Monday, September 26, 2016

I Seek Newton, Part V: Oak Hill

From Dave Brigham:

I get a bit frustrated from time to time as I put together this series. Sometimes I realize after the fact that I've mistakenly placed a building or park in the wrong Newton village (the former Working Boys Home, currently the Jewish Community Center, and which is featured below, could be in Oak Hill, Newton Highlands or Newton Upper Falls, depending on which history you read, and how you interpret various maps). There are no hard and fast boundaries in the city; I do my best.

Other times I become a little bummed when I realize I'm too late (usually waaaaaay too late) to get pictures of something before it's torn down, or that I can't gain good access to snap pictures without trespassing on private property, such as was the case in Oak Hill with the former New England Peabody Home for Crippled Children. Situated on the former estate of a surgeon associated with Harvard University, the Home was converted by "This Old House" into condos in 1979. You can read more about this site and see photos, below.

Once in a while, though, I get pissed, as I did about a mostly insignificant path in Newton's Oak Hill village, the subject of today's post.

After roving back and forth across this quietest of Newton's villages, I did a bit more research and learned of something I'd overlooked called the Oak Hill Pathway. I knew exactly where the short trail was located, so I struck out to hike it and take some photos.

I was, however, thwarted in my attempt. Unlike other small conservation areas in the city, this one has been allowed to grow over, thereby restricting access. The public path crosses private land on its way from a dead-end street to the top of Oak Hill, so I wasn't surprised, just angry. From the top of the hill, according to the Newton Conservators web site, you can see the Charles River and Blue Hill, which is located several miles away in Milton, Mass.

I emailed Beth Wilkinson, the president of the Newton Conservators, to ask about the pathway. In her response, she CC'd Jennifer Steel, the city's senior environmental planner, who replied that while Newton granted a public access easement, "the deed doesn’t mention obligations of maintenance or enforcement." In other words, citizens have a right to walk on the path, but the private property owners aren't required to make it accessible.

All is not lost, however. Steel said she encourages the Conservators or other parties to "take on the task of surveying, staking, creating … and maintaining … a path." Wilkinson said she hopes that perhaps a Boy Scout troop or civic-minded high school students might take on the project.

(The Oak Hill Pathway is currently blocked. Interested visitors might want to bring a machete to make passage easier.)

(The sign for the pathway, teasing potential hikers.)

Still, there's plenty of backside to be found, and explored, in Oak Hill.

The southernmost village of Newton, Oak Hill has only the sparest of a town center and no industry or rail access. The area does contain one of the nicest walking trails the city has to offer; the city's last working farm; a mansion turned home for sick children, turned high-end condos; and a post-World War II housing development unlike anything else in Newton, among many other features.

Welcome to the fifth installment in my ongoing series about the villages of my adopted hometown of Newton, Massachusetts. For a list of the previous installments, see the bottom of this post.

A largely rural community until the 1940's, Oak Hill was home to several large farms and estates, including ones owned by families such as the Stones, Hydes, Wales, Appletons, Shaws, Wades and Bigelows. These properties have been turned into condos, golf courses (the Charles River Country Club opened in 1921 on the former Wade property, but the original house burned down), college property (Mount Ida College) and conservation areas in the past century.

Let's start with the fantastic Helen Heyn Riverway. Named for a founding member of the Newton Conservators, the riverway was constructed, according to the Conservators web site, through a partnership between the Conservators, the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, the State of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Newton Conservation Commission and something called the Newton Knights of Tunsion.

(I had to find out who in the world the Newton Knights of Tunsion are. Here again, Newton Conservators President Beth Wilkinson was happy to help. She had no idea this shadowy group was referenced on her group's web site, so she did some digging. From one of the guys who helped clear the riverway path, she learned that the group's name is the Newton Knights of Tumsion (with an "m"), a "group of characters, who prefer to remain anonymous." So it's a made-up name for some good-hearted folks who helped do the dirty work of making the path passable.)

The path and adjoining woods and wetlands encompass 30 acres between the Charles River and, at various points, an office park, a private Jewish day school, Mount Ida College and residential neighborhoods. I discovered the path, as I often do, by searching on Google Maps. I started my hike from the southwestern tip of Oak Hill Park, a planned community that I'll get to a little further down. There were a few whimsical, man-made touches as I walked along: a rope swing hanging from a tree, some broken-down chairs. Frolicking by students from the nearby college, I assumed.

