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DeSorgher: It’s All in the Name; Who is Your Street Named After?

This is the third and final article on town names. This week identifies streets named after people in the town.

The Committee to Study Memorials has worked hard to make sure Medfield’s town streets recognize individuals who have contributed to their town or country. A plan has been in place since 1987 of having an Honor Square, Civic Square, street, sports field or park named after those who have given their life in service to our country or who have contributed above and beyond the call of duty to their community or who have added to the history of the town. For the past two weeks this column told of the five Honor Squares in Medfield and those killed in time of war, so honored in other ways. This is the third and final article on town names. This week identifies streets named after people in the town.

Medfield Streets Named After People:

Adams Street - (Cottage to West Mill Street) - Named after John J. Adams who owned all the property in the Adams Street area. Adams became a very successful businessman with great mechanical talent and with successful business interests in Boston and New York, from which he achieved great wealth. He always retained a home in his beloved Medfield. In 1875-76, he moved the former Lowell Mason house and built an elegant mansion on North Street at the head of Dale Street.

Allen Lane - (off Granite Street) - private lane that led to the house and property of the Allen family that lived there up until recent times. The original Allen family were one of the first 13 settlers of the town.

Baker Road - (off Richard Road) - Named in recognition of the Baker family, which first came to Medfield in the early 1700’s. Baker family members were leading town citizens for many generations. The Baker-Cushman Carriage Factory on Meetinghouse or Baker’s Pond was in existence during the late 19 and early 20th centuries.

Bartlett Avenue - (Kingsbury Drive to Pine Grove Road) - From the time it was donated in 1919 until it was sold off for the housing development that today includes the streets of Pine Grove Road, Kingsbury Drive, Bartlett Avenue, Arnold Drive and Laurel Drive, Medfield was home to a 50-acre Bird Reservation and branch of the Animal Rescue League.  In 1890, esteemed Boston physician and surgeon Henry Clay Angell purchased that property to use as his “summer” home to escape the heat and crowds of Boston and to enjoy its rural setting. Dr. Angell married Martha Bartlett.

Dr. Angell died in 1911 and when his wife Martha died in 1919, she donated the Medfield property to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. She requested that the property be used as a bird reservation and home for the Animal Rescue League, where they could use the house and barn as a temporary home for animals. Here the Animal Rescue League made plans to preserve “this beautiful woods,” for the purpose of encouraging the increase of birds.

The reservation and animal shelter was called the Bartlett-Angell Home for Animals. Martha Bartlett Angell’s father was a great lover of animals and she wanted the Bartlett name attached in honor of her father. The Animal Rescue League made the Medfield branch a “temporary” home, with no animals being kept indefinitely. Horses were also kept there as part of their “Home of Rest for Horses.” The large barn on the property was used to house the horses. There, the horses were able to pasture and be fed hay and grain. The Animal rescue League sold off the property which became today’s housing development.

Bishop Lane – (off Copperwood Road) - named in recognition of the long-time Medfield family. Jonathan Bishop came here in the early 1800’s and married into the Harding family. He was elected state representative and was instrumental in getting the railroad route changed so it would go through Medfield. He was active in the formation of the new anti-slavery Republican Party in the 1850’s. Later generations of Bishops lived in the north-end of town, near the current street.

Bunker Road - (off Loeffler Lane) - named after famed impressionist painter Dennis Miller Bunker, who pained here in Medfield and stayed at the Tannery Farm on West Main Street in the 1890’s.

Clark Road - (off South Street) - named in recognition of the Clark family, one of the originally settlers of the town and whose family members were leading town citizens here for many generations

Clayton Street -(off Hospital Road) - named after Clayton Haigh, who lived in that location for many years. The Haigh family name was very prominent in Medfield, especially the Harding section of Medfield, during the 20th century, with members serving as selectmen and in town government.

Crane Place - (off Cottage Street) - house and area where George Crane and then son William lived. Houses there were used as tenements for workers in the hat factory. William Crane died at the age of 79 in 1912. Crane promoted patriotism in the public schools, was past commander of the Moses Ellis Post 117, G.A.R and was very active in the Republican Party. Town schools were closed for his funeral, with all students attending in mass. Today’s Crane Place is named in his honor.

Curtis Drive - (off Cypress Street) - named after Daniel D. Curtis, industrialist,  founder and owner of the Excelsior Hat Factory, which later became the second largest hat factory in the United States (today the ).

