Archive 2008 - 2019

A Brief History of 23 Prospect Street

by Susan Heavner

Henry, the son of Francis and Miranda (Bailey) Fairbanks, had spent his life in the Braggville section of Holliston.  Like his father, Henry worked in a boot factory. As he signed the contract with Payson, he carefully worked out the specifications for his new house.  It was going to be a beauty with an interesting roofline and detailed trim, and it was going to be sited on a wonderful lot on Prospect Street in the village center with just enough slope to accommodate a walk-out basement. He finalized the agreement with Payson on October 4th and then signed the deed for the land with Sanford Drake the next day.  The expectation was that the house would be finished by mid December at a cost of $1,250.  It was a great start for the life Henry was planning — a future that included a young lady.  

The young lady who captured Henry’s eye was 24 year-old Eva Marilla Wight. Eva’s family lived on Milford Street in West Medway.  Their home was between Fisher and Clark Streets, just a few miles from the Fairbank’s home in Braggville. As was typical of the times, both Henry and Eva had known the sadness of losing young siblings to disease, but for Eva this year had been a particularly difficult one.  In January, she had lost her twin sister, Ella, and just a few days later her father, Aaron, succumbed to consumption. So, as Eva and Henry filed their marriage intention on the 29th of December 1877, this must have been a welcomed bit of happiness for Eva’s mother, Elizabeth.  Two days later, on New Years Day, the couple celebrated their wedding in West Medway. It was officiated by Reverend J. M. Bell.

Henry and Eva moved into their newly constructed house and went about the business of making it a home.  Judging from this old photo, someone in the family had a knack for gardening.  In July 1879, Henry and Eva welcomed the arrival of their child, Elsie Elizabeth Fairbanks.  Henry continued to work in the shoe business.  Many of his neighbors were also employed at boot or straw shops, but there were also grocers, teachers, and dressmakers nearby.

Sadly, Eva died of consumption just a few years later in the spring of 1883.  
Henry re-married the following year to a woman named Ardinella Collins.  Ardinella, the daughter of Lowell and Lucy (Pike) Collins of Southborough, also came from a family of shoemakers.  The Collins lived in the Fayville section of Southborough, near the train tracks, and Ardinella’s father worked for the railroad even though he suffered from rheumatism and other ailments that he attributed to his wartime service with the Massachusetts 13th Infantry.

A few years after Henry and Ardinella married, Elsie finally became a big sister with the birth of Lottie Eva Fairbanks on the 20th of February 1888.  Lottie’s middle name, Eva, was possibly a tribute to eight year-old Elsie’s deceased mother.  The location on Prospect Street ensured that the family could walk to just about anything - the lake, shops, schools, library and more.  It must have been a wonderful place for the two girls to spend their childhood. Perhaps Lottie made good use of the library because when she graduated in 1906 she was reportedly the class valedictorian.  Her essay was entitled, “ Glimpses of America’s Natural Wonders.”

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, the oldest daughter, Elsie, moved to Boston but Lottie was destined to spend her life in the beautiful Prospect Street home that her father built.  Henry died in 1910, and the Milford Daily News reported that his funeral was attended by many friends and family, noting that “at the interment in Lake Grove cemetery the impressive burial service of the Odd Fellows was performed.”

In the fall of 1922, Lottie married Frank Freeman Conrad, a man with Canadian roots.  Frank, who was born in Queens County, Nova Scotia in 1876, had been living in the United States for several years. Lottie and Frank shared the Prospect Street house with Lottie’s mother, Ardinella.  Directories and census reports indicate that Frank was a laundryman for several years but that he worked for Draper Corporation in Hopedale during World War II.   Draper, a company well known for making looms, was producing Howitzers and other items for the government during the war.  

Lottie’s mother died in 1947, at nearly 90 years old, and her husband, Frank, died the following year.  But Lottie lived many more years in the house of her birth.   She was active in the Baptist church and employed as a clerk at James Inches Dry Goods Store (affectionately known as Jimmy Inches) where she must have gotten to know just about everyone in town.   She died in June of 1973, but she is well remembered even today.

