BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 9999 06660 790 2
City Document — No, 3.
JOINT SPECIAL COMMITTEE
REMOVAL OF THE ALMS HOUSE,
AND THE PURCHASE OF
u BR00K FARM."
JOSEPH G. TORREY, CITY PRINTER.
CITY OF ROXBURY
In- Common Council, April 9, 1849.
Ordered, That the petition of Elijah Lewis and others, recommending the
removal of the Alms House, and obtaining a larger quantity of land in a more
remote part of the city, be referred to
Messrs. Crafts, Brewer, Allen, Mayhew, and Bowman, with such as the
Board of Aldermen may join.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
In Board of Aldermen, April 9, 1849.
Concurred ; and Aldermen Young, Jackson, and Plummer were joined on
the part of this Board.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
CITY OF ROXBURY.
In Common Council,, April 16, 1849.
Ordered, That the Special Joint Committee on the petition of Elijah Lewis
and others, be and they hereby are instructed to purchase the " Brook Farm"
estate, situated in the westerly part of the city, if the same can be obtained for
a sum not exceeding $19,150 ; and if the same, in their judgment, be for the
interest of the city.
Passed by the affirmative vote of twenty members voting Yea.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
In Board of Aldermen, April 16, 1849.
Passed by the affirmative vote of seven voting Yea.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
CITY OF ROXBURY
In Common Council, April 23, 1849.
Ordered, That the Report of the Joint Special Committee on the petition of
Elijah Lewis and others, be printed and distributed to the citizens.
Passed, and sent up for concurrence.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
In Board of Aldermen, April 23, 1849.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
The Joint Special Committee, to whom was referred
the Petition of Elijah Lewis and others, asking
for a removal of the Alms House, submit the fol-
The great increase in the number of inmates of
our Alms House within the few last years, the con-
sequent call for more accommodation, and the in-
creasing expense of the establishment, with numer-
ous other attendant evils, have pressed upon the
attention, not only of the city government, but of
most of our citizens, and demand that something
should be done, if possible, to effect a reform. But
in what should such a reform consist, and where or
how begin 1 It is much easier to tear down than
to build up; to cry out against abuses than to get
rid of them without incurring greater. We should
not, therefore, be in too great haste to adopt every
change that offers, while we should also be ready to
avail ourselves of any real opportunity for reform
that may occur, and willing to examine and test it.
It has been proposed, and the suggestion was
brought before the city government by the petition
referred to your Committee, that the Alms House
should be removed to a remote part of the city,
where more extensive grounds could be had. And
it is believed by many that this will in a great meas-
ure remedy the evils complained of, and that with
some other reforms that can be effected in connec-
tion with such removal, there may, in time, be much
saved to the city, and our pauper establishment
placed on a better footing. If such a removal as is
contemplated in this petition would produce the de-
sirable results proposed, or even partially accom-
plish the purpose, it would seem proper that it
should be made.
It is not the province of this Committee to pro-
pose a new pauper system, or a new mode of govern-
ing and managing the Alms House. But there are
certain evils connected with it in its present situa-
tion and under its present system, which cannot but
be evident to all who give the matter the slightest
attention, and which are so connected with the sub-
ject referred to the Committee, that they cannot but
consider them, and are bound to make such sugges-
tions as may seem to them proper.
By the last Report of the Overseers of the Poor,
it appears that the number of inmates at the Alms
House at the time of the Report, was 260, of whom
there were, Americans, adults 20
" children 58
Foreigners, adults 141
" children 41
There were admitted into the house, during the
year, in addition to 224, the number remaining at
the commencement of the year, 710, making the
number of inmates, during the year, 934. A large
proportion of this number were foreigners, many of
them newly-arrived immigrants, who make the Alms
House the object of their first inquiry, and whose
friends and relatives, ready to shift the burden of
their support from themselves to the public, guide
them to the hospitable doors, whither our native
citizens are unwilling to go, save as a last resort.
It is true, that such paupers are supported in part
by the commonwealth, but the balance paid by the
city is no small item, and the expense is by no
means the greatest evil they inflict. They bring
disease; they bring idle and improvident, often
filthy and vicious habits ; they come as the pioneers
and guides to the crowds who come after them,
and follow their steps into the same doors. They
oftentimes have not the slightest claim on public
charity, and afford an example, very quickly fol-
lowed, of a too ready disposition to be a public
burden. It is true, also, that very many of them
remain but a short time ; but it is no less true, that
for every one who goes, at least one comes to take
his place, and the average number has of late
years very much increased. This large number of
foreign paupers, coming in the manner they do,
subject to inconvenience, annoyance, and the dan-
ger of disease, those aged, infirm, and sick, real ob-
jects of charity, some of whom have been reduced
from competence to a lot, at best hard to bear,
while at the same time it has an injurious effect,
both morally and physically, upon the children
whose misfortune it is to have no other home.
