1898, and the Immaculate Conception Parish built a large elementary school in 1910 (Forms 120 and 189).  With the 1903 closing of the last district school, the Rice School in west Marlborough, public education was now clearly concentrated at the center of the city.  In one short-lived vocational experiment, the city opened the Marlborough Agricultural School at the center in 1913.  

 A Natural History Society was organized in 1889; it moved into the building formerly occupied by the First National and the Marlborough Savings Bank (demolished) on Mechanic Street in 1907.  

The efforts of both the city and private entrepreneurs ensured that the latter part of this period would be an era of recreation in Marlborough.  From at least the 1870's, sailing and boating on Lake Williams and Fort Meadow Reservoir were popular, and baseball was played by both local and national teams on the Prospect Street Ball Grounds.  Informal horse-racing took place at Fort Meadow, and in 1898 the Marlborough Trotting Park opened in the south part of town.  In 1903 the first "moving pictures" were shown at the Marlborough Theater, and by 1905 bowling, billiards, and even a shooting gallery were all popular pastimes on Main Street.  In 1907 the city opened Fairmount Park, complete with dance hall, at the top of Fairmount Hill, and in 1913, the Stevens-Howe Playground (Form 910) on Sligo Hill was donated to the city by Mrs. O.H. Stevens.

Municipal improvements

This was also an era of many community-wide improvements that made life easier and safer for everyone.  A major engineering accomplishment was the 1882-84 building of the town waterworks, which used Lake Williams as a source.  It was later expanded with the addition to the system of Millham Reservoir in 1892-95, (Form 916) and the reservoir and cast-iron water tower (Form 909) that were built on Sligo Hill in 1895.  Also during the 1890's, large sections of the south Marlborough wetlands were acquired and developed by the city of Boston as the Metropolitan Water Works basin, part of the Boston water-supply system.  Many associated structures, the largest of which are the Sudbury Reservoir, the Marlborough Filter Beds, and the Wachusett Aqueduct, are now on the National Register of Historic Places.  (See Forms AR, 919, AS.)

Electricity came to the center of town with the establishment of the Marlborough Electric Light Co. on Florence Street (Form 178), and the lights were first turned on in 1885.  In 1887 mail delivery began, and in 1891, as part of its first major municipal undertaking, the city began the construction of a sewer system.  The Marlborough Hospital opened briefly in the old Sylvester Bucklin House on Hildreth Street in 1893 (Form 83).  Although it closed in 1894, it was revived ten years later, and built its first building at 157 Union Street in 1912.    

The fire department was reorganized in the 1880's and 1890's, and two new  facilities were built, the 1893-95 Fire Station #2 on Pleasant Street (Form 79), and the 1909 Central Fire and Police Station (Form 80) on Main Street, which also accommodated the police headquarters, jail, and court room.

Economic Base

The Late Industrial Period, largely a time of continuing industrial expansion, also saw the consolidation of many of the shoe companies under larger corporations.  In 1890 the annual value of shoe production in Marlborough had reached $7 million.  By the end of the period, however, the number of major shoe companies operating in the city had been reduced to three.  While many of the earlier factories had stood side-by-side with stores and municipal buildings on Main Street, by 1900 all shoes were being produced in plants located north or south of Main Street, several standing along the railroad tracks or sidings.   Some of the managers in this era, like Louis P. Howe of S.H. Howe Co., Walter Frye of John A. Frye Shoe Co., Charles and Arthur Curtis of Rice & Hutchins and later the Curtis Shoe Co., and the four sons of John O'Connell, were now second-generation manufacturers who had been groomed for the business by their fathers.  In the West Village in the 1880's and 1890's, the S.H. Howe Company bought out several smaller concerns and was operating four factories by 1895.  Rice & Hutchins, which was rapidly becoming one of the largest shoe manufacturers in New England, branched out from the plant it acquired at Middlesex Square in the late 1860's by building factories on Cotting Avenue in the 1890's (demolished), another in 1902 at 37 Howe Street (Form 182), and leased the O'Connell factory after John O'Connell retired from the shoe business.  By 1890 John Frye's business had expanded to become the third largest concern in Marlborough.  A major slowdown in the shoe industry occurred at the turn of the century, however, after the devastating shoe-workers' strike of 1898-1899. 

