The farm is on land that was purchased by the White family in 1845, parts of which are owned by three different 5th and 6th generation White families and other private owners. Prior to that, the land had a rich history of farming. In the 1630’s, Hingham farmers are believed to have driven their livestock through the woods to graze on the marshes and open meadows bordering Little Harbor. Signs of one of the earliest cart paths, parts of which are now known as Lambert’s Lane and Surrey Drive, are still visible in the farm’s woods. Peck’s Meadow, which now hosts the current farm operation’s greenhouses, is one of the town’s earliest named sites. During this period most of the land was considered to be owned “in common.”
In the 1670’s much of the land in Cohasset, then known as Hingham’s “Second Precinct” was divided in to three “divisions,” each of which was subdivided into “shares” that were assigned to individuals. The farm property is located in the “Second Division.” Over the years, much of the land was cleared for growing fields and for sheep and cattle pasture. Walls, made from stones in the fields, both marked lot boundaries and served as stock fences. Many of Cohasset’s first families owned pieces of the farm including the Stoddards, Lincolns, Joys, Nichols, Towers, Pratts, and Cushings.
Around the time of the American Revolution, a homestead was established on the edge of Peck’s Meadow and Jerusalem Rd. by David Nichols. He is believed to have built the two late 18th century barns that still stand today in the farmyard. In the early 19th century, Henry Doane, whose wife was a Nichols, farmed the land. In the 1840’s the Doane homestead farm was bought by Thomas Richardson and his wife Olivia, who were summer residents of Cohasset and spent their winters in Boston. They renamed their land Holly Hill. Thomas was originally involved in an iron foundry business in South Boston with Olivia’s father, Cyrus Alger (who was an early and historic industrialist who specialized in casting everything from ovens to cannons found today in various historic US government fortifications including Boston Harbor). Shortly before the Civil War and towards the end of his life, Thomas Richardson created the Ice Pond and built an Ice House along with a shed that now houses tractors. The Main Barn held a small herd of Jersey cows. A large orchard was developed west of the farmyard and in the farmyard itself.
In the 1920’s, Richardson White, the great-grandson of the original owners, was the first to live year-round with his wife Cornelia on the property. A horse sculptor and equine enthusiast, Richardson White began developing the fields and pastures into a commercial farming operation utilizing oxen and workhorses. By the mid 1930’s it was clear that the farm would need to find larger, drier, and more open fields to succeed. The farmyard then became the headquarters of a 100-acre vegetable “truck farm” with growing fields located all over Cohasset and neighboring towns. As this farm operation came to a close in the 1950’s, the farm’s fields were subsequently used to grow hay to feed the workhorses. In 1980, Richardson White and his sister Ellen Cabot put approximately 119 acres of the land under conservation easement to prevent it from ever being developed. Upon Richardson White’s passing in 1993, the land was divided among his three sons Peter, Frank and Donald, and their respective families. All three families continue to maintain ownership of their respective portions of this land.
In 1998, Frank and Jean White set up an organic educational farm on approximately 5 acres of their land adjacent to Jerusalem Rd. This land is situated in the northern half of the original farmyard and includes two barns, a farmhouse, and several outbuildings. In 2002 Frank and Jean established the non-profit Friends of Holly Hill Farm which now oversees the farm operation and runs a variety of educational and community activities. Thanks to the support of the other two branches of the White family who have made portions of their own private property available for use to the educational farm enterprise, a wide range of educational, community, and farming activities have been made possible. The Friends of Holly Farm are grateful for this generous access to these parcels of privately held land and the rich agricultural and educational benefit they have provided.
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