You can trace much of our town’s history through its street names. One of the most common, of course, is Claflin. Hopkinton is home to Claflin Street, Claflin Place, Claflin Avenue and Claflin Commons, which is the location of small retail area behind 76 Main Street, a house known in the late 18th century as the Aaron Claflin Inn.
Confused? The following may or may not help with that, but follow along anyway because there is a fun announcement at the end, and prizes are included!
While it may seem odd to have so many streets bearing the Claflin name, the family and its many branches are integral to the town’s history. Some of the more famous among them are the above-mentioned Aaron, who welcomed travelers to his inn and reputedly hosted trainings of the Hopkinton Militia on his adjacent farm. Lee Claflin, who might be considered an interloper as he was born in Milford, returned to the fold in the early 1800’s when he set up one of the dozen boot and shoe factories that dominated the town center for most of the 19th century.
A short detour: Why shoe factories you might wonder? One reason may be that in 1818, Hopkinton resident Joseph Walker invented the shoe peg here which greatly improved the efficiency of shoe-making and the rest as they say, is history. Our detour takes us to Proctor Street (where Joseph lived) and will end on Walker Street, presumably named for our inventive citizen.
Returning to the venerable Lee Claflin, a factory owner, philanthropist, abolitionist and a founder of the Hopkinton National Bank and co-founder of Boston University. Lee personally financed the building of the Methodist Church, once located on a lot across the street from Saint John’s on – you guessed it – Church Street. Lee was also the father of William Claflin who served as Massachusetts governor from 1869 -1872. It is uncertain which of the many streets bearing the family name is considered as tribute to Lee and William but safe money says they each have one named for them. Lee’s house at 8 Hayden Rowe is stunning example of Greek Revival architecture built in 1840.
Rocketing out of the mid-19th century to the mid-20th, we find the custom of street naming after prominent citizens continues. From the early 1960’s and into the 1970’s, Robert and Bernice Nealon developed the Eastview Road neighborhood on what was originally part of the Fitch farm. It was charming to learn from one of their grandsons that Robbern Road is a portmanteau of their first names. As Bernice was born a Sullivan it is not surprising that Kerry Lane exists there as well. For those still following along, Sullivan is the most common surname found in County Kerry, Ireland.
Another brief aside: The area around the intersection of Pleasant and Grove Street was once known as Kerry Hill. Stay tuned – named sections of town will be the subject of an upcoming article.
Other streets are more obviously named. Pond Street has, well, a pond, also known as Lake Whitehall. School street is named for the Bear Hill schoolhouse that sat at the intersection of Pond and School Streets until 1950 when it was destroyed in a fire. And Spring street hosted the healing mineral springs that Joseph Norcross used to attract visitors from far and wide to his hotel in the 1800’s.
Win a Prize!
Now, here is where you come in! HopNews and the Hopkinton Historical Society would like to test your knowledge of the origin of other street names in town. Prizes are involved so the competition is sure to be intense.
We would like you to comment below this story with your own list of street names and who or what they were named for. The person submitting the longest and most accurate list will win a gift certificate to Central Public House and a one-year family membership to the Hopkinton Historical Society. The runner-up will win a copy of The Story of Miss Ellen Duffey and a published history of the monuments of the Town Common, both sure to provide you a good shot at winning the next time you find yourself at a Hopkinton trivia contest.
A super mega Grand Prize will go to the commenter that can accurately (or creatively) tell us how Hayden Rowe Street got its name. This is a mystery that has eluded us for years.
Rules, because we have to: All entries must be submitted below by Wednesday evening, May 17th at 7:00 pm, and only one entry per household please. Feel fee to answer in list form with street name and where it came from.
Anne Mattina is Vice President of the Hopkinton Historical Society.