Welcome to the Southborough Historic Homes database. Homes and structures built before 1925 and included on the Southborough Historical Buildings Survey are listed here. The properties are listed alphabetically by street name and number.
Disclaimer: This compilation is provided merely for the convenience of the online viewer interested in history and should not be considered complete or definitive for legal purposes. To verify that your property is in fact subject to Southborough’s Historic Demolition Delay Bylaw, please contact the Building Commissioner at the Southborough Town Hall.
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As you can see from this photo of Fayville Hall from the 1918, pandemics are nothing new. Southborough has been struck by waves of disease, from cholera to scarlet fever. (This last was thought to be born by dogs, and resulted in the strict licensing and fee structure still in place today.)
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in Southborough in many different ways and each of us is an eyewitness to this important time in our history. The Southborough Historical Society hopes to accurately preserve this moment in time by launching “Coronavirus Pandemic: A Photographic Portrait of Southborough.”
The goal is to preserve images of our daily lives during this crisis and to provide future historians, researchers and students with information on life in our community during this pandemic and how it affected our daily lives.
And, we need everyone’s help. SHS is seeking photographs that demonstrate the impact of coronavirus and COVID-19 on Southborough and its residents.
Are you keeping a COVID-19 journal? Have you taken a porch portrait of your family? Do you work on the front lines of the pandemic response or are deemed an essential worker? In what ways have you seen our community unite? Have you been personally affected by the illness or repercussions of the economic fallout? How does homeschooling and social distancing affect your children and their lives? Have you seen empty store shelves and other images symbolic of how things have changed? We encourage you to share photographs of pandemic experiences in the context of your daily lives.
It is a time when face masks, closed business, and working from home has become our new normal. For many of us, this may be the most historical moment of our lives and we need to preserve and archive this for posterity. By recording how the virus has changed our daily life, we will ensure the stories are available to provide valuable insight for future generations. Each contribution will help ensure evidence of this time for future research, reference and exhibits.
Please provide as many photographs as you feel are important. If you would prefer to send images directly through email, or have any questions, concerns, or thoughts about the project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Southborough Historical Society is dedicated to discovering and safekeeping the stories of our community. Archived within our collections and entrusted to our care are stories of family, growth and perseverance. As we navigate through these difficult times, we must continue to collect and ensure that these experiences in our community are preserved for later generations.
Thank you for your contribution and your help in building history.
By submitting to the Southborough Historical Society collection, you are agreeing to the terms within this disclaimer document.
All submissions will be moderated before being made available publicly. The Southborough Historical Society reserves the right to not accept a submission should it not fit the theme and intent of the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Portrait of Southborough project, per the discretion of SHS staff.
I thought perhaps you would like a bit of good news for a change.
Just before the COVID crisis hit, the Board of the Southborough Historical Society purchased and donated to the town a 12′ tall Princeton elm. It was planted in the field beside the museum (with the kind assistance of DPW head Karen Galligan) to replace one of the huge sugar maples that recently failed. This new variety has been field tested over the last few decades and has proven resistant to the Dutch elm disease. With any luck, this tree will shortly grow into a sizable specimen, giving shade to grateful future generations. To our knowledge, it is the first new elm planted along the roadways of Southborough in half a century.
And also, we are delighted to announce that the first crop of our new Lyscom apple trees will be available for sale shortly. (You’ll perhaps remember that the Lyscom originated here in the 1730s) Again, thanks to Karen, grafts from the sole surviving tree were taken several years ago, and 15 or so are now ready to find new homes. More on that soon.
Among the Fay correspondence the Society is publishing for the first time ever this winter, we found a remarkable letter that chronicles the almost superhuman effort it took to travel by land before the railroad system linked the continent in the 1860s and 70s. Although not stated in the account, it seems fairly clear that Fay took on this arduous 1836 journey from Boston to St. Louis to act as a business agent, looking for profitable investment opportunities for wealthy Boston clients.
In this first installment, our hero Colonel Francis B. Fay, late of Southborough, finds himself ill-housed, ill-used, battered about, and eventually, submerged in Lake Erie….
On board the steamboat Dayton, on the Ohio River between Mariette Ohio and Pittsburgh
November 2nd 1836
The time passing rather tedious—being penned up in a steamboat for 8 or 10 days without any relief, I made up my mind to give you a little history of my journey and adventures, although it is not very easy to write on a steamboat constantly shaking and trembling under the tremendous power of the engine and you may find some difficulty in deciphering all the [illegible} of the scroll.