Under these circumstances we believe it to be
desirable and essential that there should be a clas-
sification of the inmates of our Alms House, and
that the aged and infirm, the sick, the children, and
the other large class of transient inmates be kept
separate as much as possible. Such a separation
and classification, perhaps, might be made in the
present house, but not so effectually and properly,
it is believed, as should be done. Our Alms House
is, in fact, both a hospital and a poor house. The
hospital is becoming of more and more relative im-
portance, and should be, as in time it must be, to a
great extent, a separate establishment. It has been
found necessary to erect a small building for a
" Pest House," at the present establishment ; but it is
not those alone who are sick with pestilence or con-
tagious disease that should be kept by themselves.
The comfort of the sick, and the health of the well,
require that all the really sick should be kept alto-
gether away from those in good health.
The conveniences for this cannot be had at the
present place without considerable expense. If such
expense must be incurred, and we believe it must
be, sooner or later, we deem it best, for other rea-
sons which will be shown, as well as for the better
accomplishment of the object itself, that it should
be laid out in a more retired part of the city.
It is said, too, and not without reason, that the
charity intended to shelter, succor, and support
those who, without means, by reason of age, sickness,
or other misfortune, are unable to maintain them-
selves, has become the resort of many of the idle
and thriftless, who, though blessed with health and
strength, are yet willing to be a burden to the pub-
lic. Doubtless some of these are the subjects
of intemperance, who would become worthless
enough if left to themselves. But if they are to be
supported at the public charge, they may be placed
where they can earn that support. It is also said,
and with some truth too, that the Alms House,
situated as it is so near the neighboring port and
city, and almost in the midst of the most populous
part of our own city, is resorted to, to some extent, as a
convenient hotel or inn, by newly-arrived immigrants,
who bring with them their wretched habits of im-
providence and dependence, and are not the better
disposed to support themselves when they find with-
out charge such comfortable quarters.
Would not a removal of our Alms House to a
more remote part of the city relieve us of many such
puapers 1 We believe that it would ; especially,
if with the removal, such a system with regard to
labor, diet, &c, should be adopted, as should offer
no inducement for persons to become paupers. We
believe there are many calls for aid, many applications
for admission into our Alms House, from those who
can be provided for elsewhere, and who would seek
for such aid elsewhere, were not that establishment
so near and convenient. Far be it from us to deny
to the needy and the suffering, who are truly objects
of pity, such aid and comforts as an enlightened
charity may dictate. Native and foreign alike we
would aid in their time of need, but we believe it to
be only just that we should hold out no inducement
to the idle, and offer no premium for vagrancy.
Of foreign paupers, too, we have more than our
share, which arises, it is believed, partly from the
vicinity of the Alms House to Boston, and the more
populous part of our own city, and the ease of
admission, and partly from other causes, which
would be reached by a removal of the house. Ac-
cording to the " Pauper Abstract " of the common-
wealth, it appears that
The number of paupers during the year 1848
in the city of Cambridge was - - 299
Of whom were State paupers - - 254
InthecityofCharlestown - 627
Of whom were State paupers - - 583
In the town of Dorchester - 80
Of whom were State paupers - - 52
In the city of Roxbury - 969 !
Of w T hom were State paupers - - 906
By this it appears that the cities of Cambridge
and Charlestown, with about the same population
as Roxbury, and in the immediate vicinity of Boston,
have a much smaller number of foreign paupers.
Cambridge, especially, has not much more than quar-
ter as many. And this, it is believed, is in a meas-
ure owing to the distance and difficulty of access to
the Alms House of that city. The town of Dor-
chester, with half as many inhabitants as Roxbury,
has only one-eighteenth as many foreign paupers.
This difference is of course owing in part to other
causes, but it can hardly be denied that the con-
venience of the Alms House is one cause.
There is no reason why we should contribute to
the support, or be burdened with the evil and incoh-
venience of maintaining these paupers more than
our neighbors; and since such is the case, it is proper
that we should take measures, if possible, to rid
ourselves of the excess of this burden. The re-
moval of the Alms House to a remote part of the
city, it is believed, would relieve us from the support
of very many who would find accommodation else-
where, rather than seek it so far.
The expense of supporting our poor for the few
last years, has increased so rapidly and to such an
extent, that if it is possible to reduce it in any way,
or to prevent this rapid increase continuing, we ought
to take such measures as will bring about such a
The net cost of the poor in the Alms House,
(exclusive of repairs, additions, and expenses about
the house, and exclusive also of the sums received
from the commonwealth for State paupers,) for the
last ten years, ending on the 1st of Feb. of each
year, has been as follows :
1840, #1,628 41 1845, #2,566 77
1841, 1,271 71 1846, 2,900 00
1842, 1,477 13 1847, 3,973 50
1843, 2,168 77 1848, 5,228 12
1844, 3,171 33 1849, 5,674 58
Besides these sums for the support of the inmates,
during the four last years, large additions to the
accommodations have been required, at considera-
ble expense. These additions and improvements,
too, multiply and increase. It was found, two or
three years since, that the accommodations were in-
adequate to the number of poor to be supported,
and it was necessary to finish the attic, and make
other alterations at considerable cost. Last year it
was deemed necessary to have better hospital accom-
modations, and these were provided to the extent
demanded at the time. The present year it is
thought proper to build a chapel and school room,
with additional sleeping rooms. Thus large appro-
priations must be made for these and similar pur-
poses each year, and without doubt, if the Alms
House is not removed, it will be found necessary, in
a very few years, to erect a hospital, add a wing to
the house, or otherwise increase its size to meet the
wants of those who would there seek for support.
