Prowse Farm houses an educational center/museum depicting the remarkable history of this unique site at the foot of Great Blue Hill, after which Massachusetts derived its name from the Native Americans, who called the area, “Moswatusek”… meaning “land by the great hill.” The main Prowse House includes rooms that celebrate the life and times of J. Malcolm Forbes, the former land owner who stabled Hall of Fame world champion trotters here from 1890-1904; the Doty Tavern Room, including the original tavern sign, commemorating the drafting of the Suffolk Resolves here at the tavern on August 16, 1774, which served as the basis of the Declaration of Independence; the Natural History Room highlighting the diverse recreational benefits throughout the surrounding 6,000-plus acre Blue Hills (public parkland) Reservation; the Martha Peabody Prowse Room displaying the life of the property matriarch from the 1920’s-1975; and the Native American Room honoring the annual Pow Wows held here annually with The Order for Preservation of Indian Culture (TOPIC). Come and enjoy as we travel back through the hands of time.
J. Malcolm Forbes was a wealthy Milton resident who gained his fortune in China trade. His two passions were the improvement of the standardbred (trotting) horse breed and yachting. He introduced the theory of “selective breeding” by seeking out quality stallions to breed with quality broodmares. He brought to this property, then called Forbes Farm, the undefeated world champion Nancy Hanks, and stallions Arion, Bingen, and Peter the Great. All, including Forbes, have been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Trotter in Goshen, N.Y. Forbes owned and sailed successfully to America’s Cup victories with his vessels, Puritan and Volunteer.
Ired over the tyrannical rule of Great Britain, rebellious colonists convened at Doty Tavern on August 16, 1774 on what was part of the original property boundaries. The tavern was obscured from view by Great Blue Hill, offering protection from patrolling troops that had prohibited public meetings. The colonists, led by Dr. Joseph Warren, drafted the Suffolk Resolves which contained a complete declaration of war against Great Britain. The document was officially signed at a subsequent meeting in Milton and carried on horseback to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia by Paul Revere (who owned a home and foundry in Canton).
Receiving the Resolves, John Adams proclaimed, “This day convinces me that the colonies will stand by Massachusetts or perish with her.” An archaeological dig fully documented the site of the tavern which burned in 1888, but the original sign that was displayed along the roadway (now Rte. 138) survived the fire and was secured at auction by the Friends of Prowse Farm in 2008. It is now proudly on display in the Doty Tavern Room.
Prowse Farm is located at the gateway of the public parkland known as the Blue Hills Reservation. Mrs. Prowse declined overtures from the State to donate her 55-acre parcel to complete the boundaries of the Reservation keeping it in private hands as it remains today. The Reservation provides considerable recreational opportunities for the general public, including hiking trails, horseback riding, biking and climbs to the top of the 635-foot summit of Great Blue Hill. Wildlife species that once roamed the Reservation have not been seen in recent decades, including bear and wolves, but this resource remains a vital part of the community.
Founded by Chief One Bear (Raymond Tremblay) of the Chippewa Nation and a Weymouth resident, The Order For Preservation Of Indian Culture (TOPIC), was a staunch advocate in the intense quest to preserve Prowse Farm. For 20 plus years TOPIC has and continues to host its annual Pow Wow, celebrating Native American culture on this property. This moving and educational event is pictorially noted in this room along with a variety of items depicting the lifestyle of our “original settlers” from centuries ago
Given this property as a wedding gift from her father in the early 1920’s, Mrs. Prowse resided here until her passing in 1975. She was an avid horsewoman in her youth and would be wheeled to her patio in later years to watch the trotters and pacers on the dirt ¾ mile track trained for harness racing at New England raceways. She did not stipulate in her will the disposition of her 55-acre historic, scenic land, thus setting off a raging crusade by preservationists (The Friends of Prowse Farm) to preserve the site against the encroachment of corporate interests (Codex Corp./Motorola). This over-decade long fight greatly affected the 1980 Presidential campaign between Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who reneged on his pledge to save the farm and carried the stigma during his defeat, and the victor, George H. W. Bush.
Another room featuring the Campaign to Save Prowse Farm is presently underway.