Dorchester Illustration no. 2330
James Baker’s House
The painting is on the face of a brick that came from the house.
James Baker was the founder of the chocolate company that later became the Walter Baker Company.
Dr. James Baker was born September 5, 1739, of the fourth generation from Richard who was the pioneer of the Baker family in this country. Richard landed in Boston from the Norsey (North Sea) bark “Bachelor,” of which he was second in command in November 1635. He settled in Savin Hill. Orcutt says of Dr. James, “… owing to the gentleness of his disposition, his parents were induced to fit him for the ministry.” With this in view he went through Harvard College, graduating in 1760, and then began to study theology with the Rev. Jonathan Bowman, the minister of Dorchester, whose son-in-law he afterwards became. While fitting for his profession, Mr. Baker taught school, and this delayed him in getting started in the ministry. It soon became apparent that his extreme diffidence would prevent him from performing the duties of a minister; so he voluntarily gave up the idea, and began to study medicine, teaching school at intervals during this period.
Dr. James had his home on a large tract of land at the corner of Washington and Norfolk
Streets. “The profession of medicine, however, proved distasteful to him; and he laid in a stock of merchandise, and opened a store. In 1780, he saw that there were great possibilities in the chocolate business; so he closed his store, and began to manufacture chocolate. The success of this undertaking was remarkable, and ‘Baker’s Chocolate’ has been manufactured ever since, now being known in all parts of the world.”
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