The Bake House  

    Seth Hastings' bakery provided an important service for Mendon center in the early 1800's, and its
    existence was an indication of his wide range of interests and capabilities. He was a man of many
    titles: academic, governmental, and professional, but it was his title of bakery owner that focused
    attention on his role as a businessman. It was his other titles that may make one wonder how he
    ever found time to fulfill all the duties of his many occupations.

    The Bake House was a unique building because of its construction and use. It was the village
    center's first structure to be made of brick, and it was the village center's first bakery. It was built
    around 1810 at the site of what is now a wooden house at 4 Hastings Street. It provided baked goods
    for the local villagers, area farmers, and stagecoach passengers who used the town center as a
    stopover in their travels from New York to Hartford to Boston. The newly constructed Hartford Turnpike
    opened in 1804, and it replaced the narrow, bumpy, and obsolete Middle Post Road. The new road
    brought a constant supply of customers to the prosperous bakery. The Bake House was closed in the
    1820's because Seth had built a new brick apartment house up the street at 10 Hastings Street, and
    he wanted the business to be moved to this new location. The bakery flourished there under different
    owners through the 1850's.

    Seth's other titles were numerous. Besides being a bakery owner, he was a graduate of Harvard
    University and Harvard Law School. He was president of the Mendon's bank, an attorney, and owner
    of his family's law office. He was chief Justice of the Court of Sessions of Worcester County. He
    served two terms in the U.S. Congress and four terms in the Massachusetts State Senate. He was
    town treasurer and a member of Mendon's first school committee. He was an interstate planner for
    Hartford Turnpike and ensured that the new road went through Mendon center (Maple Street). He was
    the husband of Chloe Davenport, daughter of Seth and Chloe Davenport. They were married at her
    parents' farmhouse at 133 North Avenue on June 8, 1796. He was father of Attorney William Soden
    Hastings, Attorney Charles C.P. Hastings, and Mary Hastings Hayward. He was a generous
    parishioner of the Unitarian Church.  His many titles were indicative of a highly respected,
    multitalented person who excelled in many areas.

    Seth Hastings seemingly had it all. His achievements in academics, law, government, and banking
    were extraordinary, so one might question why his ambition included the ownership of a bakery.
    Perhaps it could be said of him that he wanted to have his cake and eat it, too !

    Richard Grady
    January 7, 2013

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