History Corner – Nolte Town Forest and the Bungalow
Nolte Town Forest was the site of yesterday’s Weston Forest & Trail Association monthly walk. At 55ish acres, Nolte is oft-overlooked next to its big sisters at Jericho, Highland, and Ogilvie. It would be a mistake to write it off, however, as it is one of Weston’s estate-era historical sites as well as a lovely walk in the midst of yellow birches, red oaks, and white pines. The WFTA forester believes that the woods here hold many of the oldest trees in Weston.
The story of the area has been traced back by the Weston Historical Society, though many details are missing. In the 1850s, a large home called the Sanderson House was built at the corner of Love Lane and Highland Street. Near the end of the century, a summer visitor to Weston named George Henry Nolte fell in love with the property and tried to buy it for years. The story goes that when he read in the morning papers that the Sanderson home had been leveled by fire in 1897, he took the train out from Boston and bought it on the spot, presumably with smoke still rising from the ruins.
The Nolte property would eventually include a dairy farm, barns, and chicken houses, hayfields, three orchards, a cold running brook, a swamp and a cranberry bog. While the family’s full-time home was in Boston, they moved out to Weston from May to September. A caretaker, named George Welcome (how much do you love this name? A lot) lived in a small cottage at 16 Love Lane and took care of the place until his retirement in 1915.
In the summers, the Nolte family would stay at the Bungalow, completed in 1900, at the southwest end of the property. A description is written by Nolte’s daughter, Dorothea Nolte Kelley*:
“The Bungalo [sic], which was on a pine covered hill some distance from the farm house, was a rambling rustic structure with wide porches wonderful for trikes and red wagons. There were tall French doors in the living room and in the guest suite…We connected with the Welcomes by wind-up telephone. Our drinking water came from a cool, clear brook just part way down the hill. ..To us children it was a dream house, and it broke our hearts when it had to be demolished about 1918 when it became a hang out for tramps in the winter.”
Sadly, no photos or drawings exist of the Bungalow.
George Henry had to move to New York in 1906 due to the Boston stock exchange failing. The farm continued as a working dairy farm until the Welcomes retired in 1915. Evelyn Nolte then enlarged the farmhouse which she called the Dutch Cottage and moved there with the youngest children, while George Francis enrolled at Harvard.
After George Francis graduated and began working in New York, Evelyn would spend winters in New York and summers at the Dutch Cottage. George Henry Nolte died in 1954, Evelyn Nolte in 1959 and George Francis Nolte (their son) died in 1960, without ever signing the will that would have left the land for conservation. Fortunately, his siblings agreed with the plan, and sold the town 40 acres in 1970, and donated a further five acres as a memorial Evelyn White Nolte Forest. Other parts of the Nolte farm were sold to the Dicksons. As a final piece of the Nolte Forest, 11 acres were sold to the town by the Dicksons in 2000 for conservation.
If you are interested in exploring the trails at Nolte, you can park at the turnout at Sunset Corner on Highland Street. Walking downhill and southbound, you will enter the forest, walk past a huge borrow pit with a Tarzan-type vine hanging from a tree, and finally climb a trail to the chimney. It’s a bit of a magical past in Weston. Welcome to the Bungalow!
- From Pam Fox’s book “From Farm Town to Suburb“.