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City Document — No, 3. 







u BR00K FARM." 




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. 


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. 


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. 

In Board of Aldermen, April 16, 1849. 

Passed by the affirmative vote of seven voting Yea. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 


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. 


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 

— 78 
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 
House establishment. 


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- 
cultural implements.) 

3d. Factory Building. 2 stories and attic. 
Length, 60x28. 

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 
out-houses attached. 

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, 
or vegetables. 

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. 



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 
increased largely. 


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. 




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. 

Very respectfully, 

Your ob't serv't, 


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 
were adopted. 

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.