I left Boston, as you know, September 12 at 1 PM and arrived at Providence at 4. [Presumably by the brand-new Boston and Providence Railroad, just finished the year before]. Went on board steamboat Massachusetts, had fog all the way through the [Long Island] sound which retarded out passage, arrived at New York the 13th at 7 AM, too late for the morning boat up the North [Hudson] River. Stayed in New York till five PM, took a boat for Albany and arrived there 6 AM; left there and arrived at Utica at 1 PM. 482 miles in 48 hours from home, having stopped 8 hours in Utica and 2 in Albany.
[This was breath-taking speed for 1836 and would have been a thing of wonder. Compare this to daily sums later in the letter.]
I there took a canal boat for Syracuse—61 miles where we arrived at 6 AM on the 15th. We there left the canal and took stage for Canandaigua passing through Auburn, Waterloo, and Geneva, and other beautiful towns to arrive at Canandaigua. Quarreled the stage agent for imposition, [unclear what this means, though presumably a disagreement about the fare] left that route and took the stage for Rochester and from there took stage for Buffalo through Lenox and Batavia, the last notorious for the scene of the Morgan abduction.
[Fay’s reference to the “Morgan abduction” refers to one William Morgan, a resident of Batavia, New York, whose disappearance and presumed murder in 1826 ignited a powerful movement against the Freemasons, a fraternal society that had become influential in the United States. After Morgan announced his intention to publish a book exposing Freemasonry’s secrets, he was arrested on trumped-up charges. He disappeared soon after, and was believed to have been kidnapped and killed by Masons from western New York. The allegations surrounding Morgan’s disappearance and presumed death sparked a public outcry.]
Arrived at Buffalo on Saturday noon Sept 17th and remained there over Sunday and Monday. At 10 AM started in the steamboat General Porter up Lake Erie. Went for 45 miles, [before we] struck a rock near Dunkirk and stove a hole through her bottom, ran her into the harbor where she sank a few feet from the wharf with 3 feet of water in her cabin, and 700 passengers on board, men, women and children of all sorts of sizes, ages, conditions making one little world by ourselves. What may seem incredible too is that boats leave daily from Buffalo with an average of 700 or 800 passengers, mostly immigrants moving to the west. Here we were—700 of us—shipwrecked in a little village of some 30 to 50 houses. Our company consisted of 7 men on shore while the others got out our baggage near up the wharf. [We] chartered a wagon to carry us 3 miles to the stage road at Fredonia. We got there and chartered the only stage there for $20 to take us to Erie PA—50 miles. Before our stage was ready, swarms of passengers arrived from the boat wanting conveyance but they arrived “just in season to be too late.” We went on to Erie and from there by stage to Cleveland Ohio, about 110 miles. We there got on board the steamboat Thomas Jefferson and arrived at Detroit Michigan in about 24 hours. We there breakfasted and took another boat, came back down the Detroit River across the westerly shore of Lake Erie to Toledo at the mouth of the Maumee River. Again took a steamboat and went 8 miles up the Maumee to Perrysburg, the head of navigation on that river. This was Friday evening.
On Saturday we purchased horses, saddles, bridles, portmanteaus, leggings etc and on Sunday at 2 PM commenced our tour up the Maumee River through the woods on horseback to Fort Defiance at the conjunction of the St. Josephs River and the Auglaize River, whose junction forms the Maumee. We made 18 miles and put up at a house (a tavern it could not be called) kept by a man, half-French, half-Indian. We had a comical supper and were put to bed in a chamber— 8 beds, or more properly, substitutes for beds, where we stowed away, 18 of us men women and children, windows with more than half the glass out, and we had to put in our hats and coats to fill in the gaps. The next day we reached Ft. Defiance after a 38 miles ride through mud & ravines almost perpendicular—down and up through mud sloughs, fording rivers, etc. etc.
There is a little village at Defiance and a tolerable tavern where we fared comfortably. Fort Defiance is well named, it’s situation is most commanding being directly up the point where the two rivers meet, with the guns so arranged as to point down the Maumee and up the St. Joseph and Auglaize, with a high embankement and a deep ditch in the rear from river to river. I think troops stationed there might well defy an enemy. The village is situated directly in the rear of the fort and is very pleasant.