The path led me through a boggy section toward the banks of the Charles. And there I took a picture that has become one of my favorites of all time.

It was so peaceful down here, especially in the winter, I can see why someone brought a chair down to contemplate life.

The path connects to both Millennium Park and the historic Brook Farm in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood. Across the Charles is Cutler Park, which I've written about before (see November 20, 2011, "History Flows On, Part II," and December 6, 2011, "History Flows On, Part III").

The riverway sits on land once owned by Robert Gould Shaw II, a Mayflower descendant whose cousin of the same name (minus the "II") is famous for leading the first all-black regiment recruited in the North during the Civil War, as seen in the movie "Glory." RGS II, as he was sometimes called, was a wealthy landowner and socialite (read: idle rich layabout) who died in 1930 at the age of 58, according to Wikipedia. By that time the family fortune -- amassed thanks to mining investments -- had vaporized. The family sold the "vacant and decaying estate" in 1939, and part of the property became the new campus for Mount Ida College, according to Wikipedia (Oh, how I would have LOVED to explore that estate in the '30s!). Another part of the estate was sold off for the Wells Avenue office park.

(Stone walls along the Helen Heyn Riverway.)

(A bridge leading from the riverway across a small brook and into the Wells Avenue office park. The path goes through the park a short distance before curving back toward the river. There has long been a plan to build a crossing over a marsh, thereby eliminating the need to walk through the park.)

(Getting closer to the Newton/Boston border, I came across this tree.)

(On the outskirts of the Oak Hill Park development, just off the riverway, sits an antenna for WUNR, "one of Greater Boston's oldest ethnic radio stations," according to its web site.)

Oak Hill Park was developed in 1948 after the City of Newton took the land by eminent domain (formerly the Estes and Wiswall farms and a deserted gravel pit, according to the Internet) with the goal of building a planned community for veterans returning from World War II. The city built more than 300 homes and, eventually, a school and small shopping center (the school is now a private Jewish school; the shopping center is fairly quiet). Several paths run between streets and behind houses, giving the neighborhood a special sense of connection. There is nothing like this in the rest of the city.

(One of several paths in Oak Hill Park; the paths are named for Newton servicemen lost in the war.)

(The former Oak Hill branch library, now the Shuman Center, which serves as home for the neighborhood association.)

As you would expect in a planned community built in the late 1940's, the homes of Oak Hill Park are modest. Well, most of them. In recent years, as in every village of Newton, Oak Hill has fallen victim to The Teardown (see March 18, 2011, "Anatomy of a Teardown," and May 9, 2016, "Shedding Tears (Sometimes) for Teardowns," which features photos that your are about to see below.)

Here's a house that hasn't changed since it was built nearly 70 years ago.

And here's a house that has either been heavily modified or possibly replaced a smaller one that was torn down.

This one is much larger than abutting homes but isn't monstrous; there are more egregious examples sprinkled throughout Oak Hill Park. This type of mega-house development doesn't sit too well with many in the area.

Still, there is more open space in Oak Hill than in any other Newton village, although not all of it is accessible to the public, as I ranted about above.

The last working farm in the city, Newton Community Farm operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, donates produce to various food pantries, offers classes and volunteer opportunities and hosts dinner events. The site has been farmed for 340 years by settlers, according to the farm's web site.

The property abutting the farm has a beautiful expanse of grass in front of it, but the only folks who can luxuriate in it are residents and guests of the high-priced townhouses hidden behind the club house.

Prior to being sold for townhouses, the estate was owned by the Lacy family, whose patriarch was an executive with the Filene's retail chain, according to this extensive blog post about the Angino family, which sold their farm to the City of Newton to create the community farm.

On the opposite side of Nahanton Street from the community farm sits an expanse of woods that once also belonged to the Shaw estate mentioned above. While part of that land was turned into the Mount Ida College campus, and another section into an office park, yet another piece became the Nahanton Woods condo development. You know me: I don't care about that. I care about the woods sitting in between the road and that development. I walked along the road, confident I'd find something worth my time. And I did.

Hard to tell from this photo but this is a small cellar hole. I have no clue how old this foundation is, or what was here. I'm guessing it was a small outbuilding for a farm on the Shaw property, perhaps even part of a stand where fruits and vegetables were sold, seeing as it's so close to the street.

