Information

History of Brighton


Brighthelmston was a fishing village in the 16th century, with 400 fishermen and sixty boats. By the early 17th century Brighton was the largest town in Sussex with a population of nearly 4,000 people.

The decline in the fishing industry during the 18th century resulted in large numbers leaving the town in search of work. Those that remained found life very difficult and by 1740 over three quarters of Brighton's households were too poor to pay rates. Daniel Defoe pointed out in his book, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724): "Brighthelmston (Brighton) is a poor fishing town, old built, and on the edge of the sea."

In the middle of the 18th century some doctors began to claim that diseases could be cured by bathing in sea-water. George III was the first monarch to believe this advice and he regularly visited Weymouth for a swim. His son, the future George IV, spent a great deal of time in Brighton and eventually built the Royal Pavilion in the town.

Rich people tended to imitate the behaviour of the royal family, and holidays by the sea became very fashionable. The number of people visiting these resorts increased further because of the claims made by some doctors, such as Richard Russell, that drinking sea-water would cure asthma, cancer, consumption, deafness and rheumatism.

Brighton soon became the most popular seaside resort in Britain, with over 2,000 people a week visiting the town. The cost of transport meant that it was extremely rare for most people living in towns to visit the coast. For example, the cost of a coach ticket from London to Brighton was more than most people could earn for two weeks work. However, the large number of rich people in the town enabled the Theatre Royal to be built in 1807.

Elizabeth Fry visited Brighton in 1824: "During her stay at Brighton, Mrs. Fry was often distressed by the multitude of applicants for relief. This was not confined to beggars by profession, who infested the streets, following carriages and foot passengers with clamorous importunity, but extended to the resident poor, many of whom had obtained the habit of asking assistance to the houses, not only of the inhabitants, but the visitors to the place. It was difficult for the former, but almost impossible for the latter, to discover the true state of the case, whether their poverty was real or assumed."

This view was supported by Dr. G. S. Jenks: "Owing to the imperfect and insufficient drainage of the town, the inhabitants are compelled to have recourse to numerous cess-pools as receptacles for superabundant water, and refuse of all kinds; and to save the inconvenience of frequently emptying them, they dig below the hard coombe rock till they come to the shingles, where all the liquid filth drains away. Nottingham Street is the well-known haunt of tramps and beggars; Egremont Street of the lowest prostitutes and thieves. In Nottingham Street there are eight or nine lodging-houses. Lodging keepers have commonly three of four houses, for each of which they pay 2s. 6d. per week. The following is a description of one of them. One room, common to the whole of the inmates, who amounted to 30, including the children, served both as kitchen and sitting-room. The room was crowded when I visited it in company with the chief police-officer, Mr. Solomons, with not less than 17 people covered with filth and rags."

After the success of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, a group of businessmen decided to build a railway between London and Brighton. The first train entered Brighton Railway Station on 21st September 1841. At first, the railway company concentrated on bringing the rich to the coast. It was not long, however, before the company realised that by offering cheap third-class tickets, they could increase the numbers of people using their trains. In 1843 the London to Brighton Railway reduced the price of their third-class tickets to 3s. In the six months that followed this reduction in price, 360,000 people arrived in Brighton by train.

Large numbers of people now moved to the town to provide these visitors with food and entertainment. Between 1841 and 1871 the population of Brighton increased from 46,661 to 90,011, making it the fastest growing town in Britain.

In the 1870s the family of Evelyn Sharp would visit Brighton for a month every year. "Brighton in the seventies was not Hove. For us it was Kemp Town, with a background of bare Downs and a foreground of untidy shingle on which lay rowing boats and fishing smacks when they were not afloat-a beach strewn with bits of treasure cast up by the tide, and with fishing nets spread out to dry, and, when the tide was out, presenting a long stretch of rather black smooth sand on which to build castles. Over it all was that smell of the sea-or was it only of stale fish and decaying seaweed - which, with the smell of the magic-lantern and the circus, may be ranked among the subtle smells of Victorian childhood that never failed to thrill. And in this charming old Georgian seaside resort-resort is exactly the right word for it - we used to occupy rooms in a house with a shining black front of bow windows, in Lower Rock Gardens, looking sideways to the sea and frontwards to a wind-swept, sun-dried oval of enclosed garden that we thought as lovely as the rest of it."

As a young man, Edward Carpenter lived in Brighton: "The scenery and surroundings of Brighton are also bare and chilly enough; and trees, whose friendly covert I have always loved, do not exist there; but the place has two nature-elements in it - and these two singularly wild and untampered - the Sea and the Downs. We lived within two hundred yards of the sea, and its voice was in our ears night and day. On terrific stormy nights it was a grisly joy to go down to the water's edge at 10 or 11 p.m. - pitch darkness - feeling one's way with feet or hands, over the stony beach, hardly able to stand for the wind - and to watch the white breakers suddenly leap out of the gulf close upon one, the booming of the wind, like distant guns, and the occasional light of some vessel labouring for its life in the surge."

Brighthelmston (Brighton) is a poor fishing town, old built, and on the edge of the sea. From hence, still keeping the coast close to the left, we come to Shoreham, a sea-faring town, and chiefly inhabited by ship-carpenters, ship-chandlers, and all the several trades depending upon the building and fitting up of ships, which is their chief business. Here in the compass of about six miles are three borough towns, sending Members to Parliament: Shoreham, Bramber and Steyning. Shoreham and Steyning are tolerable little market-towns; but Bramber (a little ruin of an old castle excepted) hardly deserves the name of a town, having not above fifteen or sixteen families in it.

During her stay at Brighton, Mrs. It was difficult for the former, but almost impossible for the latter, to discover the true state of the case, whether their poverty was real or assumed. Mrs. Fry established the Brighton District Society. The object of the Society were stated to be, "The encouragement of industry and frugality among the poor, by visits at their own inhabitations; the relief of real distress, whether arising from sickness or other causes; and the prevention.

Owing to the imperfect and insufficient drainage of the town, the inhabitants are compelled to have recourse to numerous cess-pools as receptacles for superabundant water, and refuse of all kinds; and to save the inconvenience of frequently emptying them, they dig below the hard coombe rock till they come to the shingles, where all the liquid filth drains away. The consequence is inevitable; the springs in the lower part of the town must be contaminated.

Nottingham Street is the well-known haunt of tramps and beggars; Egremont Street of the lowest prostitutes and thieves. Solomons, with not less than 17 people covered with filth and rags. In the largest of the sleeping rooms, 16 feet by 10 feet, by 7 feet high, there were six beds, five on bedsteads and one of the floor, to accommodate twelve people of both sexes, besides children. Each person paid 3d. per night.

The houses of the poor in Brighton, which are situated in narrow streets and courts, are for the most part ill-ventilated, badly drained, if at all. The numbers which are huddled together in them render decency and decorum next to impossible. Many of them being built with inferior bricks and mortar made of sea-sand are wretchedly damp so that even the walls are covered with lichens, and the miserable tenants, unable to endure the depression of spirits which is the necessary result, try to drown their uneasy sensations in the neighbouring beer shops.

The scenery and surroundings of Brighton are also bare and chilly enough; and trees, whose friendly covert I have always loved, do not exist there; but the place has two nature-elements in it - and these two singularly wild and untampered - the Sea and the Downs. - pitch darkness - feeling one's way with feet or hands, over the stony beach, hardly able to stand for the wind - and to watch the white breakers suddenly leap out of the gulf close upon one, the booming of the wind, like distant guns, and the occasional light of some vessel labouring for its life in the surge.

I have also a faint recollection of a house with a garden, at Luton, where Cecil used to give me rides in a wheelbarrow; but it soon became more convenient to separate the older and younger sections of the family when we went holiday-making, and for some years I and the two little boys, who did " lessons " every day with a sister and were therefore independent of school terms, were sent away earlier in the summer with Nurse and spent a wonderful month in Paradise by the sea, which was Brighton. Everything about that month by the sea was perfect. It began with the packing-up, though why we took such quantities of luggage with us it is impossible to say. In addition to a massive dressbasket, as the thing was called, filled to the brim with garments, there was Nurse's own box as well as the nursemaid's ; and besides all that, the perambulator was packed stiff with spades and pails and other necessaries of life by the sea, and finally, there was the bath. I do not know whether we took the nursery bath-a thing rather like a coffin in shape-because the lodging-house bath was under suspicion, or because it offered another receptacle for clothes ; but we did take it, stuffed to repletion and running over, so that, when sewn into a covering of brown sacking, it resembled an enormous meat pie. The language of the cabmen and porters who had to handle that bath was eloquent, but to us it was the sign and symbol of our entry into Paradise ; and when it was hoisted on to the top of the four-wheeler, and the driver was told to follow us who filled the brougham to Victoria station, we knew that anticipations were realised and the great annual event was once more coming off.

