The Josiah Bartlett Prescott House holds a special place in our hearts because during the 8 years we lived in Bedford, Mass., the structure was been transformed from a neglected building in toe center of town to a beautiful swan.
We saw it often, as it’s right next door to the town’s amazing ice cream shop, Bedford Farms, which we frequented often. And little did we know at the time that the 1879-built structure actually had ties to our ice cream haunt.
Built for Josiah Bartlett Prescott, this house was part of Prescott’s dairy farm — later Bedford Farms Dairy — until 1979, when the house parcel was subdivided from the rest of the former dairy property. All dairy operations and associated buildings are now located on the adjacent property.
Prescott, who acquired this property from Jonas Monroe in 1879, established J. B. Prescott Dairy, a wholesale milk dealer.
The former Carlisle resident married Lucy Farrell and they had at least one child, Horace A. Prescott. The 1900 census lists J. Bartlett Prescott, by then a widower, residing with his son (age 17); his sister-in-law, Lydia S. Mason; and one woman and four men described as servants.
Horace Prescott was employed as a collector for his father’s dairy business, and the four men were teamsters, also working for the dairy. In 1905, Prescott acquired a parcel to the north of this dwelling, where he had a new dairy plant built.
Prior to 1905, Prescott may have operated his wholesale dairy business from his residence.
Horace Prescott died in 1930 of pneumonia and injuries sustained after the car he was operating skidded and went into a pond in Maynard on Christmas day in 1929. He is listed in the 1930 census (enumerated in April of that year) as a wholesale milk dealer.
After Prescott’s death, Amos L. Taylor operated the dairy business as trustee for Horace Prescott’s heirs, an arrangement that continued into the 1960s. In the 1930s, the business became known as Bedford Farms Dairy, and in the 1950s the dairy began producing and selling ice cream. The ice cream business continues today.
The house, meanwhile, was recently given a major facelift and functions as an office building, but the courtyard outside continues to offer seating and tranquility where folks can enjoy their ice cream.