James J. H. Gregory
Philanthroper, Businessman, Marbleheader.
Mr. James John Howard Gregory (1827-1910) was
born and educated in Marblehead, graduated from Amherst College in 1850, taught
school for several years, and then entered the seed trade with a business that
started in his home and grew to become one of the largest in the world. This
skyrocketing career earned him the title of, "The Seed King."
He collected and donated prints and paintings to local churches and schools; gave land to the Town for Fountain Park; gave the clock and bell for Abbot Hall, and funds for the new library. Gregory Street running along the Townside Harbor Front was named in his honor.
Trice married but without children of his own, Gregory wrote that he aspired "to be a useful citizen in my native town and content with being the largest vegetable farmer and seed grower in New England." His philanthropy, which resulted from his lucrative business, enabled him to donate Bailey's Headland, off Orne Street, to the Town as a park, now known as Fountain Park.
Mr. Gregory also served on a number of Town boards, including the Board of Selectmen in 1861 and 1868. Out of his concern with the education of young people he donated innumerable books to over fifty southern black colleges.
He once said of Marblehead, "The most prominent characteristics of my native town are simplicity of character, thorough honesty, kindheartedness, and patriotic bravery."
He also donated the painting, "William The Silent," which is currently hanging in Abbot Hall. This painting depicts William of Orange selling off his treasures to fund the war against Spain. He purchased it for the reading room of the new Abbot Public Library in June of 1879, then located in Abbot Hall.
Source: © Marblehead Magazine
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