447 Worcester Street

447WorcesterSt_F_cropped_labeled

Photo taken by Joshua Dorin in May 2013

Click here for a map of the area

The history of 447 Worcester Street is complex, in large part because the structure consists of two once-detached buildings. It is believed that L. Allen Kingsbury built the older of the two structures – a simple 1½-story house — circa 1868 and sold it that year to David Smiley, whose ownership would only last until 1870. The house was then sold to Mary A. Warren, a single woman who operated a market out of the dwelling through the late-1880s. At some point in time between 1876 and 1888, a smaller separate building was built on the western half of the property where the flatiron (trapezoidal) building now stands. The history of this smaller building is unknown.

In 1890, Warren Sawyer, a retired businessman who had owned a successful leather store in Boston and now lived at 507 Worcester Street, purchased both properties (the dwelling and the smaller building). Five years later, he built the building on the western section of the property where the smaller building had once stood. This new building provided both commercial and residential space. From 1895 until 1900, it was home to the Maugus Press (later known as the Wellesley Press, which published the Wellesley Townsman for many years – its first location was in a small building to the rear of the Austin residence on Washington Street near the present site of Eaton Court).

After Sawyer’s death in 1911, the property passed to his daughter, Mary Cummings Sawyer. In 1919, she sold both buildings to Edward S. Nakashian, who started Nakashian Bros., a tailoring and garment cleaning business, with his brother, Jacob ‘Jack’ Nakashian.

Edward and Jack Nakashian were Armenian immigrants who had left their homeland to escape the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire, which threatened and eventually decimated Armenia. Although it is unknown when exactly the Nakashians arrived in the United States, Edward had become an American citizen by 1914. That year, he traveled to Cairo, Egypt — where many Armenians fled to safety — to find a young Armenian woman to marry. Following his marriage, Edward worked in the tailoring department of Filene’s in Boston. Jack, meanwhile, became skilled at cleaning garments at Lewandos and other leading cleaners in Boston. It is therefore not surprising that Nakashian Bros. found great success in Wellesley. In addition, in 1921, Edward formed a second business – Nakashian’s Rug Shop — selling and cleaning Oriental rugs. Unfortunately, the two brothers had a falling out around 1923, at which point Jack left Wellesley.

Nakashian Bros. and Nakashian’s Rug Shop originally occupied part of the first story of the flatiron building, but eventually took over most, if not all, of the ground floor. Soon enough, however, Edward Nakashian needed even more space and built three separate additions (in 1929, 1933, and 1938). The most notable of these additions occurred in 1933 during the construction of Route 9, which currently abuts against the north side of the property. Before the development of this highway, traffic along Worcester Street ran through Wellesley Hills Square passing by the south side of 447 Worcester Street. The Cochituate Aqueduct abutted the property to the north. When the highway and underpass were constructed, Edward expanded the north part of the flatiron building (while retaining its trapezoidal shape) and even installed a second entrance on that side in order to attract more customers. It is believed that the 1938 renovations resulted in the connection of the 1½-story dwelling and the flatiron building.

For the first two decades that he worked in Wellesley, Edward Nakashian lived with his wife and six children on the second story of the flatiron building. In 1941, they moved into a newly constructed house at 48 Bancroft Road, renting out their old apartment for several years before adapting the second floor for office and business space. Edward also rented out the second floor of the 1½-story dwelling for a number of years. In 1950, only a few years before his retirement, Edward sold the entire property.

Early tenants of 447 Worcester Street (during Nakashian’s ownership) include Yeoman’s Hardware, the Wellesley Hills Shoe Shop, and the real estate and insurance office of Weld Robinson and Fred Crowther. More recent tenants include the Wellesley Hills Rug Shop, Towers Real Estate, L&M Lock, Mayflower Moving, and Ed’s Antiques. For many years, the first floor of the 1½–story house served as the Mary French Dance Studio and then the Arthur Murray Dance Studio.

Sources:

  • Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
  • Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (1876)
  • Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (1888)
  • Atlas of Wellesley, Massachusetts (1897)
  • Atlas of Wellesley, Massachusetts (1935)
  • Annual Town Reports of Wellesley, Massachusetts: 1888, 1895, 1896
  • Wellesley Townsman: 1 December 1911; 2 May 1919; 7 October 1921; 1 June 1923; 6 February 1925; 19 July 1929; 12 February 1932; 27 October 1933; 27 May 1938; 10 April 1941; 2 February 1950 10 May 1956; 24 May 1956; 17 January 1963; 24 July 1986
  • Interview with Alice (Nakashian) Erickson, daughter of Edward S. Nakashian, on 11 March 2013

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