But the removal of the establishment to a farm in
a remote part of the city, while it will reduce the
number of paupers, or at least diminish the increase,
will also, it is believed, reduce the cost of support-
ing them. And if it shall be necessary to erect new
buildings, the excess that will be required over the
amount that would be necessary for enlargement,
additions, &c, on the present site, would in the
course of a few years be saved, even if the city
were not a great gainer in other respects.
And while we get rid of, or mitigate some evils,
by removing the Aim Hsouse establishment to a farm
in a remote part of the city, we shall also, it is be-
lieved, obtain some positive advantages. The health
of the inmates, a consideration of the greatest im-
portance, both as regards humanity and economy,
would be promoted by placing them on a farm in
such a situation. And this alone is an argument of
no little consequence in support of such a change.
It has already been said that economy in the sup-
port of the poor would be effected by such a remov-
al. The reasons, in part, for such belief may be
more fully set forth. By the last annual Report of
the Committee on Accounts, (City Doc. No. 7,
1848-9,) it appears, that during the past year there
has been expended for meat, flour, bread, grain,
and meal, potatoes, fish, beans, butter, poultry, and
milk, the sum of $4,472 92. It is submitted,
whether the amount expended for such necessaries
might not be greatly reduced, if the Alms House
were on a farm, where many of these or similar ar-
ticles of food might and would be raised. Some of
the products of a farm, too, good, wholesome arti-
cles of food, might compose a larger proportion of
the diet of the inmates than at present, with econ-
omy in their support and no injury to them. From
the same document it appears that the sum of
$664 was paid for hay, grass, and straw, during the
same period. These products, also, and in quanti-
ties for many more cattle and horses than we have at
present, might be raised upon such a farm as the city
would have. Of some products an excess might be
raised, the sale of which might amount to no incon-
siderable sum. A large number of swine might
also be raised, and fattened, in a great measure,
upon the produce of the farm.
The inmates of the house, able to perform labor,
might work more advantageously and profitably
than at present. It appears from the Report of the
Overseers of the Poor, that during the last year the
inmates were employed scarcely any in repairing
the highways, and this will probably be the case
in future. Sufficient work of the kind which
these inmates can perform, cannot readily be found
for them in and about the house and land, as at
present located. But on a large farm, where there
is a great variety of work to be done, a large part, not
too laborious, might be performed by them so as to
be profitable. The Committee are informed, that at
the House of Industry, in Boston, quite a large
quantity of the smaller fruits, such as strawberries,
raspberries, currants, &c, are raised and profitably
sold in the market. Why might not the culture
of these fruits be carried on by the inmates of our
Alms House, very many of whom might perform
some of the light labor in such culture, who other-
wise could perhaps do nothing towards their sup-
port, while at the same time such labor might pro-
mote their health 1
It is admitted that some labor must be hired in
order to carry on a farm properly. But it is be-
lieved to be better to hire this labor than to pur-
chase the products which it would yield, at a much
greater cost. The labor of the paupers, too, would
go much further towards their support, in the culti-
vation of the soil, either by raising articles for their
own consumption or for sale, than if the wages of
such labor were expended in the purchase of those
Most of the cities and large towns in the State, as
appears by the " Pauper Abstract " above referred
to, have quite extensive farms attached to their
Alms Houses. Some which have not, are making
efforts to secure such ; and it is believed that such
pauper establishments, generally, do more towards
supporting themselves, than where, without land,
the labor must be expended on the streets or in
some unprofitable mechanical work.
The expense of the proposed removal seems to be
the main objection, if not the only one, which is, or
can be, brought against it. The erection of a new
building or buildings, and the removal itself, would
undoubtedly cost a considerable sum. But as the pe-
titioners contemplated the purchase of a certain farm,
which has been secured for the city, under a vote of the
City Council, and of which mention more in detail
will be made below, the condition of that place, and
the advantages presented by it, have, of course, en-
tered into the consideration of the Committee on
the general question of removal. And as the Com-
mittee believe, that if the Alms House should be
removed to " Brook Farm," it will not be necessa-
ry to expend a very large sum for new buildings,
at least for quite a number of years, this objection
seems to loose some of its force. If the Alms
House remains in its present location, and the in-
crease of paupers continues, a large addition must
necessarily be made to it within a few years, and at
no small expense. If, as we believe, the number of
paupers will be reduced by a removal, and the cost
of supporting them also reduced, the cost of a new
building at the new location, when such building
is needed, Avould not much, if any, exceed the
amount which must necessarily be expended where
it now is. But even if it should, the city owns
two tracts of land in this part of our territory,
which are now attached to the Alms House, the
sale of either of which would more than pay the
cost of the removal. In relation to this matter
the Committee submit some recommendations which
will be found below.
The opinion of the Overseers of the Poor was
obtained in regard to the practicability, necessity,
or expediency of a change of location, and the sub-
ject was considered by them at a special meeting,
called for that purpose, April 16. It will be seen that
the Board have given their views at length in favor
of a removal, in a preamble and resolve, which is at-
tached to this Report. The attention of the Council
is respectfully directed to it. The views therein set
forth, are fully concurred in by the Committee.
