ALVAN TUFTS FULLER
1878 - 1958
Massachusetts House of Representative 1914 - 1916
United States Representative, Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1916 - 1920
Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1921 - 1924
Governor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1925 - 1929
T. Fuller was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Alvan B. and Flora (Tufts).
His family moved to Malden, Massachusetts when he was a young boy and his father
worked in the newspaper business. He was educated in the Malden school systems and
although his formal schooling ended at age 15 he always gave credit to his home town
library and church for enabling him to complete his education.
When still a teenager he started and
ran a bicycle business in his home town. He was also a champion bike racer.
In 1899, at the age of 21 when automobiles first began to be manufactured, he sold
his racing prizes, went to Europe, bought two cars and imported them back through the Port
of Boston in 1899. They were the first automobiles to be imported through the Port.
In 1908, he built an automobile sales and service center at 1089 Commonwealth
Avenue in Boston. It was first labeled as "Fuller's Folly" because it was
built in a swampy area a distance from downtown. It later became famous as Boston's
"automobile row". He was very proud to be a merchant and was both a
Packard and Cadillac dealer.
At 808 Commonwealth he built a
building, started in 1920 and finished in 1924, to house his Cadillac dealership. As
a dealer and distributor he was named the most successful automobile dealer in the world
in 1920 and is credited with initiating the Washington's Birthday auto show which become a
national sales event. He originated the idea of paying for a car over time as well
as many original sales and service techniques that form the basis of today's marketing
procedures nation wide.
As a politician he perhaps is
remembered by most as the sitting Governor who refused to pardon Nicola Saco and
Batholomeo Vanzetti who had been convicted of murdering a payroll guard during a robbery.
He did so only after receiving the review recommendation that included a Judge, a
President of Harvard and a President of the M.I.T. He was a protege' of Theodore
Roosevelt, defeated James Michael Curley for the Massachusetts Governorship and was
strongly considered for the Vice Presidency at the 1932 Republican Convention. He
never cashed a paycheck as Congressman, Lieutenant Governor or Governor. These
checks, totaling over $80,000, were left to his sons as "souvenirs of my public
He was a superb collector of art and
among those painters represented in his collection were: Renoir, Rembrandt, Turner,
Gainsborough, Sargent, Monet, Van Dyck, Romney, Boccaccino, Boucher and Reynolds.
His paintings were donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and The Museum of
Fine Arts in Boston.
His philanthropy was wide ranging and
included art, hospitals, education, religion, municipalities and social services. He
established The Fuller Foundation, Inc., during his lifetime and it was, and continues to
be, the instrument through which many charitable agencies have benefited in the Greater
Boston and Seacoast area of New Hampshire. His four children, sister, niece and many
grand and great-grand children were, and still are involved in the Foundation and its
He had a special affinity for the New
Hampshire seacoast and maintained a summer residence and farm there. He took special
pride in his herd of Golden Guernsey milk cows which produced milk for sale at his dairy.
He and his wife Viola loved
horticulture. He built "Fuller
Gardens" to honor her in North Hampton, New Hampshire. Designed in the
Colonial Revival style in the early 1920's by the noted landscape architect Arthur
Shurtleff, with additions in the 1930's by Olmstead Brothers, the gardens receive
thousands of visitors each summer season and are operated by the Fuller Foundation of New
At his funeral at the First Baptist
Church in Malden, his good friend Cardinal Richard J. Cushing said of him, "He loved
his God, his country and his fellow man with an overwhelming personal love".