Brighton in the seventies was not Hove. Over it all was that smell of the sea-or was it only of stale fish and decaying seaweed - which, with the smell of the magic-lantern and the circus, may be ranked among the subtle smells of Victorian childhood that never failed to thrill; and with the recollection of that smell comes another of a symphony of sound, made up of ****** minstrels, and hawkers calling shrimps and lobsters "All alive-o!" and donkey boys shouting at their patient animals, and the crunching wheels of goat-chaises, in which we were never allowed to ride because the other children who had already occupied them might be recovering from measles or scarlet fever;-and all of it happening in hot summer sunshine under a cloudless blue sky, for one peculiarity of the Brighton holiday, as it lives in my mind, was that it never rained there. And in this charming old Georgian seaside resort-resort is exactly the right word for it - we used to occupy rooms in a house with a shining black front of bow windows, in Lower Rock Gardens, looking sideways to the sea and frontwards to a wind-swept, sun-dried oval of enclosed garden that we thought as lovely as the rest of it.

There were red-letter days in that wonderful month, and one of them was the day we went for a donkey ride on the Downs. On other days we gazed in anticipation at the row of gentle beasts tied up to the railings of the parade - Esplanade was a word unknown to our vocabulary - and took them our crusts to eat, and had to resist the blandishments of their owners, who promised us all sorts of speed records that were never realised. For when the great day came and we wound our way up steep little St. James's Street and out on the bare highway, the imperturbability of those donkeys under the rain of blows and storm of yells to which they were subjected by their owners, in addition to our own private method of filling a tin box with pebbles and rattling it in their ears, affords me some consolation, as I look back, for our brutality to the poor creatures ; for I like to hope that custom had staled the effect of these persuasions and that they really did not care a button how much they were urged forward, knowing that they would only break into a jogging gallop when it suited them and not an instant before. I remember my regrets at not being able to ride astride like a boy, but felt compensated to some extent by Nurse's permission to have first choice of steed, so that I managed to secure the one thin brown donkey that had a little youth and spirit left in him.


Town History

The 1788 Buffalo Creek Treaty, negotiated by Oliver Phelps, eliminated the Seneca's claim to the 2,500,000 acres east of the Genesee River that had been purchased in 1787 from Massachusetts by Phelps and his partner, Nathaniel Gorham. Surveyed into ranges and townships, the heavily forested land was bought by eastern New York and New England farmers who expended a lifetime's energy in clearing the land.

Enos Stone of Lenox, Massachusetts, was one of the original purchasers of Township Thirteen, Range Seven. His son, Orringh, in 1790, chose the 210 acres of lot #12 near the convergence of two Seneca trails on which to site his farm and tavern, providing food and lodging to hundreds of pioneers who poured into the Genesee country. Near the "Rock and the Elm," a landmark for traveling Senecas and settlers, the early log cabin was replaced in 1792 by a simple frame dwelling which housed the ten Stone family members as well as countless visitors and long-term boarders. The two-story structure that faces what is now East Avenue was added in 1805. Louis Philippe (later King of France), Aaron Burr, Marquis de Lafayette, Joseph Brant, and Captain Charles Williamson enjoyed the hospitality provided at Stone's Tavern.


Early History Of Brighton

For hundreds of years before the settlement of Brighton, Native Americans called the Seneca occupied the vast wilderness between the Genesee River and Seneca Lake. The Seneca belonged to the Great Iroquois League of Nations whose territory covered all of Western and Central New York. The Iroquois were one of the most powerful Indian nations in American history. The Seneca, because of their westernmost location, were known as the Keepers of the Western Gate. Although none of their largest villages were in Brighton, this territory was an important part of their meeting and hunting grounds. A dense forest covered the whole terrain, with only Indian trails threading the wilderness. French explorers and trappers frequently visited this region, but there were no permanent white settlements until after the American Revolution.

Because the Iroquois had aligned themselves with England during the war, in 1779 General George Washington ordered an expedition against them. Sullivan’s Army was sent to break the power of the Iroquois League. Sullivan and his men came in force, devastating Indian villages until the League was destroyed forever. As a result, the expedition cleared the way for the development of Western New York. Many of the men who had been in Sullivan’s army, tired of farming on the stony hillsides of New England, were eager to return to the fertile land they had seen here.

Following the Revolution, England gave up all claims to American land. Original charters and grants from England, prior to the war, showed that both New York and Massachusetts owned the same portion of Western New York. Each state claimed the territory and a conflict resulted which lasted for several years. Finally, the dispute was settled amicably with the signing of the Hartford Treaty of 1786. The treaty gave Massachusetts the right to sell the land, keeping the profits, and it gave New York the right to govern the area. In 1788, Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham from Massachusetts bought the western portion of New York with the intention of selling to anxious settlers. The Phelps and Gorham Purchase included all of the land from Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania Line. The same year, the Treaty of Buffalo Creek extinguished all remaining land claims the Seneca had to the area. With these land policies in place, New Englanders were able to push westward to the pristine forests and abundant land suitable for farming.

The first township in what is now Monroe County was established in 1796 and called Northfield. Northfield included all of the current towns of Brighton, Pittsford, Perinton, Penfield, Webster, Irondequoit, Henrietta and all of the present city of Rochester, east of the Genesee River. The original township underwent many changes during the following 43 years. The name Northfield was changed to Boyle in 1808 and two years later Penfield separated and became its own town. Two years after that Perinton did the same, and the following year, 1813, Boyle changed its name to Smallwood. In 1814, the town of Smallwood was divided into the two towns of Brighton and Pittsford. At this time, Smallwood no longer existed and Brighton now occupied all the land East of the Genesee to Irondequoit Bay and from Lake Ontario south to its present southern border. (Eventually Irondequoit separated from Brighton and the City of Rochester continually annexed portions of the town, reducing it to its present size).

April 5, 1814 marked the beginning of the organization of the town of Brighton. On this date, the first town meeting was held at the home of Orringh Stone, one of Brighton’s earliest pioneers. Situated at the edge of Western settlement, his home was known as Stone’s Tavern and was a popular resting stop for travelers and frontiersmen. It was the next year, 1815, Abner B. Buckland and his father, Captain Buckland, came to town, following a small group of Brighton’s first settlers including, John Lusk, Enos and Israel Blossom, Oliver Culver, William Billinghurst and Orringh Stone.

We Love Meadowbrook

The beauty of Meadowbrook’s homes — even the smallest ones — drew us here, but other things have kept us: sidewalks and streetlights, the ability to walk to shopping and schools, and wonderful, caring neighbors. We just can’t imagine living anywhere else!

Marcia and Jim
43-year Meadowbrook neighbors

The sidewalks… that’s what my children say they like most about Meadowbrook. The well-planned layout of the neighborhood means that schools, the library, friends, ice cream treats, and bike rides are all within reach. Sidewalks lead me and my dog on many walks as I enjoy the spring blooms, summer breezes, fall foliage, and quiet snow-filled yards. Morning or night, we treasure the sidewalks for where they lead and the memories made on our journeys.


Judy Middleton 1982 (reprinted and revised 1996, revised again 2020)

In those days the Old Ship was not as close to the sea as it is today because the lower part of Brighthelmstone still stretched south of the site. Then just fifteen years after it was re-named the angry sea swept away no less than 113 properties, including cottages and shops. The great storm of 1705 finally obliterated all vestiges of the lower town built beneath the cliffs.

copyright © J.Middleton
Visitors to the Old Ship only needed to cross the road to see the interesting scene pictured here.

During the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries a familiar sight from the windows of the Old Ship must have been the colliers and merchant ships, which were beached on the shore for rapid unloading because they had to be ready to sail at the next high tide. There were fishing boats too that unfurled dark sails out at sea and not forgetting the tough, little boat known as a hoggy, especially built to survive the rough treatment of being hauled across pebbles. When the fishermen were ashore, they spread out their nets to dry over the wooden railings.

copyright © J.Middleton
This drawing of a stout Brighton ‘hoggy’ was
taken from a model at Brighton Museum.

