Like most neighborhoods of its type, the lakeside-cottage community at Fort Meadow Reservoir in Marlborough gives only a general impression of what it looked like when built in the 1930's and 1940's. Still, it is significant as a rare survival of an intrinsically fragile neighborhood of low-cost, rustic waterfront, often unweatherized houses. Most of the small cottages, cabins, and "camps" that were built here, especially the ones for summer use, have been enlarged, winterized, and updated with new windows, doors, etc. Still, the general scale and layout of much of the neighborhood remains intact, as do a few of the buildings. Red Spring Road is still a long dirt road with its line of cottages widely scattered between it and the shoreline, and the later cluster of streets in the area to its east, off Stevens Street, still includes some relatively intact cottages, as well.
Typically, all the buildings here are wood-frame, and most are small, one-story structures on concrete- block foundations. Surviving original details include 2-over-l or 6-over-l-sash windows, a few of which retain either the vertical-board shutters that closed them up tight for the winter, or paneled shutters decorated with pierced or applied designs. Cladding in wood shakes or shingles is common, as are low- pitched or hipped overhanging roofs. A few fieldstone chimneys add to the rustic atmosphere. (Cont.)
The neighborhood along the shores of Fort Meadow Reservoir is significant as an illustration of a rapidly vanishing type of residential area of the second quarter of the twentieth century in Massachusetts--the lakeside cottage community. Between the two world wars entrepreneurs and realty companies began dividing lake-front land in interior towns and cities to sell to low- or middle-income families for small summer cottages, or "camps." The buyers were often city dwellers looking for affordable summer homes; others were local residents who wanted to get away from the center city in
the warm weather. Still others were buyers of limited means seeking to own permanent homes. Many cottages and cabins were put up by the developers, while others were "home-built" designs constructed by individual owners. It was fashionable to link these properties with natural features and with the rustic life style of the Indians who once lived in the area. Here, that spirit is reflected in the names associated with the development, such as "Indian Lake Shores" and Red Spring Road, named for a nearby spring known to the early settlers.
The community here in Marlborough developed fairly late in the course of the lakeside "camp" movement, which by the mid-'30's was declining in some communities as a result of new local zoning and health laws that required minimum lot sizes, more stringent septic disposal procedures, etc. The first few true "camps" at Fort Meadow were built in about 1938, and the area's major development took place over the 1940's, extending into the early 1950's. Over 140 small lots were laid out on the south side of the reservoir in the 1930's and '40's, and just after World War II about the same number were subdivided on the north shore, where the earliest cottages appeared in about 1947. (Cont.)
Although many of the buildings now have synthetic siding and replacement doors and windows, a few retain some original features. Most of these are located on Red Spring Road, where #13 displays a stone chimney, and #35 has 6-over-1-sash windows and the exposed rafter ends that lend a rustic note to the architecture. The windows at the two-story 25 Red Spring Road still have their working vertical- board shutters, and those at #33 are the paneled type, embellished with pine tree designs. The Intercolonial Club building at the base of the road has a five-bay facade with 2-over-l-sash windows, an overhanging roof, and a rubble foundation.
The eastern section on the south shore, denser, later, and generally more altered and less wooded than Red Spring Road, has a few relatively intact examples of cottages of other types. For eample, 137 Cullinane Drive is a 1 1/2-stOlY,three-bay gable-end, and 48 Westernview Road is a four-bay cottage with 6-over-1 windows, overhanging pitched roof, and a small brick ridge chimney.
The main attraction of these lakeside commmunities was the water itself and its recreational potential. Fishing, boating, and swimming were all usually provided for to some extent in the developer's plans. Access to a public or neighborhood beach, sportsmen's club, or other organized facility was a desirable arnenity, and the presence here of organizations like the Intercolonial Club and the city of .farlborough's Memorial Beach, which opened in 1946 as Moriarty's Beach, is typical.
The buildings discussed above and listed011 the Area Data Sheet represent some of the most historically or architecturally significant resources in the area. There are several more historic properties located in the area, however. See Area Sketch Map for their locations.
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