Clark Houses - History

History

The Clark Houses are significant as two of the finer examples of the Second Empire/mansard style in Natick, MA. They are also significant for their association with Edward Clark, a local entrepreneur.

Edward Clark was born in Natick in August of 1838. He was the son of Nathaniel Clark, builder of the Clark Block in Natick Center, which is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Edward was established as a prominent Natick grocer by 1882. His business was housed in the Clark Block. He succeeded his father as town treasurer from 1889-1910, and while in office handled more than four million dollars. Edward was a director of the Natick National Bank, of which his father was a founder. During Edward's lifetime he also served as a trustee of the Morse Hospital and treasurer of the Park Cemetery Association. He died in 1910.

76 West Central Street, known as the "Mary Clark Whitney House," stands directly west of the Edward Clark House (#74). It is the second of five houses on West Central Street known as "the Clark Houses." The house was built by Edward Clark (owner of #74 and cousin of Mary Clark Whitney) for Mary and her husband James Whitney. The couple was socially prominent in the town of Natick. James Whitney, a native of Sherborn, MA, went into partnership in a Natick-based clothing business in 1857 with Alfred W. Mann, originally of Templeton, MA. The firm, Mann and Whitney went out of business following the Panics of 1857 and 1861. Mr. Whitney then joined the Natick Protective Clothing Company, and subsequently served as treasurer of the Natick Five Cents Savings Bank, a position he held until his death in July, 1889. Mary Clark Whitney, was born January 8, 1816, one of 13 children, to Alphonse and Nancy Leland Clark of Sherborn, MA. Both of Mrs. Whitney's grandfathers served in the Revolutionary War. The Natick Chapter of the DAR made her an honorary member, and planned "an observance" on the century mark of her birth on January 8, 1916. However, fate intervened, and on the morning of December 24, 1915, two weeks before her 100th birthday, Mrs. Whitney died quietly in her home of 45 years. Her obituary in the Natick Bulletin, December 24, 1915, noted that "General sorrow was manifested on Wednesday by the people of Natick when it became known that its oldest woman, Mrs. James Whitney,...had passed away in the night." Mary Clark Whitney was survived by her daughter, Mrs. Annie Bean, as well as Mrs. Bean's husband and two daughters, Madeline and Clara Bean.

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