A mix of other industries continued to contribute to Marlborough's economy during this period.  The area just south of the Main Street terminus of the South Branch Railroad was filled with concerns that took advantage of the proximity of the sidings.  A.B. Howe's Marlborough Lumber Co. was one of the most successful, as were two coal companies, one belonging to Ivers & Johnson, the other a side business started by John O'Connell and run by his son, John A., called the John O'Connell Coal Company.  Machine shops and other businesses that supplied equipment for the shoe industry continued to thrive, several of them located near the Marlborough Branch sidings in the Lincoln Street area, where another coal company and lumber yard were also located.  Beginning in 1898, there was even a brief experiment in the manufacture of automobiles, with O.P. Walker's production of the "Marlborough Steamer" in the south part of the city.   

The number of commercial enterprises also continued to expand.  By the end of the 1890's Main Street between Bolton and Mechanic Streets had filled with store blocks, many of them replacing discontinued shoe factories.  Some were built with upstairs meeting halls for the city's fraternal societies and other organizations; others had "flats" on the upper floors.  Several hotels came and went; the most enduring were the Windsor, located in John O'Connell's 1882 Middleton Building at 276 Main Street (Form 99), and the Preston, in the building built by John Frye in 1892 at the corner of Mechanic and Lincoln Streets (Form 102).  Two more local banks were founded, the People's National Bank in 1878, and the Marlborough Cooperative Bank in 1890.  Newspapers were revived and expanded, and in 1888 the Marlborough Enterprise began publication.


Residential architecture in this period again spanned nearly the full range of styles and house-types.  Vernacular houses mainly continued the 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-story gable-end configuration that had begun during the Greek Revival period.  Side-hall entries with some type of glass-and-panel door were the norm, and 2-over-2-sash windows were universal until well into the 1890's.  Front porches, or "piazzas" became increasingly popular, and many were added to earlier houses.  Those built in the 1870's were usually supported on square, chamfered posts, often embellished with small brackets.  By the 1890's the supports tended to be lathe-turned posts, the brackets  became larger and more elaborate, and many porches wrapped around two or more sides of a building.  Most of the porches built at the turn of the century were influenced by the increasingly popular Colonial Revival style, and had Tuscan columns and other classical detailing.  Foundations were rarely built of granite after 1875; they were mainly brick in the 1880's and early 1890's, and rubble stone from 1895 through 1915.

Many Italianate houses were built during the 1860's through early 1880's in Marlborough.  None were true Italianate villas; most were vernacular examples of the side-hall-entry, gable-end type, with bracketed cornices and single or double-leaf glass-and-panel doors.  Good illustrations of this type, many of which were built with a side wing or ell, are the O.P. Walker House at 3/5 Stevens Street, the Thomas Gately House at 62 South Street, and the William Onthank House at 74 Newton Street.  (See Forms 199, 160, and 176.)  Very few houses were built in the Shingle Style in Marlborough. The most intact is the F.A. Howe House at 121 Pleasant Street (MHC #260) , which has a twin-gabled facade.  Another twin-gabled Shingle Style building, now with replacement siding, is the double-house at 14/16 Warren Avenue.  (MHC #611.) The Queen Anne style dominated residential building in Marlborough from the late 1880's through the beginning of the twentieth century.  Many high-style Queen Anne houses displaying complex massing, a variety of patterned shingles and a multiplicity of window forms have recently been restored, some highlighted with multi-color paint schemes.  Among them are the Walter Frye House at 187 Pleasant Street (Form 642), the E. Irving Morse House at 52 Pleasant Street (Form 148), the W.N. Davenport and M.J. McCarthy Houses at 105 and 111 Newton Street (Forms 171 and 170), the Philip Byrne House at 35 Water Street (Form 161), and the little Brigham Cottage at 10 Stevens Street (Form 196).  Queen Anne details also embellished the more modest houses built for rental or resale, many of them duplexes or triple houses.  Popular trim elements included verge boards with incised or raised geometrical decorations, and colored-glass stair-hall windows.  

During this period several of the larger shoe manufacturers built housing for their workers.  Most, like the three cottages built by John O'Connell at the corner of Howe and Lambert Streets, tended to be small, with a minimum of vernacular Italianate or Queen Anne detailing.  Several larger gable-roofed, multi-unit housing blocks still stand near the former shoe-factory sites, however, including two on Devens Street, overlooking Main (cf. e.g. the ca. 1890 Boyd & O'Neil boarding or rental house at 34/36 Devens, MHC #497).  Possibly the largest worker's housing block to have been built is the long six-unit, 2 1/2-story block at 68 Elm Street, constructed in 1881, probably by S.H. Howe (Form 132).  Well-preserved except for a change in siding, it retains its individual glass-and-panel entries with elaborate Italianate hoods, six chimneys, and six dormer windows.   

