Sunday, October 14, 2007

Canton Dale

Canton Dale
Not distant far from Taunton Road, in Canton Dale is my abode.

These are the words penned by the American Patriot Paul Revere. Revere was referring to this fine home which was built in 1717 by Elijah and Samuel Danforth for "an HONEST miller".

The original use for this house was for the local miller and the grist mill would have been situated on the stream along with a barn. The Danforth Brothers were entrepreneurs that invested in creating the mill for the benefit of local villagers that would find it difficult to travel for two days to bring their corn to a mill and thus the hardship would vastly diminish their returns. And so the Danforth Brothers petitioned the Dorchester Selectmen for permission to build on the land and river at the place called Pacomit. So, on the banks of the Neponset River in 1717 began the earliest history of industry in Canton.

y the time Paul Rever had become familiar with this place it would be 1776 during the American Revolution. Revere was acquainted with Major Crane who had been powder-master during the Revolution, and Paul Revere had purchased powder from Crane while he was in command of Castle Island in Boston. In fact, Crane shows up on Paul Revere's books as a Superintendent of Revere's copperworks. (Peter Crane, Margaret Fuller's grandfather also had business arrangements with Paul Revere). During the first three years of the Revolution no other mill provided more powder to the provincial army. It was Crane's Powder Mill that provided ammunition that for the schooner "Langdon", the frigate "Boston" and in 1777, to "the Castle" into the hands of Paul Revere. The mill was blown to atoms on October 30, 1779 and Benjamin Pettingill died as a result of severe burns.

And so on March 14th, 1801, Colonel Paul Revere purchased the land, this house, a trip-hammer shop or slitting mill, and the "cole" house starting the first industrial copper rolling mill in America. The price was $6000.00 and Revere immed
iately sent to Maidstone, England for his rolls that would be of such perfection that his mill would be the finest for years to come. Risking his personal fortune of $25,000 with a personal loan of $10,000 from the U.S. Government Revere sought contracts that would assure him success.

From this modest country home Revere would command the industry. In the
image taken in the late 1800's you can see a small bell tower just behind the house. The tower would toll the start and end of the day of work and atop the tower was a small weather vane designed by Revere of a wooden fish studded with nails. Also, the train tracks to the left of the photo run through the barn next to the house. This railroad spur is said to be the first in America. Revere's son, Joseph Warren Revere was on the Board of Directors of the Boston and Providence Railroad and insured that in 1834 the Revere Copper Co. had direct access to the main line at Canton Junction.

While researching this place at the Canton Historical Society I recently came upon this photo (left) that shows a rare glimpse of the interior of the Revere House in Canton. It is, as far as I know the only interior photo of the house and it calls to mind a simpler time. A simple ladder-back chair, a roaring hearth and candlemaking equipment on the mantle.

For many in Canton there is confusion as to where the house stood, but it was squarely in the center of what is now Plymouth Rubber, Inc. There are no buildings where the house once stood, just asphalt paving. And, while there are two remaining buildings of the Copper Rolling Mill still standing at this site, they are threatened with demolition and may be doomed to become more ghosts of our history. The house that Revere called home was either destroyed by fire, or by neglect. It was standing in 1909, and was lost sometime thereafter.

For more information, visit the Paul Revere & Sons website that has being created to engage public support in protecting the remaining Revere Co. buildings.

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