In 1888 the celebrated coachman James Selby took the coach Old Times from the White Horse, Piccadilly to the Old Ship and back again in seven hours and fifty minutes, the fastest time ever recorded. Selby made his last journey from the Old Ship on the Old Times on 7 December 1888 in defiance of his doctor’s advice on 14 December 1888 he died of bronchitis and heart disease.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph dating from 1906 and showing a coach and four, has an indication of modern times with the shield fastened to the railings bearing the logo of the Automobile Club founded at the Old Ship in the same year.

The enthusiasm for coaching lasted until the First World War. Certainly in 1913 the coach Tantivy drawn by the customary four horses was outside the Old Ship before making a circular excursion through the Sussex countryside. In 1914 the military authorities commandeered the magnificent coach horses, including the ones from the Old Times. It seems appropriate that later travel enthusiasts for times past should have founded the Veteran Car Club at the Old Ship in 1930.

This photograph entitled " A Jovial Coaching Party from the "Old Ship Hotel" appeared in the Brighton Season Magazine in 1906 , the gentleman seated on the left is John L. Toole, a famous Victorian actor and theatrical producer.

Meanwhile, the Old Ship embarked on a long relationship with the Bacon family. In 1852 Robert Bacon and his brother-in-law Samuel Ridley leased the hotel for 𧴜 a year Ridley was an auctioneer and an Alderman. Four years earlier Robert Bacon married Miss Charlotte Cuff, the youngest sister of Edward George Cuff, one of the previous owners. In 1878 the lease expired and Bacon purchased the freehold for ٦,300. This was a considerable sum for those days but he was buying what a fashionable guide described as the most distinguished of Brighton’s numerous hotels. It was Bacon who presented the portrait of Dr Richard Russell to Brighton Art Gallery. Robert Bacon died in 1888 and his son Gresham took over. In fact a recently discovered old print shows that the hotel once displayed a large sign that read ‘Bacon & Co. Family Hotel’. It was also in 1888 too that Bacon & Co. was registered as a limited company. Gresham Bacon’s sister Edith had married Harry Duke Warne, a solicitor, who had advised that such a step should be taken.

Gresham Bacon completed the first modernisation of the Old Ship in 1895 and in 1906 he handed over the chairmanship of the company to his brother Francis. Francis Bacon already had a thriving practice as an architect and the management was by then in the capable hands of professional hoteliers.

copyright © J.Middleton
These splendid postcards dating back to 1904 give us a glimpse of how the interior looked in Edwardian times

copyright © J.Middleton

Under the management team of Clifford and Hannah Hindle who were in charge from 1908 until 1940, the hotel expanded dramatically. In 1927-1928 the garage and stable area were rebuilt on the site of Saunder’s Cottages and provided enough space for 120 cars. It was unusual at the time for a hotel to have such spacious parking while today it is even more amazing when parking spaces in central Brighton are like gold dust. In 1937 three cottages in Ship Street were acquired for redevelopment. A new east wing was built on the corner of Black Lion Street in 1963-1964.

Unlike other large establishments in Brighton and Hove during the Second World War, the Old Ship was left alone to continue its function as a hotel while the Metropole, for instance, was requisitioned. The same fate befell the Princes Hotel at Hove plus many of the large houses in Grand Avenue and a couple of private schools while the Dudley Hotel (now no more) continued as a hotel and hosted special occasions for nearby HMS King Alfred.

copyright © J.Middleton
The Old Ship in the 1930s

At the Old Ship it was business as usual and the Swiss chef, Mr Monnier, and his son continued to produce good food, despite the shortages while Mr Gretton, also with his son (a family hotel indeed) supervised the running of the restaurant. Miss Court continued to run the downstairs bar, which was more like a gentlemen’s club than anything else. Indeed she was such an established figure that ‘Courtie’s’ became the accepted name. She used to draw beer straight from the barrel and serve it in a jug. She had her favourites, which meant quick service, and the regulars had their accustomed seats.

The Old Ship escaped the wartime bombs but a peacetime bomb shook up Brighton considerably. This occurred in October 1984 when the IRA attempted to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who was staying at the Grand Hotel for the Conservative Party Conference. She escaped unscathed but others were not so fortunate. The bomb was timed to go off at 3 a.m. and the event became a worldwide news sensation. Just along the road the correspondent of the Washington Post was staying at the Old Ship and had enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep. The telephone rang in his room as he was eating breakfast. It was his news editor far away in America wanting to know why he had not filed any details about the Brighton bomb. The unfortunate correspondent had no idea something momentous had occurred.

By 2009 the Old Ship was run by Barceló Hotels and Resorts. This company is an international concern with businesses in sixteen different countries. On 28 September 2009 Simon Pedro Barceló, co-president of the company, flew over from Spain for a special party at the Old Ship to celebrate its 450 th anniversary. The ladies handing round refreshments were elegantly dressed in Regency style and there was even a be-wigged Old Ship ‘accountant’ wearing breeches and a red frock-coat with lace at throat and wrists, seated at a table with ledger and quill pen. The music was provided by musicians also suitable dressed for the occasion while the massive cake was a faithful replica of the hotel.

The Argus (17 November 2016) carried an account of the Cairn Group acquiring ownership of the Old Ship. The Cairn Group is based in Newcastle and Naveen Handa, director of the company, had this to say.

‘The Old Ship Hotel is undeniably a striking venue and an iconic feature of the seafront in Brighton… As part of our future plans we intend to invest in the hotel’s facilities to really bring the Georgian property’s grandeur to life.’

The exact sum the hotel was sold for was not disclosed because the deal is part of a multi-property sale involving four other hotels and the staggering price came to 㿷 million.


The Royal Escape Race

The race is normally open only to members of Sussex yacht clubs the Sussex Yacht Club organises the event, which is sponsored by the Old Ship and various local firms it is the largest cross-Channel yacht race. To ensure fairness, the competitors are divided into three classes with prizes in each class. It takes some time to compute which yacht is the overall winner because with racing handicaps, the first boat to arrive at Fécamp is not necessarily the winner. Fécamp lies 89 nautical miles from Brighton and the average time for the crossing is twelve hours. But if light winds prevail, the race can take as long as 24 hours. The fastest time is nine and a half hours.

Christopher Mileham, a retired solicitor, was responsible for creating a detailed model of the Royal Escape, which served as the trophy for the overall winner Mr Mileham was also chairman of the Old Ship from 1952 to 1968. He took advice from the National Maritime Museum as to what a ship of that period was actually like because the old shipbuilders did not work from three-dimensional plans. He built his model plank by plank and the task took him a year to complete. It was housed in a special case that he also constructed. Unhappily, in 1995 the model was stolen and the winner receives a framed coloured photograph of it instead.


History of Brighton - History

The history of Brighton & Hove in lots of bits

• Continuing research on planning applications allows updating of both the Streets and Architects/builders departments. See, for example, the listing of work by Charles Nye, G M Nye and S C Smale.
• A new section about local government administration, including the wards for elections since 1854.

• The Whitehawk estate as originally laid out in the mid 1930s.
• The lost studio of Whitehawk: How the British National Film Studio never happened.

• The census district listings have been moved. Click here to find them. The listings for 1871 and 1881 have been completed for the whole of the area of the modern city.

• Archaeological finds are being noted to the 'Streets' gazetteer.
• The 'Streets' gazetteer is constantly being updated, particularly with links to other references on the site.
• Each street has been tagged with the conservation area in which it is located, where relevant.
• Land and properties acquired by Brighton Borough Council are now being added (February 2021).

All the streets and place names of Brighton and Hove. Constant additions.

MAPS and plans

A collection of maps and street plans of Brighton and Hove.

Some of the famous, infamous and interesting people who were born, lived or died in the city
NEW Constantine Alexander Ionides, Sarah Paxton Ball Dodson, Theodosia Meade, Lady Emma Pennant, Percy Shakespeare and various people whose names begin with R

The architects, designers and builders who created the physical environment of the city.
NEW Peter Frederick Robinson, Joseph Henry Good, John Starling Chapple. Listing work by local architects and builders continues: see avove.