Institutional architecture from this period also spanned a broad range of styles, from William Ralph Emerson's Shingle-Style Holy Trinity Church of 1887 (demolished) to the Renaissance Revival Post Office Block of 1912 (Form 155).  H.M. Francis's flamboyant 1887-89 wood-frame Queen Anne Baptist Church (Form 81) is the best-preserved of all Marlborough's nineteenth-century churches, and Charles E. Barnes's Fire Station #2, recently restored by the city, is an excellent example of the mid-1890's Queen Anne interpreted in brick.  Charles Barnes also designed the 1895 Marlborough High School in the red-brick Colonial Revival style.  Peabody & Stearns interpreted the Renaissance Revival style in yellow (buff) brick and sandstone for the Marlborough Public Library in 1904 (Form 84).  The next year, Allen, Collins, & Berry also employed buff Roman brick, this time with marble trim, in their magnificent Beaux-Arts Marlborough City Hall (Form 64), which was built to replace the former Victorian gothic Town Hall, destroyed by fire in 1902.    

Although many buildings along the Main Street commercial corridor have burned down or were demolished during the urban renewal of the 1960's and '70's, most of those that do remain are typical of the types of structures built in New England's downtowns in the 1880's and '90's.  The 1880 Temple Building at 149 Main Street and Charles Barnes's 1891 Warren Block, at 155 (both NR) are four-story Queen Anne brick and stone row buildings, as are most of the others remaining from those decades.  Off Main Street, the somewhat altered Morse & Bigelow Store, (Form 144), built on Lincoln Street in the 1880's, is a rare surviving illustration of a two-story, rectangular Shingle-Style commercial building, and the Frye Building (see above), in the freely-interpreted Colonial Revival mode of the early 1890's, embellished with cast-iron ornament, is Marlborough's only commercial structure with a rounded corner.   

Several factory buildings remain from this period in relatively intact condition, including the additions to the Frye Boot & Shoe Co. (Form 116) of ca. 1885 and the early 1890's, the early 1890's Wood-Willard Building at 293 Lincoln Street (Form 119), and the Rice & Hutchins Curtis Shoe Factory at 37 Howe Street of 1902 (Form 182).  All are utilitarian wood-frame three- or four-story buildings with flat or very shallow-pitched roofs, and bands of multi-light-sash windows.  Each has a square stair-tower on the facade, but none of the towers retains its original roof.  The original wood-shingle cladding remains at the Frye factory, and exists under later siding on at least parts of the others.  One brick factory, the S.H. Howe/B.A. Corbin Cut Sole Factory at 72 Jefferson Street, also remains from this period.  (See Form 645.)

Some late-industrial-period engineering structures survive today, as well.  The most prominent is the tall circular water tower of the Marlborough Waterworks, erected on Sligo Hill in 1895 of cast-iron plates.  In the wetlands of the southern part of town are several structures of the 1890's Metropolitan Water System, including a portion of the Wachusett Aqueduct, with an associated shaft and terminal chamber. (NR).  Associated with the 1890's construction of the Millham Reservoir are a large Queen Anne/utilitarian brick pumping station (now in deteriorated condition), and a complex of stone, and later concrete, channels, dams, and canals.  (Form and MHC #s 916-918, 1241.)


This period opened with one world war, and closed with the other.  In World War I Company F. of the old Massachusetts 6th (mustered in 1917 as part of the 181st infantry of the 26th [Yankee] Division,) again served their home and country, and in 1925 a monument, with statue of a "Doughboy" was built in their honor on the old town Common (Form 901).  During World War II, seventy-six men from Marlborough gave their lives.  The years between the wars saw the end of the century-long industrially-based prosperity, as one by one nearly all the remaining shoe  manufacturers moved away or went out of business, and the Great Depression took hold. 


The rise of the automobile in the early twentieth century led to the gradual demise of the railroads and the 1928 abandonment of the street railway.  It also led to the improvement of all the roads, the motorization of the fire and police departments, and a proliferation of auto-related facilities, such as gas stations and auto-repair garages.  In the late 1920's the Marlborough Airport (MHC #924) opened, and in 1938 passenger service ended on the railroads.  During the 1920's and '30's a few more side roads were opened in small developments and subdivisions near the center.

