previous next

The passing of a Medford estate.

For two hundred and fifty years the name of Brooks has been associated with Medford, as Thomas Brooks bought part of the Cradock farm in 1660. His son Caleb lived in the ‘mansion house’ of Golden Moore, mentioned by Edward Collins in his deed. Since Caleb (the first resident of the Brooks name), successive generations have there had their homes until the recent sale of the estate (including the mansion built by Peter C. Brooks in 1802) to a real estate trust. During the century gradual disposals have been made, but the latest will produce the change most marked.

In 1803 the Middlesex canal, and in 1835 the Lowell railroad, were opened for travel through it. Early in the fifties the southern portion came into the possession of Thomas P. Smith. Oak Grove Cemetery is in the northern border, and also enlarged from this estate. Next, the Playstead took a portion along Whitmore brook, and the residential section near the Gleason school followed. In more recent years the Mystic Valley Parkway has bordered the lake, and the Mystic hickories that were sizable trees when Paul Revere rode by, overlook its winding way.

In the years before the Revolution the home of another Thomas Brooks, ‘the marrying justice,’ was at the right of Grove street. The spot is marked by ‘the old slave wall,’ and the great black-walnut tree stood before it. It was demolished in 1865, after the building of the stone house on the hill top. Just across the road was the home of Rev. Edward Brooks, who rode away ‘in his full bottomed wig,’ and gun in hand followed the British troops on the eventful morning of the first Patriots' Day. This [p. 31] has also gone, probably after his son Peter C., built the present mansion.

In improving his estate he erected, in 1820, a granite arch spanning the canal, at a cost of a thousand dollars. Its architect was George Rumford Baldwin, who had just attained his majority, and this was one of his earliest works. The name of the builder is unknown, but it is related that fifty years afterward he came and viewed with pleasure and satisfaction the work of his younger days. The granite composing it was boated from Concord, N. H., down the Merrimac and the canal.

For a little over thirty years its graceful curves were reflected in the placid waters till the canal was abandoned, killed by the rival railroad. Three years later Rev. Charles Brooks wrote of it, hoping it would ‘always remain, a gravestone to mark where the highway of the waters lies buried.’ For fifty-six years it had thus remained, when one day, after an imperilled year of doubtful fate, it was, stone by stone, pulled down. Thus ‘a thing of beauty,’ missed by many, was sacrificed in the extension of Boston avenue along the old canal site.

It has been said that the ‘Real Estate Trust’ was ignorant of its historic associations, and had so far progressed as to make change in its plans impracticable. However this may be, this bridge, the admired subject of frequent remark, the study of architects and artists and well known by its numerous pictures, succumbed to the commercialism of today.

It might have been a valuable asset in an artistic survey of the once beautiful estate, the central object in a park that would have added beauty thereto, whose value need not be estimated in square feet of land and less by cubic feet of stone.

In later years, during some excavation, an Indian burial place was found. The bones of the aborigines thus exhumed were given appropriate sepulture by Mr. Francis Brooks, and a unique monument erected with this inscription, ‘To Sagamore John and those Mystic Indians [p. 32] whose bones lie here.’ In recent time this monument, with the vault beneath, has been placed near the bridge site by the present owners of the estate, where it is hoped it may ever remain. An account of the same may be found in the Medford Mercury, as also in a previous issue a detailed description of the bridge.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Whitmore Brook (Vermont, United States) (1)
Concord, N. H. (New Hampshire, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1865 AD (1)
1835 AD (1)
1820 AD (1)
1803 AD (1)
1802 AD (1)
1660 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: