The Old Homesteads of Marlborough: Then and Now

Note: The final talk in this series will be June 21, 2015 from  2 - 4:00 p.m. at the Marlborough Public Library.

The Old Homesteads of Marlborough: Then and Now, was researched, written, and presented by Historical Society Trustee Chandra Lothian in a series of public talks in 2014 and 2015.

The presentation includes two images of each historic homestead, the painting and paired photo, along with a brief history of each one.  The homesteads are shown in order by the numbers in the brochure.  (More information on the project is below.)  For easier viewing the 59 homesteads covered June, 24 2014 have been split into Part Ia (paintings 1-29) and Part Ib (paintings 30-59). The remaining paintings have also been researched and will be posted here when ready.  (Part II covered paintings 60-92 and was presented November 19, 2014, and the rest will be done in spring 2015.)


Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, Massachusetts
, by Ella Bigelow, was published in 1910 and included photographs of watercolors of the homes of original colonial families, public buildings, landscapes, and some historical events.  These were painted byturn-of-the-century landscape artist Ellen Maria Carpenter sometime after about 1875 and before 1908. Today most of these are on display downstairs in the Marlborough library.  

(The entire 488-page book appears on the main Histories of Marlborough page and can be downloaded as a PDF here.  Bound reprints and an index can be purchased at the Historical Society.  The book is also available at the Marlborough Public Library.)  

She drove around town looking for all the houses, using the paintings as visual reference, along with the limited descriptions in the library’s brochure and in Ella Bigelow’s book, and maps from 1803, 1835 and 1875.   Once each house was located, she took a photograph from the same angle and distance as Mrs. Carpenter’s, duplicating the view as precisely as possible.   Many of the houses have been destroyed over the years, but she photographed those sites as well.  She also pulled together historical background from a number of other sources, and has referenced all these in the bibliography at the end if you want to find more information on any of the homesteads.

Fourteen paintings can’t be viewed at the library or in the booklet because they were destroyed in the 1967 library fire.  She found seven of them reproduced in Bigelow’s book so  used those reproductions.  For six others she found and used old photographs, although we have no way to know what view the paintings showed. She has updated the list of ‘remaining houses’ and identified the three paintings at the library which are missing their id numbers, two of which were listed as unidentified in the library’s watercolor Commemorative Booklet.  

The images of the homestead paintings have been reproduced here courtesy of the Marlborough Public Library Board of Trustees.  "The Marlborough Public Library is the sole owner of the 'Old Homestead of Marlborough' watercolor collection and prohibits the copying or displaying of the collection in any other form than presented in the Commemorative Booklet without the expressed consent and approval of the Board of Trustees of the Marlborough Public Library."

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