Friday, June 5, 2015

The Ones That Got Away, Part III

From Dave Brigham:

(Photo from

I just noticed Veronica's Spa in Waltham, Mass., a few months ago. Located on a somewhat ugly stretch of Main Street, the convenience store (many older such stores adopted the term "spa" because they sold "healthy" soda-fountain drinks, or so the Internet told me) was opened some time in the 1920's or '30s, I believe.

As I often do with places that catch my eye driving around Greater Boston, I put this on my list of places to take some pictures of. Well, I drove by yesterday and recoiled in disappointment: the portico and cool sign on top have been razed. A guy on a ladder appeared to be replastering the building, which is no longer a vibrant red.

Before I got home, I knew I would post a little something about yet another "one that got away" (for more of these, see May 2, 2010, "The Ones That Got Away, Part I" and June 1, 2010, "The Ones That Got Away, Part II"). I wasn't, however, expecting to find out much about Veronica's Spa.

I didn't find a lot, but I did discover that the store was opened by a Turkish immigrant of Armenian descent named Veronica Sarmanian, nee Engelan. She came to this country after escaping the Armenian genocide, went through Ellis Island and then got married. She and her husband, Stephen, "pursued their career goals working long and hard hours until they could fund their own business, Veronica’s Spa," according to Veronica's obituary. She passed away in 2009 at age 103.

"Recognized as a pioneer in the burgeoning Rt. 117 corridor, Veronica is highlighted in Waltham’s history, called 'Waltham Rediscovered,'" the obituary continues. "Veronica was a feminist long before women’s rights were popular, pursuing a business life as well as a family."

I love digging up history like this. On my drives past the spa, I figured it was just another of countless convenience stores that are instantly forgettable the minute you walk out the door. I'll keep an eye on the place and see if they put the sign back up at least.

Here's another cool shot of the place from Flickr.


  1. In the realm of ones that got away, this is a biggie. Though if you're ever interested in background on the spa business overall, my father-in-law would be a great source and more than happy to provide your fill of info and probably more.

  2. Sounds like your father-in-law's got a book to write.