 Population and Settlement Pattern

Marlborough's population stabilized at about 15,000 in the Early Modern period, increasing by only 126 between 1920 and 1940.  The largest immigrant group to arrive after World War I was the Greeks, who established a substantial ethnic community here by the early 1920's.  What residential growth there was spread out from the center, as the Prospect and Chestnut Hill areas continued to fill with houses.  A few short streets, such as the 1920's Ellis Avenue, were laid out on the small portions of open land remaining at the center.  At the north border of town, a community of lakeside cottages was built on the shores of Fort Meadow Reservoir during the late 1930's and '40's (Form AP). 


New religious congregations in this period again largely reflected the arrival of recent immigrant groups.  A Greek Orthodox community, formally organized in 1916, built the little church of Sts. Anargyroi (Form 185) on Central Street in 1925.  In 1921 a third Roman Catholic parish, St. Ann's, was formed, and built a church in 1933 on the site of the former French Evangelical Church on Lincoln Street (cf. Form 158).  St. Ann's priests were all Italian-speaking, and from the start the church served the needs of the Italian-American community that had been growing up on French Hill since just after the turn of the century. 

Between 1916 and 1931 the city's public school system was upgraded with the building of four new elementary schools and an addition to the High School.   The Junior High School was established in 1916, and the Marlborough Vocational School in 1941.

 Municipal improvements/recreation

In 1917 the sewer system was extended, and in 1922 the city built a new City Home for indigent citizens.

Sports and recreation of all kinds continued to increase in popularity throughout the Early Modern Period.  People were bowling, playing billiards, and watching movies at the center, and soon skating in the winter on the city-owned Hayden Meadow, between Mount Pleasant and Fairmount Hills.  The Marlborough Country Club opened in 1921 with a nine-hole golf course on the site of the former City Farm, the Lyonhurst Ballroom was built on the south side of Lake Williams in 1922, and in 1923 a public beach was established at Fort Meadow Reservoir.  Jericho Hill (Form 913) became a popular site for skiing, and was formally groomed for ski runs in 1938.  The city purchased Prospect Park for an athletic field in 1920, and in 1925 acquired 17 more acres of the old Ward/Hayden farm for Hayden Meadow Playground, named Ward Park (Form 904) after Artemus Ward left $35,000 for the construction of a memorial entrance gate.  In 1939, Ward Six Park (Kelleher Field) replaced the old Prospect Street Ball Grounds as the city's main baseball park, with a seating capacity of 1,200 in the new concrete grandstand.  (See Form 915.)

Economic base

Marlborough continued to be a major shoe-manufacturing city right up to the end of the 1920's and the beginning of the depression.  In 1925 it still ranked fourth in shoe production in New England, and was the largest producer of footwear in the country in proportion to its population.  The major companies at that time were the long-standing John A. Frye Co., which employed 500 people, B.A. Corbin, which had bought out the S.H. Howe company and employed 1,500, and Rice & Hutchins.  Also operating into the '20's were the Franklin Shoe Co., Deitch Brothers, and the R.F. Felix Co., which made moccasins.  The allied industry of box-making was still strong under the Corbin-Frye Box Co. on Jefferson Street, and at a plant built in 1923 on Maple Street by Dennison Mfg. Co. (Form 181) of Framingham.  New factories that were founded prior to 1930 included the Curtis Shoe Co. which had bought one of the Rice & Hutchins plants, Marlboro Wire Goods on Lincoln Street (Form 115), Koehler Mfg. Co, which made miners' lamps, and J.L. Claflin, makers of gauges and other metal products.  Even during the depression, some economic growth took place.  The Mutual Shoe Co., for instance, was established on Maple Street in 1939, with a work force of 600 employees. 

During the Early Modern period, commerce remained strong along Main Street at the center, and a second commercial area continued to expand along Lincoln Street on French Hill.  A few stores  sprang up along the outer sections of the Boston Post Road, including one at the east end associated with Henry Ford's 1920's restoration of the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, the Wayside Country Store, located in a Greek Revival building moved in ca. 1929 from Sudbury (Form 124).  At the west end of the Post Road was the longtime farmstand of Rice's Orchards, which was established in 1915 by attorney John Rice, and became one of the largest apple-growing establishments in the region.  Like the factories, however, some commercial establishments closed during this period, among them the Morse & Bigelow Store, which ceased business in 1932 after over a century of operation. 