When Henry Fairbanks carefully worked out the specifications of his house back in 1877 he couldn’t have known that nearly a hundred years later it would still be home to his beloved daughter.   Wouldn’t that have made him smile….                                  


•   4 Oct 1877 - Henry M. Fairbanks and W. L.  Payson of "Paysons & Cutler" enter agreement for house construction  [you may be interested to know that Warren Lindsey Payson was my great grandfather's half brother!]

•   5 Oct 1877 - Deed for land -  Sanford Drake to Henry M. Fairbanks

•   29 Dec1877 Marriage Intention - Henry Messinger Fairbanks  and Eva Marilla Wight .  Henry Fairbanks, leather cutter,  born in Holliston,  son of Frances and Miranda.  Eva Marilla Wight of Medway aged 24 years, born in Medway, daughter of Aaron and Elizabeth.   [Eva was a twin.  She and Ella were born 30 Aug 1853 or 1854.  Sister Ella died at age 23 on 28 Jan 1877].

•   1 January 1878 Marriage of above

•   1880 Census - Henry M. Fairbanks age 27, works in Boot shop; Eva M. Fairbanks, age 26;  Elsie Fairbanks age 10 months. [Elsie was born 19 July 1879]

•   18 April 1883  Eva (White) Fairbanks dies of consumption

•   19 Nov 1884.  Henry M. Fairbanks of Holliston marries Ardinella Collins of Southborough, MA.  Ardinella is the daughter of Lowell A. Collins and Lucy A. Pike.    Second marriage for Henry.

•   20 Feb 1888 Lottie Eva Fairbanks born to Henry M. Fairbanks and Ardenella Collins Fairbanks [Lottie's middle name, Eva, may be in honor of Henry's first wife]

•   1900 Census - Henry M. Fairbanks born June 1852, age 47, laborer in shoe factory; Ardenella Fairbanks b. July 1857 age 42; Elsie Fairbanks b. July 1879 age 20; Lotta Fairbanks, b. Feb 1888 age 12.

•   1910 Census - Henry M. Fairbanks age 57; Ardennella Fairbanks age 52; Lottie Fairbanks age 22 - single. 

•   9 Aug 1910.  Death of Henry Messenger Fairbanks.  Aged 58, 1 month, 21 days; retired shoe maker; born Holliston, MA son of Francis Fairbanks and Miranda Bailey

•   1918 WWI draft Registration - Frank Freeman Conrad, b. 9 Jun 1876 [This is Lottie's future husband.  Document is hard to read but his date of birth is clear]

•   1920 Census - Ardenalla Fairbanks, age 62 widowed;   Lottie Fairbanks age 31 single

•   1930 Census - Frank F. Conrad and Lottie Conrad are living with Ardennella Fairbanks who is 72 and widowed. 

•   1930 Directory -  Frank F. Conrad laundryman and Lottie E. Conrad.  Lottie is listed as clerk at James Inches and address is 8 Prosect. [Jimmy Inches was a very well known store in Holliston.  I think it was in business into the 1950's.]

•   1940 Census - Frank Conrad age 62; Lottie Conrad age?, sales person in Dept store; Ardenella Fairbanks age 82

•   WWII Draft Registration - Frank Freemen Conrad; living at 8 Prospect St, Holliston; age 64; b. West Berlin Queens County, Nova Scotia;  Working at Draper Co. in Hopedale, MA 

•   1941 Directory .  Ardenella C. Fairbanks widow of Henry M. house at 23 Prospect. [Frank and Lottie are also listed in this directory as living at 23 Prospect.  Looks like house number was changed to 23 sometime after Frank's draft Registration ]Henry

•   SS Death index - Lottie Conrad, d. Jun 1973

Comments (13)

I do treasure it, Sue! As I said, it names so many of the Hollyrock "ancestors" so it's pretty fascinating. I guess the Oddfellows Lodge was the "in" club back in the day!

