Holland Albee's Boarding House: 1845

    Holland Albee constructed a house in Mendon Village Center at 8 Hastings Street in
    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.

    Richard Grady                                                                                                       
    Mendon, MA

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