HISTORY

A collection of articles about the city's history.

ELECTIONS

Candidates, results, majorities, electorates and noteworthy facts.

LAWS

All Local Acts of parliament concerning the city, including roads and railways, since 1772.

CHARITIES

A growing list of the charitable institutions and societies that once existed in the city.


A repository of numerical data, including population, prices, speed, etc.

Brighton PRESS

Chronologies of all the local newspapers and journals since 1749.

BOOKS and plays set in Brighton

An ever-growing list of titles from 1811 to the present day.
NEW Several titles added

QUOTATIONS

Things written or said about Brighton.
NEW Elizabeth Fry on beggars in Brighton and her solution.

RESOURCES
New section coming soon-ish

Much more to come
Comments and contributions are most welcome.


History of Brighton - History

The Brighton Center Commercial Area is one of the most historically significant areas within Allston-Brighton. The northeast corner of the historic Washington and Market Street cross roads became the focus of the community's educational and religious life as early as the second quarter of the eighteenth century with the establishment of the first school in l722 and the first meetinghouse in 1744.

Brighton Center's status as a community center was reinforced by the establishment of the Old Burial Ground on Market Street in 1764. Between c.1790 and 1820, Brighton Center's fortune's were on the rise, becoming the seat of town government for the new town of Brighton in 1807 and a major agricultural center with the establishment of the fair grounds of the Massachusetts Society for the Promoting of Agriculture in 1818. During this period, Brighton Center became the home of literary figures such as the Reverend John Foster and his wife, novelist Hannah Foster, and Unitarian theologian and peace activist Reverend Dr. Noah Worcester.

The hay day of the Cattle Market and related hotel industry occurred during the period 1820-1870. The concentration of cattle slaughtering and the cattle yards at the Brighton Abattoir in North Brighton during the 1870s and early 50s resulted in the loss of the cattlemen's business at Brighton Center. Nevertheless, the center flourished as a local commercial center and during the first quarter of the 20th century a new wave of commercial blocks were constructed to accommodate the burgeoning automobile trade. During the 1910s and 1920s, the Yankee dominance of this area was surpassed by Italian residents and store owners.

Little Cambridge, later Brighton, remained a sparsely settled agricultural community during the 17th and 18th centuries. Its population rose only slightly from 125 to 350, between 1690 and 1790. With the withdrawal of Newton from Cambridge in 1688, Little Cambridge became the only part of Cambridge south of the Charles River.

The first stirrings of independence by Little Cambridge as well as the beginnings of Brighton Center are rooted in the establishment of a schoolhouse near the northeast corner of Market and Washington streets on land furnished by Daniel Dana, the youngest son of Richard Dana who emigrated from Manchester England in 1640. With a tuition of ten-shillings per year, the first school can not be classified as public, although the Town of Cambridge maintained it out of general revenues and the local population selected a committee to manage the facility. A larger schoolhouse measuring 28 by 20 feet was built at the same location in 1769.

Another step toward independence was taken in 1734 when the community successfully petitioned the colonial legislature for permission to hold religious services in Little Cambridge in winter. In 1739, a committee of local residents recommended the construction of a meetinghouse at the northeast corner of Washington and Market streets, adjacent to the schoolhouse. It was not until 1744, however, that this house of worship was built. Brighton-Allston historian William Marchione notes that "the Little Cambridge Meetinghouse, it should be emphasized, was merely an annex or chapel of the First Church of Cambridge. While its members no longer worshipped at the parent church in Harvard Square, they were technically still members of the old church and therefore obligated to pay for its upkeep. This double payment system, which prevailed for nearly forty years, vexed the people of Little Cambridge."

After a thirty-two year struggle, the General Court finally approved the separation of the churches at Harvard Square and Brighton Center in April, 1779. The Brighton church was incorporated on February 23, 1783. In 1807, the town moved the 1744 church across Washington Street to the site of the present Elk's Lodge at 326 Washington Street. Following a fire that destroyed its predecessor, the present Cabot, Everett and Chandler designed Brighton Evangelical Church was built in 1921 at 404 Washington Street. The current church is the third Evangelical Congregational Church to stand at the northwest corner of Dighton and Washington streets. Constructed in 1827, the first Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church was a product of the Great Schism that occurred in New England Congregational societies during the first quarter of the 19th century. In Brighton, parishioners opposed to the liberal Unitarian teachings of Reverend John Foster built themselves a house of worship for a more conservative or Trinitarian congregation. The second church was built in 1868 from designs provided by Brighton resident Granville Fuller, architect of the 1841 Greek Revival Brighton Town Hall (destroyed by fire c.1975).

The commencement of the Reverend John Foster's pastorate on November 4, 1784 marked the beginning of a forty year period that represents the flowering of Brighton Center as a prosperous and progressive town center. This era was known as the Federal Period in United States history, and by this era's end, Brighton had an architectural identity recognizable as a town center and a burgeoning reputation as an important horticultural center and cattle market. The 21-year old, Dartmouth College-educated John Foster, was a member of a new, liberal, generation of Congregational clerics who fervently embraced the less pietistic tenets of the Unitarian philosophy. William Marchione notes that "learned, kindly John Foster, author of more than thirty religious tracts, Harvard College Trustee, gentleman and aristocrat, was well-suited to the community he had been called to serve." Foster's wife Hannah was an interesting figure in her own right, as an accomplished writer and author of the controversial novel "The Coquette or the History of Eliza Wharton." This shocking tale of seduction, based on the experiences of Reverend Foster's cousin, Eliza Whitman, became the most popular literary work in New England in the early 1800s. Remarkably, John and Hannah Foster's first home in Brighton survives at the c.1790 dwelling at 338 Washington Street. Over time, the Old Parsonage has been "Greek Revitalized " and its first floor altered for commercial purposes. By 1830, Brighton Center blacksmith Stephen Stone lived in the former rectory. During the late 19th century, this house was one of the many properties of Boston lawyer and Brighton Avenue resident Edward Sohier. He was a partner in the firm of Sohier and Welch. By 1909 it was a hotel and news stand. During the 1910s,'20s and 30s it was operated as a fruit stand and newsdealership by John and Victor Picone.

Constructed by 1830, the wooden Greek Revival dwelling located directly behind the parsonage at 6 Academy Hill Road was the home of general store owner Elijah White. White's Store was located across the street at the northwest corner of Washington Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue. This store was a gathering place for farmers from Worcester County and other places. By the late 19th century, 6 Academy Hill Road contained the home and stores of grocers C.W.P. and William Wilde (1870s - 1890s) and Domenico Lombardi (1920s until at least 1950).

Although the early 19th century Reverend Dr. Noah Worcester House was torn down to accommodate the c. 1910-1915 Colonial Revival three deckers at 437 and 439 Washington Street, a c. 1930s granite marker is situated between these two residences to commemorate the site of this early 19th century residence, Dr. Noah Worcester, editor of the Unitarian journal The Christian Disciple and one of the founders of the American peace movement settled in Brighton in 1813. Worcester wrote his most important work, A Solemn Review of the Custom of War (1814) in his wooden residence at the northwest corner of Washington and Foster streets. Worcester's writings led to the establishment of many peace societies in the United States and abroad, including the Massachusetts Peace Society which Worcester served as Secretary. He was Brighton's first postmaster, serving from 1817 until his death in 1837. The post office was located in his home.

The Federal Period in the Boston area was characterized by ambitious bridge, highway and canal construction projects. Although no canals were cut through Brighton, the town was the scene of several significant road and bridge projects. The construction of Cambridge Street and the River Street Bridge in 1810 and Brighton Avenue in 1824 linked Brighton Center more closely with Cambridge and Boston.

During the 1820s and '30s, these new roads provided access to persons doing business with Brighton's thriving agricultural concerns. Eminent visitors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Cullen Bryant traveled through Brighton Center on their way to the nurseries of Joseph L.L. Warren's Nonantum Vale Gardens, Jonathan Winship and Joseph Breck. The decision of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (MSPA) to locate its fairgrounds and exhibition hall permanently in Brighton enhanced the town's position as a horticultural center. One of the earliest and largest agricultural fairs in the nation, the Brighton fair and Cattle show, was held in October of each year from 1817 to 1835. These fairs "embraced everything that could interest a farmer or be of benefit to agriculture and in connection with them the importation of superior breeds of farm animals laid a firm and scientific base for the excellence which developed later. The town fathers were eager to secure the Brighton Fair and Cattle Show for Brighton, recognizing that a permanent location for the fair in Brighton would, greatly benefit the local cattle industry.

