Mendon's Parsonage: 1843 -- 1900
The residence at 19 Hastings Street in Mendon served an ecclesiastical purpose from 1843 through
1900, as it was the parsonage for several successive ministers of the Unitarian Church. Reverend
Adin Ballou's departure from his home in 1842 to create the utopian town of Hopedale left 9 Main
Street vacated. His successor was Rev. Linus Shaw, who moved into the new hillside home in 1843.
He was the first of several ministers to serve the religious needs of the town during a time of
economic challenge. The prominent political and professional members of the village center's upper
class of the 1820's had long been deceased. They were replaced by boot makers, wood crafters, and
farmers. The golden age was long over, and the economic strain affected all aspects of people's lives,
including the financial support of the church and its ministers.
The mid 1840's through 1900 were difficult years in our town's history, and certainly there was an
impact on the church. Several factors led up to issues with the town's economy, population, and
geography. In 1845, Mendon's south precinct broke away to become the independent town of
Blackstone, which included Millville. It left Mendon without tax dollars generated from factories along
the Blackstone River, and it left the town with only half of its population and land. Three years later, the
Blackstone Canal closed, as it had been replaced by the P and W Railroad. It left Mendon farmers
without their inland seaport in which to sell their produce from Providence to Worcester. The railroad's
financial interests were for transporting industrial products and had little interest in fruits and
vegetables. The Civil War period of the 1860's created an economic burden for the entire nation, which
further complicated Mendon's economic devastation. The townspeople found it difficult to adequately
compensate their clergy, so some ministers found it necessary to establish their ministry in out of
The parsonage served a special need during a difficult time. Sermons and religious activities were
planned there, but it was about 1900 that the building no longer served as a home for the Unitarian
clergy. It became a family home. Coincidently, the town's economy changed just about the same time
as the building's use changed. In 1901, the Milford-Uxbridge Electric Street Railway (Mendon trolley)
and Nipmuc Park re-vitalized the town's financial condition. Today, the building quietly overlooks the
busy traffic of Route 16, but in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was the home of ministers
who provided spiritual strength during a time of need. It was a symbol of hope that fulfilled its promise.
The Parsonage is currently owned by Hackenson Corporation.
Richard Grady --- April 12, 2013