As I said, Oak Hill was farming country up until the middle part of last century. In addition to farms owned by often well-to-do families, there was the poor farm run by the City of Newton. Built in 1900, the farm was the third such facility in the city (the first one was in Auburndale; the second in Waban). For more on the farm, see this article and this blog post.

The farm closed in 1964 and was torn down in 1976. The only extant building on the property is a tool house built in the late 1930's.

(Former tool house at the site of Newton's former poor farm.)

There are ruins on the site, however.

On the grounds of the former farm sit a soccer field, hiking trails and community garden plots.

(The community farmers use a variety of whimsical and practical ways to define their spaces and store their supplies.)

Adjacent to the old farm site is the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, the grounds of which include the former Working Boys Home building.

(The former Working Boys Home is now the Jewish Community Center.)

Built in 1896, the home was an orphanage run by the Xaverian Brothers, according to Wikipedia. The home fell out of use in the 1970's.

I'm not sure what was on the site of the JCC prior to the Working Boys Home, but I stumbled across what appears to be an old stone wall, which I'm guessing was a property marker for another farm.

Just a short drive from the farm/JCC area sits a building that was once home to the Peabody Home for Crippled Children (read this article to learn more about the home). Built in 1886 as a private summer home for Harvard surgeon James Bigelow, the site served as the Peabody Home from 1895-1961. In the early '80s, WGBH's "This Old House" converted the building to condos.

I'd love to get a picture of the former estate, but without permission, the best I could get was the driveway into the property. Just up the street is the Oak Hill Pathway I mentioned at the top of this post.

(Driveway to condos in the former Peabody Home for Crippled Children.)

On the extreme eastern end of Oak Hill, bordering Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood and the city of Brookline, sit two conservation areas, one of which is unfortunately being developed as I write this. The larger one, Saw Mill Brook Conservation Area, is a nice spot with puddingstone piles and walls, and a burbling brook. As you can guess by the name, at some point there was a sawmill here, although I haven't found out much about it.

(Puddingstone wall remnants in Sawmill Conservation Area.)

(The brook at Saw Mill Brook Conservation Area.)

Across a small side street sits Kesseler Woods, an area that was once considered for development as an energy facility by NSTAR, the successor of Boston Edison and predecessor of electric and gas company Eversource. The land was sold to a developer several years ago, with the City of Newton purchasing a smaller part to maintain as a conservation area. A small development went in a few years back, and a much larger one is currently under way.

The photo above shows the southern tip of the Kesseler property, just across Vine Street from the Saw Mill area. I'm not a geologist, so I don't know what to tell you about these stones other than that they surely used to be part of a structure, whether a house, mill building or wall.

Wrapping up my tour of Oak Hill (although this site might actually be in Newton Highlands) is a little conservation area called Oakdale Woods. I passed this spot quite a bit last year while driving my son, Owen, to school, and figured there wouldn't be much there. But I was wrong.

Acquired by the city in 1979, this small (2.5 acres) refuge sits hard by the very busy Route 9 but, according to the Newton Conservators web site, has served for years as a spot "for winter sledding, acorn fights, and informal camping."

(I love paths like this leading from neighborhoods into small suburban oases.)

(Oakdale Woods is squeezed into the neighborhood. According to the Newton Conservators web site, the spot was at one point slated for development, but the steep cliff, large boulders and outcroppings of Roxbury Puddingstone made it untenable.)

The conservators take good care of this quaint park. There is a neat path and small steps made of bricks. Someone has built a lean-to, and there is evidence of a more permanent structure.

(Remnants of a chimney, perhaps?)

As with the village of Waban (see link below), I found Oak Hill to be initially underwhelming. I didn't think I'd find much of interest to myself or Backside readers. But I followed my mantra -- Get out of the car and walk around! -- and discovered some cool features.

Here are links to the previous posts in this series:

Part IV: Waban.

Part III, Newton Highlands.

Part II, Auburndale.

Part I, Newton Lower Falls.

Next up for the series: Chestnut Hill (I think).

Friday, September 16, 2016

Like a Virgin

From Dave Brigham:

I've never been a religious guy, even while attending church school and the 8th grade youth group at my parents' church (my interest was held more by a cute brunette named Jonni than by talk of spirituality). Yet I love religious buildings, especially when they're quaint, and icons, the bigger the better.

