Hello all, and a happy Saturday to you! What a glorious day we have today in Easton, with the sun shining, warm but not hot, and cool nights for good sleeping. It seems unusually cool for the end of July. When I worked at Brockton Tool Company, Central Street, South Easton in the 1970's and 1980's, the company practiced the time honored tradition of shutting the factory down for two weeks each summer, a standard practice among factories for many years. Those two weeks were usually the last two weeks in July, which typically were the hottest of the summer. It was a good two weeks to be out of the old factory which was not air conditioned!
We had a great visit this week with Nancy Spindler and her brother Tom Costello, formerly of North Easton. They brought in a number of items from their late mother, Evelyn (Lawson) Costello who once lived on Pond Street, and whose father Charles Lawson came from Sweden and for many years was the gardener for Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop Ames at Queset, the stately home behind the Ames Free Library. Among the many family papers and photos is a photo album, and from this, I will be sharing a few snapshots as we are able to identify the people and places in the photos. Most of these date between the late 1920's and the early 1930's, and chronicle an early Swedish family in North Easton.
The first photo is one of a fire engine and fireman from the former North Easton Village Fire Station on Sullivan Avenue. The engine is parked on Main Street at Langwater Pond, and is demonstrating the power of its new pumper with an impressive stream of water issued from a hose connected to the truck. A small group of firemen and onlookers gather to watch. The photo is taken from the west side of the pond looking south towards Sheep Pasture. The Main Street dam is readily visible in the photo.
The second photo is taken along Main Street around 1929-30. Two cars are parked near O'Connor's News Store which is the building at the right in the photo and currently houses the Farmer's Daughter restaurant. Next to that on the left is a sign for drugs, perhaps Harlow's Pharmacy, and to the left of that is the building that formerly was Galvin's Barber Shop. Note the trolley tracks in the right foreground, still in use at this time, just before the trolley was replaced by busses.
I'll share more photos in the coming weeks as we learn more about the Lawson family.
Happy Saturday! A weather man recently said that Massachusetts has only had two days in July without some type of measurable precipitation. It sure has been a wet month, and we had a pretty good rain storm late yesterday afternoon (and some hail as well!). But today is warm and sunny, so I will not complain.
We extend our thanks to Dale Julius and the East Bridgewater Historical Commission for presenting us with an extraordinary gift this week! A marriage certificate, dated 1875 and presented by the Methodist Episcopal Church in North Easton to newlyweds George and Lucy (Randall) De Witt, is now a treasured addition to our collections. Mina Corpuz, reporter for the Enterprise newspaper, did a story about how this was discovered behind a Civil War era poster that had been framed many years ago. You can find the story at the Enterprise website www.enterprisenews.com or on our Facebook page. Check it out!
One of our summer internship projects is working with Oliver Ames High School senior Lauren Gilgan. She is putting together some history of the rooms at Wayside, our Town Hall, when it was the home of Mary Ames Frothingham. She has done a terrific job researching the use of the rooms at Wayside over the years, and will be developing appropriate signage to enhance the history of the home. We are excited to see the finished project!
Construction photos from the early days are very rare. We have a number of them documenting one special building. Wayside, built in 1912 for Mrs. Frothingham and designed by her friend and architect Guy Lowell, is a magnificent Georgian Revival home. It took a lot of work to build it though, and preparing the land was one of the first steps. Mrs. Frothingham, when she was still Mary Shreve Ames, began acquiring the parcels of land that would become her estate as early as 1905. Most of the land was purchased during 1909 and 1910. At that time, there were several farm houses on the site as well as other farm buildings. Our photo today, probably taken in 1910-1911, gives us a look at the property being cleared. The picture is taken on Elm Street, looking westerly. A fine stone wall is being constructed along Elm Street, which is a dirt road at this time, giving a rural feel to the scene. The men on the right are probably the builders of the wall. A ditch has been dug for the wall to provide a proper footing. The two small sheds in the photo housed workers (there were a number of small sheds built to house the work crews while site work and construction was being done, a common practice in those days) and in the center of the photo you can see one of the old farmhouses being dismantled. Other houses that once stood on the site were moved further east on Elm Street and used for housing some of Mrs. Frothingham's staff. Springhill, the home of William H. Ames overlooks the work as if awaiting the arrival of its new neighbor. The house at the extreme left of the photo, located very near the entrance to Wayside, was later removed.
I hope you enjoy this photo, and some good weather. Until next week, stay well,
Hello everyone! I hope you are weathering this hot summer well. More rain is in the forecast today around here. We have an abundance of rain while part of the nation suffers through an historic drought. I hope they get the relief they need very soon.
Today I wanted to share a few "cool" thoughts during a hot summer, and where better to turn than Monte's Ice House? Once located at 260 Elm Street, the two large ice warehouses stood for many years near the shore of Monte's Pond. The Marshall family originally began harvesting ice there in the mid-1800's. Fred J. Monte (1894-1983) was hired by a man named Bigelow who ran the ice house in the early 1900's. In 1927, Fred became the owner, and continued harvesting ice until 1967. Monte's was the last commercial ice house in operation in New England when it closed. At first, his customers would be residents and small stores who needed fresh ice to keep perishables from spoiling. Later clients included commercial fishing operators, who needed ice for the fishing boats that went to sea each morning. A truck full of ice would be loaded in North Easton, and it would leave a trail of water behind it all the way to Fall River, New Bedford, or any other fishing port where it was needed. Clearly one had to have a good sense of how much ice would be lost due to melting along the trip to make sure that when the truck arrived, there would be enough ice for the fishing fleet!
