Wellesley History

Wellesley History Photo

Explore & discover the history of the town of Wellesley

Scroll below to see all the events that make up the past and history of our town of Wellesley.

The First Residents

Indian Map

Algonquin speaking Native Americans led by chiefs Waban (the Wind) and Nehoiden.

1600s

First Settler

Early Wellesley

Andrew Dewing becomes the first English Settler in what would become Wellesley near Grove Street.

1630s

First Town Founded

Dedham 1636

Settlers establish Dedham after their preacher’s hometown of which Wellesley is a part.

1635

John Eliot

John Eliot

John Eliot and Native Americans build the Waban Brook Sawmill, one of the earliest in the country.

1658

Chief Maugus

Magugus DeedSettelers pay Chief Maugus 5 pounds currency and 3 pounds corn for the land that will become Wellesley.

1681

Needham

1775 Township of Needham

Needham becomes independent from Dedham and includes Wellesley (then known as West Needham)

1711

Revolutionary War

Revolution Jason Russell House Arlington 1775

Amos Mills of Weston Rd. is killed fighting the British at the Jason Russell house in Arlington 1775.

1775

George Washington

Washington Elm

President George Washington stopped under this elm tree (formerly on the north side of Washington St between Ledyard and Columbia streets), for a drink of well water. This sketch of the Pratt House and Elm was made by Frederick Curtis in 1844.

1789

Land of Many Names

Grantville

Wellesley Hills originally Nehoiden then the Port, North Needhamand then Grantville (after Moses Grant who gave the bell to the now Wellesley Hills Congregational Church.)

1800s

The Turnpike

Wellesley Turnpike

The Worcester Turnpike (on right side now Rt 9) is created to open Boston to commerce. It was used during the War of 1812 to transport troops from Boston to New York.

1812

The Railroad

Railroad

The railroad comes to West Needham bringing wealthy Boston businessmen and a 45 minute commute.

1834

Dr. Morton

Dr Morton

Dr. Morton (with flask) demonstrates the first use of ether as an anesthetic. Painting by Robert Hinckley.

1846

Schoolhouse

Fells Branch Library

A one room schoolhouse is built on Weston Rd which is now the Fells Branch Library.

1854

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell moved to West Needham to recover from an illness; while teaching deaf students he worked on the telephone here.

1871

Wellesley College

Wellesley College Spire

Wellesley College is founded.

1875

Wellesley Independent

Wellesley, population 2,500, separates from Needham. The Town is named as a tribute to Horatio Hollis Hunnewell who named his estate Wellesley after his wife’s family (Welles).

1881

Dana Hall

Dana Hall

Dana Hall School is founded to prepare ladies for Wellesley College.

1881

Football

Football 1913

Oldest high school football rivalry starts on Morton field. Wellesley beats Needham 4-0. Picture of 1913 team.

1882

First Fire House

fire station church st

Hose 1 House was built on Church St for the Wellesley Volunteer Fire Brigade.

1890

America the Beautiful

Katherine Lee Bates

First performance of longtime resident Katharine Lee Bates’s America the Beautiful sung by Wellesley College and Wellesley Congregational Church’s choirs.

1890

First High School

First High School

The first High School is built at 324 Washington St.

1894

New High School

Old Wellesley High

The second High School is built on Kingsbury St.

1907

College Hall Fire

Wellesley College

Wellesley College’s 1/8 mile long College Hall is destroyed by fire.

1914

Village Church Fire

Church Fire

The Village Congregational Church is destroyed by fire.

1916

Babson College

Knight Auditorium

First classes held at Roger Babson’s house on Abbott Rd. Pictured is Knight Auditorium.

1919

Isaac Sprague

Clock Tower

Isaac Sprague donates fieldstone to build the Clock Tower, Sprague School, Central St. Fire Station and Hills Library.

1920s

Town Meeting

Wellesley

Wellesley Town Meeting changed from open to elected.

1936

A New High School

High School

The new High School is built on Rice St as a public works project. It is named the Gamaliel Bradford Senior High School after Wellesley’s famous biographer.

1938

Roger Babson

Roger Babson

Roger Babson runs for president as the Prohibition Party candidate.

1940

New Police Station

Police Station

A new police station allows prisoners to no longer be kept in lockup in the basement of the Town Hall.

1950

Sylvia Plath

The disappearance of Sylvia Plath from her Elmwood home becomes the subject of her novel The Bell Jar.

1953

The Maugus Club Fire

Maugus Club

The Maugus Club a center of Wellesley’s social life is destroyed by fire

1953

Revolving Globe

Babson Globe 1

Roger Babson dedicates the 28 foot revolving globe along with the parlor from Sir Isaac Newtons London Home on the Babson Campus.

1955

Operation Bookswitch

Operation Bookswitch

Hundreds of residents form a human chain to transfer books across Washington St. from the old library to the new.

1959

Veteran’s Parade

1970 Vetrens day

Wellesley’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade began. Photo is from 1970.

1968

Recycling

Recycling

Wellesley becomes a ground breaking pioneer starting its award winning recycling program.

1971

Elementary Schools Sold

Brown SchoolKingsbury SchoolPhillips School

The Brown, Kingsbury and Phillips schools are turned into condominiums.

1980s

Centennial

Centennial Park

As a 100th birthday present the town creates Centennial Park.

1981

New Fire Station

Fire Department New

A new fire station headquarters is built on Worcester St replacing the 1889 building.

1987

Community Playhouse

Wellesley Playhouse

The Town’s movie theater for more than 50 years, the Community Playhouse shows its last film.

1987

New Police Station

Wellesley Police building

A new modern Police Station is dedicated on the site of the old one.

1996

9/11

John Cahill, WTC victim (family)NEILIE CASEY 32, Wellesley. Planning manager. manager

Edmund GlazerPatrick Quigly

Four Wellesley residents (John Cahill, Neilie Casey, Edmund Glazer and Patrick Quigley) are killed in the terrorist attacks.

2001

New Library

Wellesley_front_04

A new Public Library replaces the 1959 one on the same site.

2003

New High School

merged2012highschool

A new modern high School is built for $115 million dollars on the same site as the 1938 building. Photo by Joshua Dorin.

2012
Robots!