In leaving Ft. Defiance we commenced a journey of 50 miles through the forest where there was no road but for a path for man and horse through swamps [and] deep ravines. We would descend 50-75 feet almost perpendicular, the horses sometimes sliding from top to bottom unable to keep a foothold. At the bottom there were mud sloughs and water up to our horses bellies and immediately afterwards we would ascend almost perpendicular, obliged to hold onto the horses’ manes and let our horse keep prone step to step and with the greatest effort reach the top. The first night we put up at a log cabin of two rooms (about half a dozen of which were all the inhabitants there were between Ft Defiance and Ft Wayne—50 miles)
We had a supper I believe such as never before ate—meat that had been cooked some 8 or 10 times and fish which was not cooked without salt or butter. We were sent to bed under the roof (if roof it might be called) by a flight of stairs outside with no door and the logs so far apart that it appeared more of a cob house than a dwelling, stowed in with corn, oats, boxes, herbs, etc with 4 (what were called) beds. We stayed there till morning during a raging[?] night and had the same provision for breakfast and it was again set before 5 others travelers who came up just as we left.
The next day we passed Fort Wayne, a small little town, and commenced descending the Wabash River on a tow path of the Wabash Canal. That night we put up at a log house and had a splendid entertainment [the word here means “food and lodging”] as good as could be had in Boston. The next night we put up at another log house and fared comfortably. The owner was formerly from Massachusetts.
The next day we came to Logansport, a fine town in Indiana at the junction of the Wabash and Eel Rivers. In the meantime, I saw plenty of Indians and among them the head chief of the Miami Tribe who dresses and appears like a gentleman. He is said to be the richest man in Indiana, supposed to be worth $400,000. There was a collection of 11,000 Indians near Logansport to receive their pensions from government. But a quarrel ensued between them, and the whites and the militia [were] call out and two or three [Indians] killed before order was restored. We saw the troops just returning as we entered Logansport.
We left Logansport in the afternoon and went 6 miles to a small tavern on the banks of the Wabash and here my scene of troubles began….
This winter we will be researching and digitizing the unpublished papers of Francis B. Fay in our collection, another SHS first.
This name may be familiar to you as the founder of our library (the second oldest public library in the nation, btw) but the industrious Col. Fay did more than that single good deed. Born at Southborough in 1793, this remarkable self-made man with little formal education was Southborough Postmaster, Colonel of the Militia, a drover, and a successful merchant, roughly in that order. Seeing an opportunity in what was then the entirely undeveloped area of Chelsea, he acquired the ferry rights from Boston, and was one of the earlier settlers of that area. There he founded a bank, became Chelsea’s first mayor, served in both the state legislature and Congress, and late in life became interested in education for women, helping found one of the first modern reform schools in Lancaster as an alternative to prison, all the while keeping an eye on events of his beloved Southborough.
“Harrington was a lawyer, a former Worcester postmaster, a former state representative and a dedicated foe of the prohibition – temperance movement. He also had a newspaper career. He wrote for Liberty of the Press, a strongly anti-temperance sheet, and edited a weekly, The Worcester Republican, for a while. It was a supporter of Andrew Jackson.
During his term as postmaster, he was embroiled in a counterfeiting scheme, and disappeared from Worcester for a few years. Harrington also was opposed to the anti-slavery, Abolitionist movement that was centered in Worcester, where Eli Thayer was organizing the New England Emigrant Aid Society. It enlisted free men to go to the newly opened territory of Kansas and settle it as a free state in opposition to the slaveholders pouring in from the South.”
So given Harrington’s predilections and subsequent actions, it’s pretty safe to assume that Harrington had probably sent a fiery letter to Fay, trying to rally his fellow postmaster to the Jacksonian cause. Here is Fay’s reply:
Southborough January 30th 1830
Your esteemed favor the 22nd inst. came safe to hand and contents noticed.
(This is 19th-century speak for “your letter of the 22nd of this month duly received and read; “inst.” is an abbreviation for the Latin instante mense, meaning a date of the current month.)
It may be somewhat difficult for me in a few words to communicate to you my views upon the subject of your letter without being liable to be misunderstood or supposed to be laid under obligations express or implied which were not intended. But as I am at all times ready to give my opinion upon any subject within my comprehension freely and undisguised, I will endeavor to communicate to you my views and feelings upon the subject before us.
First, I am no partisan. I never have, nor do I yet think it my duty to attach myself to any party, religious, political, Masonic, anti-Masonic, so far as to approve measures because they belong to my party. I know no party but the nation, or any policy but national policy which I am bound to support. Thus if I belong to any party that must be named, that name must be American. Again, I am no “Fence Man.” My opinion upon any measure I am free to express. But one virtuous act of a man does not satisfy me that he cannot do wrong; neither does one error induce me to reject him altogether. Upon this principle I believe Adams and Jackson both have many virtues and both some vices, but either [is] qualified to discharge the duties of the office of the President of the United States.
