Among the oversize materials in our flat files, the CHC holds architectural drawings and specifications of a house to be built for Lyman A. Belknap in Cambridge.
Mr. Belknap purchased a lot at 9 Forest Street in North Cambridge on March 31, 1871 but despite the elegant mansard design by architect G. F. Meacham, Belknap sold the property later that same year to William Frost, Jr. At this time, the land was still undeveloped. In 1872, Frost built a large, three-story mansard house on the lot for James M. Hilton, who rented the home to tenants.
Residents of 9 Forest Street
In early 1983, a descendant of Edwin Davis Mellen gifted the CHC with several family photographs taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many are interior and exterior shots of homes, with a number known to be located in Cambridge. Among the photographs are two taken at 9 Forest Street.
Mellen (1861-1918), an 1884 M.I.T. graduate, was a talented amateur photographer. By profession a chemist, he became a partner in the Cambridge soap manufacturer Curtis, Davis & Co. He and his wife, Adele Jeanne, nee Lods, initially lived on Essex Street, not far from the factory, but in 1892-98 they rented the house at 9 Forest Street. In 1897 the British firm of Lever Brothers purchased an interest in Mellen’s firm, and he built a new home at 1590 Massachusetts Avenue (now demolished). With him were his wife, and a daughter, Lucile Christina.
This house was also once the home of Dr. Lucy A. “Sleeping Lucy” Cooke. Lucy’s foresight and restorative powers appeared when she was a young girl in Vermont. Lucy honed her talents and was known in her time as a psychic healer. Although she had no formal medical training, patients called her Dr. Cooke, and she was said to invent prescriptions and even heal broken bones, all while under a trance or hypnosis. Lucy also ran a mail-order prescription business. In addition to her medical talents, Lucy aided police with unsolved cases and helped discover missing items while in state of trance.
Lucy moved to Boston in 1876 with her secretary and soon-to-be second husband, Everett W. Raddin. In June of 1887, she purchased the three-story mansard home at 9 Forest Street. In 1891 Mr. Raddin converted the carriage house to a residence (at left in the photo above), and it is likely that the couple moved there so they could rent out the main house. Lucy ran her practice at this address, and continued to live there until she died in 1895 at age 76.
Lucy’s talents were said to be known worldwide, and many clients would line up outside her door for consultation and cures. One of Lucy’s most famous clients was Mary Baker Eddy, known as the founder of Christian Science. Lucy treated Mrs. Eddy and her children while living in Cavendish, Vermont. Both women are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Today, the large house sits on the corner of Forest Street and Newport Road, and looks much as it did in the late nineteenth century. Many more photographs exist in the collection donated by the Mellens, with detailed home interiors and the family engaged in activities of the day. This collection is open for research on-site at the Cambridge Historical Commission.
9 Forest Street. Architectural survey files, Cambridge Historical Commission.
Curtis Mellen Photograph Collection, Cambridge Historical Commission.
“Funeral of Dr. Lucy Cooke.” The Cambridge Chronicle, June 1, 1895. http://cambridge.dlconsulting.com/cgi-bin/cambridge?a=d&d=Chronicle18950601-01.2.49&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——-.
“Lucy Ainsworth Cooke.” Vermont Historical Society. Accessed August 08, 2017. http://vermonthistory.org/research/museum-collections/faces-of-vermont/lucy-ainsworth-cooke.
Milmine, Georgine. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. New York: Doubleday, 1909.