The Committee being unanimous in the opinion
that the Alms House establishment should be
removed from its present location as soon as prac-
ticable, and unanimous in the opinion that it should
be placed upon a farm hi a more remote part of the
city, as suggested by the petitioners, if a suitable
one could be ob tamed at a reasonable cost, a favor-
able opportunity at once presented itself to secure
a location which we think will meet the general
approbation of our whole community, at a cost
which appears to the Committee to be reasonable.
They allude to the " Brook Farm " estate, situated
in the westerly part of the city.
This estate was sold at public auction on Friday,
April 13, and was purchased by a member of the
Committee* for the sum of $ 19, 150. It being un-
derstood that the city could obtain it for the same
sum, the Committee were about to recommend its
purchase at the last meeting of the City Council,
April 16, (their Report not being ready to be pre-
• John L. Plummer.
sented on that evening,) and as some of the condi-
tions of the sale were to be complied with during
the week, the Report of the Committee was antici-
pated by the action of the two branches, in the
order passed, instructing them to purchase said
estate if the same could be obtained for the sum of
$ 19, 150. Following the instructions of the City
Council as contained in the order, the Committee,
satisfying themselves that the interests of the city
would be promoted thereby, purchased the estate
for the said sum of $19,150. There are incum-
brances, consisting of mortgages and an execution,
amounting to $17,445 25. The mortgagees, the
Committee understand, will be willing to cancel their
mortgages, upon receiving the notes of the city. The
amount of the execution, being about $2,000, will
be required to be paid in July. The sum of $1,-
704 75, being the difference between the incum-
brances and the sum of $19,150, is required imme-
diately, and provision should be made for its pay-
ment this evening.
The Farm contains, as represented, 202 acres —
180 acres in one lot, upon which there are several
buildings, and 22 acres in another, (knoAvn as the
" Keith lot.") It is divided into mowing, (upland
and meadow,) tillage, pasturage, and wood land;
and is well supplied with water by a brook, running
through it, springs, and several wells. It embraces
the only quantity of such land as is needed by the
city, and could be obtained within our limits for
anything like a reasonable price, and is, in every
respect, such a farm as is needed for the Alms
And when it is considered that land within the
limits of Roxbury, and within twenty minutes ride
from City Hall, and especially such land as is
needed by the city, not only for agricultural pur-
poses, but for objects which, in the course of time,
will attach, if not a greater, certainly an additional
value to it — can be obtained for less than ninety-
jive dollars per acre, it cannot but be readily admit-
ted that the purchase is a valuable one ; and had
the opportunity passed by unnoticed or unimproved,
the City Council would justly have been liable to
censure, in neglecting the interests of the city com-
mitted to its care.
This Farm was purchased in 1841, by George
Ripley and others, who associated themselves to-
gether as " The Brook Farm Institute of Education
and Agriculture," and afterwards became incorpo-
rated under the name of " The Brook Farm Pha-
lanx," and occupied and improved by them for four
or five years. There are several buildings upon it,
all of them, with the exception of the Mansion
House and barn, having been built by the late
owners and occupants. These buildings are located
on different parts of the grounds, and may be used
to great advantage by the city, and are, in many
respects, just what are needed. They are in good
order, and need but little repair.
We will, as briefly as possible, describe the build-
1st. The Mansion House, (as designated by the
Phalanx " the Hive ,") 1st floor, 2 parlors: 1 large
dining room, about 45x14, with closets : 1 kitch-
en, with Stimpson's range, calculated for 60 to
80 persons : 3 large boilers (2 of copper and 1 of
iron) : 1 large wash room : 1 press room, for press-
ing clothes: 1 store room, closets: privy: large
shed, with accommodations for horses and vehi-
cles : 2 rooms beyond shed.
2d floor. 2 large chambers, with fire places : 2
bed rooms : 13 sleeping rooms, with several closets.
The attic. 50x18, plastered on sides, 4 ft. high.
Attic in original house, 40 x 20. There is a
cellar under the original house.
2d. The Barn. Length, 70 x 40, with addition
on south side for grain rooms.
Main floor, stalls for 18 cattle : also for 5
horses : haylofts : 2 grain rooms, with pump,
and other fixtures.
Cellar, with pump and well; 5 or 6 stalls
for cattle, enclosed, remainder of cellar open.
There is a large yard and piggery. (This cel-
lar and yard can be used for the keeping of swine
to good advantage, or the cellar may be appropri-
ated for the storage of carts, wagons, and agri-
3d. Factory Building. 2 stories and attic.
1st floor. Eoom extreme length, (60 x 28.)
2d floor. 6 rooms.
Attic. 3 rooms.
A well of water which supplied the steam en-
gine. Near this building is a corn barn.
4th. The Eyrie. (So designated by the Phalanx.)
This is a large building some 35 or 40 ft. sq. with
1st floor. 2 large sq. rooms : 4 small rooms.
2d floor. 8 bed rooms.
Wood house, privy, cistern. There is a cellar un-
der whole house, and furnace.