 Most houses of the Early Modern Period in Marlborough, as elsewhere in the region, were variations of Colonial Revival house-types.  Five- or three-bay side-gabled, two-story examples, with such typical attachments as dens and sunporches, and details such as pedimented entry hoods and paneled shutters, were built in the new neighborhoods on Prospect and Chestnut Hills, and as infill in the older sections of the center.  Many Dutch Colonial Revivals were built during the late 1920's-early 1930's, especially in the Church Street and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods.   Bungalows came into their own by the late 1910's, and individual examples, with details ranging from the Colonial Revival to the Craftsman, can be seen in those areas as well.   High-style houses of the period were built in the Georgian or Federal Revival styles.  A ca. 1940 "brick-ender" stands at 305 Hosmer Street (MHC #1090), and two well-preserved brick Federal Revival houses were built on upper Pleasant Street, the William Davenport House at #200, and the Russell Frye House at #222.  Their neighbor, the Robert Frye House at 234 Pleasant Street, is a unique example in Marlborough of a large stucco, Spanish Revival house.  (See MHC #s 695, 699, 701).  In multi-unit housing, fewer side-by-side double-houses were built, but scattered duplexes and a few three-deckers, such as the well-preserved house at 137 Howe Street (Form 180) were constructed through the 1920's.  By 1930 the modern version of the Cape Cod Cottage had appeared in the subdivided neighborhoods and at scattered locations along the Post Road.  A group of four on Church and Hildreth Streets (see Area K:  Church Street Area), is typical.  Other early-modern styles and types had only a small representation in Marlborough.  A few large Tudor Revival houses were constructed, of which builder Thomas Hurley's own house, constructed ca. 1916 at 50 Fairmount Street is probably the most stylish and well-preserved (Form 167).  Another good example stands at 218 Church Street (MHC #658).  A smaller illustration of the English architectural influence, the little English Cottage, such as the wood-shingled 32 Mount Pleasant Street (MHC #354), is seen as infill in some neighborhoods at or near the center.        

Early Modern institutional architecture in Marlborough was almost universally Colonial Revival in style, most of it constructed in brick, with wood or concrete detail.  Beginning with the Washington Street School in 1916 (Form 86), the city built four two-story, flat-roofed brick elementary schools with wood trim details executed in a variety of pilastered, pedimented classical forms, some quite elaborate.  Its 1923 City Home on Bolton Street, (demolished), which replaced the former Town Farm, was also a large brick Colonial Revival building. 

The three churches built during this period all represent simple versions of different styles.  The Christian Science Church on West Main Street, designed by Howard Cheney in 1920, is a one-story, stucco Federal Revival building (Form 139), the little 1925 Sts. Anargyroi (Form 185) is a nearly astylistic wood-shingle building with a hint of eastern-European influence in its gilded dome, and the 1933 St. Ann's is a simple, handsome version of the modern Romanesque Revival in brick and concrete.  (See Form 158.)

Again in this period, the industrial buildings were constructed in the utilitarian mode, with flat roofs, flat wall surfaces broken by long bands of windows, and simple rectilinear massing.  The 1924 Marlborough Wire Goods building (Form 115) is a massive three-story brick structure, its main design element the regular rhythm of large, square window openings.  The walls of the five-story 1923 Dennison Mfg. Co. factory are articulated by vertical concrete piers and horizontal brick and concrete banding.

Modern development has come at the cost, however, of many of Marlborough's historic resources, from the old farms of southwest Marlborough and houses of all periods along both sections of the Post Road, to several late-nineteenth-century commercial blocks and utilitarian structures at the downtown center.  In addition, shopping-center development and re-location of the high school, district court, police station, etc., outside the center of town, coupled with urban renewal efforts during the 1970's, resulted in a stagnation of Marlborough's downtown that is only now being seriously addressed.  Since the 1980's the city has actively sought and obtained federal Community-Development Block Grants for the revitalization of its downtown neighborhoods, and has sponsored the restoration and rehabilitation of several individual buildings and structures.  Among them is the 1895 Marlborough High School, which, as the re-named "Walker Building" won a preservation award from Historic Massachusetts, Inc. in 1994.  Other city-initiated historic preservation efforts since 1980 include the restoration of the City Hall, Fire Station #2, Central Fire and Police Station, and the upcoming rehabilitation of the 1912 Post Office on Mechanic Street. 

