Mendon's Renaissance Man of the 1800s

    Dr. John Metcalf was a man of many talents.  He served the town of Mendon in
    many capacities.   Moving to Mendon in 1826, he took over the practice of the
    recently deceased Dr. Alexander Thayer at 9 Main Street.  He conducted his
    business there until 1832, when he purchased a house at 3 Hastings Street from
    Mrs. Sarah Prince, a Revolutionary War widow.  He lived there and conducted his
    business there until his death in 1892.  He served most diligently as the town's
    physician, historian, and ultimate public servant.

    Dr. Metcalf served the town's and region's medical needs for over sixty years.   He
    graduated from Brown University in 1822 and Harvard Medical School in 1826.  
    His wish to join the field of medicine seemed natural, as both his father and
    grandfather were also physicians.  As a country doctor, he treated fevers, set
    broken bones, and delivered babies.  His special field of medical proficiency was
    in the practice of midwifery.  In 1856, he addressed the Massachusetts Medical
    Society about this topic and published a pamphlet of 123 pages as a resource for
    his colleagues.  Known for his good judgment, success at curing diseases, and his
    expertise in midwifery, he was regarded as one of the most reputable practitioners
    in the vicinity.

    Dr. Metcalf has been Mendon's foremost historian.  Because of his academic
    brilliance, excellent organizational skills, and his enthusiasm for the study of the
    town's great history, he was asked to serve on committees to examine and
    transcribe town records.  He researched and summarized important events that
    took place year by year and included details that made it clear of the impact the
    events had on the town.  The summary of his work is included in the book that he
    wrote, Annals of the Town of Mendon from 1659 to 1880.  His work has been a
    valued resource for the many people who have researched the town's impressive

    Though an accomplished physician and historian, Dr. Metcalf was also an
    extraordinary public servant.  He was a member of the school committee for forty
    years and town treasurer for twenty-five.  He served briefly as a selectman and
    town moderator.  As an amateur architect in 1840, he provided the design for the
    Town Hall.  He served two terms in the Massachusetts State Senate as an
    abolitionist and temperance candidate.  He was co-chair of the town's 200th
    anniversary celebration in 1867.  He was vice-president of the Massachusetts
    Medical Society and secretary of the Worcester County Agricultural Society.  His
    enthusiasm to serve others was admirable.

    Many people have regarded Dr. John Metcalf as Mendon's renaissance man of
    the 1800s.  He devoted his life to medicine, history, and service to his fellow man.  
    He and his wife Abigail and their four children lived in a modest federal cottage.  
    He had the professional capabilities and reputation that would have enabled him
    to live a lifestyle of wealth and fame.  He chose instead to live simply in a life of
    serving others in the town that he loved.  His legacy is a great inspiration to us all.

    Richard Grady                                                                                                  
    Mendon, MA

                                                        Mendon Menu     

Metcalf House - 3 Hastings Street