MIT Endicott House began the celebration of its 50th year in the MIT family with the publication of a book about the original families who lived on the estate and the unveiling of a plan to restore parts of the estate's landscaping, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.
Endicott House is now an MIT conference center at 80 Haven St. in Dedham, Mass., with 37 guest rooms. The book about its origins, "A Home on Haven Street" by Christopher and Joseph Nahil, traces the history of the families who lived at the site, beginning with Civil War hero Gen. Steven Minot Weld, who built the original house, named Rockweld. Weld envisioned the 26-acre estate as a private arboretum. H. Wendell Endicott, who built the current house as a French-style manor in the 1930s, continued Weld's tradition of showcasing the landscaped grounds.
Much as they did a century ago, the grounds feature formal gardens, natural gardens, a glacial bowl, carriage paths and one of the first rock gardens in the nation, all set to a dramatic vista of the Charles River watershed. The restoration plan drafted by landscape architects Richard Burck Associates calls for replanting and refurbishing the gardens and paths to bring them back to their original beauty.
Members of the Weld and Endicott families attended an evening gala on Jan. 17, the first of many events planned by General Manager Michael Fitzgerald to mark the anniversary of MIT's ownership of the manor house. Fitzgerald said he was particularly pleased to have the families gathered together for the first time to share their memories of the property.
The book recounts in narrative and photographs the history of the property, including remembrances by Endicott House board member Brad Endicott and his sister, Priscilla, who grew up together on the estate. Rose Weld Baldwin and Kay Weld Bacon, granddaughters of General Weld, also provided their voices and photos for the book.
"A Home on Haven Street" is available for purchase from MIT Endicott House for $24.95. For more information, visit www.mitendicotthouse.org.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 25, 2006 (download PDF).