Sunday, August 15, 2010

Brookline Origins of Skating Magazine

Kat Hasenauer Cornetta has an interesting article on BrooklinePatch about Theresa Weld Blanchard, who started Skating magazine, the official publication of the United States Figure Skating Association, in her Brookline home in 1923 and continued to be involved with it until her death in 1978.  ("National Skating Magazine Started in Brookline Home 87 Years Ago")

Friday, August 13, 2010

Presidents in Brookline: Benjamin Harrison

John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline.  Theodore Roosevelt was married here.  John Adams visited Brookline relatives in the town where his mother was born and raised.

How many U.S. presidents in all were in Brookline at some point in their lives?  I've identified seven nine, so far, though there may be more.  This is the first in an occasional series documenting the presence of these chief executives in town, before, during, or after their presidencies. (See this later post for more on presidents in Brookline.)

Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison
(Library of Congress)

The subject today is the 1889 visit of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison.

Harrison, a Republican, was elected in 1888 between the two terms of Grover Cleveland.  On August 7, 1889, Harrison arrived in Boston via train from New York as part of a weeklong New England sojourn.

In Boston, Harrison was greeted by admiring throngs, met with invited guests at the Hotel Vendome on Commonwealth Avenue, and attended a reception at Faneuil Hall. 

Late in the afternoon, the President and a large party, riding in carriages and accompanied by mounted officers, set out on a ride through Brighton and Brookline.  A large crowd, including local officials, gathered on Corey Hill awaiting the president.

At one point, a group of carriages was spotted moving east on Beacon Street, and much of the crowd descended the hill to greet Harrison, only to be disappointed.  It was, instead, a group of visiting furniture men returning to Boston from a ride to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

John W. Candler
Eventually, the presidential party, having made its way out Commonwealth and Brighton Avenues and Allston Street, reached the top of the hill from the Brighton side.

Congressman John W. Candler of Brookline joined Harrison in his carriage and the ride continued, down the hill to Beacon Street, and then via Park Street, Washington Street, Gardner Road, Tappan Street, Sumner Road, Walnut and Warren Streets to the Ignatius Sargent estate.

From the Sargent estate, the president and his party continued via Chestnut, Walnut, and Irving Streets to the home of Congressman Candler on High Street Hill.

"A bountiful spread here awaited the company," reported the Boston Globe, "during which the mounted escort had an opportunity to fodder up."
Congressman John W. Candler hosted a reception for the president and his party at his home at 99 High Street
Congressman John W. Candler hosted a reception for the president and his party at his home at 99 High Street
Returning to their carriages, Harrison and his party made their way back to the Hotel Vendome by way of High Street, through Brookline Village and up Harvard Street to Commonwealth Avenue.  The next day, the president ended his whirlwind Boston visit, departing for Maine and the home of James G. Blaine, Harrison's Secretary of State and the 1884 Republican presidential nominee.

  • "Here-----Going.  Awfully Glad You Came; Goodby.  Harrison, Guest of City and State, Saluted by Cannon Upon Arrival. Receptions to Public and Officials. Driven Among Suburban Beauties. " Boston Globe, August 8, 1889, p. 1.
  • "The Chief Magistrate. President Harrison Visits Brookline and is Entertained by Congressman Candler." Brookline Chronicle, August 10, 1889, p. 252.
99 High Street
99 High Street Today
* 99 High Street photos courtesy of the Town of Brookline Preservation Office

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Respect for the Law?

    TAB reporter John Hilliard and his colleagues had fun this week putting some of the odder town bylaws to the test.  ("Exploring the banana peel bylaw (and more forbidden fun) in Brookline," August 5th).

    Hilliard and crew batted a ball near Town Hall, played cards at the curbside, even dropped a banana peel on the sidewalk (not to mention dressing up in a banana costume and lying down in the street). And they got away with it, despite the fact that all of these--well maybe not the banana costume--are forbidden under town law.

    But Hilliard and crew are hardly the first to be bemused by some of the no-nos on the books in Brookline.  Back in 1921, the celebrated Brookline-born poet Amy Lowell joined fellow townspeople to protest a range of bylaws they said couldn't and shouldn't be enforced.

    Amy Lowell article, Boston Globe
    Boston Globe, December 22, 1921
    Among the targets of Lowell and other protesters were laws or proposed laws against the following:
    • playing ball in the streets;
    • the drawing of sleds on public footpaths or sidewalks;
    • unrestricted use of velocipedes (bicycles) and roller skates;
    • the playing of musical instruments by anyone other than the member of a regularly organized band without a permit from the chief of police;
    • parking an automobile in any one place for more than 20 minutes;
    • horses traveling at more than eight miles per hour (at a time when automobiles were limited to 10 miles per hour);
    • the use of ungrammatical language by a driver in addressing a horse.
    "Are we going to allow this overregulation when it isn't necessary," said Lowell [as reported by the Boston Globe]. "Are we going to make all our children criminals when they are not criminals.  Are we going to be entirely officialized?"

    In the end some of the bylaws were modified, other were dropped, and others were let go with promises of lax enforcement, not so different, it seems, from today.