By 1830,the Brighton Fair was in decline owing to "the effects of counter attractions by the county societies." By 1835, competition from other fairs caused the Brighton Fair to cease operations. Little physical evidence remains within the Brighton Commercial area to attest to the vitality and importance of the Brighton Fair, with the noteworthy exception of Agricultural Hall at 356-360 Washington Street. Originally located atop Agricultural Hill on the site of the Winship School on Dighton Street, this c. 1820s Greek Revival structure was moved to its present lot in 1844. In its original condition, this wooden exhibition hall was a two-story structure, measuring seventy by thirty-six feet long. The lower level was used to display the latest farm implements, and mammoth vegetables, while the upper level was devoted to textile and handicraft exhibits." After it was moved to the northeast corner of Chestnut Hill Avenue and Washington Street, it became the Eastern Hotel, one of the half dozen or so hotels at Brighton Center that catered to cattlemen.

The beginnings of Brighton's Cattle Market are rooted in the imaginative entrepreneurship of Jonathan Winship I and Jonathan Winship II, father and son.

The Winships arrived in Little Cambridge from Lexington on the eve of the Revolution. As early as 1775, this remarkable family established the Little Cambridge Cattle Market. The Winships responded to the provisions needs of General Washington's Cambridge based army by alerting farmers in surrounding communities that they would purchase their cattle. After the cattle was sent to Little Cambridge, the animals were processed for the patriots at their Academy Hill Road slaughterhouse. General Washington, recognizing the importance of a well fed army, posted soldiers at the Winship warehouses to protect them against sabotage. By the war's end the Winships were the richest family in Brighton.

In 1780, they built a large mansion on the site of the present Brighton Police Station at 301 Washington Street. The Winship house was an L-shaped complex consisting of a monitor-on-hip roofed main block and large stable. While the Brighton cattle market was founded by the Winships and reinforced by the MSPA's Brighton Fair, it was the introduction of rail service to the town during the 1830s that allowed this important industry to expand and flourish.

Although the Boston and Worcester Railroad was routed through the northern part of town, Brighton Center's Cattle Market nevertheless benefited from the introduction of this new form of transportation. According to William Marchione, "the building of the B&W through Brighton marked the culmination of the town's long struggle to solidify its hold on the cattle trade. Since the railroad encouraged livestock shipments to Brighton by setting low carload rates for cattle, sheep, hogs and calves, its construction proved highly beneficial to the town's economy.

By the 1830s, Brighton Center contained a social library, fire house, town hall, two churches, and a post office. Commercial concerns encompassed a harness maker's shop, wheelwright shop, blacksmith shop, bank, three general stores and a tavern. Additionally, a half dozen private homes lined Washington Street at Brighton Center. The Cattle Fair Hotel built in 1830, stood at the northwest corner of Washington and Market streets, complete with auctioneer's platform, barn and cattle yards. In 1841, a handsome, temple form, Greek Revival town hall was built at 321 Washington Street by Brighton architect and lumber yard owner Granville A. Fuller. This wooden structures high granite block foundation is still visible beneath the modern structure that replaced the fire-destroyed Brighton Town Hall in 1976.

The Cattle Fair Hotel was Brighton's most visible symbol of the town's lucrative cattle industry. By the 1850s the hotel had been greatly enlarged and accorded formal, Italianate architectural treatments by the Boston architect William Washburn. This Italianate, cupola topped, four story building had a rusticated entrance loggia. By mid-century, Brighton's Cattle Market was New England's largest, doing some $2 to $3 million dollars of business in hogs, cattle, and sheep annually. By 1866 Brighton contained some fifty-five small-scale butchering establishments. On Market Day, a colorful melange of drovers, stockmen, cattle dealers, hawkers and peddlers were drawn to Brighton Center.

The rough and tumble atmosphere of cattle and other farm animals being herded through the streets of the town as well as the revelry of inebriated visitors in hotel barrooms inspired the great writer Nathaniel Hawthorn to describe a Market Day in Brighton during the Fall of 1841. No trace remains of this hotel or its cattle yards. Sold in 1881, the famous hotel struggled on the Faneuil House despite the consolidation of animal slaughtering at the Brighton Abattoir and the removal of the cattle yards to North Brighton. Demolished around the turn of the century, The Cattle Fair Hotel was the largest of the half dozen or so hostelries frequented by the cattlemen. In addition to the Cattle Fair Hotel and the Eastern Star Hotel, Brighton Center encompassed the Reservoir Hotel which stood on the site of the commercial block at 311-313 Washington Street.

The vinyl sided structure at 15 Academy Hill Road appears to be a c. 1840s structure that may be the John D. Willis Stables. Occupying this site during the late 19th century, the Willis Stables was owned y the old Colony Trust Company during the 1920s and by 1930, housed Watson Brothers Auto Painters. During the 19th century, stables, both private and commercial, were a common feature of the commercial concerns and houses lining Washington Street 15 Academy Hill Road may be one of the last of these utilitarian structures to survive in a relatively intact form.

Built during the end of Brighton's Cattle Market era the c.1865-1875 Corcoran Building at 394 Washington Street and 2-4 Dighton Street was constructed c.1865-1975 on the site of the c. 1820s J.B. Mason Grocery Store. The Mason Store was a wooden single story structure that contained the post office after 1837. James Corcoran and his heirs owned this property from c.1870 until c. 920. By 1930, its tenants were Samuel Bornstein, tailor and O'Donnell Auto accessories.

Although built during the early 1900s, the Shingle Style St. Margaret's Episcopal Parish Hall at 9 Eastburn Street provides physical evidence of an Episcopalian congregation in Brighton that was organized in 1854. The establishment of an Episcopal Church at mid-century in Brighton was indicative of the population growth that occurred between the time of the town's incorporation in 1807 and its fiftieth anniversary in 1857. The century began with a population of between 500 and 600 inhabitants and by 1857 had risen to over 3,000 persons. With the growth in population new religious societies were formed including those of the Catholics (1855), Universalists (1861) and Methodists (1872). St. Margaret's Episcopal Church was founded by the Reverend Cyrus F. Knight, a native son. who later served as the Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee. Among the first parishioners were families with summer retreats in the town. In 1864, the Episcopalians built the wooden Gothic Revival Church of the Epiphany at the corner of Washington and Eastburn streets. In 1872, it was sold to a new parish under the name of St. Margaret's Church. Although this church was destroyed by fire during the late 1970s, its name lives on at St. Luke's and St. Margaret's Church in the Packard's Corner area of Allston. Several stained glass windows and memorabilia from the Brighton Center Church have been relocated to St. Luke's. St. Margaret's Rectory was located next door to the church at 434 Washington Street. Built for the church c. 1917-1924, this stucco parged Craftsman style house replaced the early 19th century, wooden, five bay, single pile John Field House.

During the 1880s and 1890s transportation improvements were a major factor in the growth of Brighton Center. In 1889, the Oak Square branch of Henry M. Whitney's electric West End Street Railway linked western Brighton with Beacon Street, Brookline via Washington Street. As Sam Bass Warner, Jr. noted of this transportation revolution, "In the late 1880s and 1890s the electrification of street railways brought convenient transportation to at least the range of six miles from City Hall. The rate of building and settlement in the period became so rapid that the whole scale and plan of Greater Boston was entirely made over." The introduction of electric streetcar service and the relocation of the cattle yards to North Brighton opened the area north of Brighton Center for residential development. The affluent residents of this area were an ideal clientele for the commercial enterprises of Brighton Center. Providing physical evidence of Brighton's late 19th century prosperity as a commercial center are several architecturally distinguished commercial blocks. Built in 1879, the brick Victorian Warren Hall at 329-337 Washington Street was named for the William Wirt Warren family. During the late l9th century Warren rose to a position of influence in the affairs of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, serving as local Collector of Internal Revenue, as State Senator, candidate for state attorney General and Congressman. Warren's heirs owned this imposing building with its stores, offices and meeting hall until at least the 1920s.