In a normal year, Monte would harvest between 12,000 - 14,000 tons of ice! We must have had much colder winters then, because the usable, clear ice (after the bottom and top had been shaved clean) would be 12-14" thick. Several harvests were done during the winter to fill the ice houses. Keeping ice all year was important, and the ice houses were constructed with double walls, filled with sawdust or hay, to act as an insulator. Each layer of ice was also covered in the same way. That simple method worked very well, and once laid in, the ice would last until the following winter's harvest began. When I was young, Austin Phillips, who lived on South Street near Highland Street, called me over one day in August. Behind his barn, in a corner where he had been cutting wood, was a large pile of sawdust. What impressed me was not the size of the pile, but what it concealed: snow and ice from the past winter, which had been protected all summer by a thick covering of sawdust!
The three photos attached give you an idea of what the ice harvest looked like. In one, Fred J. Monte, in his usual plaid wool coat and hat, is working a hand-held ice saw to cut ice from the pond. The other man is unidentified. Another photo shows large rectangles of ice cut from the ice field. These would continue to be cut down in size until they were the proper size for storing in the ice house. The third photo shows one of the two ice houses at the site. Notice the conveyor system used to move the ice into the ice house. The entire scaffolding on the side of the building could be raised and lowered as needed to load or unload the ice. The whole system was powered by a gasoline engine located in the top of the ice house. This was quite an undertaking! Workers included a small year-round staff, but during harvest time, people were hired from all around. Members of the Oliver Ames football team often found work there, and following World War II, many veterans could find employment there during the winter.
Enjoy the "cool" thoughts during this hot spell, and until next week, stay well!
Greetings! Easton withstood tropical storm Elsa, suffering some heavy downpours and some local flooding, but little to no wind at all. With all the rain we've had over the past two weeks, the ponds are full and the streams are running quick! It is hard to believe that record-setting heat was only a short while ago.
I was scanning some photos for another project when I came across this one, which I hope you find interesting. The days of traveling by steam engine may be romanticized at times, but there was a practical side to running a steam engine. One needs a steady supply of coal from the coal car, attached just behind the engine, to provide the means to heat water for steam. One also needs a good water supply to make steam. Letting the boiler run dry could be catastrophic. Unfortunately, tanker cars were not in use in those early days, so steam engines had to refill their boilers when the train stopped at a station. This was true in North Easton, and today's photo clearly shows the old water tank that once stood along Mechanic Street. This photo, taken in the late 1920's, looks north along Mechanic Street towards Oliver Street. The water tank is the focus of the photo. The wood tank was supported by a massive concrete column in the center. There is some type of support around the outside of the bottom of the tank, which appears to be made from steel beams. A ladder to the roof must have allowed for inspections and repairs. Immediately behind the tank is the Old Colony Railroad Station (at the time of this photo it was the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad), and if you look closely, there are a few cars parked in the lot. At the end of the road are 26-28 and 30-32 Oliver Street, twin duplexes that still stand. The old stone retaining wall is easily seen along the left side of the road. The man walking on the sidewalk is unidentified. The tank was probably taken down by the 1940's.
This water tank, which was filled with water from the North Easton Village District water supply on Lincoln Street (now the Town Pool) was the second one on our site. The original railroad water tank stood in what would now be the center of our parking lot, close to the tracks where a water pipe could feed the boilers when needed. I do not know where the original water supply would have come from for that first tank. Perhaps a steam pump at the Ames Shovel Shop location pumped water from the Queset River that flowed nearby. Once the water district was established in 1873, water could be obtained from the above-named source.
That's enough about water for now! Stay well, and until next week,
Greetings to all on this wet Fourth of July weekend! After a record setting heat wave early this week, we are now experiencing very unseasonable cool, wet weather. A constant drizzle will dampen our holiday plans this year. I think of our members on the west coast though, as they continue to endure the hardship of a severe heat wave and drought. Hopefully relief will come soon for them.
A number of you remarked about last week's email, so this week I have included more information on the various houses featured in the Ames Housing Auction Brochure. There is a list of all forty-one properties (sorry, there are no street numbers!) as well as some photos of properties selected for the brochure. A map of many of the properties is also included for you. Perhaps you may live in, or once lived in, one of these houses. Several of the houses that once stood across from the Museum along Mechanic Street were moved from there to nearby locations. A few of them may have been moved to the Holmes Street area. Ken Jackson, a long-time member, officer, and newsletter editor for the Society, always thought his home had been moved from Mechanic Street to Holmes Street. If you live in, or once lived in, these homes I would like to hear from you!
As we celebrate our country's 245th year of independence, let's continue to stay safe, stay well, and until next week,
Curator: Frank Meninno