After the Quabbin Reservoir was filled (more on the history in my last post), the cleared land and body of water, with its over 181 miles of coastline, was seen as not only an engineering marvel, but a place of natural beauty and splendor. Upon a rise in the land and the edge of the reservoir, they saw a perfect location to build a tower that could serve many purposes. The Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission hired the firm of Densmore, LeClear & Robbins to design a tower that would serve as a radio tower, fire station and observation tower to view the reservoir. The structure, while designed in the Arts and Crafts mode, is of modern construction and is comprised of two main parts. The lower portion, is constructed of stone and concrete, with metal casement windows, granite lintels and sills and bronze doors. This section was used for radio equipment. The interior has glazed tile walls and cement floors. The six-story tower has five floors of metal and concrete stairs. At the top is a two-level, glass enclosed observation tower.
By the early 1900s, metropolitan Boston’s demands for freshwater began exceed its supply, causing the state legislature to look for other sources of water to supply the metro’s population growth. A 1922 study endorsed the Swift River Valley (Quabbin area) as the best location for a new reservoir that could supply Massachusetts with fresh water, but there was one issue, there were towns and people living there. To create the Quabbin Reservoir, the depressed land would need to be flooded, this required over 80,000 acres of land to be purchased or seized by eminent domain by 1938. Four towns: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were disincorporated and their excess land not flooded was added to surrounding municipalities. In total, an estimated 2,500 residents lost their homes as part of the flooding. Not all elements of the towns were destroyed, however. Town memorials and cemeteries in the four towns were moved to Quabbin Park Cemetery, in Ware, a short distance from the Quabbin Reservoir. Many other public buildings were moved intact to other locations (like those in Dorset, Vermont featured previously). In the over 80,000 acres that were flooded, the Commonwealth had to relocate an estimated 7,500 burials in over 35 cemeteries in these flooded towns. Bodies were removed from their respective locations, and intered in the new Quabbin Park Cemetery, built by the Commission in 1932 with grounds designed by landscape architect Arthur A. Shurcliff. An area for unknown graves and a memorial area at the entrance to the cemetery also contains public war monuments from the abandoned towns. This service building was added to the cemetery from designs by architect Frederick Kingsbury who died during its construction.
Ware was settled in the 1717 and incorporated in 1775. Its town center was laid out in 1760, on land belonging to one of its early large landowners. The first colonial meeting house was built in that year, near the geographic center of the town, and the road network developed around access to this area from the corners of the town. The Ware Center Meeting House was built in 1799 to replace a previous structure. The Meeting House has served as the first town meeting hall, the parish home of the First Church of Ware and the first school. As the town’s population boomed in the eastern part of town when factories and mills were built along the Ware River. To compete with the growing industrial village, the Ware Center residents sought to “keep up with the Jones'” and renovated the meeting house in 1843 in the Greek Revival style. However the growth of Ware had by passed the old Ware Center and population and in 1847, a new Town Hall was completed on the Main St. closer to industry and the new population center. The building remained as a church, but in 1928, the church ceased having winter services due to the reduced membership, and from that time on services have been held sporadically. The building remains a significant piece of Ware’s history from a sleepy rural town to industrial powerhouse.
As soon as the All Saints Church of Ware was completed, work immediately began for the parish house which was to be built nextdoor. It is not clear who was retained as the architect, but it could have been Patrick W. Ford, who designed the high-style Victorian Gothic church. The design is almost the complete opposite of the church, in that the parish house is of wood-frame construction, modestly scaled, and is Colonial Revival in style. The parish house features nice proportions with its symmetrical facade, pedimented central bay framed by pilasters and the large Palladian type window at the center.
I love exploring old industrial towns. In Ware, Massachusetts, the urban decay of some buildings provides opportunity and potential, but also so much negative thoughts for long-time residents as it reminds some of the town’s once thriving past. Just off Ware’s Main Street, I spotted this former chapel and had to learn more. This structure was built in 1881 as the second East Congregational Church chapel. The congregation was largely made up of immigrant laborers who worked in the town’s mills. This chapel replaced a Greek Revival building erected in 1857 on Water (Pulaski) Street that was later remodeled by the town into a fire station. That building was destroyed during the Hurricane of 1938. This Victorian Gothic chapel was designed by architect Eugene C. Gardner of Springfield, who was very busy in central/western Massachusetts. The chapel long was used by church members for spillover events and social gatherings. Later, the building became the office of the Ware River News.
This house in Ware, Massachusetts was built after the Civil War by the Otis Company, the major employer in town, for use as an agent’s house. Crazy I know! Historically, it was a common practice for New England textile companies to provide housing for employees (though agents got the nicest dwellings). Many of the agents were brought from Boston and a comfortable residence was a benefit of the job. The first agent to reside in this house was Sylvester Bowen Bond, agent of the company between 1870 and 1877. Mr. Bond sadly would die in the dwelling of typhoid fever, aged 36. The Italianate style property on a large lot continued to be used as an agent’s residence until the Otis Company left Ware. The property was acquired by the nearby St. Mary’s Church as a convent.
One of the later mill buildings constructed in the mid-19th century for the Otis Company is this brick building which contributes to the rich industrial heritage of the town. Built in at least three stages, this long industrial building probably grew from a middle section dating 1856, expanded in both directions over the next several decades and but was largely completed by 1869. The building was a major manufacturer, supplying thousands of jobs for the town until it closed after WWII. In 1945, the top two stories of this building along with their towers were removed in 1945, which echoes the history of many similar mills all over New England (but hey, at least this one is occupied today!)