Garden Road – History Mystery, March 2016

Question – March 15, 2016

As we catch glimpses of the purple crocuses around Wellesley, we are reminded that spring is just around the corner. Residents will soon begin to tend gardens and the town will be awash in the beautiful blooms of the season. One road in Wellesley, Garden Road, is aptly named for the spring season.  Do you know how this street got its name and when it first appeared on maps in Wellesley?  Return on March 31 for the answer!

Answer – March 31, 2016

Finding the history of a street is a bit like playing a game of detective.  A clearer understanding of when Garden Road came to exist is best understood after consulting primary documents such as town maps, directories, and annual reports.

A map of Wellesley from 1897 does not show Garden Road, but the street does exist on a 1919 map of the town. Garden Road first appears in the 1902 Town of Wellesley Annual Report and is listed as taxable property of Albion Clapp.  Does the name Albion Clapp sound familiar?  He was a major figure in Wellesley’s residential development in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Albion R. Clapp moved to Wellesley in 1867 after purchasing 15 acres of farmland from Dr. Isaac Ayling. By 1872, Albion R. Clapp had amassed 111 acres of land and started to develop the Cliff Estates on the property he owned . One of these streets was Garden Road.

Albion B. Clapp, son of Albion R. Clapp, noted in a 1956 Townsman interview that “Garden Road was thus named because it went through what was formerly the Ayling gardens.  Garden Place was the site of Father’s extensive nursery, where he grew around 10,000 feet of trees and shrubs. . . When he built a new street, he always planted trees along it.”

 Written by Ellen Murphy, Volunteer Research Assistant