Holland Albee's Boarding House: 1845
1845 that was unique both for its purpose and for the materials from which it was made.
He operated a successful bakery next door in the brick building that Attorney Seth
Hastings had built twenty-five years earlier. He utilized a concept that was typically found
in neighboring factory towns or mill villages. He built a boarding house for his workers. It
was erected from re-used wood from a building steeped in history that was over one
hundred years old. It was apparent that he wanted to create a convenience for his
employees, and at the same time be frugal.
Mendon's bakery business began in the early 1800's when Seth Hastings opened a
"bake house" at what is now 4 Hastings Street. By 1827, he moved the business about
three hundred feet to the west by building a brick addition to 10 Hastings Street. Holland
Albee took over the bakery by the 1840's and continued to supply baked goods to the
village. His business prospered, so he offered his workers a place to live just footsteps
from the bakery.
In 1843, the town put the Fourth Meetinghouse up for sale. The aging structure located
at the north end of Old Cemetery near the corner of Blackstone Street and Providence
Road had become obsolete. Though it was built amongst great controversy between
1730 and 1736, it provided for Mendon's governmental and ecclesiastical needs into the
1800's. By then, separation of church and state had become law. The Unitarian Church
was built in 1820 and the North Congregational Church in 1830. Harrison Hall was
erected in 1840, and soon became the center of government. The old meetinghouse
was no longer needed. Holland Albee purchased it, dismantled it, hauled the wood to
Hastings Street, and used it to build the boarding house.
The Fourth Meetinghouse played an important role in Mendon's history. Fiery rhetoric
took place at Mendon town meetings in the 1760's and 1770's as voters heartily
denounced taxation without representation. At a meeting on October 14, 1765, voters
rejected Parliament's Stamp Act, and on May 21, 1767, they endorsed the Sons of
Liberty's request not to sell or use any British products that required a duty. A town
meeting vote on July 14, 1774 established a Committee of Correspondence to
communicate with other towns, and a vote on September 28, 1774 permitted the town to
send representation to the first Provincial Congress in Concord. It was also voted to
purchase ammunition and military supplies in preparation for war, and to direct that one-
third of Mendon's militia would be enlisted as Minutemen. The Declaration of
Independence was approved in the Fourth Meetinghouse on July 8, 1776. This building
served as the focus of Mendon's extraordinary patriotism before and during the American
Holland Albee's boarding house was unique because it was built specifically for the
lodging of workers, and because it was made from recycled materials from a historic
building. Today, it is the well-kept residence of the Gebelein family, overlooking the busy
traffic of Route 16, and its boards bear silent witness to events of long ago.