5 th. The Cottage. This is a building of cottage
form, 2 stories high.
1st floor. 2 large rooms: 2 smaller rooms:
1 wash room : 1 store room : cistern : privy.
2d floor. 4 chambers.
There is a cellar under the house, and a furnace.
6th. Large Double House. (Designated by the com-
munists — the Pilgrim House.) This building is
21-2 stories high, and built as a double house.
Dimensions not accurately ascertained, but
thought to be about 40 x 35 with an L. It is so
arranged that it is well adapted for a hospital.
1st floor. 4 large square rooms : 2 kitchens : 1
wash room, with large cistern under the same,
and holding from 3 to 5000 gallons: 1 bakery:
workshop : privy.
2d floor. 9 chambers and bedrooms.
Attic. 4 large rooms.
Cellar under house, with furnace.
7th. The Green House. This is, in main building, say
40 x 18, built of brick, with a wooden addition
on one side, and end, making its dimensions, say
60x30. It is built in the usual form of
green houses, and is well provided with green-
house furniture, such as stands and shelves for
flowers and plants. There are two well-finished
rooms, a very large room in the wooden addition,
for the storage and deposit of fuel and such
things as are necessarily attached to a green
house. There are accommodations for obtaining
and keeping water, and a furnace with the proper
fixtures for heating the same, and warming the
house. It is in good repair.
These buildings, (with the exception of the main
building of the Mansion House and barn,) have
been erected since the Farm was occupied by the
Phalanx, and, so far as the Committee are able to
judge, are well and substantially built for the pur-
poses for which they were intended. They were
occupied but four or five years, and, since then,
have remained unoccupied a greater part of the
time, and will necessarily require some repairs.
They will require but little alteration for the uses
of the city.
The Farm has heretofore yielded — when kept in
a proper state — large crops of hay, grain, and vege-
tables. For three or four years past, appearances
indicate that it has been somewhat neglected ; and
it requires only what it has been deprived of, of
late — labor and manure — to restore to it its for-
mer character and condition.
The land appears to be well divided. The higher
portion, upon which the " Double House," the " Cot-
tage," the " Eyrie," and the " Green House " are lo-
cated, has yielded good crops of grass and grain.
The soil has been much unproved by irrigation, and
can be much more unproved by bringing into use the
valuable vegetable mould lying near. There is an
orchard containing many young and valuable fruit
trees, on this part of the grounds, which, although
greatly neglected of late, can be easily restored, and
made to yield.
A portion of the other lands in the same range,
extending in a south-westerly direction, have been
appropriated to pasturage. The soil is of the same
character as that near the buildings spoken of, and,
if ever needed for the purposes of cultivation, can
be brought into use at a comparatively trifling ex-
pense. But this portion of the farm will become,
at some future time, of higher value to the city,
than for agricultural purposes merely.
There is a small quantity of woodland, which is
considered of little value.
The meadow land is considered of great value.
Some acres of this have been greatly improved by
the former occupants, and made to yield large crops
of the best English grass, and many more acres can
be easily improved from time to time, by drainage,
and mixing the soil with sand or gravel, which are
near the meadow, and are easily obtained for the
purpose. These lands, when drained, and the char-
acter of the soil changed by the intermixture of the
soils we have spoken of, will become a valuable part
of the farm, and yield abundant crops of grass, grain,
There are many acres lying above and around the
meadow, the soil of which is of excellent quality,
and is doubtless equal to the best land in this section
of the city.
We have here briefly described the lot of 180
acres. The other lot, known as the Keith lot, is
situated a few rods easterly of this, on the opposite
side of the road (Baker st.) leading to Spring-
street village. It is represented as containing 22
acres, and is favorably located. The proposed new
street,* from Mr. Billings' factory, near the contem-
plated depot, to " Brook Farm," runs through the
lower part of it, and, if built, will reduce the distance
from this lot to the railroad depot, to about one-third
of a mile. The time is not far distant when this lot,
of itself, will be worth more than one-half the ivhole
The Committee trust they have demonstrated,
that the " Brook Farm" is a valuable purchase for
the city, as connected with the removal of the Alms
House. There is another, and in some respects a
greater value, which has not, as yet, been consider-
ed, and to which they will briefly allude.
There was expended, the past year, for materials
for repairing the streets and roads, beyond the mate-
rials obtained from lands belonging to the city, the
sum of $889 79. These materials are purchased at
what are considered high prices ; and it does seem,
to quote the language of the Mayor in his recent
Inaugural Address, that a prudential regard for the
interests of the city, dictates the expediency of ob-
taining gravel hills, &c, " on such acceptable terms
as ultimately to greatly diminish the amount which
must otherwise be annually expended in maintain-
* This street is the same as petitioned for in 1844, by William Palmer, Wil-
liam Keith, Christopher Marsh, James W. Wason, Aaron Cass, Michael
Whittemore, and many other citizens of West Roxbury. The Selectmen ex-
amined the ground, and reported favorably upon it. The petitioners repre-
sented "that the proposed road would be a great public convenience, — that
it would accommodate a daily increasing amount of travel between West Rox-
bury and Newton, — and that it would save much expense and difficulty in
avoiding the snow-drifts which in winter often make the present road (Baker
street) nearly impassable."
