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On Monday, October 29th at 7:00 pm, the Newton Free Library will be hosting Joe Hunter’s documentary “The Durant-Kenrick Homestead: A House with Many Stories” in the Druker Auditorium. The house, located at 286 Waverly Avenue in Newton, is an historical gem.

In 1732 Edward Durant II bought 91 acres of land in Newton. The land had once been the location of the village of the Praying Indians of Nonantum. Here Durant built a large, salt-box type home in the Georgian style in 1732. One of its unique features was its hand-painted stenciled floors.

The home, today known as the Durant-Kenrick Homestead, has seen a great deal of local, state and national history.  Its second owner, Edward Durant III, was elected as Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in 1774.  He was also a delegate to the Provincial Congress where, according to the King’s Handbook of Newton, he “delighted in twisting the British lion’s tail with speeches and resolutions.”  Two of his sons, Thomas and Allen, were both Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington and a third son, Edward, was a regimental surgeon.

After Edward died in 1782, the home was sold to John Kenrick, a noted horticulturalist.  In 1790 Kenrick founded the first large nursery in New England here, starting with pear trees that were raised from the stones (seeds or pits). His son William became a partner in 1833.  Among William’s sources for the nursery were imports from the London Horticultural Society.  He wrote the nursery’s first catalog and later authored “The New American Orchardist” and “The American Silk-Grower’s Guide.” Plants and trees from the Kenrick nursery were shipped throughout America.

John Kenrick, besides being the well known horticulturalist noted above, was also a committed abolitionist.  In this area he was a man before his time.  In 1817 he published the “Horrors of Slavery,” with it’s preface dated “Newton.” He was President of the New-England Anti-Slavery Society.

Between 1872 and 1903 parcels of land were sold off in various land transactions.  By the time Arthur S. Dewing bought the home in 1923, the remaining land was approximately 2 acres. Dewing was a descendant of the original Durant owners. He restored the property. The home was included in the National Register in 1976. The Durant Homestead was established in 1985.  The property was acquired by the City of Newton in 2011.

This is less than a thumb nail sketch of the history of the house and its people.  Take a look at the links below for more detailed information.

Article and Blog Links

 The Durant-Kenrick House and Property “A Brief Landscape History by Lucinda A. Brockway

Painting the Durant Kenrick House.

18th-Century home to be restored by Historic Newton” by Susan Danseyar.  Newton Tab, 13 April 2010.

Boston 1775: “Dig at the Durant-Kenrick Homestead” By J. L. Bell,     11 November 2011

Digging Up History: Archeologists Explore 18th-Century Life through Finds at Newton Site” by Taryn Plumb.  Boston Globe, 27 November 2011.

Boston 1775: “Howe Explores the Durant-Kenrick House in Newton” by J. L. Bell, 7 April 2012

Stenciling from the floor of the Durant-Kenrick House Lives On: Edward Durant Floorcloths

Durant-Kenrick Homestead: Community Preservation Project – City of Newton

Resources Not on the Internet

King’s Handbook of Newton, Massachusetts by M. F. Sweetser. Boston, MA: Moses King Corporation, 1889. pp. 106-110.  N 974.44N S97H

“Capt. Durant House in National Register.” Newton Tribune. 9 June 1976. p. 20

Newton, Massachusetts, 1679-1779: A Biographical Directory. Compiled by Priscilla R. Ritter and Thelma Fleishman.  Boston, MA: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1982. N 929.2 1982

Landmark Study for the Durant-Kenrick Homestead. Compiled by Rachel Gakenheimer. May 7, 1997. 10pp plus maps and illustrations.  Includes genealogy. N 917.444 N48DU (Compact Shelving).

vea/26 October 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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380 years and counting. Newton was first settled by the English in 1630.  By 1691 it was officially established as a town. Approximately 182 years later, in 1873, Newton became a city .  In other words, there is a great deal of history to be found here.  You just need to know where to look.

Three key historical resources are the Newton Collection, located at the Newton Free Library at 330 Homer Street; Historic Newton at the Jackson Homestead Museum and Archives, at 527 Washington Street; and the City of Newton Archives, located in both Newton City Hall, located at 1000 Commonwealth Avenue directly across the street from the library, and the Newton Free Library itself.  The pamphlet pictured to the left gives more detailed information on each of these three collections.  Click Finding Historical Info Newton 2010-1 to download and look at or print out the pdf version of this pamphlet.

