Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society

Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society Papers 1956-1996

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the hymn "America" in 1831, an accomplishment that made him one of Newton's most famous residents in his lifetime. The Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society was established in 1958 with the purpose of purchasing and maintaining the Dr. Smith's home in Newton Centre.

Samuel Francis Smith was born in Boston on October 21, 1808. He graduated from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA in 1829 and attended the Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in Andover, MA, where he penned the hymn "America" in 1831, graduating a Doctor of Divinity from the seminary in 1832.

In 1834, Smith married Mary White Smith and accepted a position as Professor of Modern Languages at Colby College in Waterville, ME. The Smith Homestead was built in 1836 and in 1842, Smith returned to Massachusetts to accept a position as Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Newton Centre. In 1880, Dr. Smith completed The History of Newton. He resided at 1181 Centre Street until his death on November 16, 1895.

The Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society was created as a result of an article written by Newton Centre Resident, Jean Deitz in The Boston Globe. The Society purchased the Homestead, but the structure suffered two fires. The first occurred on the night of July 3, 1968, damaged the home and the second, on the afternoon of May 3, 1969, destroyed it.

The Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society collection consists of the papers of first president, Walter J. Kreske and those of the subsequent president, Wheaton Wilbar. Among the papers of the Samuel Francis Smith Homestead Society are by-laws, membership lists, membership solicitation materials, an accession book, meeting minutes, lists of officers, administrative notes, financial records, photographs, copies of newspaper clippings, architectural plans, insurance records, correspondence, and miscellaneous publications.

No. of boxes: 1 RC
Finding Aids: Yes