ing the streets and roads in such a safe condition, as
the laws of the commonwealth and the convenience
of the citizens so imperiously demand." The
amount for this object, at the present moment,
may be comparatively small, yet it is increasing
from year to year ; and the want of suitable land
has heretofore been, and will continue to be, more
and more felt, until some provision is made to re-
lieve the city from this annually increasing expen-
diture. At some future time, — unless better and
more economical provision shall have been made,
which will obviate the necessity, — it may not be
deemed impracticable to transport gravel from
" Brook Farm" to any point along the line of the
railroad in West Poxbury, Jamaica Plain, and
the lower part of the city, for the repair of the
highways. This the Committee do not expect at
present, nor perhaps for some years to come; yet it
is not impracticable, judging from the course Boston
has pursued, hi purchasing gravel hills in towns
many miles distant, and transporting the materials
over railroads, and in boats, for building and re-
pairing their streets.
There are upwards of 72 acres of flats belonging
to Poxbury, in the dry basin of the Mill Corpora-
tion, extending to the foot of Boylston street, in
Boston, near the public garden. These flats, at
some future day, will be filled up and brought into
the market for sale. Materials, in part, for filling
them up, and preparing them for the market, can
easily be obtained from "Brook Farm," as the
Boston and Providence railroad runs along side
of, and through a portion of these lands. Should
this be deemed impracticable by any one, the Com-
mittee have only to point to the improvements now
being made by the city of Boston in filling np their
lands in the South Bay, where materials are obtain-
ed from Quincy, and transported over the Old Col-
ony railroad, and thence by a temporary track, —
or to the improvements now being made near the
bridge over the Worcester railroad, on Tremont
street, — or those in the vicinity of the Mill Dam, —
nearly all the materials required for which, are ob-
tained and transported by railroad, at greater dis-
tances than from " Brook Farm."
The distance from City Hall to "Brook Farm"
is about five miles, perhaps a little more. The
Branch railroad, through West Roxbury to Ded-
ham, is nearly completed, and will be opened to the
public in July. The road is but a little distance
from the Farm, and if the street petitioned for by
many of the citizens in this section of the city,
should be built, it can be approached easily over a
level road, in nearly a straight line, and reduce the
distance to a half or three-quarters of a mile ; the
present road (Baker street) to the contemplated
depot, has for a long time been deemed highly
objectionable, for reasons which were set forth in
the petition to the Selectmen in 1844.
It may be said that the distance is too great
from the more thickly settled parts of the city, but
the Committee do not think this objection worthy
of much consideration. Their opinion in this point
is more fully expressed in another part of this Re-
port, and they have only to add, here, that the
distance seems to be an argument in its favor,
rather than an objection against it. Donbtless,
many who find their way here, or who are sent here
from other places, wonld find this location more
inconvenient, less desirable, and not so easy of
access, as the present one, and would possibly seek
the charities of other cities or towns in our neigh-
hood, which have not heretofore borne such an un-
equal proportion of this tax as we have, but may
have indirectly caused us to bear more than our
It may be urged, that with the Alms House at
such a distance, the cost of transportation of per-
sons and provisions would be increased. This ob-
jection must pass for what it is worth ; in the opin-
ion of the Committee, it has but little force. If, in
consequence of the location, it would become neces-
sary to provide vehicles to carry the sick, then the
objection might have some force; but as the sick are
now generally carried in vehicles belonging to the
city, and attached to the establishment, and will
always have to be carried, wherever the location
may be, the objection, therefore, has but little
weight. The transportation of provisions to the
Farm, would not, perhaps, cost as much as at present,
certainly not more. Many of the necessaries of life,
and some articles now purchased and trans-
ported, would be raised there, as we have before
stated, and consequently, there would be no increase
of expense in this connection. But even if the
cost of transportation, both of persons and every
thing required for the use of the establishment, not
obtained from the Farm, should be increased, the
objections are entirely insignificant, and in some
respects trivial, when compared with the advantages
to be gained, and can have but little effect when
urged against the change.
Other objections may arise, as doubtless they will,
but the Committee can conceive of none that can or
will arise in any possible manner, that have force
enough to counterbalance or outweigh the advantages
derived from the removal of the establishment to
" Brook Farm."
The Committee have not arrived at their conclu-
sions hastily. They have not relied entirely on their
own individual opinions, or their own views, in de-
ciding upon this matter; they have sought for, and
obtained the views and opinions of others, — of
those who have had large experience, and who have
heretofore managed the fiscal, prudential, and mu-
nicipal affairs of the town and city, and whose opin-
ions are entitled to the highest respect and considera-
tion. It is but proper for the Committee to state, that
there appears to be but one general opinion among
those who, in times past, have managed the affairs
of the town and city, hi relation to this subject, and
that is, — the interests of the city would be promoted,
by removing the institution from its present location,
and establishing it upon a farm in a more remote
part of the city.