In 1965 the Marlborough Historical Society was founded as a private, non-profit organization.  In the early 1990's, the Marlborough Historical Commission was re-organized, and has actively undertaken identification, preservation, and educational activities.  In 1993 it received a Survey and Planning Grant through the Massachusetts Historical Commission for the completion of this city-wide Historic, Architectural, and Cultural Resources Survey.  A Historic District Study Committee has also been formed to plan for the preservation of parts of the city center under the provisions of Chapter 40-C of the Massachusetts General Laws, and preparations have been made for a city-wide Demolition Delay Bylaw.  Another step planned for the future is to seek Certified Local Government status for the city as a partner with the state and federal governments in the identification, evaluation, and preservation of Marlborough's historic resources.  Thanks to an enlightened municipal policy and the untiring efforts of many of its citizens, in recent years Marlborough has made a transition from a period of unchecked expansion and replacement to one in which the richness of its historic and cultural resources will not only be recognized and appreciated, but protected and preserved for the future.    

New types of commercial buildings associated with the automobile were constructed during this period.  Several small, rectangular concrete auto repair shops were built, the earliest ones in rock-faced concrete block.  All are altered; one in relatively intact condition still operates at 53 Central Street (MHC #461).  On Main Street, two 1926 bank buildings, J. Williams Beal & Son's Peoples' National Bank (Form    ) and Allen & Collens' First National Bank, (Form 132), are impressive stone examples of the Renaissance Revival.  At 195-205 Main Street, (Form 131), a 1930's multi-store building brought back the Federal Revival in its gabled, cupolaed slate roofs and parapet brick end walls.  A few new flat-roofed one- and two-story multi-store blocks were also constructed on Main Street.  Most of the six-store Sher Building at 126-136 Main (Form 128) was built or converted in the 1930's-'40's to the Moderne Style, utilizing several experimental materials, including ceramic panels, sheet-metal gratings, and Carrara glass. 

MODERN PERIOD    (1945 - present)

After a brief decline in the population rate after World War II, Marlborough experienced the greatest growth in its history when, between 1950 and 1990, the population nearly doubled, from 16,000 to 31,800.  Beginning in the 1950's, single-family housing developments spread throughout the city, followed in the 1960's by apartment complexes.  Convenient location, accessible highways, ample public services, open space, and a hospitable political climate have all contributed to what is still a growing community. 

By 1970, due to the construction of Interstate 495 and the neighboring I-290, coupled with large acreages of available land and favorable industrial and business zoning, large industries again found a home in Marlborough.  The 1960 Kanavos Park, the first major industrial park in the city, was developed in the western section of town near both I-495 and Route 20 on 1,400 acres of former woods and apple orchards.  To date, 30 industries have located there.  Marlborough has truly made the transition from a "shoe city" to a diversified and high-tech center for the region.

Also from the 1960's through 1980's, small shopping centers and strip malls were built along the outer sections of the old Boston Post Road (Route 20).  The north/south corridor of Maple and Bolton Streets was also developed with large commercial, institutional and recreational facilities during that time.

Anne McCarthy Forbes,

Consultant to the Marlborough Historical Commission

September 15, 1994

Revised June 1, 1995





This project represents the second phase of a community-wide historic properties survey of Marlborough conducted under the Marlborough Historical Commission.  The first phase, (Part I), which was completed in the fall of 1994, concentrated on documenting the center of the city.  This year's phase, (Part II), which again utilized funding from the Marlborough Office for Community Development, continued the documentation of the center and downtown areas, and covered the rest of the city, as well.  Again this year, preservation consultant Anne McCarthy Forbes was hired to do the project work, which was completed on August 31, 1995.          



The scope and procedures followed for the survey were tailored to the Marlborough Historical Commission's goals of extending the survey to include all historic resources in Marlborough that retain their architectural or historic significance, updating, correcting, and adding to the information from former surveys, and expanding the information base for future preservation and  educational efforts.

To attain these goals within the prescribed budget, a combination approach was again utilized.  As in Part I of the survey, Area Forms were used for the documentation of the more densely-developed neighborhoods, especially those with a high concentration of later or less significant resources.   Properties that had a high degree of historical or architectural significance were documented in much more detail on individual inventory forms.  Among those were some of the oldest farmhouses in Marlborough, many of which had been partially discussed on forms from former surveys.  Those forms were either updated with the addition of architectural descriptions and expanded historical narratives, or, in the case of several former forms that contained errors, completely replaced with new forms. 


