Charles Francis Adams

The Boston Bruins is New England’s hometown hockey favorite; yet, few Vermonters know that the roots of the Bruins are firmly imbedded in the soil of the Northeast Kingdom. That man was Newport Town born Charles Francis Adams.

Adams was born in Newport Town on October 19, 1876 to Frank and Elizabeth (Benoit) Adams. Born into a struggling family where, like other families in the Kingdom, money was a scarce commodity, yet he grew into one of the most successful men to ever leave the Kingdom.
Adams’ earned himself the reputation as a hard worker at a young age. He worked at a chore boy at a corner grocery store to help subsidize the family’s income.
As a teenager buying logs around Northern Vermont for his father’s sawmill, the young Adams became known as a shrewd businessman. After graduation from Jenney Business College in Enosburg he uplifted his roots and said goodbye to Northern Vermont.

Adams’ next stop was Springfield, Vermont where he went to work for his uncle, Oscar Adams, who owned, Smith and Adams - a wholesale grocery business. He later became a traveling grocer and tobacco salesman, jobs that took him on journeys around the country.
At sometime early in his business career Adams probably made one of the biggest decisions of his life – that decision was to leave Vermont and head for the city life of the greater Boston area. Landing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he became the treasurer of the New England Maple Syrup Company. He was later associated with the Boston banking and brokerage firm of Fitzgerald, Hubbard & Company, before leaving to join the John T. Connor Company. Rising to the presently of the company, the store chain eventually became the First National Store chain.
Adams wasn’t all work though. Much has been written about Adams’ love of sports. He had owned both the Suffolk Downs horse racing track and the Boston Braves baseball team. However, apparently it was hockey that was his sport of choice, watching amateur hockey at the 3,500 seat Boston arenas, or traveling north to Montreal, Quebec to watch professional hockey. It apparently was a scandal involving Boston armature hockey players that prompted Adams to bring professional hockey to the United States, a country that looked at hockey with growing interest.
The book, “We Love You Bruins”, written by John Devaney, provides an outline of the rise of the Bruins at the hands of Adams.
“Within days the newspapers were headlining the story of the Great Amateur Hockey Scandal. Sitting in the office of one of the retail stores he owned, the graying Charles F. Adams read the stories in an abstracted way, his mind turning away from the pages toward an idea he had long been considering. At one time Adams had owned the Boston Braves baseball team and the Suffolk Downs Race Track. His primary interest had been in a chain of retail stores, but he understood the risky business of professional sports. He had always thought that Bostonians who like hockey, like himself, would pay to see pro hockey. Now, he mused, the timing might be just right, the fans in Boston disenchanted enough with the hypocrisy of amateur hockey to come out to see honest-to-God professionals. He decided to apply for a franchise in the seven-year-old National Hockey League.”
Adams received his much sought after franchise on November 1, 1924 for a price tag of $15,000. He then hired former hockey player turned sports storeowner, Art Ross, to help him build the Bruins. According to Devaney’s book, Adams solicited the help of hockey fans and reporters to help name the team. A secretary at one of Ross’s stores is credited with selecting the name “Bruins”. From that time on, all is history.
The team played its first NHL game in the United States in December 1924, losing became a way of life for the Bruins, that is until Adams and Ross hired on new talent. Expanding his dream, in 1926 Adams bought the entire Western Canada League from the Patrick brothers for $300,000. Amongst the players secured in this deal were Eddie Shore, Harry Oliver, Duke Keats, and Frank Boucher. To insure the team had a fitting indoor hockey arena for them to play, Adams put up $500,000 toward the construction of the Boston Gardens hockey arena. The project was completed in 1927 officially giving the Boston Bruins a new home in a city that couldn’t get enough of professional hockey and its new team, win or lose.
The combination of the new arena and a host of new players, proved positive for the Bruins. The Bruins quickly went from a losing team to its first Stanley Cup win in 1929. Adams saw his team win that cup two more times before his death in 1947. The Newport Town boy made good is remembered in the NHL Hall of Fame and the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. The following are some excerpts from an opinion written in the September 21 issue of the Boston Daily Record by George C. Carrens – soon after being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.
“It is unlikely that men from the U.S.A. will ever dominate the ‘hall’. Indeed the only Yanks I know in the ranks are Hobart, Amory, Hare, Barker, our beloved Hobey of Princeton fame, and Frank Goheen from St. Paul. They were star players. Adams, the Yankee trader from Vermont, who masterminded Suffolk Downs from its inception in 1935, becomes the first U.S. citizen to called into the company of the immortals in this distinctly Canadian sport.” The article later goes on to say, “Everything Charley Adams tackled turned to gold – groceries, hockey, baseball, racing, finance.”

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