Various newspaper articles on Charles Brigham
Watertown, Mass., Friday, July 24, 1925
Death of Charles Brigham
One of Watertown’s Most Prominent Citizens Passes Away At Shelter Island, New York
Watertown lost one of its foremost citizens with the death of Charles Brigham, which occurred at Shelter Island, New York last Wednesday.
Mr. Brigham was born in this town 85 years ago and was one of the country’s most famous architects having designed many churches, libraries and other buildings. Among the churches designed by him is the one presented by H.H. Rogers to his native town of Fairhaven.
Until five years ago he lived here all his life. He was married 32 years ago to Miss Rebecca Jordan, who died about 15 years ago.
He was the first president of the Watertown Cooperative Bank and was a director in the Union Market national Bank. He was well-known in Masonic circles and up to the time of his death was the oldest surviving past master of Pequossette Lodge of Watertown. He had been a member of the Watertown Board of Selectmen for many years and served as a member of the town’s water commission until he moved to Long Island. He had also been a trustee of the Watertown public library. He was the designer of the town seal and architect of the old High School, giving his services at all times to the town without cost.
Mr. Brigham is survived by his sister, Miss Maria Brigham, and several nephews one of whom is Town Treasurer Harry W. Brigham.
Funeral services will be held from the Unitarian Church Saturday morning at 10 o’clock, Rev. Frank D. Taylor, pastor of St. John’s M. E. Church, officiating.
The honorary bearers will be John F. Tufts, Charles E. Fay, William Corson, Everett Coolidge, Frank D. Tarleton, William Robbins, Ernest K. Ingalls, represent the selectmen and John S. Lovell. [sic] the active bearers all from Pequossette Lodge of Masons will be George H. Dale, Hugh Goddard, Fred J. Colby, William Rundlett, Bartlett M. Shaw and W. H. Wilson.
Burial will be in the family lot in Common Street cemetery.
Charles Brigham (1840?-1925)
Charles Brigham was born in Watertown around 1840. (The Town Clerk’s office suggests that he was born June 21, 1841, the son of William and Mary. I am not sure that this is correct as I think his father’s name may have been John.)
in 1857, he was the only boy in Watertown High’s first graduating class of seven students. At the age of 21, September 12, 1862, he enlisted in the army, mustered out July 2, 1863.
He served the town as Selectman, School Committee Member, Water Commissioner, and was Library Trustee for more than thirty-three years (1889-1922).
He was the first President of the Watertown Cooperative Bank, and also Director of the Union Market Bank.
He donated the plans for the High School (now the East Junior High) and designed the Town Seal. He is known chiefly for designing the Christian Science Mother Church in Boston, the wing of the Massachusetts State House and the Maine State House.
The 1850 map of Watertown shows Brigham land and house at corner of Galen St. on the south side of the river. The Brigham Lumber Yard extends along the south side of the river.
On the 1899 map, the Brigham Lumber yard is marked Est. of John Brigham. Many lots on both sides of Garfield Street are marked Brigham, Harwood, and Whitcomb. The land at 84 Garfield St. to the corner of Brigham Street is marked Charles Brigham.
The old town directories list his addresses in Watertown as:
1869 – 1870 – Galen St., corner of Starch Factory Lane
1874 – 1875 – Starch Factory lane is called Water Street
1880 – Marshall St. near Spring Street
1889 – 1890 – at the head of Garfield St.
1893 – 18 Garfield St.
1912 – 84 Garfield St.
The land for the house at 93 Garfield Street was bought from Charles Brigham. The house was built in 1910 by Putnam & Cox, Architects of Boston, and given to Mr. and Mrs. Warren Wright as a wedding by his parents.
Putnam & Cox also designed the house at 19 Garfield Street and the apartment block at 104 Mt. Auburn St.
(corner of Palfrey St.). Mrs. Wright says it was called the Old English Terrace,
84 Garfield St Charles Brigham’s house
92 Garfield was Mrs. Brigham’s studio
100 Garfield was Brigham’s carriage house
Charles Brigham architect and public servant.
Architects of Norton
- Charles Brigham
This is the eighth in a series of articles by Curtis Dahl on the architects of Norton.
Many of us in Norton have driven down to Fairhaven and seen the magnificent buildings there that the financier H.H. Rogers donated to his native town—the fine town hall, the ornate Rogers memorial High School, the exquisite public library, and the soaring Gothic Unitarian Church.
But few even of the many students who went to school in Norton’s old and new demolished high school that stood where the Historical Society school house now stands know that its designer was Charles Brigham, the same architect who built the beautiful buildings in Fairhaven. Here is another of America’s highly regarded architects who worked in Norton.
Of an old Watertown family, Charles Brigham in the early 1870’s joined John Hubbard Sturgis to form the famous firm of Sturgis and Brigham. Sturgis was the aristocratic sophisticate who travelled in England, picking up the latest architectural ideas. It was he who got the fancy commissions from wealthy clients.
Brigham stayed home, tended the office—and did the work. They made a great team, designing the old Museum of Fine Arts in Copley Square, the Church of the Advent on Brimmer Street, and many of the fine mansions in the Back Bay.
But when Sturgis died as a comparatively young man in 1888, Brigham came into his own. Not only did he design Rogers;’ great buildings in Fairhaven, but he also had to his credit the huge First Church of Christ Scientist, the major addition to the State House that houses the Hall of Flags, and St. mark’s Catholic Church in Dorchester. Near Norton he designed the first four buildings—they still stand—of the Foxboro State Hospital.
In all his glory as one of the country’s most famous architects, however, he never forgot his native Watertown. He served it diligently as Selectman, long-time trustee of the public library (an extension to which he designed), School Committee member, and even briefly as Water Commissioner. He gave the town the plans for its new high school.
Though in his old age he moved to live with his sister at their summer home on Shelter Island, New York and died there in 1925, he left his architectural books to the Watertown Library. He served his community well.
The high school building he built for Norton also served its community well. It was no great architectural masterpiece, merely a useful and modest wooden school building with carefully balanced facade and impressive staircases.
Until drastically altered and disfigured with asbestos siding, it must have fitted well into its side on the common near the Unitarian Church and the Wheaton Inn.
Many are the stories that are still told of the goings-on in Brigham’s building. Many older residents of Norton still hold its memory dear.
Charles Brigham contributed much to America’s architecture—and to our Norton and well.
From the Watertown Tribune – Enterprise
July 4, 1930?
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