The William T. Metcalf House: Home of Historians

    The people who have lived at 15 Hastings Street have had a special place in Mendon's history. They
    represent families who have made significant contributions to researching and preserving the town's
    great heritage, and some of them have links to the settlement of Mendon in the 1660s. They are
    related to the earliest generation of families who carved a community out of the forested land of the
    Nipmucs and first tilled the soil of the town's rich farmland. The town's historic families who have
    been associated with this house are the Metcalf, Aldrich, Taft, Lowell, and Devries families. They have
    carried the torch of history, and the light from this torch has illuminated our knowledge of the past.

    William Metcalf built this Greek revival home in 1832, nestled on a hillside just west of Willow Brook. It
    was a short distance from the home of his brother, Dr. John Metcalf, town physician and historian.
    William married Sarah A. Payson in 1836, and the following year they had a daughter, Sarah Jane
    Metcalf. He was a respected builder and town official . He resided here until his death in 1874, and his
    wife continued to live here until 1907, when she died at age 91.

    Sarah Jane was obviously inspired by her Uncle John's love of history, as she married Marcus Aldrich
    in the 1860s, a man whose devotion to his town was exceptional. He was one of the founders of the
    Mendon Historical Society in 1896, and he spearheaded the drive to preserve the site of the town's
    first three meeting houses in 1905 in honor of the first settlers. He named it Founders' Park. He was a
    descendant of George Aldrich, a founding father. They lived at 3 Elm Street and 45 North Avenue, but
    from 1899 until 1907, they resided at 15 Hastings Street to provide full-time care for Sarah Jane's
    ailing mother. Their children were Carrie, Annie, and Frank.

    Frank Aldrich married Florence Taft.  Their daughter, Florence Aldrich, was born in 1890. She was an
    avid historian, like her parents, grandparents, and uncle. She wrote many articles for the historical
    society.   Most assuredly, she was a frequent visitor to 15 Hastings Street.

    The Taft connection continued in 1940, when Harold and Charlotte Lowell moved to this house.
    Harold's mother was Grace Taft, a sister of Florence Taft Aldrich. Their ancestry went back to Robert
    and Sarah Taft, who built a home near the shores of Lake Nipmuc in 1679, when the town was being
    re-settled after the King Philip War. Linwood and Berneta Lowell grew up here. Berneta and her
    husband, Herman Devries, have lived here since they were married. Sadly, Herman passed away
    earlier this year. (2011) Berneta has a great knowledge of Mendon history, and she has been an
    active member of the historical society and the Taft Family Association. Her aunt, Martha Lowell, was
    an ardent historian, and  her relatives, David and Jane Lowell, are actively involved in preserving the
    town's lore. There are many Taft cousins who are active historians.

    Fifteen Hastings Street has been a gateway to the past.  Families who have lived here have passed
    the torch of history to the next generation. They have kept the fire burning. They have been keepers of
    the flame.

    Richard Grady   
    Mendon, MA

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