When future Governor John Davis Long moved to Hingham in 1869, he purchased two abutting “summer cottages” on Otis Street. Although Long’s house, known as Windholm, was razed in the 1960s and the property was donated to the Town of Hingham (it is now the Gov. Long wildlife sanctuary), the house on the estate at 94 Otis Street survived and thrived. An article from Hingham’s Yesterdays notes that the house was built between 1860 and 1865, but it isn’t known who built the house or who may have first lived there. The house and large barn were set on ten acres that was known as Oakhurst. Although Governor Long never resided here, the home remained in his ownership for nearly twenty-five years until it was purchased by Charles H. Cole. Born in Plymouth and raised in Boston, Charles H. Cole was a prominent banker at the Globe National Bank in Boston who rented the property for several seasons until he purchased from Long in 1893. It is this Cole for which Cole Road was named. After his death in 1906, his wife rented out the Otis Street home. In 1910, it was reported that Mrs. Cole (the former Mary Ball who married Cole in 1870) had quartered the Company of Engineers at the residence.
Together, Charles and Mary had five children. Their son, George, a prominent businessman, was one of the founders of the original Hingham Yacht Club which was then located just down the hill from the house (now site of the Hingham War Memorial). George had a real estate office in Hingham and Boston. In 1908 he advertised the home as being situated on “ten acres of land, finely laid out in lawns, gardens, etc. House fully furnished and situated on high ground, commanding a splendid view of the harbor and surrounding country. Has eighteen rooms, three bath-rooms (open plumbing) electric lights, large covered piazzas, conservatory, hot air and hot water furnaces, open fire places, hardwood floors.” The stable (now 25 Cole Road, also on the tour this year) was also included in the season rental fee of $2500.
His sons Charles Jr. and Edward, were both members of the First Corps of Cadets that had a campground on Burditt Avenue, now the site of Derby Academy. Charles Jr. rose to the rank of Brigadier General (and was at one time Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard). He also held the position of Boston police commissioner, Boston fire commissioner (appointed by Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald), and candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1928.
Hingham’s American Legion Post was named after their son Major Edward Ball Cole who died in June 1918 in France from wounds suffered in The Battle of Belleau Wood. A graduate of Harvard and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, he quickly was promoted, and wrote a book for machine gunners and also invented a tripod for machine guns that became known as the “Cole Cart”. After his death, the U.S. Navy named a destroyer, the U.S.S. Cole, after him and he also received The Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross.
This home was recently purchased by the current homeowners, who have beautifully updated and restored the home and its grounds just in time for this year’s tour. Old maps and photos of both the home and the carriage house will be on display in both homes during the tour, giving tour-goers a peek into what life may have been like when Hingham was a summer destination for Boston’s elite.