Even well-built businesses and roads are sometimes as fleeting as the first snowflakes and on reflection it seems like they disappear in no time at all. Unlike snow, sometimes they leave permanent traces behind. One day in early December, the first small snow fell in Easton, drifting somewhat lazily through the heavy cold air. Having received some interesting feedback from some members in response to my last newsletter (more about that in another newsletter), I am lingering in the Unionville area. The first settler in what we now call Unionville was William Phillips (circa 1720). Roads are key to the growth of neighborhoods. “Growth began after the development of a road to Stoughton. This road ran roughly parallel to but generally west of the present day Washington Street. It is mentioned in records as early as 1719 and was first surveyed as a road in 1728.” (Easton’s Neighborhoods, Ed Hands)
Early Unionville depended on the Dorchester Brook. The brook travels south into Easton from Stoughton and runs under both Union Street and Elm Street extension. Early businesses included a sawmill on Union Street (1724-5 to 1829) close to the Brockton line and another further south off Elm Street extension where Eliphalet Leonard Jr. operated a forge and furnace for making steel. Both used the resource of Dorchester Brook. Traces of these businesses have disappeared.
Today there are still traces of Monte’s Ice Company, a business that once operated on Elm St. extension. Fred Monte took over an existing icehouse in 1927 and ran it until 1967. But 1967 is not that long ago. And what's left is largely built of glacial rock that was already here, and will be here long after we're gone.
74 Washington Street, Unionville. This building, built in 1930 was on the corner of Washington & Union Street. Sometime during the 1940’s and 1950’s it was known as Peaselee’s having been bought by Floyd and Dorothy Peaselee and operated as a grocery store. Later it was sold to James and Lucinda Murphy. Neighborhood children walked there for candy; sat on the big rock to eat it. Today the store no longer exists. Below is what the corner looks like today.
Site of Peaselee’s store as it looks today.
181 Washington Street, Unionville. Swift’s Store, built in 1895. First known as Swift’s Grocery Store, later McMenamy’s Hamburger House, today the Beanery.
A bit further south on Washington street from Swift's Grocery, on the corner of Elm, was the Square Top Methodist Church. The land for the first church was purchased in 1795. To the left can be seen a corner of the Washington Street Cemetery. The first church here was subsequently moved and the Square Top was dedicated in 1830. It was torn down in the early 1900's. Many different businesses have been located here since. Today the land is part of a private residence.
Some remains of Monte's can be seen in the woods off Elm St. extension, the church and Peaslee's are gone now, Swift's store has undergone its own metamorphosis. Time passes.
I make my way out of the woods near Monte's old Ice House, getting caught up by briars as I do so. I've been poking around the site but the undergrowth and damp ground make it difficult. I emerge from the woods to see my car parked precariously on the edge of the road. And in the blink of an eye, it's stopped snowing.
Anne Wooster Drury
Anne Wooster Drury