Edison (1909)



The Bedford Number of a Series devoted to the illustration of certain of the cities and towns adjacent to the City of Boston and the presentation, in brief accompanying text, of some suggestive facts concerning their advantages and development.


Published in Boston in the fall of nineteen hundred and nine by


39 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts.
(Copyright 1909 by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Boston)

[ p 2 ]

[ nature photo ]
Wilson Park and some Residences, Bedford. [*1]

[ p 3 ]

The Town of Bedford

Surrounded by broad meadows, and amid high hills, Bedford is very pleasantly situated in about the center of Middlesex County some fifteen miles northwest of Boston and four miles beyond its neighbor Lexington. The Concord River forms its western boundary while the Shawsheen River runs along another border of the town. Bedford is on the Southern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad on which there are thirteen trains out from Boston on each week day and eleven in from Bedford, while on Sundays there are two trains each way. The single fare is

twenty-nine cents; twelve rides cost $1.75, and the scheduled running time is forty-seven minutes. Electric railways increase the convenient accessibility of the town, for these connect Bedford with Billerica, Lowell and Concord and with Lexington, Arlington and Boston. [^1]

Bedford was incorporated by the General Court in September, 1729. Before that, and for nearly a century it had been a part of the now adjoining towns of Concord and Billerica. Its name seems to have been adopted in honor of the minister of Concord, who was a native of Bedfordshire in England. [*2] Its early

[ house photo ]
The Old Pollard Tavern, Bedford. [*3]

[ p 4 ]

[ house photo ]
The Congregational Church, Bedford. [*4]

[ house photo ]
The Roman Catholic Church, Bedford. [*5]

[ p 5 ]

[ house photo ]
The Unitarian Church and the Common. [*6]

history, throughout Colonial and later Revolutionary years, was similar to that of other towns and settlements in this part of the land, and the inhabitants of its territory shared the vicissitudes and struggles of the early times and contributed of their strength to the struggle for national existence.

The first house occupied by white persons within the present limits of the town was erected in 1642, only twenty-two years after the landing of the Pilgrims, and the settlement of the pleasant land was thus begun early. [*7] The Old Pollard Tavern, erected in 1750, stands as a point of interest and, indeed, a considerable part of the present charm of Bedford is due to the quaint houses of Colonial aspect erected in later but still comparatively early years and now standing on various of the streets.

Bedford of the present occupies an area of fourteen and one-tenth square miles. It has a growing population of fourteen hundred with about two hundred and fifty entitled to vote while its assessed valuation is in the neighborhood of $1,300,000.

The town is situated on an elevation itself constituting a water shed. It is therefore naturally well drained and free from the miasmatic influences which are so often associated with lower-lying places. For these reasons, and because of its pleasant location, its interesting features and its picturesque surroundings with the many drives its good roads permit, Bedford is attractive as a place of either continuous or summer residence. Furthermore, there are here the other attractions due to added conveniences. Along the main street of the village there are

[ p 6 ]

[ house photo ]
The Bedford House on Main Street. [*8]

[ house photo ]
The Boston and Maine Railroad Station, Bedford. [*9]

[ p 7 ]

[ house photo ]
The Union School Building. [*10]

[ house photo ]
Some of the Stores at Bedford.

[ p 8 ]

shops in which ordinary needs may be satisfied. Three churches, the Unitarian, the Congregational and the Roman Catholic, meet the requirements for convenient and suitable places of worship. The public schools are four in number and the Union School Building is commodious, and a structure altogether creditable in appearance, arrangement and equipment. The streets of Bedford are lighted by electricity until one o’clock at night (dark hour schedule) by The Edison Electric Illuminating Company under a ten year contract. This Company also furnishes electricity for the illumination of residential and commercial structures, as well as for power, at its standard rates as established throughout the thirty-three towns and cities it supplies with the electric current. The

service of the Company is continuous every hour of every day in the year. The Public Library, located in the Town Hall is a town institution, but it has profited, or been increased by various donations by the public spirited and more recently a gift of real estate has been made to the town for library purposes. [*11] A field near the station suitable for all out-of-door games or recreative athletic exercises has been given to the town by Mrs. Jonathan A. Lane. On this field will be base ball games and other sports partly conducted under the auspices of the Civic Club which exists to promote social pleasures as well as to further in approved manner the interests of the town. The Bedford House on Main Street provides opportunity for rest and refreshment to travelers by auto-

[ house photo ]
A large Factory Building at Bedford.