(The election of 1828 had pitted Andrew Jackson against John Quincy Adams—essentially a repeat of the election of 1824, in which no candidate had received a majority of the electoral votes. Therefore the election was decided for Adams by the House of Representatives, according to the 12th Amendment. In 1828, after a bitterly fought rematch, Jackson clearly won the popular and electoral vote, to the disgust of the Federalists.)
In short, both are “more sinned against than sinner” and I am decidedly opposed to the violent measures frequently adopted to subserve the interests of men rather than the good of the nation. I understand that the remark of the illustrious Jefferson is yet good that “we are all Federalists, all Republicans.”
As an officer of the government (Fay was at the time the Soutborough Postmaster) I consider it my duty to support that government in all its “Republican Measures” tending to the welfare and happiness of the nation. With the policy of the present Administration (so far as I understand it) I am disposed generally (though not interminably) to cooperate.
The message of the President is the best I have seen—and the views and principles therein expressed are my own—with some few exceptions—and so long as the government is administered conformably to the principles there developed, I shall be “Friendly to the present Administration,” but whenever I may have occasion to disapprove any act of this or any other Administration, I reserve the right to express my disapprobation openly and decidedly though at all times respectfully and dispassionately.
I have thus hastily endeavored to give you some idea of my political creed— the polar star of which is: “measures are not men.”
In haste, I am respectfully your obedient servant
Francis B Fay
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be inspired by Colonel Fay’s advice, and do what’s best for the country regardless of party in this election year?
Who knows—miracles can happen.
Happy New Year Everyone, and please don’t forget to contribute to our annual appeal if you haven’t already.
Tomorrow is our Town election. We have four candidates on the ballot for two open Selectman slots. Each has distinct views. Read about them here, and GO VOTE! The election will depend on a handful of ballots, truly! Southborough is at a tipping point in terms of historic preservation, open space and our quality of life. If you care, lend your voice! YOUR VOTE WILL COUNT!
Our thanks to all four candidates for running, and god bless us all, everyone!
The Southborough Historical Society is excited to bring Sheryl Faye’s performance of “Sally Ride – America’s First Woman Astronaut” to the Museum and Archives on Saturday, March 9 at 2 pm. Sheryl Faye brings a powerful and inspiring message to anyone interested in space exploration and science.
Since 2003, Sheryl Faye has masterfully brought to life important historical women to both children and adults. In her one-woman shows, she immerses the audience in a multimedia learning experience that captivates viewers and sparks their interested to explore more.
This event is especially suitable for children, but people of all ages will enjoy the show! Sally Ride’s story is the second in a series of three performances the SHS is offering this spring.
The Southborough Historical Society is pleased to announce a day-long program of activities to celebrate Southborough History on Heritage Day!
The new Mysteries of the Past Game: Correctly identify all seven antique objects and win! First Prize: a $250 Amazon Gift Card! Second and Third Prizes will also be awarded. Entry Forms are $5, one per person and will be available both on the field and at the Museum. Play starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 1:00 PM. Winners wills be announced at 2:00 PM.
A self-guided tour of the recently restored Old Burial Ground, entitled What Lies Beneath, revealing the fascinating history of Southborough’s buried past. Tour booklets will be available at the Southborough Historical Society booth and also at the Museum at 25 Common Street. Volunteers will be present in the Burial Ground throughout the morning and early afternoon.
Brand new exhibits at the Museum, highlighting Deerfoot Farms, Southborough and the Railroad, and the History of Fayville, among others.
As more and more of the Society’s collections come online, we can begin to show you some pretty amazing things. Take for instance this 3-minute trip down Main Street, put together using just a few of the historic photos in our collections. In this video, I wanted to showcase the losses our Main Street has suffered over the last century. Once a vibrant small-town commercial and residential area, disastrous demolitions and total lack of urban planning has resulted in a broken architectural fabric without cohesion or purpose. It’s not too late though: the planned reconstruction of Main Street, plus thoughtful architectural additions that respect the style and scale of the area, could yet return Main Street to a viable, pedestrian friendly destination—exactly the result an effective historic district could provide. It’s time to get serious about restoring Main Street—not just the roadway—but the useful vibrancy of this important part of our heritage. Who among us wouldn’t benefit from that?
This video, by the way, is meant to be a trial-of-concept for a new book we are contemplating, Lost Southborough, that would show you then-and-now views of many spots around Town. If we can get the project launched this fall and winter, it would be our first new book in 40 years.