Donnelly Drive - (off Farm Street) - They came over as poor Irish immigrants but by the 1920’s the Donnelly’s, led by Edward Calvin Donnelly, had made it big in the Boston Social Circle. Donnelly had developed one of the largest advertising and billboard companies in New England. In 1921, Edward and Mary Donnelly purchased one of the prime pieces of real estate in Boston, in Boston’s Back Bay. They also had summer homes in Cohasset and on Farm Street in Dover at the Medfield town line with land spreading into Medfield. Edward was president of the John Donnelly and Sons Advertising Company.

When Edward died in 1935, his oldest son Edward Jr. took over as president of the company. That same year, Edward married Mary Curley, only daughter of the colorful then Governor of Massachusetts, James Michael Curley. The Donnelly’s 15-room Tudor summer home on 158 Farm St. in Dover was built in 1901. It was the scene of many visits from Mayor, Congressman, and Governor James Michael Curley and was the scene of many social gatherings. The property was sold off and the Donnelly land that covered both Medfield and Dover was developed for the building of the current houses that includes Donnelly Drive in Medfield; hence the name for the street.

Dwight Street - (off Causeway Street) - named after the Dwight family, one of the original settlers of the town. He was given land on Frairy Street (the Dwight-Derby House) and land by the Charles River; the way to that land is now Dwight Street and the bridge over the Charles connecting Medfield and Millis was called Dwight’s Bridge. The bridge was washed out in the Great Flood of 1936 and never rebuilt.

Frairy Street - (North Street to Dale Street) - named in recognition of one of the first families to move to Medfield from Dedham. John Frairy’s house and house lot were where the present Frairy Street is located today.

Green Street - (off North Street) - two former slaves who were later freed; Warwick Green and Newport Green, fought during the Revolutionary War. Warwick first went into service on April 27, 1777 under the command of Captain Sabin Mann’s Company of Medfield militia, drafted to serve in the Rhode Island alarm. He later was with the men called to reinforce the Continental Army. Newport Green was listed as a private in Captain Amos Ellis’s company. He enlisted July 26, 1778.

He too was with the men raised to reinforce the Continental Army. He also served in the campaign at West Point. Records show he received Indian corn in place of his wages during the West Point campaign. Green Street was later named after them.

Hale Place - (off South Street) - Jeremiah B. Hale served on almost every elected and appointed position in the town. He was superintendent of one of Medfield’s two hat factories and the owner of the other and he would play a major role as an officer in the Baptist Church. Hale’s New England Straw Works on South Street gave employment to a large number of both males and females until in 1879 the entire shop was destroyed by fire and burned to the ground.  It was never rebuilt.  Hale, instead went to work at Medfield’s other hat factory, the larger Excelsior Straw Works on North Street (now site of the Montrose School).

In 1888, he was named plant superintendent. Jeremiah Hale left a lasting mark on his adopted Town of Medfield. In 1874, after the Town Hall was destroyed by fire, he hand-copied over town records, the results of which are still used today. He was instrumental in the formation of a historical society in Medfield and when it was organized in 1891 he served as one of the five original curators.  He was active with the Republican Party in Medfield and in Massachusetts. 

In 1894, he served as a delegate to the Republican Convention. At different times, Hale had been a member of the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, Town Clerk and the Cemetery Committee. He contributed money for the building of the bridge over Vine Brook in the cemetery. He served on numerous special town committees and was the town’s postmaster.

Hamant Way - (off Philip Street) - Named in recognition to the Hamant family that came to Medfield as one of the first families. Francis Hamant’s house and property in the South Street/Philips Street area was in the possession of descendants from 1652 until just a few years ago when it was sold for the building of Hamant Way.

Harding Street - (North Street to the Dover town line) - Named in honor of the Harding Family, one of the earliest families in Medfield. John Harding built a house, now at 74 Harding St. from the timbers of the old garrison, used as protection during the Indian attacks. The Harding Post Office was also built in that area, servicing the state hospital and the surrounding north end of town.

Hutson Road - (Blacksmith Drive to Colonial Road) - John Hutson came to Medfield in 1833 and lived in the house and property along Harding Street and that extended to where Hutson Road is today.

Inness Circle - (off Loeffler Lane) - George Inness was a famous Landscape artist who first came to Medfield in 1859. Since studying and painting in the art centers of Europe, Inness when he arrived in Medfield had begun to develop his own unique style which broke all the traditional rules for landscape painting. Inness, his wife Lizzie and their five children rented the house which still stands today at 406 Main St. and the artist set up his studio in the barn behind the house. One of the paintings he did, during what Inness called the “Medfield Period” of his life from 1859-1864, was a landscape entitled “Summer, Medfield, Massachusetts.”