During the first half of the 20th century the Brighton Center Post Office was located in this building. In 1926, Warren Hall was the scene of a celebration by the Massachusetts Sons of Italy Convention, an event symbolic of the rise of the town's Italian population which numbered 3,500 by 1930. By 1930, the Warren Building's tenants included the Warren Hall Market, Pliny W. Berks, dentist, Masonic Hall, Summerland Hairdressing Parlor, Mrs. Annie Blackwell, nurse, Napoleon Ross, painter, Sophie L. Nyberg, Clifford B. Dolan, laborer, John B. Martin, clerk and Ellen F. Conley, assistant librarian, Brighton Branch Library.

During the late 19th century, a handsome masonry High Victorian Gothic commercial block anchored the northwest corner of Chestnut Hill Avenue and Washington Street. Containing Heinlein & Co. Pharmacy and M. O'Keefe's Teas and Coffee Store, this structure was replaced by the present c.1920-1930 Georgian Revival building at 360-362 Washington Street. Further research may reveal that the present building represents a significant percentage of the original building's fabric. This prominent corner lot was occupied by the original Bank of Brighton from the late 1820s until after the Civil War. The present building's upper floors house 10 apartments. From the 1920s until the 1940s, this building contained a branch of the First National Bank of Boston. In 1940, Michael F. Rosenthall, jeweler, is listed at this address, along with the bank. In 1950, its commercial tenants included J. F. Conaty, Electric Company and Radios as well as the Brighton Loan Company.

Built in 1892, the Nagle Building at 300-310 Washington Street is a fine example of a Queen Anne commercial/residential block. As early as 1875, this site was occupied by 4 small wooden buildings which were evidently associated with Nagle's Hotel which stood at the northwest corner of Winship and Washington streets. As late as 1916, Nagle's hotel stood on the site of the 1920s commercial block at 290-298 Washington Street. The Nagle Building was constructed by J.J. Flynn from designs provided by W.E. Clark. By 1930, the Nagle Building housed Ryan Brothers Fruit (302), Arthur I. Russell, plumber (304), Brighton Center Pool Room (306) and Mrs. Fannie Dreyer's Variety Store. Tenants in the upstairs apartments were of Irish, Italian, French and German stock. In 1950, the Nagle Building's commercial space was occupied by Brighton Cleansers and Tailors, Brighton Tap and Restaurant, Inc. and Louis Furniture Company.

Before continuing with the discussion of late 19th century commercial building's mention should be made of the Georgian Revival, yellow brick Brighton Police Station at 301 Washington Street. Built c.1891-1894, the Brighton Police Station occupies the site of the old 1780 Winship Mansion. In 1820, Samuel Dudley bought the property from the Winship family, added an extra floor to the old mansion and converted it to a hotel. It was here that General Lafayette stayed while visiting Brighton in 1826, on the nation's 50th anniversary. To the right stood a small building, which served both as the law office of Abraham Edwards and the headquarters of the Brighton Social Library, established in 1824. In 1856 it merged with a new society, the Brighton Library Association, which had been incorporated by the legislature for book circulation, public lectures and exercises in debate, declamation and composition. By 1875, the building and large stable complex on this site was Wilson's Hotel, owned by wealthy teamster George A. Wilson. By 1885, Wilson's Hotel and stables were still standing but had was no longer in business. This lot, owned by the City of Boston, was designed by Boston City Architect Edmund March Wheelwright. Situated at the eastern entrance to Brighton Center, the early 1890s Brighton Police is no less an impressive "gateway" structure than the Winship Mansion or the Dudley and Wilson Hotels. It was designed by Boston City Architect Edmund March Wheelwright. He was responsible for the 1894 Brighton High School (William Howard Taft Middle School), Longfellow Bridge, Harvard Lampoon Building, the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall and many other important public buildings.

The Davis Building at 328 Washington Street is a three-story Queen Anne commercial/residential building was built for bakers Charles W. and Frederick A. Davis between 1886-1894. By 1925, this building was owned by Andrew J. Granara. By 1930, Peter Kanofsky, baker, occupied the first floor's commercial space.

Constructed c.1900-1908, the Washington and Imperial Buildings at 363 -365 Washington Street and 418-422 Washington Street, by virtue of their 5 story height, massing and prominent siting are the most highly visible reminders of Brighton Center's prosperity during the early years of the Streetcar Suburbs era. Originally, both buildings were called the Imperial Building. This lot has a long history as a site of an historically significant landmark. As early as 1722, the First Parish Church of Brighton was located on this parcel. The last First Parish Church to occupy this lot was torn down during the 1890s. By 1899, a T-shaped wooden building owned by George L. Clark and the heirs of cattleman Stephen Bennett owned this property. Early owners of the present early 1900s building included Celia Urofsky (1909) and Katherine A. Quinn (1916). The 1925 Brighton Atlas shows the towered structural component labeled Washington Building. Also known as Rourke's Building, by the mid-'20s J.M. Rourke's Drug Store was housed in the Washington Building's corner store. Still located in this commercial space, Rourke's Drug Store retains the appearance of an early 20th century pharmacy and soda fountain. By 1930, tenants of the Washington and Imperial Buildings included Dennis F. Rourke, Drugs, Brighton Beauty Shoppe, Francis P. Devlin, dentist, James E. Devlin, dentist, Arthur R. Falvey, dentist and Estella N. Tierney, dressmaker.

The 1910s and 1920s witnessed the final phase of Brighton Center's transformation from a village of wooden structures to a more urbane town center of masonry commercial buildings. This wave of construction activity was triggered by the advent of the automobile trade and the ambitions of Italian, Jewish and Irish entrepreneurs who operated grocery, clothing, hardware and other businesses in the new one to two story Classical Revival, Georgian Revival, Tudoresque and Tapestry Brick commercial blocks. The demolition of the Cattle Fair Hotel at the turn of the century opened the north side of Washington Street, between Parsons and Market streets for development.

Erected on the old hotel grounds c.1910-1915, the brick 381-385 Washington Street is difficult to categorize in terms of historical architectural style. This. one story structure was built for Joseph Houlton. In 1930, its commercial tenants included Economy Grocery Stores, Quality Market and Peter Zata, confectioner. By 1950, Earle's Card Shop, James M. Sutcliffe, real estate and a candy store were listed at this address.

The one story, Classical Revival, stucco-parged commercial structure at 415-419 Washington Street was built c. 1917-1924 for J.S. Arvamides. During the 1870s, L-shaped and U-shaped houses owned by dry goods store owner Charles Heard were located on this lot. By the early 1900s, the L-shaped house was no longer standing while the U-shaped dwelling was owned by Marshall N. Rice. The old Heard House was demolished during the early 1920s to accommodate the Arvamides Block whose commercial tenants in 1930 included Caron Company Inc., confectioners, First National Stores, Inc. and Charles Grandison Real Estate. By 1950, this building was occupied by a candy store, tailor, shoe repair and coffee shop.

Before considering other World War I era commercial blocks, the yellow brick Georgian Revival Martinello Apartments at 10-16 Chestnut Hill Avenue should be mentioned as examples of housing dating from 1910-1915 as well a building whose early ownership provides evidence of the rise of an Italian population in Brighton. During the late 19th century, this lot was occupied by Scates' Stables. By 1916, M. Martinello owned the present apartment house. In 1925 A. Rozen is listed as this property's owner.

By 1930, Italian, Irish and Anglo tenants are listed at this address, including: auto mechanics, Thomas A. Hesky and James A. Hendricks, Truman H. Judson, lineman, Clarence F. Beckwith, baker, Lawrence A. Centola, employee of the Chestnut Hill Pumping Station, Leon McPherson, driver, Nicholas Gamal, salesman, Bernard Ravesi, fruit market proprietor, Arthur Chiampagne, Stephen P.Melia, gardener and Lawrence E. Orkle.

The Greenleaf Block at 311-313 Washington Street was built c.1910-1915 from designs provided by Luther C. Greenleaf, architect and original owner of this building. Listed at 6 Upland Road, Dorchester in 1916, Greenleafs office was located at 101 Tremont Street, Boston. He owned this two story Tapestry Brick commercial block until at least 1925. By 1930 First National Stores, Inc., and Whittemore, Batchelder Coal Company occupied the first floor while William T. Coggan, dentist and Thomas H. Connelly occupied the second floor's professional offices. By 1950, the Greenleaf Block's occupants included: William F.E. Coughlan, Chiropodist, the Gardener and Denver Company, Randell-Parker, Inc. Women's Clothing, Daniel F. Shea, Florist and Warren Hall Market Inc.

