The Great Bridge, or the bridge over Main Street (Route 3A) where the road intersects with Brook Street, did not receive its name because of its architectural significance, but because it carried the Great Road, running from Plymouth to Boston, over the Jones River.
The early history of this bridge and its predecessors is noted in the Town’s Annual Report from 1895. (These Annual Reports are great sources of information about Kingston’s history. We have a set here at the library if you’d like to check them out.) The yearly recap about the Great Bridge is as follows (phrases bolded for emphasis only in this post):
Horatio Adams, Alexander Holmes, and Azel H. Sampson were chosen a committee to make the alterations in the highway near the Great Bridge, ordered by the County Commissioners upon petition of George B. Thomas, and others, and a new arch bridge has been substituted for the arch and flat covered bridges, equal in construction and workmanship to any stone structure in this part of the State. As there has been some controversy over the history of the bridges built over the river at this place at different periods, the following may be interesting to some of our people: The first bridge was a wooden structure, and was built in 1715. This existed until 1825, when, at a town meeting held May 2nd, it was voted, “That a committee of five persons be chosen with authority to contract in behalf of the town for a new bridge to be built where the Boston Road crosses Jones River, to have a stone covering, to be 25 feet wide, and of such height as the committee shall judge the public good requires, and the following persons were chosen: Thomas P. Beal, Richard F. Johnson, Eli Cook, James Sever, Esq., and John Thomas.”
Four years later—April 6, 1829—it was voted “To choose a committee of seven persons to investigate the state of the bridge over Jones River, and the following persons were chosen: Eli Cook, John Sever, Joseph Holmes, Zebulon Bisbee, Robert Cook, Nathaniel Faunce, and Benjamin Delano.” Voted also, “That the committee be instructed to proceed immediately to examine the state of the bridge and to make a report of the result of their examination at the adjournment of this meeting.”
At the adjournment, the committee reported as follows: “The committee appointed to examine the shattered bridge near Timothy French’s have attended that service and report:
First—That in their opinion said bridge may and ought to be repaired upon its original foundation, and the bottom thereof made secure from undermining by a plank platform.
Second—That there be made one other arch or passageway for water on the North-west of, and near the present archway of seven feet in ye clear, built and covered with stone.
Third—The committee have made an estimate of the probable expense of repairs and alterations as above, and believe the whole may be done for the sum of $250.
By order of ye Committee,
ELI COOK, Chairman.”
They then “voted to accept the above report and that the Selectmen make the alterations and repairs to the bridge which are recommended in said report.”
The bills that were paid by the town are in evidence that the arch bridge was built in 1825, and the Northerly passageway in 1829, in accordance with the votes passed by the town.
Check out these photos, taken not long before the 1895 Annual Report.
Emily Drew wrote that the image above was captured “either in 1886 when they were laying our water mains or in 1890 when the street car system (trolley electric) was being installed.” She draws attention to the men “either raising a pole (a trolley pole) or lowering a length of pipe into the trench.” Even without her clues about its date, you can tell that this is the bridge that was repaired in 1829 because of the square arch to the left of the round arch.
Here’s the view looking West, likely taken the same day, as evidenced by that pole/pipe.
Now take a look at the bridge (below) built in 1895.
Notice the single arch?
As always, you can send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Block quote from the Town of Kingston Annual Report of 1895, part of the Town of Kingston Publications (TOK4), and additional information from Emily Fuller Drew’s lantern card slide file, part of the Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slide Collection (IC4). Images from the Local History Room Image Collection (IC7) and the Delano Photograph Collection (IC11) .
One of the many lantern slides collected by Emily Fuller Drew for the Jones River Village Historical Society, this image shows the Point, where Summer Street peels away from Main Street. It was the center of Kingston before the railroad came through.
The index card of Emily’s notes on this slide reads:
20. “The Point,” jct. Main & Summer Sts. 1886
Main Street was formerly the Bridgewater Road; Summer was in early day called the Boston Road. Where they joined or separated, was called the “Point.” The well which was built by Samuel Foster, Benjamin Samson and Joseph Stacey on Mr. Stacey’s land was called the Point Well and, as time went on, the Old Point Well. The Rev. Samuel Glover, minister of the Baptist Society lived at #39. His son Henry was born there. In memory of his early days in Kingston. Mr. Henry Glover in his later and wealthier years, gave the Town of K a drinking fountain for dumb animals to be placed at The Point and a sum of money to maintain it. (Mr. Glover also gave funds for the present Baptist Church and a fund to maintain it.)
Emily’s “#39” refers not to an address, but to another lantern slide.
