175 Weston Road

175WestonRoadC_cropped_labeled

Photo taken by Joshua Dorin in May 2013

Click here for a map of the area

The house at 175 Weston Road was built by Patrick O’Connell (1860-1942) in 1897, the year of his marriage to Elizabeth C. Gavin (1861-1930). The O’Connell family – Maurice (c.1823-1884) and Mary O’Connell (1837-1922) and their children, including Patrick – had immigrated to the United States from Limerick, Ireland around 1863. Eight years later, they settled in Wellesley at 227 Weston Road. It wasn’t until 1894 that Mary conveyed to Patrick a large tract of land along Weston Road to the southeast of the O’Connell family homestead. (This land was previously given to Patrick’s brother, Michael H. O’Connell. After Michael’s death in 1892, the undeveloped property returned to his mother’s ownership.)

In addition to erecting the house at 175 Weston Road for himself and his new wife, Patrick O’Connell subdivided the land between the two O’Connell family dwellings (175 and 227 Weston Road). This subdivision included 27 small lots: 9 that fronted on Weston Road and 18 on O’Connell Avenue, a new street parallel to Weston Road. (In 1926, a majority of the residents living on O’Connell Avenue agreed to change its name to Avon Road. It might be of interest to know that the original O’Connell Avenue, however, only included a portion of Avon Road, extending from Curve Street to the current location of Maurice Road. By 1926, O’Connell Avenue had been extended to the northwest, over land formerly owned by Mary O’Connell, and connected with Weston Road.) Although Patrick O’Connell sold many of these lots undeveloped, he may have built several houses within his subdivision.

Before he settled into a career in real estate and development, Patrick O’Connell had worked with his brothers in the livery business. In 1885, they built a large stable and barn on Central Street at the current location of the Colonial Building (at the western corner of the Crest Road bridge). These large wooden barns housed the horses and buggies that served as Wellesley’s taxi fleet during the late 19th Century. (On a related note, in 1908, Patrick O’Connell was one of the first residents in town to purchase an automobile.) In either 1904 or 1905, O’Connell sold the stables to Frederick H. Diehl, the son and brother of the founders of F. Diehl & Son, Inc. The stables were razed in 1927.

Patrick O’Connell also helped organize the Wellesley Volunteer Fire Department and served on the force for many years. His stables on Central Street even housed all of the fire equipment, including the horses that pulled the hose wagons. And although the first fire station in Wellesley was erected in 1890 (nearby on the current site of the parking lot on Church Street directly to the rear of the former Filene’s building), the fire department’s horses were housed at these stables well into the 20th Century.

Patrick O’Connell lived at 175 Weston Road until his death in 1942, at which point the house passed to Janet Margaret Malcolm. Her relationship to O’Connell is unclear, but she seems to have been an orphan who lived there as a young girl. (The O’Connells had two biological children, but both died before adulthood.)

Soon thereafter, on June 12, 1943, the house became part of meteorological history when a tornado touched down on Weston Road. Although the house survived the twister, many of its windows were broken, a downed tree damaged its roof, and the front of the house was completely covered with mud from the Victory Gardens on the opposite side of Weston Road. The tornado then continued south along Weston Road before traveling down Leighton Road, Dover Road, and Grove Street, exiting into Needham.

Malcolm sold 175 Weston Road in 1944 to James Forrest Folsom, a civil engineer and surveyor, who subdivided the property into three lots in 1959-60. A barn that was located to the north of the house that Patrick O’Connell is believed to have built in 1902 was moved to the rear of the lot and converted into a residence (74 Curve Street). A new house (78 Curve Street) was built on the former site of the barn.

74CurveStreetB_cropped_labeled

74 Curve Street — former barn of 175 Weston Road
(Photo taken by Joshua Dorin in May 2013)

Sources:

  • Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
  • Wellesley Building Department
  • Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (1888)
  • Atlas of Wellesley, Massachusetts (1897)
  • Annual Town Reports of Wellesley, Massachusetts: 1884-1905
  • Wellesley Townsman: 25 October 1908; 6 May 1910; 7 November 1913; 6 May 1921; 31 March 1922; 7 August 1925; 15 January 1926; 4 June 1926; 5 October 1928; 8 February 1929; 24 October 1930; 8 February 1935; 10 April 1941; 14 May 1942; 17 June 1943; 24 May 1956; 4 April 1963; 10 September 1964
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