Solomon Parsons’ Deed–Was Not Written On Paper:
How the Hermitage Lodge got its Name.
1906: “Everyone one who visits the Hermitage always visits the boulder, a little to the west of the lodge on which is carved the deed of a former owner. Solomon Parsons had the deed cut in living stone more than 50 years ago (1840) and it contains his simple religious belief. In it he deeds to God, a tract of land, ten acres in extent.
Here is the strange inscription, in places as remarkable in spelling as in text:
Know all men by these presents that I, William G. Hall Of Worcester in the County of Worcester and Commonwealth of Mass. in consideration of 125 dollars paid by the hand of Solomon Parsons of the same Worcester the receipt where of I do hereby acknowledge do hereby give, grant, sell and convey unto God through the Laws of Jesus Christ which are made known to man by the record of the New Testament recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Evangelist, this land to be Governed by the above mentioned Laws and together with the spirit of God the said tract of Land is situated in Worcester above mentioned the South Westerly part bounded as follows viz beginning at the southwest corner Of the lot at a stake and stones by land of E. Daniels Thence easterly by land of S. Perry about 97 ½ rods to a Corner of the fence thence northerly by land of L. Cates About 54 rods to a corner of the fence thence westerly By land of the heirs of J. Fowler about 24 rods to A chestnut tree in the wall at the corner of the Land of said Daniels and a heap of stones by the Side of it thence southerly to the bound first mentioned.
“On his return from Jerusalem in 1850, Solomon Parsons decided to erect a temple to God where He might be worshipped in the midst of nature without money and without price.”
He builded a lodge of stone pillars supporting a plain but substantial roof, and in its shelter he held weekly meetings. He desired his temple to be permanent and for this reason he deeded the land to God and had the deed struck in living stone. However, the deed could not be recorded, so when he died his heirs sold the land. Where his primitive temple stood, the Hermitage now is. The deed remains as an everlasting testimony of his convictions. Contrary to the general belief, the maker of the deed was not a hermit, for he never lived in his temple an hour. He died about 13 years ago, (1893) having been a rigid vegetarian all his life. He was born in 1800. A nephew of Parsons, named Andrew Clark, lived the life of a hermit near the present site of the Hermitage lodge, hence its name.” The Motor Way; 1906. *View Solomon Parsons’ Find A Grave page. See more (detailed) information here.
“It was erected by a man called Solomon Parsons, residing near Worcester, a quiet, thoughtful farmer, long-bearded, low-voiced, and with that aspect of refinement which an ideal life brings forth even in quite uninstructed men. At the height of the “Second Advent ” excitement this man resolved to build for himself upon these remote rocks a house which should escape the wrath to come, and should even endure amid a burning and transformed earth. Thinking, as he had once said to me, that, “if the First Dispensation had been strong enough to endure, there would have been no need of a Second,” he resolved to build for his part something which should possess permanence at least. And there still remains on that high hillside the small beginning that he made.
There are four low stone walls, three feet thick, built solidly together without cement, and without the trace of tools. The end walls are nine feet high (the sides being lower), and are firmly united by a strong iron ridgepole, perhaps fifteen feet long, which is embedded at each end in the stone. Other masses of iron lie around unused, in sheets, bars, and coils, brought with slow labor by the builder from far below. The whole building was designed to be made of stone and iron. It is now covered with creeping vines and the debris of the hillside; but though its construction had been long discontinued when I saw it, the interior was still kept scrupulously clean through the care of this modern Solomon, who often visited his shrine.
An arch in the terminal wall admits the visitor to the small roofless temple, and he sees before him, embedded in the centre of the floor, a large smooth block of white marble, where the deed of this spot of land was to be recorded, in the hope to preserve it even after the globe should have been burned and renewed. But not a stroke of this inscription was ever cut, and now the young chestnut boughs droop into the uncovered interior, and shy forest-birds sing fearlessly among them, having learned that this house belongs to God, not man. As if to reassure them, and perhaps in allusion to his own vegetarian habits, the architect has spread some rough plaster at the head of the apartment and marked on it in bold characters, “Thou shalt not kill.”
“Two slabs outside, a little way from the walls, bear these inscriptions, Peace on Earth, Good-Will to Men.”
When I visited it, the path was rough and so obstructed with bushes that it was hard to comprehend how it had afforded passage for these various materials; it seemed more as if some strange architectural boulder had drifted from some Runic period and been stranded there. It was as apt a confessional as any of Wordsworth’s nooks among the Trosachs; and when one thinks how many men are wearing out their souls in trying to conform to the traditional mythologies of others, it seems nobler in this man to have reared upon that lonely hill the unfinished memorial of his own.
Since this sketch was written, Solomon Parsons has died, having previously caused the deed to be carved on the stone, conveying the property to God. He tried several times, before his death, to have the inscription formally recorded at the registry of deeds.”–The Writings Of Thomas Wentworth Higginson; By Thomas Wentworth Higginson; 1889-1897.
