|One Chestnut (Source: Weston Historical Commission)|
Really old land!
When I first saw our dig site, I wasn’t terribly impressed. It seemed like the landscape had changed significantly over the years, and I really didn’t think that there’d be much to find. But Weston is a very old town with an interesting history, and it’s worth looking into.Weston was originally the “farmer’s precinct” of Watertown-in other words, it was the part of the community where all of the farm land was, and it was the poorer part of town. Much of the land that Regis College now owns was originally farm land. In the late 17th century, it was most likely worked by the Allen family, who built the house that is now One Chestnut Street, the oldest house in town. By the late 19th century, it had been broken up into many smaller plots and was being rented out.
Throughout the 17th century, a problem developed for the people of Weston: they had to ride almost three hours to attend church in Watertown every Sunday. By 1713, they had had enough, and that year, Weston became its own incorporated town, complete with its own church. But Weston was still a farming community, and there is still some farm land in town, such as that belonging to Land’s Sake Farm on School Street.
All of that changed after the Civil War. Between 1865 and 1900, Weston became a haven for Boston businessmen looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while still having access to it for work. Pam Fox, president of the Weston Historical Society, has identified seventeen houses that were a part of this massive building pattern. One of those was that of Daniel Demmon, the “Copper King” of Boston, who built what, is now the College’s President’s House. Demmon bought several of the small plots of land around his property and rented them out.
So, our site is really a lot cooler than it seems. For one, it’s really old, and may have been worked as far back as 1700. For another, it’s really close to where Wellesley Street used to run before it was modernized in the early 20th century. That doesn’t mean that we’ll find anything huge, but it does mean that the site has potential. And that’s what we need!