Jeanne Murphy | 2013-02-07 05:24:35

Do you think Warren Payson built most of the homes in Holliston in the Early Empire style with the mansard roof? This is a smaller version of 83 Elm Street, but the layout is very close.

DLA | 2013-02-05 06:58:02

Jean, How fabulous that you have that list!. I'm not sure about any relationship between Henry M. Fairbanks and Chet Fairbanks but it might interest you to know that Henry's obit mentioned a Fairbanks as one of the bearers. "The bearers were George R. Russell, Charles A. Walker, Herbert G. Fairbanks, Erwin A. Daniels" I did some minimal research after seeing your post (minimal enough not to consider it "Proven") and I think that Chet Fairbanks was Chester R. Fairbanks, the son of Benjamin Fairbanks, and grandson of Herbert G. Fairbanks who was mentioned in the obit. It has been so nice to read the comments and learn more about Lottie and also the recent history. Susan Heavner

Susan Heavner | 2013-02-04 13:03:47

I will give my cousin, Joanne Hulbert, renowned Holliston town historian, a call this afternoon!

Jeanne Murphy | 2013-02-04 07:10:59

I also meant to mention that I am in possession of the list of Past Noble Grands of the Odd Fellows Evergreen Lodge. I checked it and Henry Fairbanks was listed as the head of the lodge in 1899. My grandfather, Charles L. Tule, was Noble Grand in 1896, and my father, Stanton B. Tule, held that position in 1949. Chet Fairbanks, who I mentioned in the other post, is listed as Noble Grand in 1946. This list, hand lettered in calligraphy and which I am assuming was once displayed in the meeting room of the Odd Fellows, upstairs from Studio D, Brick House Realty, and the Superette, is a treasure that I am so happy to be in possession of. It read as a Who's Who of historical Holliston, listing names such as Bullard, Bray, Williams, Phipps, Rawson, Metcalf, Leland, Kingsbury, Noble, Fogg, Loring, and many more.

Jeanne Murphy | 2013-02-04 06:44:38

Jeanne - I'm not really sure. Chet lived at 19 Fruit and the couple had one son Raymond. I believe Raymond was adopted. As far as the Prospect St. connection maybe the town historian can help out

Bobby Blair | 2013-02-04 06:38:02

My mom, Dorothy (Hulbert) Tule, was best friends with Lillian Fairbanks, wife of Chet Fairbanks. They lived on Fruit Street. I wonder if Chet was related to these Fairbanks? Bobby? Any idea?

Jeanne Murphy | 2013-02-04 06:16:58

It is so interesting to read about the history of a house and its occupants. Thanks for the article!

Mary Curran | 2013-02-03 20:38:39

Warren Payson built our house on Church Street, along with his apprentice, William Dean Silly of Boston. Silly wrote on a door header that he was born in 1827 and apprenticed from 1847 to 1848, the date of our house. I wonder how many other houses have the back side of a header signed by the builder.

paul | 2013-02-03 13:39:49

Thanks Sue for I have such great memories of Lottie and how she always had candy in her apron pockets for all us kids. She was a dear lady who loved chlidren. Again thanks. D. Robbins

D. Robbins | 2013-02-03 11:08:08

A little recent history, if I may. This house was owned in recent years by our friends Andrew and Betsy, who raised two sons there. Andrew rebuilt the old workshop out back into a design studio for Betsy; the Mudville Madrigal Singers, in their early years, used to rehearse there. Also, when our son Peter came along, we had our first formal family photo taken (by Betsy) on this house's main staircase, which was more grand than the one in our own Mudville house. Thank you for posting about 23 Prospect!

David Bastille | 2013-02-03 08:36:11

I can still see Lottie Conrad bent over in her rubarb patch, nylons rolled down to mid calf. Thanks for the memories Susan

Bobby Blair | 2013-02-03 07:56:37

Great story. I love reading these historical pieces of the town

Yvonne Giargiari | 2013-02-03 06:15:18