History Corner: Where is It Wednesday

The original 1899 Colonial Revival mansion


So yes I am super late posting this today but places to go, people to see. Here in its entirety is the Weston Historical Society’s Where is It Wednesday, also available on their facebook and instagram pages.

The answer will be posted on Thursday after 10 am on their FB and insta pages and at the bottom of this post. Don’t be texting me “welllll….where IS IT?” at 6 am.


Hint – women are involved [Ed. I don’t want to throw shade at WHS but women are ALWAYS involved].

In 1902, this estate house was among nine others pictured in the Boston Sunday Herald’s article entitled “Weston Has Become the Lenox of the East.” The 179-acre estate featured “a winding driveway leading to the main residence, crowning the hilltop.” In 1908, the owner died and left his assets to his daughter who immediately began renovations to the estate.

The 1908 tower with clock and Westminster chimes.

Her first project was to line the driveway with 144 poplar trees, as she had seen in Normandy. Next, she created a 61-foot fieldstone tower copied from a medieval Norman tower she saw in France. It used the stones dug up from the creation of a grand lawn and concealed the “unsightly” water tower. It featured a clock and a set of Westminster chimes, views of Boston and the church spires in Worcester, and was an attraction to those passing by.

The 1914 Georgian Revival, post renovation

In 1913, she began a dramatic transformation of the main house from the clapboard Colonial Revival structure to this brick-veneered Georgian Revival mansion.

This is hilarious. “One Town Without a Trolley Line”. So so true. And oh that sylvan retreat of “busy Boston men.”

The Answer –

Fannie Edson Demmon was a close companion to her father Daniel Demmon, known as the “Copper King.” Her mother died giving birth to her and she helped her father with business and social affairs. Demmon bought his Wellesley Street estate in 1889 and four additional parcels in 1899. Fannie and her father used the farmhouse from early May through late Nov. and lived in Boston during the winter. Fannie married Barnabas Thacher Morrison in 1899 when she was in her 40s. While on her honeymoon in Europe, her father built the estate mansion. After her father’s death in 1908, and inspired by her European travels, Fannie set out to update the estate and grounds to be more consistent with the mansion, which also received a dramatic facelift; the interior was untouched. A brick carriage house was also built during the mansion renovation. Fannie’s husband died in 1915. She split her time between Weston and Pasadena and in 1927 she sold her estate to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. Reportedly it was the tower and Westminster chimes that clinched the sale, as the sisters embraced the tower as a historic link to Le Puy, France where the Sisters of St. Joseph had been founded in 1650.

The Rev. Mother Mary Domitilla Buttimer, S.S.J. founded Regis College. It was originally planned to be located in Newton but there was a serendipitous delay and the Morrison estate became available. The Catholic liberal arts college for women was named in honor of Mother Mary Regis Casserly, C.S.J., the first Superior of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. The Morrison House, still furnished with all of Fannie’s decor, served as the residence hall and dining room for the first 55 students. A glass-enclosed conservatory was remodeled as the first chapel, and the elegant ballroom on the upper floor served as an assembly hall and student entertainments. The carriage house housed the library, laboratories and gymnasium. The caretaker’s house was used for classrooms. Today, the Morrison House, Norman Tower, and carriage house (Walters Hall) remain in use on campus.

Fannie Morrison passed away in 1941 with a fortune greater than what she had inherited. The bulk of her assets went to Mass. General Hospital and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but she also made bequests to Regis College and Weston Public Library.

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