When this incredible mansion was built for William Whittemore in 1795 in Arlington, Mass., (then Menotomy), it was the most imposing dwelling in the area.
Along with his brothers, Whittemore helped invent a machine that would mass-produce cards sued for straightening cotton and wool fibers before they were spun into yarn. Known in town as “Squire Whittemore,” William and his family were active in business, state politics and local affairs.
By 1840, Whittemore’s health was failing and failed investments had robbed him of his fortune. After he died in 1842, the house was rented out as a girls’ school, while one of his sons continued living on the third floor.
Its next owners were the Robbins family, who came from more humble beginnings. But over time, the hardworking Nathan Robbins built a successful empire buying and selling chickens in Menotony. In fact, he was among the first to have a booth at the new Faneuil Hall in Boston in 1826, and was still there to help celebrate its 50th anniversary. He served as the President of Old Fanueil Hall Bank for nine years.
In 1847, he was the richest man in Menotomy, and naturally, bought its finest mansion. He and his wife, Eliza, made some improvements to the home. Upon her death in 1879, Nathan was joined by the four grandchildren of his late son, Orrin.
The grandchildren inherited the house after Nathan died in 1888 and had the house moved back from the street in order to build the Robbins Memorial Library. In 1931, they donated the house to the town.
Many town offices have been located here, but it currently serves as a venue for weddings and special events. The Arlington Historical Commission is also in this building.