The corresponding card:
39. Samuel Foster house (front) 1922
In 172_, Samuel Foster bought of Maj. John Bradford a piece of land, part of the Bradford farm, joining the land of John Brewster, #135, and lying on the east side of Boston Road ( Summer St.) Here Foster built a house in which he lived __ years. In 175_, he sold the place to Wrestling Brewster, son of Deacon Wrestling and built a second house, a much larger and more pretentious house, nearer the junction of Green and Summer Streets, the present Harry Cook house (east side of Summer St.).
And, #135 refers to…
This was one of several houses on Main and Summer Streets that were demolished in the early 1920s…oh, we could follow Emily’s references around for days! But let’s stop there and go back to the Point. The well in the first lantern slide was replaced in 1888 with this public watering trough or as Emily put it, “drinking fountain for dumb animals.”
Here’s the benefactor himself, Henry Rogers Glover (1814-1893), “in his later and wealthier years.”
According to his obituary (thanks Cambridge Public Library), he was a manufacturer and wholesale dealer of mattresses and curled hair, and further, “He has always been rich.”
Sources: Jones River Village Historical Society Collection MC29 and Lantern Slides IC4; Mass. Historical Commission MACRIS Digital Photographs IC13
84. Evergreen Cemetery Pond, 1876
Naturally a damp, spring spot. When cemetery was planned [in 1853], the spot was drained and curbed as shown. Later the pines were cut down or broke down from winter ice, and the spot was landscaped. Mr. Edgar Reed gave the granite seat on the north side of the pond.
Source: Text from Emily Fuller Drew’s lantern slide card file; image from Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slides IC4. Scanned with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and digitized at the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth)
The Elm Street dam may go the way of its upstream relative, the dam at Triphammer Falls just off Wapping Road, which was removed in 2011. The question of dam removal is a complex one, made doubly so in Kingston and other New England towns by the age of many of the dams.
To find out more about the issue, take a look at the FAQ and other information about dam removals posted by American Rivers, a non-profit focused restoration and conservation of rivers across the country; and at the Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Fund run by Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Here are some photographs of the Elm Street dam when it was new, sometime in the 1920s.
Source: Emily Fuller Drew Collection MC16. Negatives scanned with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and digitized at the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth)
Though not in town, the lighthouse at the Gurnet — formally known as the Plymouth Light Station — is familiar to many Kingstonians.
The Massachusetts legislature authorized the first lighthouse on the Gurnet in 1768; it burned to the ground in 1801. The federal government replaced the original with a pair of towers, which served for the next 41 years. Our photo shows the twin wooden towers built in 1842 to replace the earlier pair. The two lights stood together until 1924, when the northeast tower was taken down.
The current tower stands 39 feet tall, 102 feet above water; it is wood framed and shingled. The light flashes an alternating single, then double white every 20 seconds, with a red sector marking the Mary Ann Rocks. In 1977, the light was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest freestanding wooden lighthouse in the United States.
In 1997, the Coast Guard moved the remaining tower 140 feet north, away from the eroding cliff. Two years later, the light was turned over to the nonprofit Project Gurnet & Bug Lights Inc., which manages the two.
Sources: Photo from the MC21 Hathaway Collection; text from the “Plymouth Light” Wikipedia entry, a report from the Coast Guard Historian’s Office, an article on Lighthouse Friends, and the Project Gurnet site noted above.
From 1889 to 1928, trolleys ran through Kingston, every half hour or so, reaching Brockton to the west and Manomet to the east. The line was run by three companies in succession: the Plymouth & Kingston, the Brockton & Plymouth, and the Plymouth & Brockton (and if that last one seems familiar, that’s because they still run buses between Logan Airport and Provincetown). There’s not much left of the street railway, but you can stop by the Library to see photos of some of the trolleys in the exhibit case this month.
Source: OC2 Vertical Files – Trolleys. “Brockton & Plymouth Street Railway” by O.R. Cummings. In Transportation Bulletin, No. 59, July-August-September 1959. Inserted between pages 2 and 3.
The trolley ran through Kingston from 1889 to 1928, and while the traffic definitely increased in the summer, the cars ran all winter too. In 1922, when the Brockton & Plymouth (successor to the Plymouth & Kingston and predecessor to the Plymouth & Brockton) owned the line, the rolling stock included three snowplow cars. One is shown here, scanned from a glass plate negative copy of an earlier photographic print.
Without a date, it’s hard to know if this train belonged to the Old Colony Rail Road, or the Old Colony and Fall River, or the Old Colony and Newport (you can imagine that Fall River was a little peeved when that happened), or the New York, New Haven and Hartford, or some other corporate conglomerate name for the railroad that ran through Kingston starting in 1845. It is the bridge that crosses the Jones River, so it is at least fixed in place.