Brilliant Man, Tragic Life
George Draper Osgood is a bit of a mystery. He was a Harvard honor student and graduate, but it
appears that he never worked. In the street listing books, he was always given as "at home." When
his mother and his sister Fannie were living at The Larches in the summer and in Boston in the
winter, he was there also. Later, he was at his brother Dana's home, off of Greene Street, which by
the mid-twentieth century was well known in town as The Harel House. It seems that he may have
been living there alone for many years. His name is in the street listing books through 1952, and
I couldn't find any more about Osgood until the obituary above turned up. Recently, I ran across his
picture in an album done by Dorothy Draper Gannett, mother of Bill Gannett. You can see it above
this text box with a note that says "deaf and dumb from birth." Consider that, along with the obituary
above, and there must be quite a story about his life, but all I've ever found is what you see here.
According to the obituary, ",,,he had been a patient for a prolonged period at the Wiswall Hospital in
Wellesley." I haven't been able to learn much about Wiswall in an online search, other than that it was
a psychiatric hospital where lobotomies were performed and electric shock was used.
George's mother, Hannah Draper Osgood, sister of General William F. Draper, Governor Eben S.
Draper, George Albert Draper and Frances Draper Colburn, lived with her husband and children in
the house that had been her parents' home at the corner of Draper and Hopedale streets. In 1909,
she purchased The Larches on Williams Street from her nephew, George Otis Draper. The home
burned down about a month after the purchase, and the house that's there now is what she had built
after the fire. Her son, George Draper Osgood and her daughter, Fannie Osgood, resided there also.
In 1929, both Hannah and Fannie died.
The Dana and Laird Osgood house was built in the woods off of Greene Street in 1911. They lived
there until they moved south in 1929. By 1933, and possibly earlier (books for 1931 and 1932 not
available), Austin Osgood, 21, student, (son of Dana and Laird Osgood) and George Draper
Osgood, 45, at home, were both living at 50 Greene Street, the former Dana Osgood home and the
future Harel House. By 1940, George was still at that address according to the street listing book; the
only Osgood in Hopedale by that time. As mentioned above, the last year his name was in the street
listing book was 1952.
The story became even more puzzling when I looked again at some Milford News clippings I had
copied at the Bancroft Library a few years ago. In December 1938, the Osgood home was sold to a
company described as a real estate promoter. Two months later it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Louis
McVitty.. Their plan, according to the article, was to use it as a rest home. That may have happened,
although I've never run across anything else about it being used for that purpose. The McVitty couple
never moved into the Osgood house. They lived nearby at 36 Greene Street.
The next complication in the story is that in 1946 the McVitty couple sold the home to Mr. and Mrs.
Harry Lacy. They named it the Harel House and used it as their home and their business; mainly a
furniture store. George Osgood's name continued to be at that address until 1952. Was he really
there, or was the only part of him in Hopedale by that time his name in the street listing book?
With that question in mind, I called Harel Lacey, daughter of the couple who established the Harel
House. She was totally unfamiliar with the name, George Draper Osgood. Somehow his name
remained in the street listing books at 50 Greene Street for six years after Harel and her parents
were living there.
Louis McVitty developed the land that had been part of the Dana and Laird Osgood estate - McVitty
Road, Dana Park, and Catherine Street, as well as selling house lots on Greene Street. George was
out of there at least by 1946, and probably sooner. He was at Wiswall for "...a prolonged period..."
according to his obituary. Does that mean that he was there for the two decades from the time he left
Hopedale until his death in 1972? We'll probably never know.
The following was sent by Lisa Lepore of Mendon, who became interested in the
story of George Draper Osgood when reading about him in ezine No.367.
Can’t resist a good mystery -
According to the 1940 census, there is a George D. Osgood at the Wiswall Sanitarium.
That census asks where the person was living as of April 1, 1935, and for George that was
at Wiswall. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9M1-QF3C?cc=2000219
Wiswall Sanitarium was located at 203 Grove Street, and then became Charles River
Hospital. Charles River filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000, and even though it comes
up in current searches, it does not exist. According to Wikipedia it was closed in 2002.
There are gigantic residential properties all around that address now. https://www.
George D Osgood
United States Census, 1940
Wellesley Town, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
Age - 51
Marital Status - Single
Birth Year (Estimated) - 1889
In the 1930 census, there is a George D. Osgood at McLean Hospital in Belmont.
George was also at McLean in 1920 https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-
In 1914 he applied for a passport. It says his occupation is Mathematics/Physics. He says
he will return to the US in two years. His signature was notarized by Herbert Boyer, and he
asked that the passport be mailed to Herbert Boyer. This goes along with the information
from the obituary that says he went to Germany after Harvard, and returned before the
There is a WWI draft registration for him here, dated June 5, 1917. https://www.
It states he is mentally incompetent and under treatment at Bournewood Hospital in
Brookline MA which still exists. According to their website, they were established in 1884.
They are an independent privately owned psychiatric care facility.
In 1910 George was living with his family on Beacon Street with five servants. As you
mentioned, he had no occupation listed. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-
9RVL-YJH?i=18&cc=1727033 (At the time they were on Beacon Street, they also spent
part of each year at their Hopedale home. I think their time at Beacon Street was for the
It looks like George was institutionalized between 1917-1940 based on these records, and
probably until he died. If he was at Wiswall, he could have stayed there when they closed
and became Charles River, because that was open past his death date.