Friday, December 14, 2018

Eastie Ramble

From U Know Hu:

This is another one of my quick-hit neighborhood reports from a recent trip through Boston with my son, Owen.

This time I present a small slice of East Boston, specifically the area just north of the Airport MBTA subway station, near Bremen Street Park.

(I debated whether to shoot this building in Bremen Street Park, as I wasn't sure whether it was historic or not. It looks like an old train station, but after some research, I believe this is new construction intended to honor the history of this area as a rail yard.)

(Located directly across from an entrance to Bremen Street Park, Gino's Auto Body has a classic look. And it's so clean! I assume it's still open.)

(Just down the street sits Braz Motor Repair, which is trying to disguise the age of its building with some vinyl siding. I'm guessing this place has been around a century or so. Notice the steel girder sticking out the front wall.)

(I have a thing for churches in non-traditional buildings. This Spanish house of worship is translated as Biblical Church Beacon of Light, I believe. Any translation assistance welcomed.)

(Magrath Funeral Home has been at this location since the late '50s, and in business since 1910. This is the first funeral home I've seen [this is the backside, of course] with indoor parking.)

(The only information I can find online about Dolphin Bait & Tackle is a positive review from March 2009. I'm guessing it's been out of business for a while.)

For more about East Boston, see:

November 3, 2018, "Pictures of Eastie Pride"

June 30, 2018, "Losing Bet at Suffolk Downs"

September 16, 2016, "Like a Virgin"

July 27, 2011, "Look, Up On the Restaurant"

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Old Davenport Place

From Dave Brigham:

I don't post a lot of black and white photos here, but this shot of The Davenport Building in East Cambridge, Mass., just seemed right.

Dating to 1905, this complex, I believe, was built for the furniture maker A.H. Davenport & Company. The company, which was founded in 1886 when Albert H. Davenport bought the Boston Furniture Company, where he'd worked since 1866, certainly used the multiple buildings here for manufacturing. I'm not positive, however, that the project originated as a Davenport property. Wikipedia tells me a lot, but not everything.

A very successful outfit, A.H. Davenport by 1905 was making high-end, custom pieces for the likes of architect H.H. Richardson and his multitude of high-profile projects; architect Charles Brigham (possibly a distant relative of mine) and his annex to the Massachusetts State House; and the White House.

Mr. Davenport died in 1905. Nine years later the company he founded merged with Irving and Casson. That entity went belly up in 1974.

In the 1980s the building was converted to offices.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Casting About in Lancaster, Mass.

From Dave "Least Heat" Brigham:

Any town with a house friendly to hobby horses is a nice town.

Lancaster, Mass., was incorporated in 1653, thereby making it the oldest town in Worcester County. A quiet town with many lovely old homes and a now-vacant college campus (see August 26, 2018, "You Have Been Un-Matriculated"), Lancaster has a population of around 8,000. I visited one recent day and here's what I found around the town center.

As I said, Lancaster is lousy with beautifully restored old houses. This is the Abby Carter Lane House on Main Street. Built around 1870, the house was occupied by Mrs. Lane for some time, before becoming a funeral home called Queen Chapel, according to Digital Commonwealth. It is a private home now, and likely has been for quite some time.

This place, known as the Dr. J.L.S. Thompson house, was built in the late 1840's and was damaged by a fire several years ago, according to the 2011 Annual Report of Officers and Committees, Town of Lancaster.

A short distance away sits the Mary Whitney House, circa, 1851, named for a lifelong Lancaster resident and former town librarian.

I love the stories old houses like these have to tell. There are of course the family histories in each of them, but also tales of former lives. The house above that was formerly a funeral home. The doctor's house that surely saw its share of patients. And the one below, which, if you are able to zoom in on the sign by the front door, was in a previous life Matthew Woods Store.

Directly across from this place is a barn.

Did Matthew Woods maintain this as a warehouse for his store? Or for equipment, animals and products from what must have been a fair amount of farmland? Both? The location is perfect, as both the store and the barn are adjacent to railroad tracks.

Both the Boston & Maine and Worcester, Nashua & Rochester railroads sent trains through Lancaster back in the day, connecting the town to Worcester to the south and Portland, Maine, to the north.

Lancaster's quaint town center is anchored by a complex that includes the town hall, a community center, the Thayer Memorial Library and the First Church of Christ, Unitarian.

Built in 1816, the church is the fifth meeting house to stand in or near the town center. The first two were destroyed during Indian raids in 1676 and 1704, according to the First Church's web site. The third church -- Massachusetts law in the 17th century decreed that a town could not be established without a church and a minister -- went up in 1706, and a fourth replaced it in 1743, per the church web site. The current house of worship was designed by well-known architect Charles Bulfinch (the Massachusetts State House, the Old Connecticut State House, remodel and enlargement of Boston's Faneuil Hall).

Behind the church sits this beautiful carriage barn:

I've been unable to find out when it was built. These days it's used for storage.

This monument on the town green to horticulturist, scientist, humanitarian and native son Luther Burbank has just the right amount of patina, I think. "He developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career," per Wikipedia. "Burbank's varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables. Burbank's most successful strains and varieties include the Shasta daisy....the 'July Elberta' peach, the 'Santa Rosa' plum, the 'Flaming Gold' nectarine, the 'Wickson' plum (named after the agronomist Edward J. Wickson), the freestone peach, and the white blackberry."

Last, certainly not least, and arguably the most well-known aspect of Lancaster, is the former Rowlandson property.

