Mr. Dana was born in Portland, Maine on March 15, 1816. As an adult, he came to Boston and made his fortune in the East India trade. He lived in Brookline and spent his summers in Wellesley. Starting in 1861 he gradually began to acquire property extending from Spring Street to Benvenue Street and from Grove Street to Brook Street in Wellesley, over 100 acres of land. When he retired he moved permanently to Wellesley. His house was set back from Grove Street on the tamarack-bordered drive that extended from Beveridge Hall to Grove Street. Middle Road is in the approximate location of Mr. Dana’s drive. Beveridge Hall was built on the foundation of his “big red barn” and “Little Beveridge” on the foundation of his “little gray barn.” The pond was a fish hatchery. Mr. Dana raised hay, corn and apples on his property.
Mr. Dana was active in forming the Wellesley Congregational Church. The Second Meeting House was built in 1835 on the site of the present Congregational Church in Wellesley Square. In 1870 Mr. Dana was appointed to the building committee charged with erecting a new church. In 1871, Mr. Dana bought the church for $1000 in order to prevent it from being torn down. The building was then moved to his property at 66 Grove Street. It was first used as a boarding house called Dana Hall and in 1879, Mr. Dana gave it to his friend Henry Durant to use as a Wellesley College dormitory for the “Teacher Specials,” older women who came to Wellesley College to continue their studies. Mr. Durant then decided in 1881 to use the building as a separate preparatory school for Wellesley College students. Thus Dana Hall School began.
Mr. Dana was active in town affairs in addition to holding church offices and teaching Sunday School. He served on building committees that completed the Hunnewell School and the Shaw School on Forest St. When Mr. Dana died in 1906 at the age of ninety, his son Arthur T. Dana inherited the property. Helen Temple Cooke bought additional property for the expansion of Dana Hall from Arthur Dana. The home of Charles and Arthur Dana was torn down in July 1965.
Charles Dana, photograph. Dana Hall Archives, Wellesley, MA.
Hinchliffe, Elizabeth M. Five Pounds Currency, Three Pounds of Corn: Wellesley’s Centennial Story. Wellesley, MA: Town of Wellesley, 1981.
Mr. Dana. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall Archives.
Post, Winifred Lowry. Purpose and Personality. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall School, 1978.
Originally published as Person of the Week, September 12, 2005