The Tudoresque commercial building at 345 Washington Street was built c.1910-1915 on the site of the venerable Osborn House, a wooden 18th century saltbox . During the early 19th century a public open space called "The Green" was located between the Osborn House and the First Parish Church. John Herrick purchased the Osborn House from Isaac Champney in 1807. Encompassed one acre, mansion, shop and slaughter house, Herrick sold this property to Stephen Stone, blacksmith, in 1816. In 1820, Jesse Osborn, wheelwright, purchased the house and about half an acre of land. Osborn's heirs owned this dwelling until as late as 1909. By 1916, Archibard Harvey and Herbert S. Streeter owned the present building. In 1930, commercial tenants included James J. Callahan's Men's Furnishings, Charles A. Bean's Variety Store and the Boston Shoe Repair. By l950, this building's tenants included First National Stores Inc., Newhall and Newall, Insurance, Shamrock Tavern, Inc., Callahan's Men's Shop, and the Egyptian Bowling Alley. The Bowling Alley was evidently named after the Art Deco Egyptian Theater which was located across the street at 326 Washington Street.

Built in 1929, the Art Deco Egyptian Theater was one of the handsomest movie palaces built in Boston during the 1920s. With a seating capacity of 1,700, the construction of this theater coincided with the advent of "talking pictures." This theater reached the height of its popularity during World War II . Demolished in 1959, even the Pharaonic grandeur of the theater's interior could no longer compete with the convenience and economy of television.

366-374 Washington Street is a relatively late example of the Tapestry Brick commercial block. During the 1820s and '30s, this site was occupied by Charles Heard's dry goods store and tailoring business. He was the first local merchant to sell ready made clothing. A Miss Lawton and Miss Gill operated a millinery and dressmaking concern out of the same building. By 1875, the two wooden buildings on this lot were owned by members of old Brighton families. Edward Sparhawk and Sally Munroe owned these buildings during the late l9th century. By l925, K.M. Glynn and W.J. Dennis owned these wooden buildings. Built between 1925 and l930, the present building's early tenants included the Great A & P Tea Company, Morgan Brothers, Inc., Creamery and Angelo Minella, plumber. By 1950, commercial concerns listed at this address included : Home Supply Co., a current tenant, Anthony Ferrolito's Fruit Market, Morgan Brothers Creamery and Edward P. Ford, liquors.

Constructed between 1960-1970, the red brick, Georgian Revival Brighton Medical Building at 418 Washington Street is highly compatible with the older buildings of this commercial area Its site was occupied by the T-shaped wooden house of Annie J. Knight during the late 19th and early 20th century. By 1916, this dwelling had been converted into a duplex owned by Cyrus W. Alger and Lucy A. Clark. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the old Knight House contained Arlington Conservatories, florists, a business reminiscent of the horticultural concerns which thrived around Brighton Center during the first half of the 19th century.


Pride25 – The History of Brighton Pride

When do you think Brighton held its first Gay Pride march … 2000? 1990? You might be surprised to hear it was 1973. You probably won’t be surprised to hear it was a very small affair, certainly not the big parade with carnival floats and huge crowds we’re used to today.

Organised by the Sussex Gay Liberation Front, it was a brave thing to do at the time. Only seven years before that and gay men simply getting it on together would’ve ended in a gaol sentence. The first Pride march may have been small in numbers but they did it in style ending the day with a Gay Dance at the Royal Albion Hotel.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Pride came back to Brighton. It was born out of political objection to the government passing laws to ban the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. Pride in 1991 was very homemade but very ambitious with a festival of events around town over the May bank holiday, ending in a Pink Picnic in Preston Park.

The political Pride marches lasted four years struggling against a homophobic local press and pitiful financial support from the local council. Pride 1992 returned to Preston Park but Pride 1993 ended with a Pink Picnic in Queens Park. A taste of the march through town and after-party on the Level in 1994 can be seen in this film – how times have changed…

The following year saw the start of the party Prides, though once again Pride took place on the relatively small space at the Level. The organisers managed to convince local businesses and performers that it was a good thing to be associated with and slowly Pride began to grow and change. The classic format of parade/park/street party is now something we all expect.

The organisers have changed regularly over the years and financial problems never seemed far away, yet Pride has endured. In 1996 it returned to Preston Park where it has remained ever since. In a controversial move at the time, the date for Pride in 1997 was moved from the May bank holiday to early August. However, being an outdoor event it has always been hostage to weather conditions and some years have seen merry revellers happily rolling around in mud lakes Glastonbury style.

Over the decades Pride has seen a couple of ‘weddings’, ever more outrageous floats and the odd anti-gay demonstrators who have been booed out of the park. In 2004 it was awarded charitable status, and as the crowds grew so did the scale of the celebrity appearances from Lisa Stansfield to Barbara Windsor, and more recently (2012) local talent The Freemasons and Fatboy Slim.

Things came to a head in 2010 when a record-busting estimated 160,000 people celebrated Pride in Brighton, yet it was still dogged by money worries. The following year saw the controversial introduction of charged entry to the park celebrations.
Previous Pride management ran up over £200k and in 2011 and Subsequently went bankrupt.
Under new management from 2012 Pride has raised over £110k for local LGBT community groups.

The diversity of tents in the park has expanded to reflect the attendees, including specific spaces for women, people of colour, trans folk, bears, cabaret and more, until it was acknowledged to be the largest free Pride event in the UK.

From its birth last century to the present day Brighton Pride has meant many things to many people. It has played its part in changing attitudes and promoting acceptance and equality, and of course that being LGBTQ or whoever you are, is something to be proud of.
As with most histories of lesbian and gay Brighton, thanks must go to the work of Brighton Ourstory.


History of Brighton BOT


Brighton Center Circa 1920

A Short History of Allston-Brighton

Allston-Brighton has a long and distinguished history. For its first 160 years it formed part of Cambridge.

In 1646, the Reverend John Eliot, the “Apostle to the Indians,” converted the local natives to Christianity and established a “Praying Indian” village, Nonantum, on the present Newton-Brighton boundary. The first English to locate here permanently—the families of Richard Champney, Richard Dana, and Nathaniel Sparhawk—crossed the Charles River from Cambridge a short time later, establishing the community of Little Cambridge, as Allston-Brighton was known before 1807.

Before the Revolution Little Cambridge was a prosperous farming community of fewer than 300 residents. Its inhabitants included such distinguished figures as Nathaniel Cunningham, Benjamin Faneuil and Charles Apthorp. Cunningham and Faneuil were wealthy Boston merchants. Apthorp was paymaster of British land forces in North America. All three maintained elaborate country estates here in the 1740 to 1775 period. Little Cambridge contributed Colonel Thomas Gardner to the Revolutionary cause. An important political figure in the years just before the Revolution, Gardner was fatally wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The City of Gardner, Massachusetts was named in his memory.

The establishment in 1775 in Little Cambridge of a cattle market to supply the Continental Army, then headquartered across the Charles River in Cambridge proper, was a key event in the history of Allston-Brighton. Jonathan Winship I and II, father and son, initiated the enterprise. The cattle trade experienced rapid growth in the post-war period. By 1790, the Winships were the biggest meat packers in Massachusetts.

When Cambridge’s town government failed to repair the Great Bridge that linked Little Cabridge to the parent community and points north, and made other decisions that threatenedthe well-being of the local cattle industry, the residents of Little Cambridge resolved to secede. They won legislative approval of separation in 1807, choosing the name Brighton for the new corporate entity.

In the decades that followed Brighton became a commercial center of the first magnitude. In 1819, the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture established its exhibition hall and fair grounds on Agricultural Hill in Brighton Center. For the next decade and a half Brighton was the site of the largest agricultural fair and cattle show in Massachusetts, held every October.

In 1820 another key industry was introduced into the town—hortiulture. This industry also flourished. By the 1840s, Brighton was one of the most important horticultural and market gardening centers in the Boston area. A partial list of local nurseries includes Winship’s Gardens in North Brighton, Nonantum Vale Gardens at the corner of Lake and Washington Streets, Breck’s Gardens in Oak Square, and Horace Gray’s grapery on Nonantum Hill.