[ p 9 ]

[ house photo ]
The Town Hall at Bedford.

mobile or other transient visitors as well as gives accommodation to the summer resident. In addition, to meet the further needs, or the choice of these latter, there are several boarding places among the attractive looking farm houses and dwellings of the town. Bedford has installed, recently, its own water system with wells and a water basin, and the water, of high quality, has been introduced very generally in the houses of the residents and throughout the town. The fire department, with its apparatus of one hand engine, one hook and ladder truck and one combination hose and chemical wagon and other necessary equipment, is efficient and reliable. The advantages which should lead to the future residential development of Bedford, ought likewise, to be of

effect in causing the location here of manufacturing or commercial enterprises. The railroad facilities for the transportation of freight, moreover, will be found thoroughly satisfactory, while the billing point is Boston. There is abundant land contiguous to the railroad on which factory buildings of any size may be erected. All employed operatives, of whatever grade, would find their surroundings agreeable and most healthful. Their own needs, and those of growing children, for fresh air, freedom and opportunities for play or for education, could all be met adequately. In the town fruits and vegetables are raised in sufficient quantities to make it comparatively easy to obtain them, and all natural products are as readily procured. Already here are the large factory buildings of the Boston Electric

[ p 10 ]

[ nature photo ]
Field to be used as Athletic Grounds, Bedford.

Spindle Company, [??] in which experimental work is now under way with rather a small present force, and another factory in which experiments are being conducted also. Inquiries as to available locations for manufacturing plants or sites for dwellings will be answered promptly if addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

A very important industrial enterprise established here, or rather at Bedford Springs, is that of the New York Pharmaceutical Company. Not only is the enterprise important commercially, but the property at Bedford Springs has been developed so that its great natural beauty has been enhanced and unusual attractions of scene and surroundings are presented. There are three springs here renowned for the curative effect of their waters, and it is recorded

that in days long gone the Indians came from long distances to fill their leather bottles with the water of the springs. [*12] The plentiful flow of the agreeable and healthful waters continues now as then. The estate was purchased in 1856 by the late William R. Hayden, M. D., and the establishment of the works of the Company here and the really remarkable development of the land followed. The property comprises about two hundred and fifty acres and within its pleasant limits a large lake lies surrounded by its sloping grassy shores. Here, also, there are wooded knolls, interspersed with broad lawns and with shrubbery, while good driveways have been constructed. Besides the buildings in which the work of the Company is carried on there are pleasure structures, covered outlooks and

[ p 11 ]

[ nature photo ]
Looking in toward Bedford Springs from across the Railroad Track.

[ house photo ]
This Handsome Building stands in Attractive Grounds at Bedford Springs.

[ p 12 ]

[ nature photo ]
The Lake adds to the Beauty of Bedford Springs.

handsome dwellings, and the large and striking building sometimes known as the Sweetwater Hotel. [^2][*13] This with its healthful and beautiful surroundings would be ideal in arrangement and location for a large private school. Indeed, the numerous smaller rooms suitable for sleeping chambers or dormitories contained within the structure, its wide and convenient corridors and the larger apartments which might be used as assembly or class-rooms make this notably well adapted for school

purposes. Few, if any, alterations would be necessary. In the grounds without, ample opportunity would be found for the recreative exercises which, it is now considered, should accompany the work of education. It may be added that at Bedford Springs there are no accommodations for the casual motorist or excursionist: but it may be regarded in its restfulness and quiet and with its charm of scene and development as one of the pleasantest places in all the neighborhood of Boston.


  • “Bedford” (1909) [ no scan ]
    [published] by Edison Electric


  1. town, for ∨ town for
  2. Sweetwater ∨ Sweetwaters



  1. “Wilson Park”: now Willson Park
  2. “the minister of Concord”: Peter Bulkley
  3. “the . . . Pollard Tavern”: (what was) 42 North Road (HPN) pp 148-149
    Demolished circa 1930. (Mansur) p 131
  4. “the Congregational Church”: now First Church of Christ: 25 Great Road
  5. “the Roman Catholic Church”: demolished in 1961 (BS1) p 101
  6. “the Unitarian Church”: now First Parish: 75 Great Road
  7. “the first house”: the Shawsheen House trading post
    The location of this structure is still in dispute. (HPN) p 400
  8. “the Bedford House”: the Bedford House hotel
    Formerly Page Tavern, the Bedford House became Grange Hall, which was purchased by the Town in 1941 and demolished soon thereafter. (HPN) p 249
    Stood on the site of the Fire Station: 55 Great Road (HPN) p 249
  9. “the . . . Railroad Station”: now Bedford Depot: 80 Loomis Street
  10. “the Union School”: now Town Center: 12 Mudge Way
  11. “the Town Hall”: now Old Town Hall: 16 South Road
  12. cf. Brown’s History of the town of Bedford (1891) p 41
  13. “the Sweetwater Hotel”: demolished in 1913 (HPN) p 15
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