Mendon's Renaissance Man of the 1800s

    Dr. John Metcalf was a man of many talents.  He served the town of Mendon in many
    capacities.   Moving to Mendon in 1826, he took over the practice of the recently deceased Dr.
    Alexander Thayer at 9 Main Street.  He conducted his business there until 1832, when he
    purchased a house at 3 Hastings Street from Mrs. Sarah Prince, a Revolutionary War widow.  
    He lived there and conducted his business there until his death in 1892.  He served most
    diligently as the town's physician, historian, and ultimate public servant.

    Dr. Metcalf served the town's and region's medical needs for over sixty years.   He graduated
    from Brown University in 1822 and Harvard Medical School in 1826.  His wish to join the field of
    medicine seemed natural, as both his father and grandfather were also physicians.  As a
    country doctor, he treated fevers, set broken bones, and delivered babies.  His special field of
    medical proficiency was in the practice of midwifery.  In 1856, he addressed the Massachusetts
    Medical Society about this topic and published a pamphlet of 123 pages as a resource for his
    colleagues.  Known for his good judgment, success at curing diseases, and his expertise in
    midwifery, he was regarded as one of the most reputable practitioners in the vicinity.

    Dr. Metcalf has been Mendon's foremost historian.  Because of his academic brilliance,
    excellent organizational skills, and his enthusiasm for the study of the town's great history, he
    was asked to serve on committees to examine and transcribe town records.  He researched
    and summarized important events that took place year by year and included details that made it
    clear of the impact the events had on the town.  The summary of his work is included in the
    book that he wrote, Annals of the Town of Mendon from 1659 to 1880.  His work has been a
    valued resource for the many people who have researched the town's impressive history.

    Though an accomplished physician and historian, Dr. Metcalf was also an extraordinary public
    servant.  He was a member of the school committee for forty years and town treasurer for
    twenty-five.  He served briefly as a selectman and town moderator.  As an amateur architect in
    1840, he provided the design for the Town Hall.  He served two terms in the Massachusetts
    State Senate as an abolitionist and temperance candidate.  He was co-chair of the town's
    200th anniversary celebration in 1867.  He was vice-president of the Massachusetts Medical
    Society and secretary of the Worcester County Agricultural Society.  His enthusiasm to serve
    others was admirable.

    Many people have regarded Dr. John Metcalf as Mendon's renaissance man of the 1800s.  He
    devoted his life to medicine, history, and service to his fellow man.  He and his wife Abigail and
    their four children lived in a modest federal cottage.  He had the professional capabilities and
    reputation that would have enabled him to live a lifestyle of wealth and fame.  He chose instead
    to live simply in a life of serving others in the town that he loved.  His legacy is a great
    inspiration to us all.

    Richard Grady                                                                                                  
    Mendon, MA

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Metcalf House - 3 Hastings Street