It is gratifying to know that in accomplishing
this desirable object, it ivill not be necessary to bur-
den the people with a heavy tax. The ways and
means to meet the expenditure, seem to be ready at
hand. To provide for the debt incurred in the pur-
chase, and to meet such expenditures as shall become
necessary, in providing such buildings as may here-
after be required, a portion of the Real Estate be-
longing to the city can be disposed of, on advan-
tageous terms, and the proceeds of the sale be de-
voted to this purpose.
The "Munroe Farm" situated on Warren street,
contains some 20 acres, and was valued by the Com-
mittee on Public Property at $35,000; this valua-
tion was a nominal one, only. The farm is located
in that section of the city where land is increasing
greatly in value, and doubtless it could be disposed
of to good advantage.
The "Alms House land" situated on Highland
street, contains about 10 acres. This property has
been valued at $130,000. The location of this estate
is very eligible for building lots. It is situated in a
growing part of the city, and where land is bring-
ing high prices. It would seem to be for the best
interests of the city, that one or both of these estates
should be disposed of. In addition to the amount
obtained from the sale, the city would derive other
benefits of no little importance, not the least of
which, is the additional amount of taxable property
which would thus be created.
The Committee respectfully recommend that one
or both of these estates be disposed of — reserving
such parts thereof for Public Squares, and for such
other uses as may be deemed necessary — in such
manner and upon such terms and conditions as the
City Council shall hereafter prescribe, and that the
proceeds of the sales be appropriated to liquidate
the debt incurred in the purchase of " Brook Farm"
and for providing such necessary buildings for
the Alms House establishment, as shall be re-
In conclusion the Committee would observe that
in the discharge of their duties they have not been
unmindful of the responsibilities resting upon them,
or the confidence reposed in them by the vote of
the two branches, instructing them to incur liabil-
ities in behalf of the city to a considerable amount,
if in their opinion the public interests required it.
They have discharged those duties in a manner
which their conscience and judgment fully approve,
and which appears to them to be for the best inter-
ests of the city, and they are willing to leave all fu-
ture results to the test of time, and the judgment
of their fellow citizens.
All which is respectfully submitted.
JOHN L. PLUMMER,
WILLIAM A. CRAFTS,
JOSEPH N. BREWER,
STEPHEN M. ALLEN,
In the Report of the Committee of Accounts, on the Receipts and
Expenditures of the city, recently distributed to the citizens, page 26,
the amount stated for the support of Poor, is $16,519 33. This is the
gross amount, from which is to be deducted the amounts received from
the Commonwealth, from other towns and cities, and labor of Poor,
which leaves the balance as the net cost of supporting the Poor. The
Commonwealth allows seven cents per day for adults, and children un-
der twelve years ; four cents per day for State paupers ; the average
cost for supporting them is about 17 cents per day.
Beside this amount of $16,519 33, there was expended, for the year
ending Feb. 1st, (page 27,) for repairs of Alms House, fence, and Pest
House, the sum of $1,564 16, making a total for the year, of $18,083 49.
The amount paid the year previous, was $14,924 ; to which add,
for repair of Alms House, and providing hospital accommodations,
$1,837 35, making the total amount for that year, $16,761 35 ; from
which sum should be deducted the amounts received from the Com-
monwealth and other sources, which will leave the net cost.
The Board of Overseers considered it necessary, and have recommended
that an edifice should be erected, to be used as a chapel and school-room,
with a basement in which convenient dormitories for children could be
provided, it being deemed desirable that they should be separated as
much as possible from the other persons in the Alms House. This, of
course, will not be necessary now.
In the " Pauper Abstract," prepared under the direction of the Sec-
retary of the Commonwealth, it appears that many of the towns and
cities have a large number of acres of land attached to their Alms House
establishment. Danvers has 200, Ipswich 300, Newbury 210, Salem 100,
Billerica 200, Framingham 113, Brookfield 280, Charlton 200, Fitchburg
200, Holden 300, Worcester 240, Pittsfield 100, New Bedford 75, &c, &c.
Upon a comparison of the returns in the "Pauper Abstracts" of 1846-
'47 with 1848, it appears that the number of paupers in Cambridge and
Charlestown have increased but little, while the number in Roxbury has
in 1846, had
" 1847, "
« 1848, «
« 1846, "
" 1847, "
« 1848, «
« 1846, "
" 1847, "
" 1848, «
The product of the farm and garden, together with the dairy and
piggery, at the House of Industry, Boston, was
In 1844, - - - $4,694 20
In 1845, - - - 4,158 50
In 1846, - - - 4,578 26
In 1847, - - - 2,618 00
These consisted in hay, vegetables, fruit, and herbs. The labor is
performed chiefly by the inmates. The grounds were not much improved
in 1847, in consequence of the ship fever, &c. Farming operations are
carried on to some extent at Deer Island, which has been connected
with the House of Industry since December last.
The town of Brookline has no Alms House. The number of State
paupers relieved last year was 5.
OVERSEERS OF THE POOR.
At a meeting of the Overseers of the Poor, holden at the Al-
dermen's room, on the sixteenth of April, 1849, the following
letter from Mr. J. N. Brewer, in behalf of the Special Joint
Committee on the petition of Elijah Lewis and others, in relation to
a change in the location of the Alms House, was read by the Chair-
Boxbury, April 14, 1849.
