When I swung through Braintree, MA last week, I was hoping to find at least one historic door to share. I wasn’t expecting to land smack-dab in the middle of the historic district and I wasn’t expecting to get sucked into the history of one very interesting man. General Sylvanus Thayer played an enduring role in the history of Braintree, MA. Valedictorian of his graduating class at both Dartmouth College and the US Military Academy at West Point, General Thayer served as superintendent of West Point and remained committed to education, even after his death.
Last week I featured the house in which General Thayer was born. It’s not the oldest house in Braintree, but as we will see today, it might be the oldest house that kinda-sorta looks the way it did when he was alive. To help put this all in perspective, and to satiate my need to draw a diagram, I thought it might be helpful to include a map of where I was.
Last week began at the little smudge that represents my car. As you can see, I didn’t have to go far. Today, we’ll pick up on the corner opposite where I was parked, at the Asa French House.
Asa French was the Braintree Town Clerk as well as the Treasurer in the early 1800s. The original house was built by Thomas French in 1699. Much of the house was rebuilt in 1820. The house served as the Town’s first post office in 1825, during the time that Asa French lived in it. The French family owned the house until the 1970s. According to the Historic Commission:
“Little of the original structure of the house, besides the chimney, still stands. The house was donated to Thayer Academy in 1976 and then in 1999 the Academy turned it over to the Braintree Historical Society.”
I walked behind the French House to get a better view of the Carriage House. Little did I know that I would find Braintree’s Central Firehouse. The firehouse was built in 1931 as the town began to modernize its firefighting operation. The firehouse is still operational. The bell from an earlier firehouse on Hollis Ave is now mounted in front of the Central Fire Station. The bell serves as a memorial to all Braintree firefighters.
Diagonally across the intersection from the French House is Thayer Academy. General Thayer established this school in his will, in 1871. The Main Building was completed in 1877 and they began teaching a class of about 30 students in 1877. One of the students was the son of Asa French. Today there are almost 700 students in middle and high school grades. One item that I found interesting was that General Thayer included a provision in his will allowing Thayer Academy to operate as a coed institution from its inception.
The buildings featured in the gallery include: The Main Building, which houses the administrative offices, language labs and a few classrooms; Glover Hall, which is the math and science building and Frothingham Hall for music and visual arts.
This post is part of Norm Framton’s fun Thursday Doors series. If you want to participate in Thursday Doors, hop on over to Norm’s page and click that Linky thing – after looking at Norm’s doors, of course.