Perhaps Inness’ most famous work, “Peace and Plenty,” is a scene of the meadows and trees surrounding the Charles River. He left Medfield for Eaglewood, New Jersey in 1864. “Medfield,” he said,” was the peace haven, which allowed me to develop my own individual style from the ideas and inspiration of my European studies.” Inness died in 1894.

Jacob Cushman Drive - (off Planting Field Road) - Jacob R. Cushman purchased the estate on North Street opposite the current Post Office in 1836, which he occupied during the remainder of his life. In 1849, he bought the water rights on Baker’s Pond (Meetinghouse Pond) and built a small carriage shop for the manufacturing of horse drawn carriages. Eventually it was enlarged to five different buildings on the south and west end of the pond. The plant gave constant employment to fifteen skilled workmen.

The Medfield butcher wagon made there was in demand throughout New England. Jacob Cushman became a member of the Baptist Church in 1832 and remained one of it most active members until his death. Cushman was also a philanthropist and many of the poor in town were given money and assistance by Cushman. He served the town in various offices and was elected  state representative in the 1860’s and 1870’s.

He was deeply interested in the publication of the history of the town by William Tilden and through his efforts enough money was raised so illustrations could be put in the book.

Janes Avenue - (Main Street to North Street) - Walter Janes is known in Medfield’s history for the making of straw hats. In 1851, he began employing about 30 women to make straw hats in the old Unitarian parsonage (site of the present Montrose School on North Street) which was located next door to his home. From this humble beginning, the business, later under Daniel Curtis and son-in-law Edwin V. Mitchell, would go on to become the second largest straw and felt hat factory in the country. 

Loeffler Lane - (South Street to Planting Field Road) - Professor Charles Martin Loeffler, the distinguished composer and concertmaster with the Boston Sympathy Orchestra was here in Medfield, first as a summer guest and then as a year-round town resident. Led by his patrons, Isabella Stuart Gardner, the cream of Boston society came to Medfield for Loeffler’s “Sacred Concerts” conducted at St. Edward Church.

Guests included John Singer Sargeant, Amy Lowell, Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the BSO, the Birds of roofing fame, the Converses of sneaker fame, the Forbes of high finance, the Fullers, later of the Governor’s mansion and the McElwains whose shoe company was later known as Thom McAn’s.

About 1909, Loeffler made a permanent home here, purchasing an old farmhouse at 273 South St., which he restored. Loeffler later expanded his estate when he purchased property and a deserted house at 274 South St. This he converted into a music studio. Loeffler moved into his new house, which he named Meadowmere, he now preferred to be known as “Charles Martin Loeffler, the farmer of Medfield.” The Medfield community was well aware of Loeffler’s presence. The town knew that it had a famous musician in its midst.

Lowell Mason Road - (Green Street to North Street) - Lowell Mason was probably the most famous native-born musician in America. He had built a spectacular reputation as a choir director and teacher of music. He had revolutionized music education and was in constant demand as a lecturer. He had published many collections of sacred music, some of which sold into the hundreds of thousands. They achieved a degree of popularity almost unimaginable for a religious song today.

They were in every way “hit” tunes comparable to current popular songs. He became a household name throughout the country. His song “Nearer My God to Thee” was the last thing the passengers on the Titanic heard before being cast into the icy seas. On a cold, windy Sunday, Jan. 8, 1792 he was born on North Street in Medfield in the room and house that still stands today at its new location on Green Street.

He began in Boston a movement for the instruction of children in singing, which resulted in the introduction of musical instruction into the public schools. Because of this, he earned the title “Father of American Public School Music.” He is the main reason music is taught in the public schools in America today. He went on to become the conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society. He received the degree of Doctor of Music from the University of New York, the first degree of music ever confirmed in America. All told, he composed over 200 hymns. More than 500,000 copies of his church music books were sold by 1885. At his music academy, he educated a great number of teachers and awakened an enthusiasm in singing.

Metacomet Street - (South Street to Pleasant Street) - named after Metacomet, known as King Philip, chief of the Wampanoag Indians, who fought to regain his land in the King Philip War. Medfield was one of the towns attacked during the war.

Miller Street - (Main Street to Oak Street) - named after the Miller Family who owned the property where the street is located. The street was accepted as a town street in 1891. The Miller Homestead was torn down in 1967 to make way for the Needham Cooperative Bank.

Mitchell Street/Place - (Vinald Road to Cottage Street) - named after Col. Edwin V. Mitchell, owner of the hat factory and economically and politically the most powerful person in Medfield in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s.

Monks Way - (off Loeffler Lane) - named after artist John Austin Sands Monks, who lived and painted here and who studied under George Inness. He was an etcher of sheep, did the engravings in the History of Medfield 1650-1886 and designed our town seal.

