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Mendon History: a New Home for a Grieving Widow

This home at 6 Hastings St. proved a refuge and family home for Anna Hastings and her family.

The 1840s had been a difficult time for Anna Hastings. Though she was happily married and lived with her husband and children at 7 Maple St., the loss of her 15-year-old niece, Mary Hayward; her father, Caleb Allen; her brother-in-law, Congressman William Soden Hastings; and her 19-year-old nephew Caleb Hayward, all within three years, had saddened her. She received comfort from her family and friends, but it was the death of her husband, Attorney Charles C. P. Hastings, at age 44 in 1848, that left her devastated.

She was a 28-year-old widow with four children, nine years old and younger. Her Maple St. home, a family wedding gift just ten years earlier, became a daily reminder of unrelenting sorrow. She decided she could no longer live there without her husband. Anna concluded that it would be best for her emotional wellbeing if she could move to a new place.

Dr. John Metcalf, the multi-talented town physician who had delivered her children, was an amateur architect. As a favor to his family friend, he designed a new house at 6 Hastings Street, across the street from his own house. She moved to her new location in 1849, and it became her family residence for the next 34 years. Her sister and her husband, Minerva and James Cunnabell, moved to 7 Maple St. to fill the vacancy, though Anna retained ownership.

Anna's move to a new home reflected a transition within the village center as well as a transition within the Hastings family. By 1849, there had been several changes that impacted the village's economy, population, and culture. Blackstone had separated from Mendon and became an independent town. The tax dollars generated from the factories along the Blackstone River no longer went to Mendon's treasury. The farmer-friendly Blackstone Canal closed and was replaced by the aloof Providence and Worcester Railroad. Additionally, many of the 1820's prominent Ivy League professionals who had lived in the village under the leadership of Seth Hastings were deceased. The titles of attorney (7), congressman (2), ambassador, bank president, state senator, and superior court justice had been replaced with boot maker, woodcrafter, and farmer. The splendor of the golden age was over for the village center as well as for the Hastings family by the late 1840's.

Anna's new home offered a renewed hope for the future. She raised her children there and had the support of neighborhood family and friends. At the time of her death on August 20, 1883, at age 63, she was the last of the spouses of the children of Seth and Chloe Hastings. She died as the matriarch of a great family.

Six Hastings Street is currently the well-kept home of Paul Crosby and Sharon Dawes.


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