Criteria for property selection

All buildings constructed before 1945 were deemed eligible for Marlborough's inventory of historically or architecturally significant properties, provided that they retained their architectural integrity.  Most of those judged ineligible were buildings that had been so completely rebuilt as to present the appearance of a post-1945 structure.  (For more information on the selection criteria, see the Preliminary Methodology for Part II, 1/16/95).

Status of existing documentation

The Preliminary Methodology outlines the status of the documentation that existed prior to this survey effort.  No new resources have been added to the National Register of Historic Places since the first part of the survey was written.  The local context of some NR-listed properties, however, has been expanded in the narrative sections of Area Forms such as the Marlborough Junction form (Form AE) that encompasses the Marlborough Filter Beds (Form 919) and part of the Sudbury Reservoir (Form AR).

Survey procedures

The Preliminary Methodology of 1/16/95 describes both the documentary and field research methods employed in the survey.  The main difference in the sources used in the historical research this year came from the fact that two maps, the 1853 and 1871 Walling maps, were less helpful for Part II, as they do not cover the outlying sections of the city.  This time, however, a later plan, James Bigelow's map of 1900, was used considerably more than in Part I, as it concentrates on areas outside the center.  A 1940 WPA map from the Massachusetts Archives that shows the distribution of types of resources, although not owners' names, was also helpful in some cases.  (See revised Master Bibliography.)


 Inventory forms

 The 1995 project work included the survey of over seven hundred historic, architectural, and cultural resources.  To meet the equivalent of the projected 105 inventory forms under the current budget limitations, as was the case with Part I, the total number of forms written was reduced to reflect the sizeable time investment required by the area forms.  In all, 88 forms were written, -- 55 building, 4 landscape, 5 burial ground, and 24 area forms.  This included the updating and expansion of  several existing forms from previous surveys by the addition of architectural statements and new or corrected historical statements.  There were no forms written for streetscapes or structures this year.

 Each inventory form includes at least one photograph, a sketch map, and other pertinent information such as building material, style, builder or architect (if known), date of construction, degree of alteration, setting, and detailed statements of architectural and historical significance.  A brief bibliography of sources consulted is part of each form, and always includes any historical maps on which a building or structure is shown.  (In many cases an abbreviated source reference appears on the inventory form.  For the complete reference, the Master Bibliography should be consulted.) 

 National Register criteria were applied to each property, and potential eligibility is noted on the forms and explained on an accompanying National Register Criteria Statement sheet.  Three areas or groups of resources surveyed this year are likely to be eligible for district listing, and 34 resources (buildings and burial grounds) were deemed individually eligible for the National Register.  The significance of most of the individuals had already been recognized in their inclusion in former surveys.  Several highly significant buildings, however, were disqualified from individual NR eligibility because of architectural changes, the most common of which was the installation of synthetic siding.  The master list of all surveyed properties likely to be eligible for the National Register, either individually or as part of a National Register district, was revised and expanded.

Maps and map/MHC identification numbers; assessor's map and parcel documentation

The entire inventory from Parts I and II of the survey has been plotted by identification letter or number on a base map provided by the Marlborough Department of Public Works.  The numbering system, worked out in conjunction with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, may be used to identify all Marlborough's resources easily in the state MACRIS system (computerized data base for historic properties), as well as in the local Marlborough file.  (The Marlborough file, however, instead of being arranged by MHC number, is organized alphabetically by area name and street address.)  Each individual resource specifically discussed on an inventory form, whether a building, object, structure, burial ground, or landscape, has been given its own identification number.  When possible, properties in one locale have been given contiguous numbers.  Since numbers given to resources covered in earlier surveys have been retained, however, many areas include resources with widely discontinuous numbers.  In addition, according to Massachusetts Historical Commission policy, all burial grounds have been numbered in the 800's, and all structures, objects, and landscapes in the 900's.  The identification numbers for burial grounds now end with MHC #810, and for structures, objects, and landscapes, at #927.   The numbers for individual buildings now range from #1 through 799 and from #1000 through 1293.

