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The young couple and their mansion: W.E.C. and Edith Eustis

June 6, 2016

Historic New England is working to transform the 1878 Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, into a museum and study center opening in 2017. Below, Curatorial and Interpretive Planning Assistant Elyse Werling introduces you to the young couple who were the first to call the Eustis Estate home.

W.E.C. Eustis
Portrait of W.E.C. Eustis, 1871. From Portraits of the Class of 1871, Taken at Graduation and in Later Life, Boston: The Heliotrope Printing Co., 1896.

Today, many young couples choose a “starter home,” a modest house that comfortably accommodates a small family on a tight budget. When William Ellery Channing (W.E.C.) Eustis and Edith Hemenway Eustis moved into their first house, they actually moved into their forever house: a custom-built, 18,600-square-foot stone mansion in Milton, Mass., complete with more than a hundred acres of land. 

In the case of the Eustis family, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Born in 1849, W.E.C. was the son of Frederick Augustus Eustis and Mary Channing Eustis, who moved their family to Milton in the 1850s. Frederick and Mary purchased an eighteenth-century house on Canton Avenue that had previously been owned by family members.

Edith Hemenway Eustis
Portrait of Edith Hemenway Eustis, 1860-1870. From A Memorial of the Life and Benefactions of Mary Hemenway, 1820-1894, Boston: 1927. Courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum.

Similarly, Edith (b.1851) began to spend time in Milton when her parents, Augustus and Mary Hemenway, purchased an old farmhouse on 230 acres on Canton Avenue in 1866. Although they already owned a stately mansion on Beacon Hill, their Milton house, known by all as Old Farm, was to serve as a country retreat.

Coincidentally, the two plots of land are situated next to each other on Canton Avenue. How W.E.C. and Edith met is not documented; it is likely that the close proximity of the Milton properties and the pair’s social standing helped during the courting phase. When W.E.C. and Edith were married in 1876, a sizable estate was carved out between the two properties for the young couple to maintain as their own.

When the couple moved into their new house their family was growing. In 1877 their twin boys, Frederic and Augustus, were born; daughter Mary was born in 1885. W.E.C and Edith lived in this house for the rest of their lives. 

A mining engineer by trade, W.E.C. fancied himself a farmer as well. The majority of the estate’s open land was devoted to farming, which meant that a large staff of laborers was kept to maintain and operate the farm. A full staff worked inside the mansion as well, consisting mostly of women who were housed in the servants’ wing. Historic New England has been lucky to discover the names of these workers and servants in census records.

Keep checking this blog to learn more about the people who lived and worked on the estate.

relationship of Eustis and Channing

Posted by Esley Hamilton on June 13, 2016
The obvious question is how was William Ellery Channing Eustis related to the great Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing.

Eustis and Channing Family

Posted by Elyse Werling on June 14, 2016
Great question! William Ellery Channing (W.E.C.) Eustis is William Ellery Channing's grandson. W.E.C.'s mother, Mary Channing Eustis, was the minister's daughter. William Ellery Channing died in 1842, and W.E.C. was named after him when he was born in 1849.

Elyse Werling
Curatorial and Interpretive Planning Assistant
ewerling@historicnewengland.org

interiors

Posted by Ellen Spencer on June 16, 2016
Is there any documentation identifying who provided the interior decoration (mantels, woodwork, tiles, stained glass)?

Interiors

Posted by Elyse Werling on June 16, 2016
Yes! We have been lucky to discover quite a bit on the interior finishes. Some of the artisans whose work is in the house include Low Art Tile Co. (decorative tiles), William J. McPherson (stained glass), and L. Haberstroh & Co. (decorative painting)--all three were late-nineteenth century Boston based firms. Stay tuned for future posts expounding on these firms and their work featured in the house.

Elyse Werling
Curatorial and Interpretive Planning Assistant
ewerling@historicnewengland.org

James W. Eustis

Posted by MaryBeth Sorgi on July 11, 2016
I am seeking information about James W. Eustis, whose "Twain Tree" (1880) was once considered one of the most beautiful estates in Cohasset. Do you think he might be related to W.E.C. Eustis?

Thank you.

James. W. Eustis

Posted by Elyse Werling on July 12, 2016
Hi MaryBeth, To my knowledge there is no immediate family member of our W.E.C. Eustis named James, and I have never come across any reference to a house named "Twain Tree." I would be happy to share and compare research though, if you would like! Feel free to e-mail me at ewerling@historicnewengland.org.

James W. Eustis

Posted by MaryBeth Sorgi on July 12, 2016
Hi Elyse,

Many thanks for your response. Tomorrow, in a separate email, I will send the "brochure" I have of Twain Tree, and also information from the Cohasset Historical Society.

Best,

MaryBeth

James W. Eustis

Posted by MaryBeth Sorgi on July 12, 2016
Hi Elyse,

Many thanks for your response. Tomorrow, in a separate email, I will send the "brochure" I have of Twain Tree, and also information from the Cohasset Historical Society.

Best,

MaryBeth

Relationship to William Eustis Russell?

Posted by James T Guarino, AIA on August 17, 2016
My question: Is there a relationship back to William Eustis Russell, Mayor of Cambridge and Governor of the Commonwealth from 1891-1894?

William Eustis Russell

Posted by Elyse Werling on August 18, 2016
I cannot find any direct relation between William Eustis Russell and the Milton-based Eustis family. Eustis is a relatively common name in Boston, and it is always possible that the two are related if you go back far enough in genealogy. Thank you for your question!

The Eustis Mine

Posted by Jerome Gemme on October 24, 2016
W.E.C Eustis have also operated a mine that bears its name. The Eustis mine at Sherbrooke in the province of Quebec, several family members work in the management of the mine, he was digging the deepest mine in the world of its time, 7,400 foot deep! He have also a village near the mine, the Eustis town.

it was one of the first copper mine in Canada, and thoses did cause a significant movement of people who later its closure, giving the mining expertise in Northern Ontario and Quebec!

He very important guy!

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The young couple and their mansion: W.E.C. and Edith Eustis