This is the second post I've written in recent months relating to religion. The first was about the determination of one woman in a small tobacco picking region of Connecticut to build a church for her community (see July 19, 2016, "Tobacco Road"). I have a third church-based post in the works about the imminent demolition of a Catholic chapel in Boston's burgeoning Seaport District.

Last year, I wrote about the renovation and repurposing of a church in Boston (see March 27, 2015, "Blessed Renovation"), and also a one-time Methodist-Episcopal Church that may have been a gym as well as a Hindu temple (see December 29, 2015, "Gravity Can Lift You Up").

To see yet more photos of churches, all of them in New England, check out my Flickr album.

Today's post concerns the Madonna, Queen of the Universe Shrine in East Boston, Mass.

I first spotted the rear of the shrine complex a few years ago during one of my regular subway trips with my son. From the back, the building that houses the massive statue looks like an air traffic control tower. I did some research and learned about the shrine, so recently I set out to get a look at the front of this amazing icon and the plaza on which it stands.

Built in 1954, the 35-foot-tall statue is sited across the street from the Don Orione Home for the Elderly. According to CatholicShrines.net, the Don Orione Fathers traditionally erect a work of faith beside every work of charity. Read this Lowell Sun article for the history behind the shrine, as well as descriptions of the church below the plaza.

In addition to the striking Virgin Mary statue, the plaza features a dozen or so beautiful mosaics.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

For Sale: Ghost Town

From James M. Surprenant:

(James M. Surprenant recently spent some time in Johnsonville, the long-abandoned former village in East Haddam, Connecticut, that one former owner hoped would become a tourist attraction. Purchased at auction in October 2014 for $1.9 million, the village was put back on the market last year after financing fell through. For more on the village, read this Hartford Courant article and watch the video embedded in the story. -- DB)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Tavern of Death

From Dave Brigham:

A lot of what I post here comes about through stumbling.

A few months ago I set out to explore a set of long-abandoned railroad tracks in Wayland, Mass. (see August 1, 2016, "I Rail Against Trails (Not Really, But I Don't Want Every Abandoned Set of Train Tracks Converted for Cyclists and Roller Bladers)"). Driving there after dropping my son at school, I cruised past a small parking lot for a conservation area in neighboring Sudbury. I made a note of it, and doubled back after my Wayland quest.

I'm always up for a hike in the woods. When I saw "King Philip Woods" on the sign in the parking lot, I got excited. King Philip is notorious in New England for the war he fought against the European colonists in 1675.

I grew up in Simsbury, Connecticut, one of numerous towns throughout New England that was set ablaze by Indians loyal to King Philip, who was called that by British colonists because of his "haughty manners," according to this article. His real name was Metacom, and legend in Simsbury has it that he sat in a cave on Talcott Mountain and watched the town burn. The story is likely apocryphal, but the shallow recess has long been known as King Philip's Cave. Metacom's name was borrowed for the Metacomet Trail, a 63-mile trail that runs through central Connecticut, including Simsbury.

The Sudbury conservation land has at least one tall tale attached to it, as well, but also features some great ruins and hiking trails.

Above is a remnant of the Old Berlin Road, a stagecoach route that ran west-northwest from Boston to Lancaster, Mass. in Colonial times. Legend has it that the notorious highwayman Captain Lightfoot (aka Michael Martin) and other unsavory characters lay in wait at a tavern along the road for unsuspecting travelers. Lightfoot had fled England ahead of authorities due to, well, let Adam Ant explain:

During some undetermined period of time in an unmentioned year, according to the official Town of Sudbury web site, "it was noticed that several travelers who left by stage for Lancaster failed to arrive at their destination, and warnings were posted advising travelers of the hazards of stage travel."

The tavern lost business after signs were posted in the area warning travelers of the dangers, so the story goes. The place fell into disrepair, and was sold. The buyer, "investigating a stone in the basement unearthed 13 skeletons — apparently the unfortunate travelers who never made it to Lancaster," according to the web site. "Some have said that when the moon is over the river and the mist creeps in, if you listen carefully you can hear the stagecoach rolling along and who knows — maybe even a hoarse voice calling 'stand and deliver’."

