Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

Presidents, in their Day


In February, as we commemorate the lives and accomplishments of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, it is important to keep in mind the essential question –

“What’s this got to do with Needham, anyway?”

Well, Gentle People, it’s true – George Washington did come to Needham. Well, it was Needham then, at any rate. He did not sleep here, but he did stop for a drink of water (which he praised as being of very high quality). The visit took place on November 6, 1789, as Washington was en route from Watertown to Sherborn. He was met at the town line by a party of supporters and former comrades-in-arms, led by Col. William McIntosh. He passed through Lower Falls (where he had his drink – a plaque commemorating this event can be found on River Street) and to Sherborn via the road ever since known as Washington Street.

Abraham Lincoln never came to Needham, but there is a good chance that he had heard of it. Which is more than most small towns can boast. Needham resident Edgar Whitaker, who served this town in many capacities, and who was the Whitaker half of the Needham History Center’s former Kingsbury-Whitaker House, left Needham in 1859 to take up a post with the US Treasury Dept. While in Washington DC, he spent time at the hospitals visiting the war wounded. In the course of these visits, he met Lincoln and the two became well acquainted.