When you decide which you would like to explore, click on the name above for a link to the site.  The link for the Newton Collection will bring you to the Newtoniana, an index to the collection.  Type in keywords and clickable categories will appear. The link to Historic Newton brings you to their main site.  It is well worth exploring.  Click on the various options to the left.  The link to Newton City Hall will bring you to the City Clerk’s Department.  It is the City Clerk’s Department that is responsible for collecting and preserving the records of the City of Newton.  To find out more about Newton, you might also want to check Resources on the City of Newton website.

vea/17 September 2010
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

 

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Newton City Hall taken May 1993 by vea The Curious Genealogist

Newton City Hall

Every city and town generates many types of records for and from its citizens.  Historic Newton at the Jackson Homestead has created a chart listing each type of record and where it can be found in the city.  The chart is three pages long in pdf format.  If you have a question about what city records are available, this is the place to check, especially when you need an answer quickly.  Click Local History Resources to see the chart.

Since the chart does not have links to the various departments and sources cited, I am including them below. I give the records in the same order as the chart with links.

A number of items are located here at the Newton Free Library. The library is one department of the City of Newton and is located across Homer Street from City Hall.

Assessed Polls
Newton Election Commission
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/election/index.htm
Available at the Newton Free Library
N MICROFICHE 350.724 A84A 1889-1891,1894,1899-1918, 1920-1921,1923-2002
N MICROFILM 350.724 ANNUAL 2003, 2004, 2005

Atlases
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search/X?SEARCH=Newton+Mass.+Atlases&searchscope=31
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH03%20MAPS%20and%20ATLASES.pdf
Department of Planning and Development
http://www.newtonma.gov/MIS/GIS/maplist/HistoricMaps.htm#atlas

Newton Blue Book
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31?/XNewton+Blue+Book&searchscope=31&SORT=DZ/XNewton+Blue+Book&searchscope=31&SORT=DZ&extended=0&SUBKEY=Newton%20Blue%20Book/1%2C3%2C3%2CB/frameset&FF=XNewton+Blue+Book&searchscope=31&SORT=DZ&1%2C1%2C
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH04%20CITY%20DIRECTORIES.pdf

Building Permits
Newton Inspectional Services at Newton City Hall
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/Inspect/index.htm

Church Directory
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31/X?SEARCH=(Newton%20Mass.%20Church%20directory)&searchscope=31&SORT=D&m=a
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31/X?SEARCH=(Newton%20Mass.%20Churches%20)&searchscope=31&SORT=D&m=a

Deeds
Registry of Deeds, Middlesex County Courthouse
Middlesex County — South

http://www.masslandrecords.com/malr/controller

Directories
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31/?searchtype=X&searcharg=Newton+City+Directory&searchscope=31&SORT=DZ&extended=0&searchlimits=&searchorigarg=XNewton+Directories
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH04%20CITY%20DIRECTORIES.pdf

Guidebooks and Published Histories
Newton Free Library
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH08%20PUBLISHED%20HISTORIES.pdf

Historic Property Survey, National Register of Historic Places Nominations
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH09%20HISTORIC%20PROPERTY%20FILES%20etc.pdf

Maps
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31/X?SEARCH=(Maps%20%20Newton%20Mass.)&searchscope=31&SORT=D&m=e
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH03%20MAPS%20and%20ATLASES.pdf
Newton Planning and Development Department
http://www.newtonma.gov/MIS/GIS/maplist/index.htm
For “Historic Maps” click on link at the very bottom

Maps, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search~S31/X?SEARCH=(Sanborn%20Maps)&searchscope=31&SORT=D&m=e
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/Hands_On_History/HoH03%20MAPS%20and%20ATLASES.pdf

Photographic Files
Newton Free Library
http://library.minlib.net/search/X?SEARCH=Newton+Mass.+photographs&searchscope=31
Newton History Museum/Historic Newton Free Library
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/jackson/research/collections/index.asp

United States Census Records 1790-1930
www.ancestry.com
Subscription database available free of charge at the Newton Free Library

Vital Records
City Clerks Office at Newton City Hall
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/city%20clerk/index.htm
Birth certificates:  http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/city%20clerk/birth.html
Death certificates:  http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/city%20clerk/death.html
Genealogical Research/Birth, Death, and Marriage Indexes: http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/city%20clerk/genealogy.html
Newton Free Library owns the book Vital Records of Newton, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1905. 521pp. N 312 V83V

Water Records
Newton Engineering Department Located at Newton City Hall
http://www.ci.newton.ma.us/dpw/engin/index.htm

vea/28 September 2010 (updated)
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

 

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