History of the Estate
The Beebe Estate is believed to have been constructed in 1828 as the summer retreat for Boston merchant and politician William Foster.
By 1842, the property was owned by William Harlow, another Boston businessman. In 1857, the house was purchased by Liberty Bigelow, owner of an express business, and his wife Harriet. While Mr. Bigelow managed his business, Mrs. Bigelow took part in community activities, including the founding of the Melrose Hospital. The Bigelows owned the property until Mrs. Bigelow’s death in 1898. It was then inherited by their daughter Katherine Bigelow Beebe and her husband, merchant and tannery owner Decius Beebe. Two unmarried Beebe daughters, Leslie and Sylenda, lived in the Beebe Estate as adults and were here into the early 1960s, until Sylenda's death in 1963.
Images shown are from a family album at the Melrose Public Library.
In November 1963, upon the death of Sylenda Beebe, the property was acquired by the City of Melrose and began its use by the School Department as its administration building. It served this purpose for more than thirty years until the city decided to rehabilitate and expand the barn behind the house for use as the Milano Senior Center. At that time, the future of the house itself was uncertain, and various options for its use were explored. Under Mayor Richard Lyons in the mid 1990s, the City decided to keep and restore the house and make it into a community cultural center.
The Beebe Estate was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.