History Corner: Farmers, Business Men and Estate Owners
The Owl is massively behind on her History Corner posts but here’s the good news–a few days late on something a hundred years old doesn’t really matter. Or does it? This wonderful post was on the Weston Historical Society Facebook page on Wednesday, March 1 and is delightful proof of the north versus south debate. From farmer sector to all of you in the business and estate sectors, see you at Caucus shortly.
The following is taken verbatim from the Weston Historical Society facebook page and all images are credited to WHS.
In our lead-up to the Town Caucus, we’re continuing our look back and today will examine Weston’s growing town government and its civic leaders.
In the 25-year period of 1890 – 1915, Weston experienced tremendous growth as it was transitioning into a suburb with the start of the Estate Era. Under the management of its forward-thinking civic leaders, this time period introduced the establishment of a police force, a fire department, parks and recreation facilities, a Board of Health, a dedicated library building, a new town center, the management of roads and sidewalks, centralized schools, water and electricity, and town planning.
Weston held a tradition of choosing one selectman from the north side of town (farmers), one from the center (business), and one from the south (estates). Farmer Alonzo Fiske served 14 years and his son, Nathan, served for 25. Henry Jennison represented the center and was followed by Alfred Cutting who served for 25 years. Estate owner Francis Blake served for 20 years and was followed by his nephew B. Loring Young who served for 34 years.
The School Committee at this time began its study of a centralized school system and the educational advantages of grouping children by grade. By 1894, four of the six district schools were closed and students were being transported to the 1878 high school on School Street. The new high school (bldg. A at Brook School Apts.) was built in 1895 and a new primary school (bldg. B) was built in 1908 and then expanded in 1911. Centralization also introduced school transportation in horse-drawn barges for children living more than a mile from school. By 1914, two barges were motorized with the whole fleet motorized by 1920. The School Committee during this time period was served by long-time members, such as Nahum Smith, Samuel Bennett, Arthur Johnson, Warren Adams and Charles Richardson; however, Carolyn Burrage served throughout this major transition and for a total of 37 years (30 as chair).
Town leaders during this time were laying the groundwork for town planning. The 1892 town report contains the first comprehensive plan for laying out public and private buildings and in 1895 the Village Improvement Association was established. The group took interest in public trees, street lights, town square aesthetics, and more, but its legacy is the 1912 Town Improvement Plan.