The brook's mansion gone.
THREE years since, the register, under the caption ‘Passing of a Medford Estate,’ made note of some of the features of the ancestral home of the Brooks family on Grove street. Since then new streets have been opened and houses erected, in number upward of fifty, and of these but few are for two families. The stone [p. 41] walls along High and Grove streets are largely removed, the carriage stable utilized (in another location) for a storehouse, and within recent days the mansion house has been demolished. A visit to the grounds reveals a scene of wreck, in marked contrast to the once stately residence and well-kept grounds that housed four generations for over a century. Few pictures of it have ever come to our knowledge. First, the steel engraving by F. C. Stuart in Brooks' History of Medford, from a drawing by A. L. Rawson. This does not show the wing that extended westerly and which was three stories in height, while the main house was but two. This would lead to the inference that the wing was of a later construction.1 (A peculiarity of the engraving is that it reproduces itself by contact with the opposite page.) Then, in the register alluded to, is a distant view of the mansion from another point, as the background of the Indian monument as it was first located. This view was from the south-east, while the former was from north-east. The illustration of this issue shows the front from Grove street and was secured at about the time of the removal of the last Brooks family. The house was built in the early years of the nineteenth century, perhaps begun in 1802 and finished in 1806, as nearly as we can learn. In its mode of construction the workmen of today might well take lessons, but the like of its lumber they have not used, nor ever will. Its hewn timbers were of pine and the same style of framing was followed in the partitions as in the outer walls, and the posts and beams were of generous size. The nails used to secure the covering boards and finish were all hand made, for this was all executed before the invention of nail-making machinery. The modern planing and moulding machines found no place in any part of its construction. The builders of those days had to take their material in the rough, and they knew how to do it. It was an art—the making of everything and the skilful joining of every part—that but few of the mechanics of today know of. But it took time to do work [p. 42] thus, and so it is not surprising that four years elapsed ere the house was complete and ready for occupancy. Its owner and first occupant was in his time reputed to be the wealthiest man in New England, and, what is more to the point, had amassed his fortune in honorable, legitimate business. The mansion completed, he retired, and for over forty years made this his summer home. While the mansion was in building the Middlesex canal was opened across his lands, and thirty-three years later came the railway. The former he spanned by a beautiful arch of granite, that his descendants kept intact long after the ‘highway of the waters’ vanished, but which is now a thing of the past. Near the house were venerable oaks, spreading elms and ever-green pines, the growth of many years. To these, and along his borders, Mr. Brooks added many others; and so the grounds came to be a place of beauty as the years passed on. But in the development of a modern residence section the stately mansion of a century ago was not adapted, and, impracticable to remodel, it has succumbed to inevitable fate. Its occupants for the century have been good citizens, generous and helpful, and are remembered as such. A few weeks more and the last vestige of the house so well and favorably known will have disappeared, new streets been opened and the homes of new-comers taken the place of the mansion house of Peter Chardon Brooks on Grove street.
M. W. M.