 Each group form (Area Form or Streetscape), is identified by an alphabetical designation, currently ranging from Area A through Area AS. Each discussed resource located within an area or streetscape retains its individual identification number.  It is important to note that, because of time and budget constraints, only those properties specifically mentioned in the text of individual or group forms have been given identification numbers and listed on the Data Sheets that accompany each Area Form.  As a rule, these represent the most historically or architecturally significant resources.  There are many more historic properties located within most of the areas, however.  Their locations are shown on the Area Sketch Maps.     

The city assessor's map and parcel number for each property has also been listed on the inventory forms and data sheets.  It is anticipated that the use of this data in the survey will help coordinate preservation planning with other types of planning within the city of Marlborough. 

 Narrative history

In Part II the comprehensive developmental history of the community was revised to include more information on the areas and resources surveyed this year.  It was also greatly enhanced by a contribution from local resident Ellen Bailey of her research on the local Indian tribes.  The narrative history is organized according to the seven major periods of Marlborough's historical development, with an emphasis on the extant resources which remain from each period.

Other survey products and results

It is hoped that in the future the Master Bibliography for the survey will prove useful to people wishing to research the town's historic resources in further detail.

The attached Property Index has been expanded to include all the historic resources discussed on the inventory forms, with their accompanying MHC/map identification numbers.  Historic resources which do not have identification numbers, however, though significant, do not appear on the Property Index.  The survey Base Map shows at a glance the boundaries of the surveyed areas, as well as the locations of the inventoried properties situated outside the areas.

The list of Properties Potentially Eligible for the National Register is the result of the application of the National Register criteria to the surveyed resources, and should prove a useful tool in future preservation-planning efforts.  It should be noted that these recommendations are the opinion of the consultant only, and do not guarantee that a property will be found eligible upon nomination to the Register.


The entire city of Marlborough has now been examined for the presence, distribution, and significance of its historic, architectural, and cultural resources.  The information that has been gathered may be used as the basis for future preservation efforts, such as the establishment of local historic districts, nominations to the National Register, restorations of significant buildings, and community education.  It is also to be hoped that the survey itself will continue.  Several important resources that are included only as part of an area or on a form from a former survey have not yet been documented in detail, and individual forms should be written for them in the future.  Some, such as the Marlborough High School (#120), the Brigham House at 190 Elm Street (#68) and the Maynard House at 173 Howe Street (#78) have forms from former surveys that should be revised and updated.  The authenticity of the John Brown Bell (Form #912) should also be investigated.  Even inventory forms written during the past two years should be updated with additional information as it is obtained.  (See below).  The texts of some forms presently include recommendations for deed or geneological research, etc.  Interior inspections, also, should provide clues to how several of the most significant buildings expanded over time, and may even provide new information on the presence of some early structures that are not visible from the exterior.  

Some altered buildings such as the Brigham House at 320 South Street, the Boyd house at 85 Maple Street, and the cottage at 11 Ames Place that may date to the seventeenth century, are of such significance to the community that they, too, will merit individual forms in the future.  Some twentieth-century resources, such as the Pastime Theater and the White City Diner, have also gained enough significance to deserve individual documentation.  Finally, at least two buildings that have recently been moved to Marlborough from other communities, the First Period house at 740 Hemenway Street and the Post Road Diner on the East Boston Post Road, should be documented on the inventory forms before their history is lost. 

 Storage recommendations; methodology for adding new information

 The survey and inventory, as a public document, should be made readily available to the public.  To prevent loss or damage, however, at least one full photocopy should be made for general use.  Suggested storage locations are the Marlborough Public Library, Marlborough Historical Society, and at least one municipal office, such as planning or community development. 

It is recommended that the Marlborough Historical Commission develop a procedure for adding new information to existing inventory forms.  The methodology might include attaching continuation sheets to the forms, and requiring that the material be submitted in writing, and always include the name and address of the contributor, date of submission and source of the information.



This project was carried out under the guidance of the Marlborough Historical Commission and Local Project Coordinator Lynn Faust, whose leadership and cooperation have again been extraordinarily helpful.  Ellen Bailey and Virginia Johnson of the Marlborough Historical Society have also contributed large amounts of time, work, and expertise to the project.  The staff of the Marlborough Public Library, which, like the Society, maintains a wealth of historical documents, has also given invaluable support to this project, as have the municipal offices of the Marlborough assessors and building departments. 

 Anne McCarthy Forbes
August 31, 1995


Descriptions of neighborhoods and details on individual properties mentioned above are here.

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