Historic place of the week: Quincy’s Furnace Brook

You may have driven down Quincy’s Furnace Brook Parkway, but what you may not know is that it is named for the country’s first iron blast furnace, which was built in 1644. You can see the remains of this furnace today, off Crescent Street in West Quincy, near Saint Mary’s Church. Here is what the remains of the original furnace looks like today:

furnace brook

In 1644, the furnace was built by John Winthrop Jr, a decedent of the Reverend John Winthrop, who was the founding governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  John Jr. deduced that one could make crude iron from the ore found beneath the brooks, which he did at this location. The iron furnace was buried and forgotten for over a century, but was unearthed during an expansion of St. Mary’s Cemetery, which is located close by. Below is a closer view of the iron work’s foundation and the inscribed plate marking the sight:

winthrop furnace

The furnace brook was a place near which settlement took place as it provided access to good herring fishing. The nearby Adams house, home to two American Presidents, was built on the banks of this brook in 1720, as was the Dorothy Quincy House, which lies directly on the banks of the brook as well. Native Americans likely made use of the brook for fishing and hunting as well.  Originating near Saint Moritz Pond high up in the Blue Hills of West Quincy, the brook flows down through West Quincy, and curves around the South side of Forbes Hill. It then passes to the North of Quincy Center and curves sharply to the North near the Dorothy Quincy House, before it empties into Quincy Bay via Black’s Creek. Furnace brook flowing underneath the the railroad tracks at Newport Avenue. The stone structure is likely hundreds of years old:

newport ave

The  Black’s Creek area can be seen today when one passes over a small bridge at the East end of Quincy Shore Drive. Below is the outlet of Black’s Creek into Quincy Bay:

Blacks cove quincy

A marker memorializing Captain Wollaston, for whom the section of Quincy is named, located at the outflow of Black’s Creek:


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