Kenneth Donald Wakefield Sr.

New York, USA
Death 13 Nov 1997 (aged 100)
Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 140346127 View Source

Kenneth Donald Wakefield, Sr., 100, died on Thursday, November 13th, 1997 in Beverly Manor Nursing Home in Plymouth. Mr. Wakefield was born in New York City and raised in Winthrop.

Prior to opening the Toll House Inn, he had been in food works with a large packing concern.

Kenneth D Wakefield was born on Monday, June 21st, 1897 and died on Thursday, November 13th, 1997 at the age of 100. Kenneth is a member of the Wakefield Family. KENNETH 's last known place of residence was 02331 (Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts) .

On June 26, 1926, he married Ruth Jones Graves (1903 - 1977) in North Easton, Bristol, Massachusetts. Toll house cookies, the chocolate chip confection that was named the official state cookie earlier this year by Governor William F. Weld, were created by Mr. Wakefield's wife, Ruth, in 1930.The couple had at least two children: a son Kenneth Donald Wakefield, Jr. (1928 - 1993) and a daughter, Mary Jane.

In 1930, Ruth and Ken took what was their life savings to date, and purchased a Cape Cod-style toll house just outside of Whitman, Plymouth County, Massachusetts on the road from New Bedford to Boston. Built in 1709*, it had been an inn where people could enjoy a meal while the stagecoaches were changing horses and the road tolls were being paid. Ruth and Ken made it an inn again, calling it the Toll House Inn. They decorated the interior in traditional colonial styles. The restaurant was relatively small at first , with only seven tables, able to seat 30 to 35 people; in three years time it had grown to take care of sixty-four tables, serving one to two thousand guests a day during their busy season. As the years went by, they increased the size of the kitchen several times and modernized it every way possible. The Terrace was added in 1932 and rebuilt as a permanent room in 1940 while the Garden Room was built in 1936, around an elm tree growing in the center of the room.

Ruth did the cooking for guests; she became well-known for her lobster dinners, as well as colonial-era inspired New England meals and desserts.

Ruth and Ken were broken into and robbed on 2 September 1935. Four gunman took $200 in cash from the safe, and $4,000 in jewelry from the house, including the rings off of Ruth's hands.
"Four gunmen, who robbed the proprietors of the Toll House, widely known tea room, of $4000 in jewelry and $200 in cash, were hunted today along the back roads of Cape Bod and the Masachusetts south shore. They rolled the Toll house and the proprietors home, nearby, at approximately the same time, late last night. One of the robbers, posing as a patron of the establishment, awakened Kenneth Wakefield, who, with his wife, owns the tearoom, several hours after the Toll house had closed for the day. The robber said he had lost some tickets while having dinner earlier and asked Wakefield to open up the dining room for him so that he could search for them. Wakefield and the robber went to the establishment, where the owner was forced to open the safe and hand over $200 in cash. The owner had taken the precaution, however, to secret a large part of the holiday week-end receipts. Two other holdup men, members of the same party, went to the Wakefield residence, meanwhile, stripping Mrs. Wakefield of her rings and searched for other jewelry in bureaus and a desk. The fourth gunman waited in a car nearby. The couple did not resist the gunmen and no shots were fired. The robbers forced Wakefield to accompany them when they left and put him out of their machine several miles down a back road, unharmed. He walked to a nearby farmhouse and notified police." -- Four Gunmen Make Getaway. Lowell, Massachusetts. Lowell Sun. 3 September 1935. Page 1.
The Wakefields sold the Inn in 1966 and retired to Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Ruth died in the Jordan Hospital, Plymouth, Massachusetts on 10 January 1977. She was buried in Mayflower Cemetery in Duxbury. She left her collection of cookbooks to Framingham State College.

The new owners of the Inn tried to make it into a nightclub, but it was not a success. After four years, they sold it in 1970 to a family named Saccone, who turned it back into an inn under the same name -- Toll House Inn. The building was completely destroyed in a fire on New Year's Eve 1984 when a fire in an oven spread up the chimney stack and onto the roof. It was not rebuilt.

* At least one Whitman-area historian refuted the premise that the Toll House restaurant dated back to colonial times. Although the story that the Toll House had been a colonial-era toll house was pushed by the Wakefields and Nestle alike (on menus, in Ruth's cookbooks, and via the 1709 date on the building's chimney), Martha Campbell wrote that the Cape Cod house actually was built by one Lebbeus Smith as a residence in 1817. While it was located on a toll road, no whaling captains or stagecoach drivers ever ate or stayed there. In fact, Campbell says the building only served food unsuccessfully for a few years before the Wakefields bought it.

Sources: Scholars' Archive at Johnson & Wales University: The Toll House menu, date unknown, page 3; The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book: Scrumptious Recipes & Fabled History From Toll House to Cookie Cake Pie by Carolyn Wyman


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