Another Article (published in 1906) By Motor Traffic; “Devoted to the Utility Power Vehicle”
The Only Weekly Published for the Automobile User.
June 30, 1906: “The Hermitage Country Club, the only country club in America, or perhaps in the world whose membership lists are confined exclusively to automobile owners was opened here today. About one hundred members attended, coming from all parts of New England by automobile, and beginning to arrive about one o’clock. The Hermitage and Vista Lodges were thrown open for inspection and were visited throughout the afternoon. In the evening a stag dinner was held. The officers elected for the permanent organization were: President, J. A. Rumrill, Springfield; vice-presidents, Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr., Boston; and Chester W. Bliss, Springfield; secretary, George W. Beals, Boston, treasurer, Irving Swan Brown, Worcester.
A most unique organization is the Hermitage Country Club, the formation of which at Worcester, Mass., a short time ago was chronicled in these pages. It is the first country club composed entirely of motorists, and in its membership are comprised about six score of well-known people residing within a radius of 50 miles or so of Worcester—men prominent socially and in a business way. All the appurtenances of the usual country club mark the Hermitage, but unless a man is a motorist he cannot enter the charmed circle.
The club is the only one of its kind in America and perhaps in the world. Its sole purpose is to provide a club for members where they and their families may lunch, dine or spend the night. Only automobile owners are eligible for membership and this rule will be strictly kept. There is not a country club for automobilists exclusively in this country.
The club has purchased from Henry Batjer the famous Hermitage estate well known throughout New England. It was developed by the late A. Swan Brown who intended to make it a second Lenox, dying before he could see his one ambition fulfilled. He saw to it that the site retained all its wild natural beauty. He never allowed any improvements such as the levelling of lawns.
The original cost to Mr. Brown was $61,000 and upon the death of his mother was sold at public auction to Henry Batjer, father-in-law of Luther C. Brown, a son of A. Swan Brown and a member of the new club. Mr. Batjer has sold the estate for just what he paid for it, namely, $27,500.
“The new club does not draw its members exclusively from New England. The stipulation is that all its members must be automobile owners.”
The club is easily reached by automobilists travelling on the through turnpike from Boston, New York and intermediate by turning up Apricot street in New Worcester. The club-is about 1 & 1/4 miles from the turnpike. The estate comprises about 275 acres of fine wooded park land.
The lodges devoted to the club are The Hermitage and Vista. They are very large and well furnished and are adapted to the purposes of a country club. The garage will handle about fifty automobiles, and is in charge of a staff of expert mechanics.
A little to the west of the Hermitage is a large boulder that is a never failing source of attraction to everyone who visits the estate. On this large boulder and easily read, Solomon Parsons had a deed cut more than fifty years ago. He deeds a tract of land of some ten acres to God. The deed contains the simple religious belief of Parsons.
“Here is the strange inscription, in places as remarkable in spelling as in text.”
“Know all men by these presents that I, William C. Hall of Worcester in the county of Worcester and commonwealth of. Mass., in consideration of 125 dols. paid by the hand of Solomon Parsons of the same Worcester the receipt whereof I do heareby acknowledge, do heareby give, grant, sell and convey unto God through the laws of Jesus Christ, which are made known to man by the reckord of the new testament, reckorded by Matthew, Luke, Mark, John The Evangelist, this land to be governed by the above mentioned laws, and together with the spirit of God. The sad tract of land is situated in Worcester above mentioned, the southwesterly part containing ten acres more or less and bounded as follows, viz., beginning at the southwest corner of the lot at a stake and stones by land of E. Daniels; thense easterly by land of S. Perry about 37 rods to a corner of the fense; thense northerly by land of L. Gates, about 54 rods, to a corner of the fense; thense westerly by land of hears of J. Fowler about 24 rods to chesnut tree in the wall at the corner of the land of said Daniels and a heap of stones by the edge of it; thense southerly to the bond first mentioned.”
On his return from Jerusalem in 1850, Solomon Parsons decided to erect a temple to God where He might be worshiped in the midst of nature without money and without price. He builded a lodge of stone pillars supporting a plain but substantial roof and in its shelter he held weekly meetings.
“THE ANCIENT DEED On the CENTURIES-OLD ROCK.”
He desired his temple to be permanent and for this reason he deeded the land to God and had the deed struck in living stone. However, the deed could not be recorded, so when he died his heirs sold the land. Where his primitive temple stood, the Hermitage now is. The deed, however, remains as an everlasting testimony of his convictions. Contrary to the general belief, the maker of the deed was not a hermit, for he never lived in his temple an hour. He died about thirteen years ago having been a rigid vegetarian all his life. He was born in 1800. A nephew of Parsons, named Andrew Clark, lived the life of a hermit near the present site of the Hermitage lodge, hence its name.”