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

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