From Wikipedia:

"Mary Rowlandson....was a colonial American woman who was captured by Native Americans during King Philip's War and held for 11 weeks before being ransomed. In 1682, six years after her ordeal, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson was published. This text is considered a seminal American work in the literary genre of captivity narratives. It went through four printings in 1682 and garnered readership both in the New England colonies and in England, leading it to be considered by some the first American 'bestseller'."

I walked just a few yards up the dirt road. While it is private property, history buffs and others are welcome to walk on the land. Metal detectors, littering and motorized vehicles, however, are not allowed.

So there you have just a little bit of Lancaster, Mass. I've compiled profiles of other towns in this general area of Massachusetts -- between highways 190, 290 and 495. Here's a list:

From November 8, 2015, a feature about Maynard, "This Town Ain't Big Enough...."

From November 30, 2015, a post about Sudbury, "Walking Dead Tracks."

From December 9, 2015, a look at Hudson, "Scenes From An Old Shoe Town."

From December 17, 2015, a peek at a cemetery in Harvard, "Bring Out Your Dead."

From December 29, 2015, a short piece about a former church in Stow with an uplifting name but a confusing pedigree, "Gravity Can Lift You Up."

From January 27, 2016, a review of Clinton, "Finding Hope, But Losing a Mainstay, in Clinton."

February 17, 2016, a fascinating trek to a former ammunition bunker complex in Sudbury, "Bunker Buster."

March 30, 2016, a post about Littleton, "Big Walk in Littleton."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Gone In a Flash

From Dave Brigham:

I find it odd that a bar/restaurant in downtown Boston that closed five years ago hasn't been replaced. And why did the owner leave the sign behind?

I went to Flash's once and have really no memory of it, so maybe that tells you something. With so many bars and restaurants opening across the city in recent years, from the Seaport District to Downtown Crossing, is nobody willing to take a shot at this spot? There may be complications such as rental rates, availability of a liquor license or building ownership issues. Stay tuned....

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Gone Garden Garage

From Dave Brigham:

I don't normally shoot photos of things like ugly parking garages in the process of being demolished. But the pace of redevelopment in Boston these days is so frantic, I feel the need to document any and all old structures that I can before they disappear. This is (was, actually, as since I began writing this post, the place has been totally leveled) the Garden Garage, next door to the TD Garden, home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins, and host to concerts, circuses and other events. Developer Equity Residential plans to build a 44-atory apartment tower on this spot. The complex, which will include at least 469 apartments (numbers differ depending on the source) and underground parking, is slated to open in 2021.

Other buildings are being built immediately adjacent to the Garden, on the site of where the original Boston Garden stood before its demolition in 1998. All of this was set in motion in 2004 with the demolition of the old elevated trolley that ran by the Garden, and the placement underground of the Green line subway.

Across the street from this former garage is one building that is holding its own amid the massive changes (see January 25, 2014, "Last Building Standing").

Get the Lead Out

From Dave Brigham:

Damn, that is one impressive building! I used to work in downtown Boston and walk all over the place, but I don't recall ever seeing this place before. This is the former Chadwick Lead Works building, which was built in 1887. Joseph Chadwick formed his lead works company in 1862 in nearby Roxbury. He moved to High Street in Boston in 1873, per this web site. After a merger, the company moved elsewhere in the city, and from 1901-1981 the building was used as a warehouse and office space until it was renovated, according to the above web site.

Here are some not-so-great photos of the front and rear of the building.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Leavitt & Peirce: For All Your Hoity-Toity Tobacco Needs

From Gentleman Dave Brigham:

When I walk into Leavitt & Peirce in world-famous Harvard Square, the WASP in me comes out just a little bit. Located directly across from Harvard Yard, the shop has sold tobacco, chess games, barware, cologne, cigar cutters and much more to Harvard students, their families and others with too much walking-around money since 1883.

I love the cigar maiden hanging over the door, the pendant lights hanging inside and the "FAMOUS CAKE BOX MIXTURE" sign in the window. As great as the outside looks, the inside smells. I don't smoke cigars or pipes, but my nose and I enjoy the smells of those tobacco products that have seeped into Leavitt & Peirce's wood walls, floors, ceilings and display cases. I like to think, for a few minutes, that I'm a blue-blooded toff just popping in to purchase 8 ounces of Whiskey Cavendish pipe tobacco, a small vinyl chess mat and a Schnitzelbank Stein.

Truth be told, I have only purchased a few things in this store, and none of them was as glamorous as what I just listed off. I stopped in here before my wedding, 21 years ago, to buy some gifts for my two groomsmen: my brother and my best buddy from high school. I believe I bought them fancy pens.

I feel a connection to Harvard Square, not only because I've hung out there countless times in the last three decades, at places ranging from the Wursthaus (R.I.P.) to Newbury Comics, 33 Dunster Street (R.I.P., replaced by John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House) to the movie theater (now shuttered, but it might be revived), but also because my ancestors once lived there.

Thomas Brigham, considered the first Brigham to emigrate to these shores from England, settled in Cambridge in 1635. He is buried in the Old Burying Ground on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Garden Street in Harvard Square, although his grave is unmarked after all these years. At his death, he owned approximately 180 acres of farmland, with the main house situated on the outskirts of what is now the square, at the intersection of Ash and Brattle streets. So I like to think that in some alternate universe, my branch of the Brigham clan inherited that land, right near Tory Row, sold it to Harvard University and made enough money to keep me in Whiskey Cavendish and wide wale pants for the rest of my life.

For more about my WASP hang-up, see March 22, 2018, "WASP Wanderings and Wonderings".