History Corner: Where is it Wednesday
I literally jump out of bed on Wednesday mornings in anticipation of Where is it Wednesday. So far I’m batting .250 but anything can happen. So here, thanks to Weston Historical Society and the fabulous Kara Fleming is this week’s mystery.
Get ready! It’s time for Where Is It Wednesday!
In the Boston and Albany Railroad brochure entitled “Summer Homes,” the following was written about this week’s puzzle:
“It is interesting to note that such a thickly wooded country, so like the hills of New Hampshire, can be found in such close proximity to Boston. [This area] is considered by many of Boston’s ablest physicians to be a very healthful place, it being situated in the highlands and free from east winds. [This place] is situated on a high hill and the rooms are naturally cool and airy.”
The answer will be revealed on Thursday.
By the 1870s, Weston was becoming a popular place to escape the summer heat of the city, so some Weston farmers began taking in regular boarders or summer guests to earn extra income. About 1875, Willard Jennings, who inherited land from his father’s Glen Farm, took advantage of his location, which was near the Wellesley Farms railroad station and built a house with a stylish mansard roof and operated a boarding house. His establishment prospered and grew to the 40-room Glen House Hotel. Five small guest cottages were also added.
The 1902 Wellesley publication “Our Town” described prominent professional men from “even so far away as Philadelphia” were attracted by the beauty and quiet of the spot. On a clear day, guests could see the dome of the Statehouse from the upper floors, not to mention “typical New England scenery” for miles in every direction. Parents of Wellesley College students stayed at Glen House and “amused themselves on rainy days with billiards and ping pong.” They set up a “barge and carriage line” between the college and hotel.
Willard’s granddaughter described the hotel operation: “They had families return many summers with their chauffeurs and personal maids. They loved my grandmother’s cooking and Grandfather always had beautiful flower beds and made unusual table arrangements for the dining rooms. There was plenty of room for the children to play on the farm and the husbands could get into Boston in a very few minutes by train then…All four children of my grandfather worked very hard with their parents to make Glen House a success.”
The success of Glen House was due partly to the convenient rail transportation. The 1902-03 Boston and Albany Railroad brochure “Summer Homes” listed vacation spots along the railroad’s route to encourage regular getaways from the city to the country. The pamphlet listed the hotel in Wellesley Farms and described it as one of the most beautiful country spots in Massachusetts and free from east winds, meaning that no unhealthy Boston air would ever trouble guests.
As automobiles gained increasing popularity, a hotel advertisement noted “automobile parties” could be accommodated and auto services and a garage were on site.
The Glen House operated into the 1920s. In February 1931 a serious fire caused $10,000 in damages to the house. It’s believed that after the fire the large hotel wing was removed, along with the 3rd floor of the original house. The remodeled residence and one of the guest cottages remain today.