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THIS lot was bought by John Gore in September, 1802. The grantor was Thomas H. Perkins, and the price paid was $6360. It is probable that Mr. Gore built the house which was soon after erected on the premises. According to the Boston Directories, he lived there from 1805 to 1816; and his widow, Mary Gore, occupied the house until 1826. In 1843 the estate became the property of Francis C. Gray, whose residence it was for eleven years.
Francis Calley Gray (1790-1856), Harvard, 1809; LL.D., 1841, a son of Lieutenant-Governor William Gray, was a native of Salem, Massachusetts. Soon after leaving college he accompanied John Quincy Adams (then Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, and afterward President of the United States) on his mission to Russia, in the capacity of private secretary. Mr. Gray studied law, and was admitted to the Bar; but he never practised. He was described as a Gentleman and Man of Letters; “an elegant and accomplished writer, and an honored son of Harvard, who requited his Alma Mater for her nurturing care by his literary and political labors and laurels.” He was much engrossed in antiquarian and historical research. Mr. Gray bequeathed fifty thousand dollars for the establishment and maintenance of a Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Cambridge. He also left the College a collection of rare engravings.
The estate descended to his nephew, William Gray, who sold it in February, 1857, to the Honorable Josiah Quincy, Senior (1772-1864), who lived there several years. His mother, whose maiden name was Abigail Phillips, was a woman of decided character, who had, moreover, very positive opinions on matters relating to hygiene and methods of promoting bodily vigor. It is said that when her son was hardly more than an infant, she was accustomed to have him taken from his bed every morning in all seasons, into a basement kitchen, where he was thrice dipped in a tub of cold water.1
Mr. Quincy was educated at Phillips Academy, Andover, and at Harvard (A.B., 1790; LL.D., 1824). He served as a member of Congress, 1805-13, and as Mayor of Boston, 1823-29. During his administration the Fire Department was reorganized, and efficient street-cleaning methods were introduced. The Quincy Market was built under his supervision. Mr. Quincy was one of the first among Boston men “to denounce the slave-holding interest as a dangerous and rising tyranny.” He was President of Harvard College from 1829 to 1845, and wrote a History of the College. His innate modesty was shown by the fact that his own name hardly appears in that work.
During his term of service in Congress, as a member of the Federalist Party, he was a consistent opponent of the measures of the Administration; and his ready wit and keen satire in debate were sources of annoyance to his Democratic fellow members. He was a lifelong opposer of slavery; and during the Civil War, at the age of ninety-one, he made an eloquent speech in support of the Union. During political campaigns, when party feeling ran high, he was lampooned and caricatured by his adversaries. In one cartoon he was styled “Josiah the First,” and wore upon his breast a symbol representing crossed codfishes, in reference to his unwavering defence of the fisheries of New England. Mr. Quincy was always intensely patriotic. He was, moreover, foremost in promoting the welfare of his native city; and was indeed “a great public character.”
James Russell Lowell in “My Study Windows,” relates an anecdote of Mayor Quincy, which he characterized as “quite Roman in color.” The Mayor was once arrested on a malicious charge of fast driving, in violation of a City ordinance. He might have resisted; but instead he appeared in court and paid a fine; because it would serve as a good example of the principle that “no citizen was above the law.” By President Quincy’s will, which was proved August 29, 1864, his three daughters, Eliza Susan, Abby Phillips, and Maria Sophia Quincy, became the owners of the estate. His library was given to the sons, Josiah and Edmund, with the proviso that the books should remain in the Park Street house during the lifetime of his daughters, or of any one of them; and, further, that the sons should always have free access to them. Bibliophiles, whose pleasure it is to delve amid the musty volumes in Mr. Goodspeed’s well-known book-shop in the basement of the former Quincy mansion, may perchance be interested to view the old kitchen fireplace, which remains intact. The estate is still in the possession of the Quincy heirs.
The Honorable Josiah Quincy, the younger (1802-82), a prominent citizen of Boston (Harvard, 1821), was Mayor of the City from 1846 to 1848. Salient features of his administration were the introduction of water from Lake Cochituate, at a cost of five million dollars; and the reorganization of the Police Department. It was said of Mr. Quincy that “he wrote his name in water; yet it will last forever. The people of Boston have never found him dry, and he has taken care that they shall never be so.” His knowledge of municipal affairs was said to be very thorough; and during his term of office he displayed much of the zeal and ability which were characteristic of his father, the “Great Mayor.”
The Honorable Josiah Quincy, third of the name, was born at Quincy in 1859, and graduated at Harvard in 1880. He was a prominent member of the Democratic Party, and held various public offices, having served as First Assistant Secretary of State under President Cleveland. Mr. Quincy was elected Mayor of Boston in 1895, and served four years. An important event of his administration was the erection of the South Union Railway Station. He was especially interested in the system of baths, gymnasia, playgrounds, and other progressive measures for the benefit of the people. In later years he served as a member of the Boston Transit Commission. His death occurred in 1919.
1 Mayors of Boston. Issued
by the State Street Trust Company, 1914.