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The Odd Fellows Home, Worcester - Lost

The Romanesque Revival style Odd Fellows Home was opened in 1892 to serve as a home for aged members of the fraternal order. A 1902 Classical Revival wing expanded the building’s capacity. Sited on a hilltop overlooking Worcester, the Odd Fellows Home provided sweeping views of the city for its residents. A much-loved local landmark, the building’s five-story clock tower was visible from around the city. One of a number of hospitals and institutions built on the outskirts of Worcester at the end of the 19th century, the Odd Fellows Home occupied this grand building for nearly 100 years until the organization opened a modern facility next door in 1990. After a portion of the building served as a church for a few years, the building was left vacant and deteriorated from a lack of maintenance. The current owner purchased the Odd Fellows Home with the intent to demolish the building and replace it with a single-story nursing home. The demolition was completed during July and August of 2014.

Below are photographs of the Odd Fellows Home during a visit with the current owner in 2012.

The Toll House, Hopkinton - Update

My previous post on the Toll House and its history can be found here.

Recently, while working on another project, I came across a series of images in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society. I generally do not check AAS during projects, because in the past I've found that their local history collections are not as strong as what I can find at town libraries or historical societies. However these photographs were taken by Harriette Merrifield Forbes (1856-1951) as she documented 17th and 18th century buildings in central Massachusetts. The AAS has a collection of 853 negatives of pictures Forbes took between 1887 and 1945. The AAS lists these digitized photographs by place on their website, and although I was working in another town, I took a look at the few pictures Forbes had taken in Hopkinton. Two of these, taken April 5, 1931, were listed as the Claflin House on Framingham Road. Imagine my surprise when I opened these and found the picture below - what is labeled as the Raftery and Smith house in various sources and at the Hopkinton Library!

Photo from the collection of the American Antiquarian Society.

Photo from the collection of the American Antiquarian Society.

This is a much clearer, higher-quality image of the Smith/Raftery homestead, and is also taken from a different angle than all the other images of the house that I've seen. Fortunately, this angle faces west, and if you look close enough, shows just a little bit of the Toll House to the west of the main house.

Between the front yard trees and the larger house, the Toll House is visible. We can learn a few different things from this photo. First, the road was much further away from the house than it is today. Today, a stone retaining wall is only a few feet in front of the house, but when this photo was taken in 1931, there was a sizeable yard that sloped down to the street. Second, the larger 18th century house appears to be in the area of what is today a driveway onto Weston Nurseries' landscape yard, and it also possibly stood on some wetlands that are in that area. Third, the larger house was still standing when this photo was taken in 1931. So although we don't know exactly what happened to the building (whether it was torn down or moved), it existed a few decades into the 20th century. Today there is a large mid-20th century barn/garage in the area where the larger house stood, suggesting the house was removed around that time and the barn/garage built in its place.

The photograph is a wonderful find, because it confirms what until this point had been speculation, well-documented though it was. The photograph (and the one below, also from AAS's Forbes collection) provide a much more detailed view of the large 18th century Smith/Raftery House. It would have been an impressive building for the time, and would have stood out on the road from Hopkinton to Framingham.