WHITMAN — Brina Healy is a fan of Whitman history, which is not surprising since she lives in a bit of history — the former Toll House motel.
Now she is preparing to sell the property in preparation for her retirement plans, after her mother passed away in January 2020, but her main goal is to do so while preserving the local history she values.
“The history of the house itself is important,” she said. “We’re trying to keep the history of the town alive.”
She sai she also wants to maintain the value of the property.
“There is an ulterior motive,” she said. “I’m trying to make this place known. The history adds value to the property, but the reason I’m doing it personally is to keep the history of the town alive.”
Her latest effort to that end is an attempt to reach community outreach staff at Nestlé, about a carved wooden sign that had been original to the property and was found damaged earlier this year.
Nestlé, which now owns the Toll House brand and has been helpful with other town projects at Whitman Park.
The sign had, at one time, been illuminated by four floodlights that had been placed on the ground around it.
“That’s going to get vandalized,” she thought since the lights had not been working for about two years. She wrote the company last year to ask if they would consider coming to repair the lights. “I’d like to see them keep that up.”
So far, her attempts — and those of the Express — however, to reach that office have been unsuccessful.
In the meantime, Healy has been renovating the house to get it into market condition and painting the outside to match the original paint choices.
“I spent all summer [on it],” Healy said on a January afternoon this year. “I did the deck over, I painted, did the shed and things like that.”
She’s been advertising on Facebook, Craigslist and online marketplaces to add Toll House or King’s Castle Land-related mementos to a mini-museum in the foyer of the home and a shed behind the house, which was built in 1940. An addition was constructed in 1953 for motel use.
“I have had a few local people, very thoughtfully, reach out and leave me items,” she said. “It’s really hard to find that stuff on line — King’s Castle Land was a small place, so there was not that many people involved.”
Among the people who have responded was a Brockton woman whose husband was one of the people who did the cleanup on the property after the Toll House Restaurant burned down in 1985. Through them Healy obtained faucets from the ladies’ room, which she has installed in a first floor powder room of the home.
“It’s rather difficult to find stuff,” she said.
Art classes had been conducted in the house during the 1960s. Earlier, it had also been the Toll House Motel. Then-Senator John F. Kennedy had been a guest at the motel during visit to the area in 1958.
Healy runs a film and photography studio in one of the former apartments, which had also been an antiques shop at one time.
“This could be an in-law [apartment],” she said of the space. “These were the motel rooms, they both have a full tile bath, but they don’t have a kitchen because guests would go to the restaurant to have your meals.”