A huge hotel–the Cattle Fair–and elaborate stockyard facilities were constructed on the north side of Brighton Center in 1832. The Cattle Fair was the largest hotel outside of Boston, containing 100 rooms. The construction of the Boston & Worcester Railroad through the town in 1834 reinforced the community’s hold on the cattle trade. By 1847, Brighton’s cattle traders were doing almost $2 million of business a year. By 1866, the town also contained 41 slaughterhouses.

With the growth of Boston in the 1850 to 1875 period, Brighton’s landowners saw greater opportunities for profit making in residential development. the groundwork for the transformation of Brighton into a streetcar suburb was laid in the 1870s and 1880s.

In 1872 all slaughtering activities in the town were consolidated into a single facility, the Brighton Abattoir, situated on the banks of the Charles River in North Brighton, thus freeing up valuable land in the central part of the town for house construction. In 1884 the Brighton Stockyards moved from the grounds of the Cattle Fair Hotel in Brighton Center to North Brighton.

Most decisively, the town’s leaders convinced the people that annexation to Boston would foster desirable growth, and in 1874 Brighton was absorbed into the City of Boston, thereby losing local self-determination. The introduction of electric-powered streetcars in 1889 spurred suburban development here.

Allston-Brighton’s population grew tremendously in the next half century, rising from 6,000 in 1875 to 47,000 by 1925. Much of the development of these years was of extremely high quality.

Turn-of-the-century Allston-Brighton contained many prestige neighborhoods.The post-World War II period was a time of great crisis for Allston-Brighton. A variety of factors generated mounting frustration–an increase in the number of motor vehicles, the intrusion of institutions into the neighborhood and the pressures they exerted on local housing stock, the flight of many long-term residents to the outer suburbs, high density/ low quality development, and especially (in the absence of political self-determination) the inability to control undesirable development.

While Allston-Brighton has not solved all of these problems, or even very many of them, it has learned to speak out for itself much more effectively. The Brighton-Allston Historical Society, which was founded in 1968, is proud to be in the vanguard of the local organizations that are struggling, with increasing success, to protect and promote the quality of life in this historically and culturally rich Boston neighborhood.

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History of Brighton - History

Allston-Brighton has a long and distinguished history. For its first 160 years it formed part of Cambridge. In 1646, the Reverend John Eliot, the "Apostle to the Indians," converted the local natives to Christianity and established a "Praying Indian" village, Nonantum, on the present Newton-Brighton boundary. The first Englishmen to locate here permanently - the families of Richard Champney, Richard Dana and Nathaniel Sparhawk - crossed the Charles River from Cambridge a short time later, establishing the community of little Cambridge, as Allston-Brighton was known before 1807.
Before the Revolution, Little Cambridge was a prosperous farming community of fewer than 300 residents. Its habitants included such distinguished figures as Nathaniel Cunningham, Benjamin Faneuil and Charles Apthorp. Cunningham and Faneuil were wealthy Boston merchants. Apthorp was paymaster of British land forces in North America. All three maintained elaborated country estates here in the 1740 to '75 period. Little Cambridge contributed Colonel Thomas Gardner to the Revolutionary cause. An important political figure in the years just before the Revolution, Gardner was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill. The town of Gardner, Massachusetts was named in his memory. The establishment in 1775 in Little Cambridge of a cattle market to supply the Continental Army, then headquartered across the Charles River in Harvard Square, was a key event in the history of this community. John Winship I and II, father and son, initiated the enterprise. The cattle trade experienced rapid growth in the post-war period. By 1790, the Winships were the biggest meat packers in Massachusetts. When Cambridge's town government failed to repair the Great Bridge that linked Little Cambridge to Harvard Square and points north, and made other decisions that threatened the well-being of the local cattle industry, the residents of Little Cambridge resolved to secede from the parent town. They won legislative approval of separation in 1807, choosing the name Brighton for the new corporate entity. In the decades that followed, Brighton became a commercial center of the first magnitude. In 1819,, the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture established its exhibition hall and fair grounds on Agriculture Hill in Brighton Center. For the next decade and a half, Brighton was the site of the largest agricultural fair and cattle show in Massachusetts, held every October.

In 1820, another key industry was introduced into the town - horticulture. This industry also flourished. By the 1840's, Brighton was one of the most important horticultural and market gardening centers in the Boston area. A partial list of local nurseries includes the Winship Nursery in North Brighton, Nonantum Vale Gardens at the corner of Lake and Washington Streets, Breck Garden's in Oak Square and Horace Gray's grapery on Nonantum Hill. A huge hotel- the Cattle Fair -and elaborate stockyard facilities were constructed on the north side of Brighton Center in 1832. The Cattle Fair was the largest hotel outside of Boston, containing 100 rooms. The construction of the Boston & Worcester Railroad through the town in 1834 reinforced the community's hold on the cattle trade. By 1847, the Brighton cattle traders were doing almost $2 million of business a year. By the 1860's, the town also contained an estimated 50 to 60 slaughterhouses. With the growth of Boston in the 1850 to 75 period, Brighton's land owners saw great opportunities for profit making in residential development. The groundwork for the transformation of Brighton into the streetcar suburb was laid in the 1870's and 80's.
Commonwealth Ave at Lake St c1900

In 1872, all slaughtering activities in the town were consolidated in a single facility, the Brighton Abattoir, situated on the banks of the Charles River in North Brighton, Thus freeing up the valuable land in the central part of the town for house construction. A short time later the Brighton Stockyards also moved to North Brighton. Most decisively, the town's leaders convinced the people that annexation to Boston would foster desirable growth and in 1874 Brighton was absorbed into the City of Boston, thereby losing political self-determination. The introduction of electric powered streetcars in 1889 spurred suburban development. Allston-Brighton's population grew tremendously in the next half century, rising from 6,000 in 1875 to 47,000 in 1925. Much of the development of these years was of an extremely high quality. Turn-of-the-century Allston-Brighton contained many prestige neighborhoods.

The post-World War II period was a time of great crisis for Allston-Brighton. A variety of factors generated mounting frustration - an increase in the number of motor vehicles, the intrusion of institutions into the neighborhood and the pressures they exerted on the local housing stock, the flight of many long-term residents to the outer suburbs, high density/low quality development, and especially (in the absence of political self determination) the inability to control undesirable development. In 1990, the population of Allston-Brighton was 70,000.

While Allston-Brighton has not solved all of its problems, or even very many of them, it has organized to speak out for itself. It was the goal of giving effective expression to Allston-Brighton's concerns that the Allston-Brighton Journal was founded in 1987 and disbanded in 1995. The Community Newspaper Company, Inc. published it first edition of the Allston-Brighton TAB in 1996


Brief History of the Brighton Cemetery

Photo of Brighton Cemetery in 2020 by Ron Richardson

Excerpted from articles by the late Ruth Blossom Kingston Porter. Find the full articles here: Historic Brighton News Volume 1, Number 2, Fall 2000 & Volume 9, number 4, Fall 2008.

“When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, it flowed quietly past the Brighton Cemetery on the eastern and northern sides. Today, that quiet flow of water has been replaced by a never-ending flow of thousands of noisy vehicles as they speed through the interchange of Expressways I-490 and I-590 which were built on the bed of the old canal. Most of the early pioneers of Brighton were pious Congregationalists from New England who soon organized a church which met in members’ homes for several years. In the early 1820s they built a small church (40’ x 55’), using locally-made bricks, on the high ground adjacent to the cemetery at the cost of $4000.

In pleasant weather, the members would stroll through the cemetery reading the inscriptions and finding a shady place to enjoy the nearby lock. In 1867, a flaming shingle blown by the wind from a burning Village tavern landed on the steeple of the church and soon reduced it to ashes. Many valuable items were saved by quick-acting church members, but the cemetery records, which were stored in the church, were completely destroyed. Therefore, the records of the Brighton Cemetery are far from complete.

A larger and more beautiful church was built in 1868 on East Avenue in the Village, and the church and cemetery were now separated by the canal. For years, the church continued to be responsible for the cemetery. However, in 1892 the Brighton Cemetery Association was formed to manage the cemetery culminating in a complete separation of the church and the cemetery.”

Due to our current inability to properly distribute the most recent newsletter to the public we have made it available online here for your convenience and enjoyment.


Watch the video: Η ιστορία της Βρετανίας (January 2022).