Friday, June 24, 2011

Frederick N. Dillon

(This post is part of a series about my research of Fitchburg architect H.M. Francis)

Frederick Dillon was the son of David Dillon, the founder of D.M. Dillon Boiler Works, Inc. Frederick Dillon was one of Fitchburg's main industrialists in the early 1900's. Aside from being Vice President and Treasurer of D.M. Dillon Boiler Works, he was also President and Treasurer of Brown Bag Filling Machine Co., a member of the Fitchburg Park Commission from 1898 to 1911. A graduate of M.I.T., he was also Oak Hill Country Club's first president.
Fig. 1: Frederick N. Dillon
The house that was designed for Dillon is on Prospect Street. The style is a Colonial Revival and it was also remodeled in 1913 by Frederick and Albert Francis.
Fig. 2: Frederick Dillon's Prospect Street Home (photo courtesy of
When I was looking for more information about some of Dillon's civic activities, I stumbled across a photograph of the McKinley Cruiser.
Fig. 3: The McKinley Cruiser and her crew
This cruiser was built as part of the 1896 Presidential Campaign for William McKinley. The cruiser took part in many parades through Fitchburg, Leominster and other nearby towns for a few years. With the presidential campaign over, the Cruiser was put in Whalom Lake where it remained until it fell into disrepair and ended up sinking. I found the blog of a U.S. Navy veteran collecting Navy postcards and photographs who also wrote about the McKinley Cruiser, you can read about his research here.

A second photograph that accompanied the photo from above depicts the Cruiser's officers, which included Dillon.
Fig. 4: Officers of the McKinley Cruiser. Frederick Dillon is last on the right in the upper row
Aside from his business pursuits, Dillon was also very fond of birds. His obituary says, "He was familiar with the habits and songs of all local birds and his wide travel gave him opportunities to study and become familiar with birdlife in other sections of the world."
A 1946 editorial about Dillon written in the Fitchburg Sentinel also highlights his love for birds. "...Mr. Dillon's keen interest in bird lore and his intimate knowledge of bird songs and bird ways were surpassed by few, if any amateurs in this region. In the midst of a discussion with friends on business or civic affairs he would sometimes stop and call the attention of the others to a songster outside the windows whose melody had passed unnoticed by them."

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