This is an excellent story, one that resulted in the drinking establishment acquiring the nickname Tavern of Death. It says so right on the sign in the conservation area pointing out the landmarks to be found on the site. But I can find proof nowhere online that this series of events actually happened.

Captain Lightfoot, though, was real enough.

From the August 6, 2014, Somerville (Mass.) Times web site:

In 1821, the time between mid-Colonial and Civil War America, an incident took place there which became part of historic New England lore. It was a robbery, a highway robbery, committed by a young, devil-may–care bandit named Michael Martin (alias “Captain Lightfoot”). Martin had been in America for eighteen months and was working for Mr. Derby during part of that time. No one knew he was fleeing a notorious past as a “money or your life” highwayman in the British Isles. The English called Lightfoot and his former mentor, Captain Thunderbolt, “Knights of the Road.” He was trying to shed that past, and there was to be one last robbery.

Retribution for this crime, which formerly had been branding or whipping, was upgraded to a capital offense punishment. Michael Martin, or Captain Lightfoot, was the first and last person to suffer this state’s gallows for highway robbery.

Read the entire account here. For more about Lightfoot and his British compatriot, and fellow emigre to America, Captain Thunderbolt (aka Dr. John Wilson), read this account. Check out this link for more information about the nefarious pair.

You can order a book in which Lightfoot confesses his crimes.

Whether or not a baker's dozen of victims were buried in the basement of the tavern, the ruins are real.

Bricks, possibly from a chimney in the old tavern, litter a hill above a stone wall at the site.

The foundation from what I believe was a barn sits not too far from the tavern ruins.

There's not a lot left of the Haynes Garrison House, but again, there is very good story.

From the Town of Sudbury web site:

It was to the Haynes Garrison House that the two Concord survivors of the Native American massacre at the Four-Arch Bridge (at the Sudbury River in Wayland) fled for refuge. Here, the defenders showed such courage and fierce determination to defend their homes, that by 1:00 p.m., the Native Americans gave up and faded into the woods.

There is mention on a sign at the site of Native Americans rolling large stones down a hill toward the garrison, to no avail.

Amid all that terrific official, and some likely unofficial history, and cool ruins, I was most excited by this.

I love the through-line this old truck (or possibly a car) provides the conservation area. It's a great place to hike, with nicely maintained trails and pretty stone walls. It has fantastic history going back to the earliest days of the United States. But in between those eras, this was a farm. Abutting land is known as Piper Farm; I'm not sure whether this rusting jalopy belonged to that farm or a separate one, but no matter. I get excited about old vehicles in the woods, because they leave me with so many questions: Who owned it? Why did they leave it here? Why wasn't it hauled out when the conservation land was established?

OK, stop reading now and go for a walk in the woods.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Complex Questions

From Mick Melvin & Dave Brigham:

The powers that be at New England SportsPlex built it, and for several years, they came: to play softball and volleyball, throw horseshoes, frolic in the screened-in playground, or just hang out and watch. The year was 1994, and life for softball players in and around Vernon, Connecticut, was good. I recall driving past the facility on my way to and from my parents' house a little further south and west in the Nutmeg State, and thinking, "What a cool place!"

The owner talked at the time of the opening about adding a sports bar (I don't believe that ever came about), and said he'd spent a quarter of a million dollars on a lighting system for the complex. The multiple fields had computerized watering and drainage systems to keep the place looking top notch.

But like in "Field of Dreams," players at the SportsPlex headed into the tall weeds, never to return. I'm not sure how long the place has been closed, but an August 2011 article in the Vernon Patch said it closed "several years" prior.

In the Patch article, the reporter noted that the land had recently been cleared, although representatives of the land's owner were unavailable for comment. The article indicated that Home Depot and other big-box retailers had expressed interest in the site.

Shortly after that Patch article ran online, Mick Melvin visited the site and took these photos:

Untitled

(Photo by Mick Melvin, taken September 2011)

Untitled

(Photo by Mick Melvin, taken September 2011)

I've been meaning to take pictures of this site for years, and succeeded once in taking some not-so-great shots. I seized a new opportunity recently by sneaking through a gap in a fence.

