Southborough’s historic places: The Community House

by susan on November 20, 2009

I recently learned that in 2000 Southborough did a survey of historic properties in town. There are five binders full of information at the library about the homes, landmarks, and landscapes that lend Southborough so much character. It’s fascinating stuff, and it’s inspired a new feature here on My Southborough.

Each Friday I’ll introduce (or in some cases reintroduce) you to a historic place in Southborough using information from the historic property survey. We’ll start this week with the Community House.

community-house

Did you know the Community House once boasted a bowling alley?

The house was built in 1906 as a residence for William A. White, a Boston lawyer.  It’s one of the few homes in Southborough built in the Shingle Style. Charles F. Choate, a friend of White’s, bought the house in 1921 and then turned it over to the newly formed Southborough Village Society as a meeting place.

The Community House became a focal point of village life, with tea served every weekday afternoon by the original caretakers Mr. and Mrs. Amos Toombs. It hosted sewing circles, card parties, and elaborate Christmas celebrations. Longtime Southborough residents will remember the Christmas tree — a large spruce — that used to stand in front of the Community House. It was planted in 1922.

It was also during this time that the bowling alley was built for use by the community.

When it was built in 1906, the Community House replaced the old Trowbridge Brigham House built on the property in 1833. In addition to being a working farm of about a dozen cows, pigs, and a pair of oxen, the Brigham House was used as a lying-in hospital in the late nineteenth century.

When Choate gave the property to the Village Society, he included the provision that they share the building with the Leo L. Bagley Post of the American Legion. In 1921-1922, a one-story addition was built on the east side of the building to house the Legion’s headquarters. It’s still used as the American Legion and VFW headquarters today.

1 Chris November 20, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Neat, and the unofficial ‘mayor’ of Southborough, Bea, does a wonderful job of maintaining it (along w/ the Village Society). They’ve certainly made some well-needed improvements over the past years, and it’s nice to see how busy the house is, even on a weeknight, with functions.

2 DLD November 20, 2009 at 4:31 PM

As one of those “longtime residents” I’m still sad the Christmas Tree was chopped down. Seeing that tree lit from top to bottom with those huge multi-colored bulbs was one of my favorite childhood memories. I wish my kids could have seen it. Great new feature, Susan!

3 Kate Matison November 22, 2009 at 6:10 PM

Architect Charles M. Baker designed the The Leo L. Bagley Post. Baker also designed the old fire station now the Southborough House of Pizza, as well as the Police Station. If you want more information please follow
http://ktmatison.wordpress.com/tag/charles-m-baker/ to find out more information on these well-known historical buildings. The Southborough Historical Commission has been advocating to preserve the Police Station.

4 susan November 22, 2009 at 9:57 PM

Great information. Thanks, Kate!

5 Jen January 2, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Do you know the number where I can reach Bea to book the Southboro Community House for a party? I tried the only number I could find on the web (508-485-0071) but they said it was a wrong number. Thanks so much.

6 susan January 3, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Jen, try 508-485-4887.

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