To tie Hon. H. A. S. Dearborn,
Chairman of the Overseers of the Poor.
Sir: — The Special Joint Committee of the City Council, to
which was referred the petition of Elijah Lewis and others, relative
to a change of the location of the Alms House, and recommending
the purchase of a large number of acres of land in a more remote
part of the city, for the uses of the establishment, desire the opin-
ion of the Board of Overseers, as to the practicability, expediency,
or necessity of a change.
They would also state, that the estate situated in the westerly part
of the city, recently occupied by the " Community," and known as
" Brook Farm," containing some 202 acres of land, with several
dwelling-houses and out-buildings thereon, was purchased at auc-
tion yesterday, for the sum of $19,150, and will be offered to the
city at the same price.
The opinion of the Board of Overseers is also desired in regard
to this estate.
Your ob't serv't,
JOSEPH N. BREWER,
In behalf of the Committee.
The Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Poor stated,
that he visited the Brook Farm, on the fourteenth inst, in com-
pany with Mr. Brewer, and examined all the edifices thereon, and
found them to be as follows.
(The description of the buildings is here omitted, as it is found
on pages 16, 17, and 18.)
Many of the members of the Board of Overseers of the Poor
having been upon the Brook Farm, and the expediency of its being
purchased by the city for the Alms House establishment having
been maturely considered, the following preamble and resolutions
The propriety of selecting a larger and more retired tract of land,
for the location of the Alms House, has been a subject of inquiry
for several years, not only by the Overseers of the Poor, but the
people in all parts of the city ; as it was confidently believed that,
if the institution could be removed to such a position, it might be
conducted in a manner that would be less expensive, more favorable
to the health and morals of the inmates, and in all respects better
subserve the various purposes for which it was designed, as well as
give more general satisfaction, than was practicable in its present
position, — while the number of applicants for admission, would,
probably, be very considerably reduced, in consequence of the great
distance from the most populous portion of the city, as well as that
great commercial emporium, from whence come so many of the
diseased and destitute who have thronged the Alms House during
the three past years.
The chief difficulty, however, in accomplishing that very desirable
object, has been the procurement of a sufficiently extensive tract of
land, in an eligible section of the city, and upon such favorable
terms as would warrant a recommendation of its being purchased ;
but it having been ascertained that the Brook Farm, in West Box-
bury, containing over two hundred acres, with four dwelling houses, in
which are upwards of seventy rooms, a spacious edifice which was
reared as a manufactory, a large barn, a well-constructed green
house, and other small buildings, can be obtained for 19,150 dol-
lars, that great impediment has fortunately been removed ; for it is
believed that the land, on which the Alms House now stands, can
be sold for a sum amply sufficient to pay for the farm, repair the
buildings, and erect such others as may possibly be required to
render the establishment as complete, in all its departments, as any
in the State, when the comfort of the inmates, their reformation,
the industrial services of such as are able to labor, and a due re-
gard to the means which can be properly appropriated, are con-
The employment of persons who usually seek a refuge in such
an institution, in labor of some kind, is deemed indispensable for
the correction of these habits of idleness, intemperance, vice, and
immorality, which are the chief causes of human degradation and
misery ; and from the numerous experiments which have been made
in this country, and in many of the European nations, it has been
fully illustrated, that the cultivation of the earth affords the most
diversified, appropriate, and profitable kinds of work for men,
women, and children, thus situated, and especially if Farming and
Gardening are combined, which can be done, and on an extensive
scale, as the proffered tract of land in West Roxbury is sufficiently
spacious for the successful prosecution of those two great branches
of rural industry.
There is a vast tract of meadow land which extends nearly to
Charles river, that can be easily drained, when it will produce a
certain and very large quantity of hay ; and the vegetable mould,
removed from the trenches, if combined with ashes or lime, will
manure, in a thorough manner, the whole of the upland, on which
the cereal grains, potatoes, and all the other crops cultivated in
New England, can be successfully raised, and in great quantities,
besides culinary, and such other vegetables as more properly come
within the domain of horticulture. Fruits, also, of every variety
that will thrive in our climate, will be found worthy of cultivation,
as an important source of revenue ; and a dairy can be established
for supplying the inmates with milk, and butter for the market, —
or at least a sufficient quantity for the institution.
As the depot for the new branch from Dedham to the Boston
and Providence railroad, has been located near the centre of Spring-
street village, and as a street is petitioned for, in a direct line
from thence, to a point on the old road, near the entrance to Brook
Farm, it will reduce the distance between it and the depot, if built,
to a little more than half a mile, and thus render the intercourse
with the northern part of the city very convenient, speedy, and
cheap : Therefore,
1. Resolved, That, in the opinion of the Overseers of the Poor,
it is expedient that the location of the Alms House should be
changed ; and they respectfully recommend that the Brook Farm
should be purchased for accomplishing that important object.
2. Resolved, That the Chairman be requested to transmit the
foregoing Preamble and Resolution to the Special Joint Com-
mittee on the Alms House.
H. A. S. DEARBORN, Chairman.
Joshua Seaver, Secretary.
Roxbury, April 16, 1849.