Merriam-Lane-Blake House

Built in 1852 in Bedford, Mass., the Merriam-Lane-Blake house is the most elaborate and eclectic Victorian design in town center, likely having been remodeled to its current appearance in the 1880s.

Its occupants have included three widowed sisters-in-law who lived together in their 80s and a chemistry professor who helped develop atomic weapons during World War II.

Yes, we sat in the street to get this photo. Promise no cars were coming.

The son of a real estate agent, William Merriam and his wife owned a large parcel of land, selling some off, including this house, in 1853.

Charles Butterfield owned the property in 1857, and farmer Jonathan Lane (1788-1860), acquired the property in 1858. After his death, his widow, Ruhamah Page Lane (d. 1882), continued to live here with her widowed sisters-in-law. The 1870 census shows Ruhamah Lane (age 82), Hannah Putnam (age 80), and Dolly Page (age 82), living in the same household.

Edwin Henry Blake (b. 1838) acquired the property in the 1880s when he returned to Bedford from East Cambridge. Blake is likely responsible for the home’s present unique Victorian appearance.

Blake operated a grocery in Bedford from 1860 to 1864, then moved to East Cambridge, where he had a grocery from 1864 to 1882. While a resident of Cambridge, Blake was on the board of Overseers of the Poor (1872) and an alderman (1878-1879).

Returning to Bedford, he was a real estate and insurance agent, maintaining offices in Bedford and Cambridge. Blake served as a Bedford selectman from 1884 to 1891, a justice of the peace, a representative to the General Court (1888), and a member of the committee to build the Union School.

In 1862, he married Mary L. Parkhurst and they had seven children born in Bedford or Cambridge. Their youngest son, Charles Warren Blake (b. 1881), owned this house in 1906, while his older
brother, Alfred Elmer Blake (b. 1866), lived next door.

Charles Blake worked as a clerk at Hamblen’s apothecary and later was a druggist (1910). He married the former Lena Poland, whose parents also lived here in 1910. The house remained in the Blake family through at least 1919.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Gordon G. Evans (d. 1980) and his wife, Doletha, lived here by 1963. Dr. Evans, joined Tufts University as an instructor in 1949, and was an associate chemistry professor at Tufts by the time he died.

Evans earned an undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1942 and a doctorate from Harvard University in 1950. He published several books and technical articles and contributed to the development of atomic weaponry during World War II.

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