49 Woodlawn Avenue

49Woodlawn5_labeled

Photo taken by Joshua Dorin in April 2013

Click here for a map of the area

Built in 1879 by Hezekiah Fuller (1817-1882), the house at 49 Woodlawn Avenue was the second house Fuller erected on an eight-acre tract of land currently bounded by Washington Street, Woodlawn Avenue, Elm Street, and Fuller Road. (The first house he erected was his own residence at 187 Washington Street. It is a late example of Greek Revival architecture that he built in 1847 and it has been moved on the lot and significantly remodeled.) It is believed that the house at 49 Woodlawn Avenue served as the residence for several of his children, but may have also been used as an investment property. Hezekiah Fuller retained ownership of both houses until his death in 1882. However, his estate was not settled until 1907, when his son, Frank Louis Fuller, received title to 49 Woodlawn Avenue in exchange for his release from the rest of the estate (which was shared by his five siblings).

It should be noted that the Fullers were one of the most prominent families in Wellesley from the late 1700s until the mid-1900s. Although the Fuller family lived in Massachusetts as early as 1642 when English immigrant Ensign Thomas Fuller (1614-1690) settled in Dedham (to which Wellesley belonged at the time), it is believed that his descendants did not reside in what is now Wellesley until the late 1700s. At that time, two separate branches of the Fuller family (their most recent common ancestor being the aforementioned Thomas Fuller) settled in different parts of this town having previously lived in Needham. One branch settled along Great Plain Avenue and Wellesley Avenue, while a second branch settled at the northern end of Forest Street. Members of both branches were very active in political, ecclesiastical, and business affairs in Wellesley.

Hezekiah Fuller descended from the second branch of the family. Details regarding how he came to settle at 187 Washington Street are rather uncertain. He had most likely lived for some time near Wellesley Square with his father, also named Hezekiah Fuller (1780-1860), a longtime deacon at the Wellesley Village Congregational Church. The younger Hezekiah, however, was among a group of parishioners that defected from the church and formed the Orthodox Congregational Church (now the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church) in 1847. Coincidentally, this was also the year of his marriage, so it is probable that he moved close to where this new church was erected (on the site of the current church) to start his family. The younger Hezekiah Fuller, a carpenter, also constructed a number of other houses in Wellesley Hills, including the residence of Rev. Harvey Newcomb, the first pastor of the Orthodox Congregational Church, at 400 Worcester Street.

The younger Hezekiah’s son, Frank Louis Fuller (1855-1920) – the second owner (and possible resident) of 49 Woodlawn Avenue — was also a notable citizen in Wellesley. A graduate of M.I.T. in 1871, Frank Fuller spent his entire career as a civil engineer, specializing in the installations of water and sewer systems in cities and towns throughout New England, including Wellesley. He was also the longtime chairman of the Wellesley Water Board – an especially important position during the time that the town transitioned from a small rural town lacking indoor plumbing to a modern suburban community. In addition, Frank Fuller was active in the town’s successful fight for separation from Needham. His wife, Julia Latham (Morrill) Fuller (1853-1934) also was well known throughout town.  A member of the inaugural class of Wellesley College in 1875-76 (but left after one year), Julia Fuller was one of the founders of the Wellesley Women’s Christian Temperance Union that fought for prohibition during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. She was also extremely active in the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church and even bequeathed to the church her property at 201 Washington Street (where she and her husband lived for many years — the house was razed in 1944 and the land was used for the 1948-49 expansion of the church and the eastward extension of Chapel Place.   The Fullers did not have any children. The house at 49 Woodlawn Avenue was sold out of their family in 1920 following Frank Fuller’s death.

Sources:

  • Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
  • Map of the Town of Needham, Norfolk County, Mass. by Henry Francis Walling (1856)
  • Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (1876)
  • Atlas of Norfolk County, Massachusetts (1888)
  •  Atlas of Wellesley, Massachusetts (1897)
  •  Atlas of Wellesley, Massachusetts (1935)
  • Needham Chronicle: July 19, 1879
  • Annual Town Reports of Wellesley, Massachusetts: 1881, 1882, 1883, 1907, 1908, 1915
  • The History of Wellesley Congregational Church by Edward Herrick Chandler (1898)
  • Epitaphs from Graveyards in Wellesley by George Kuhn Clarke (1900)
  • History of the Town of Wellesley, Massachusetts by Joseph E. Fiske (1917)
  • Wellesley Townsman: 6 February 1920; 14 December 1923; 26 January 1934; 1 June 1945
  • Journal of the New England Water Works Association -Volume 34 (1920)
  • Transactions – Volume 83 by American Society of Civil Engineers (1921)
  • The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine – Volume 13 by Anthon Henrik Lund (1922)
  • General Catalogue of Wellesley College, 1875-1922, A Record of Officers and Students by Wellesley College (1923)

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