(Photo by Dave Brigham, taken April 2016)

(Photo by Dave Brigham, taken April 2016)

(Photo by Dave Brigham, taken April 2016)

As you can see, the site is overgrown once again. Why did the SportsPlex fail when sites like it around the country have done well? Why has it taken so long for a new buyer or tenant to develop this site? Is it too expensive to dig up the water and drainage system? Why isn't a site right off Interstate 84, practically within site of downtown Hartford, attractive to retail/residential/hotel/restaurant developers?

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ye Olde Shoppe

From Dave Brigham:

Because I have a fascination with old-money WASPs, several years ago I was struck by a desire to figure out what family in the United States has the oldest money. Could be a Mayflower family, I thought, somebody with a stodgy British name like Winthrop or Winslow or Whittemore.

Here are some famous descendants of Mayflower families, presented in no particular order and without comment: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Alan Shepard, Clint Eastwood, Sarah Palin, Hugh Hefner and Anna Mary "Grandma Moses" Robertson. Of course, being famous doesn't necessarily translate into being rich.

In the heat of inspiration, I performed a few basic online searches before giving up. Recently, however, I thought to pursue this idea again after the appearance in my Facebook feed of a list of the oldest businesses in every U.S. state.

I found an article at Forbes.com that has more or less answered my question. The duPont family (French immigrants who built their fortune on gunpowder and maintained it through a chemical company that the family no longer owns) gets credit for holding on to their fortune the longest, dating back to 1802, according to this article. The Rockefellers (oil) and the Mellons (real estate, land and banking) are on the short list, as well. (Side note: I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Carl Hoffman's Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art.)

Now, on to the business at hand. Facebook recently tossed an article by news aggregation site Thrillist my way, headlined "The Oldest Surviving Business In All 50 States."

"Down every main street in America, the old guard of independent 'Mom and Pop' business are an increasingly endangered species," the article beings. "Doors are closing and windows shuttering, with glossy chains, yoga studios, and 24/7 banks popping up between our antiquated favorites and local stalwarts."

I'm proud to say that I once worked at the oldest business in New Hampshire: Tuttle's Red Barn. Calling itself the oldest known family farm in the United States (a claim disputed by Virginia's Shirley Plantation, which is naturally also on the list), Tuttle's grew much of its own produce (strawberries, corn, rhubarb) and sold it alongside plants, flowers and high-end grocery items. I worked in the produce department there from April 1989 until August of 1990, when I moved to Boston. My boss was a cool dude who told great stories about seeing Willie Dixon play live, and about riding naked on his motorcycle to the Woodstock concert in 1969.

After approximately 380 years in business, the Tuttle family sold the farm and its buildings in 2013. The place is now called Tendercrop Farm.

I haven't been to any of the other establishments. How about you? Tell your story in the comments section, if you wouldn't mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

More Action in the Lost City

From Dave Brigham:

Watertown, Mass., is booming. Well, in terms of apartment and retail construction anyway. In recent years, developers have completed, begun or proposed numerous projects that will bring thousands of apartments to the city, along with hotels, restaurants, office space and retail outlets. The Greater Boston economy is doing well, and as available land in Boston and Cambridge disappears under cranes, backhoes and dump trucks, the activity has moved a bit westward.

I've written before about the Pleasant Street corridor in Watertown. Just a few minutes from my house, this area was once home to factories and industrial buildings of all sorts. My wife's brother-in-law dubbed it the Lost City because there wasn't much going on there. It was just where you drove to get from Waltham into Watertown Square and eastward toward Boston and Cambridge.

Here are the stories we've posted about the area:

July 5, 2010, "Rebuilding the Lost City"

August 10, 2011, "Rebuilding the Lost City: UPDATE"

March 2, 2013, "Rebuilding the Lost City: SECOND UPDATE"

May 13, 2013, "Another Lost City Ghost"

December 8, 2014, "Another Lost City Ghost: UPDATE" -- after a long delay, construction at this site has begun in earnest of late.

On a large lot that backs up to the Charles River and its fantastic bike path, just down the street from the former Haartz Mason factory I've written about before, there was recently more demolition in advance of construction along Pleasant Street.

Buildings that most recently housed companies including Julian Construction Company and Casey & Dupuis Equipment were torn down. The latter company's property was notable for the giant construction crane, available for rent, that loomed over the squat building.

All of the above buildings are now gone. A developer has proposed a mixed-use development of commercial real estate and 99 apartment/condos. Stay tuned....