The following is an abridged version of an article by Bruce Young about the life of Albert C. Burrage, published in Historically Hanson.
When wealthy Boston attorney and copper baron Albert C. Burrage came to Hanson in the very early part of the twentieth century, he would ultimately leave a lasting legacy by creating Hansons first industrial complex off Pleasant Street. By far his most remembered legacy however continues today as Camp Kiwanee. Loved and enjoyed by many generations of Hanson and area residents, it is the former summer retreat of this multi-faceted, interesting, and self-made man.
Albert C. Burrage graduated from Harvard Law and became a very prominent Boston attorney. In 1892, he became counsel for the Brookline Gas Light Company, and made his fortune when he helped acquire the rights to extend the companys gas lines into the City of Boston. He later invested in copper and other mining ventures, owning numerous mines in both North and South America.
Albert and Alice Burrage also were widely recognized for their generous philanthropic works. One of great note was the building of the Burrage Hospital for Crippled Children on Bumpkin Island, between Hingham and Hull. The hospital in one season treated over 160 children and encountered only five deaths. The cost of the treatment was entirely absorbed by the Burrage family.
Albert Burrage named his Hanson summer home The Needles. In 1906 construction began on a substantial 39-by-60 foot, two-story structure with a cellar and a piazza. The luxurious home had a 29-by-38 foot living room estimated to cost $15,000. But tragedy struck shortly after the new dwelling was completed. A servant discovered a raging fire in the early morning hours of May 27, 1907 and woke the Burrages in time to escape the flames in their night clothes with two pet canaries and a parrot. The fire totally destroyed the house and its contents, including Alice Burrages jewelry and imported gowns. Mr. Burrage vowed to rebuild, and his new home on Maquan Pond was completed in 1908. However, to help safeguard his family and property from another disaster he converted his stone stable house on the property into Hanson’s second fire station.
In 1922, Burrage sold The Needles to the Camp Fire Girls of Greater Boston for a total of $25,000, and the official name of the Camp became: The Kiwanis Club of Boston, Camp for Camp Fire Girls. Camp Kiwanis opened on June 25, 1923 with 250 girls attending from throughout New England. The whole place is rich in Indian lore and Pilgrim stories, and is a wonderful place for hikes and excursions, proclaimed the 1923 camp brochure. In 1957, the Camp Fire Girls officially changed the camp name from Camp Kiwanis to Camp Kiwanee, said to mean spirit of joy and youth.
The Town of Hanson purchased Camp Kiwanee from the Camp Fire Girls for $185,000 in July 1979. The town has maintained the facility as a family campground and function center financed through town funds, facility rentals, and the various special fundraising efforts by the Friends of Camp Kiwanee and countless others. Albert C. Burrages beloved summer retreat The Needles is now and will hopefully remain a part of the lives of future generations of Hanson residents.