Morse Drive - (off Partridge Road) - named in recognition of the Morse family, one of the first settlers in the town. The Morse family has played an important part in Medfield’s history for over 350 years.

Newell Drive - (off Brastow Drive) - named in recognition of the Newell family which have lived in Medfield since the 1700’s and have played an important part in Medfield’s history.

Newport Lane - (off Green Street) - named after Newport Green, a former slave who lived in that area and became a freeman and  fought in the Revolutionary War.

Nye Road - (off Main Street) - private road, named after the Nye family who were long time residents and who owned /lived in the house on 393 Main St. The property was recently subdivided and sold by the Nye family for the building of Nye Road.

Partridge Road - (Cypress Street to Green Street) - named in recognition of the Partridge family, one of the earliest settlers to the town.

Pederzini Drive - (off Main Street) - named in honor and recognition of Mario Pederzini and the Pederzini family, which lived in that area. Working under Dr. Goldthwait, Mario Pederzini was responsible for the skating and recreational activities that used to be in Rocky Woods and for the conservation efforts that saw the town purchase Noon Hill. He was also a long-time member of the Auxiliary Police and the Fire Department.

Philip Street - (South Street to Elm Street) - named after Metacomet, chief of the Wampanoag Indians, who was called King Philip. His efforts to save his lands became known as the King Philip War, in which the Town of Medfield was attacked.

Plimpton Circle - (off Marsh Drive) - named in recognition of the Plimpton family, one of the original settlers of the town. Plimpton family member played a major part in Medfield civic life and government for over 250 years

Prentiss Place - (off North Street) - named in honor and recognition of Rev. Thomas Prentiss, the town’s third minister at the First Parish Church. He lived in the present 133 North St. house.

Sanders Way - (off Pound Street) - named after Rev. Daniel Sanders, pastor of the Unitarian Church, first president of the University of Vermont and writer of Medfield’s history

Sewall Court - (off Tannery Drive) - named in honor and recognition of Rev. Charles Sewell, Medfield schoolteacher and Unitarian Church minister.

Shepherd Lane - (off Kaymark Drive) - named in recognition of the Shepherd family, one of the first settlers to Medfield. Their homestead was burnt during the Indian attack on Medfield in the King Philip War.

Stuart Street - (off Pondview Avenue) - named in recognition of the Stuart family that owned the property where the street is now located. The family lived on the Plain Street estate.

Upham Road - (Main Street to Frairy Street) - named after Thomas Upham who owned the property and lived on the Main Street estate next to Upham Road.

Vinald Road -(Cottage Street to Frairy Street) - the middle name of Col. Edwin Vinald Mitchell, owner of the hat factory and economically and politically the most powerful person in Medfield in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s.

Wight Street - (off Harding Street) - named in recognition of the Wight family who were one of the first thirteen original settlers to Medfield and who played an important part in Medfield’s history.

Wilson Street - (South Street to Snyder Road) - named in honor and recognition of Rev. John Wilson, Medfield’s first minister and early schoolmaster and doctor. His home stood where town hall is today.

Jean P. Raffin June 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Would love to see plans for a "DeSorgher Drive" in honor of Richard DeSorgher. His activities, accomplishments, and dedication to Medfield since he was a youngster to the present day, are truly worthy of such recognition. Must also put in a word for recognition to Bill Mann. From the time he was discharged from the army as an MP in the early 50's to his dedication to the Medfield Police Department, and rising right up to Chief of Police, his boundless energy and generosity have been a model for all to follow. As recently as Memorial Day, Bill served as Chairman of the events. I suggest changing the name of Park Street to William H. Mann Road.
Colleen M. Sullivan June 06, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I love both of your ideas, Jean......It is important to honor and celebrate these dedicated people of Medfield!
Osler Peterson June 06, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Great stuff Richard. I love seeing in the old photo of the Dwight-Derby House that the water of Meeting House Pond is up to the top of the stone walls. That pond would look much better and probably be better for the pond's health if we could keep the water up at that level. I have heard that when the water level is higher, that it then infiltrates into the basement of the Dwight-Derby House, and that is why the level is kept so low. Too bad, as it would look so much better to have the water level up to the top of the walls, as in that photo. Maybe there is a way around the problem.
Neala H. October 04, 2012 at 02:24 PM
It's funny reading these as we have done a ton of roofing work on some of these streets, but particularly Cohasset Massachusetts in general! http://www.olympicroofing.com/cohasset-ma-roofing/
Evan Walsh March 04, 2014 at 05:53 PM
"The Hamant House" Circa 1652 was just listed for sale. http://www.walshteam.com/the-hamant-house.asp

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