Thanks to the intrepid Flo, yesterday’s beautiful mystery house (click here) is a mystery no longer. The handsome house was built in Roxbury, near what is now the intersection of Washington St. and Blue Hill Avenue, around 1800 by one Thomas Kilby Jones, a prosperous merchant, as seen in the 19th century engraving below. It was demolished in 1898, as the tide of development overtook the neighborhood, which had become ‘Grove Hall’ which had been the name of the estate. General Dearborn never had anything to do with the house, and it is apparently just one of those labeling errors. Any study of history is a search for the truth, often obscured below many layers of urban legend.
“The Grove Hall estate and mansion stood at this crossroads for nearly a century from 1800 to 1898, although it served many different purposes over the years. The original owner, Thomas Kilby Jones, was “a prominent merchant and auctioneer of Boston and a gentleman of liberal hospitality.”15 He joined the First Church of Roxbury in 1804 and was a trustee of the Roxbury Latin School.16 In 1832 the original Grove Hall mansion was enlarged and became a hotel and summer boarding house resort. By 1837 it was owned by Edward D. Clarke and managed by C. A. Flagg. Bowen’s 1838 travel guide describes it as “a delightful resort for private parties, having every accommodation for their recreation and amusement.”17 The estate was converted into the American Orthopedic Institute in the 1840s by Dr. Alanson Abbe. The institute treated various medical conditions (curvature of the spine, paralysis of the limbs, club feet, etc.) and offered several regular school courses so young people could continue their studies.”