Charles Brigham

Dear Mr. History Person,
Charles Brigham was the architect of Henry H. Rogers’ buildings in Fairhaven. Was he connected with Brigham’s Ice Cream or with Brigham and Women’s Hospital? —several similar questions asked by participants on walking tours.

The short answer is no, Charles Brigham was not connected with either the ice cream or the hospital. The longer answer is if there is a connection, it’s distant and I haven’t found it. There were a lot of Brighams, though, in the greater Boston area. (And the hospital and ice cream shop are connected to each other.)

Charles Brigham the architect was born on June 21, 1841, in Watertown, MA. He was the son of William and Mary (Crafts) Brigham. After graduating from Watertown High School at the age of 15 and doing further study to prepare for college, Brigham switched gears and went directly to work, becoming an apprentice in the office of Boston architect Calvin Ryder. Except for a stint in the service during the Civil War, Brigham stuck with architecture for the rest of his life. He married Rebecca Jordan and they seem to have had no children. Brigham was active in Watertown politics, serving as a Selectman, member of the School Committee, a library trustee and other public offices. He died in July of 1925.

In, so far as I’ve been able to determine, a different line of Brighams, we find Peter Bent Brigham of a Boston family of restaurant and real estate developers. In his will he left a bequest that resulted in the building of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in 1911. His nephew, Robert Breck Brigham, funded the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital with a bequest in 1914. In 1966 the Boston Hospital for Women was formed by merging a couple of older establishments and they all merged into Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1980.

I’ve saved the ice cream for last. Peter Bent Brigham’s son, Edward L. Brigham, started an ice cream shop in Newton Heights in 1924. Since then there has been considerable merging and changing of hands—in June 2008 it was bought by HP Hood— but the name Brigham’s Ice Cream has remained.