The Darling Family and Mendon as a Summer Resort
Mendon's natural beauty, clean air, and pristine water have been treasured throughout the town's
history, but it was during the post Civil War industrial period that one of the town's prominent families
utilized these natural resources for economic benefit. Industrial discharges and emissions had
scarred neighboring towns with hazardous environmental conditions, but agricultural Mendon
remained environmentally pure. Outsiders saw Mendon as an escape from smoke stacks and
polluted rivers, and members of the Darling family turned their properties into summer resorts.
Homer Darling was a very successful dairy farmer, but it was his role as an innkeeper that enhanced
his income and attracted wealthy New York vacationers. In 1866, he and his father, Newbury Darling,
purchased the beautiful federal farmhouse at 73 North Avenue. It had once been owned by Benjamin
Davenport. They converted the large horse barn behind the house to summer bedrooms and
constructed a large piazza so that guests in their rocking chairs could enjoy the scenic view of the
verdant eastern slope leading to Muddy Brook.
The summer guests were wealthy family associates of the Darling family's watch case business in
New York. They were very pleased to escape from the city to enjoy the splendor of Mendon's country,
rural surroundings. They came in their own coaches with private drivers, so that they could be
escorted around town to enjoy the heralded air, and of course, "Nature's beauty spot," Lake Nipmuc.
Homer's success as an innkeeper apparently served as an inspiration to his brother, Albert, who in
1885 purchased the former Jonathan Russell house and converted it to a summer boarding house.
His renovations included adding a wrap-around porch, giving the historic home a completely new
look. Its location at the corner of Hastings Street and Emerson Street was along a well-travelled stage
coach route. The Darling house was always full with summer vacationers.
Though Mendon's economy was based on farming in the years after the Civil War, members of the
Darling family capitalized on Mendon's reputation for having clean, invigorating air and pure water.
Vacationers seeking an escape from the industrial world and city life found Mendon to be a special
place, something that the Darlings knew all along.
The Kirkpatrick family currently resides at Homer's former house, and a metal building housing a
magnetic paint business has replaced the Russell-Darling house.
August 12, 2012
Mendon Hotels Sky Farm Mendon Menu
Home of Benjamin Davenport -- Early 1800’s;
purchased by Homer Darling in 1866
Home of Col. Calvin Smith –1765; Seth Hastings in 1805;
Jonathan Russell in 1818; and Albert N. Darling in 1885.
Russell-Darling house site in 2011.