Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Signs of Old Times

From Dave Brigham:

I've wanted to take this photo for a long time. I know, I know. Not much to look at. But I suspect there's significant history behind this simple sign.

I pass this apartment house at 117-123 High Street in Waltham, Mass., on a regular basis. After numerous trips, I spied this sign, but didn't think about it too much. Repetition pounded my head and eventually I thought, "What the heck is with that sign?"

Through online searches, I've learned that the building dates to 1900, and has 20 rooms. High Street connects one of Waltham's primary commercial thoroughfares, Moody Street, with neighboring West Newton. As such, it represented a vital route for the Waltham & Newton Street Railway service, which launched in the late 19th century.

This apartment house is located on the corner of High and Newton streets. I'm guessing this sign marked this building as the Newton Street stop for street railway passengers. But what was the building in 1900? Was it a hotel? A train station? I'll keep digging.

Meanwhile, more recently I spied two other signs in Newton that are railroad-related.

This wonderful old house features a "NEWTON CENTRE" sign that I presume came from the nearby Green Line trolley station of that name. There is a cool station building there (now housing the Deluxe Station Diner) that dates to 1890, the days of the Boston & Albany Railroad.

This sign is also on a great old house in Newton Centre. The Green Line trolley runs directly behind this house, which sits between the Newton Centre and Newton Highlands stations. The Grand Trunk Railway was headquartered in Montreal, but included subsidiaries operating in most of New England. The residents must be pretty big train geeks.

The Grand Trunk has come up twice before here on the Backside:

October 13, 2014, "Portlandia," in which I posted a picture of a former Grand Trunk headquarters in Portland, Maine.

June 20, 2010, "The Truth Behind Beautiful Ruins," in which Joe Viger mentioned that his father worked for Berlin (NH) Mills Railway, which connected paper mills to outside carriers including Grand Trunk.

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