Happy Saturday morning from historic Easton! The overcast sky and early morning rain will soon burn off as Easton looks to set a record for high temperatures today and tomorrow. Time to get out the fans and air conditioners!
On Sunday afternoon OAHS senior Abram Kempner will officially receive the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout. Abram’s project involved creating an online tour of historic spots one can see while walking around North Easton. He took photos, did research, and created this digital platform, which can be found on our website, and can be added to in the future. Working with Abram was a bright spot during the pandemic, and attending his Eagle Scout ceremony is something I am honored to be doing. Thank you, Abram, for a job well done and congratulations on an honor that is well-deserved!
We might travel by trolley to North Easton for today's then and now photo. Our picture today was taken just about 1900. If you were to stand on the sidewalk in front of what is now 11 Center Street, and look north towards the intersection of Center, Lincoln and Main Street, you would find yourself in the same location our photographer was standing one hundred and twenty-two years ago. The subject of the photo is clearly the young lad with the horn and cap gun, wildly happy to have his photo taken with his favorite toys. Unfortunately for us, we do not know the boy’s name, nor do we know the name of the photographer. As delightful as this photo is, there is a lot to be discovered in the background.
Your eyes might be immediately drawn to the trolley car. This is one of the Easton and Mansfield line trolleys, and the sign on the front indicates it is beginning its journey from North Easton center to Mansfield. You can see the track bed running along the east side of Center Street. The building on the right has a long history. First built around 1870, it was occupied for many years by Elijah Spooner, a tin ware dealer. The building was originally thought to be three stories high, though it is clearly two stories high here, and besides the tin and stove shop on the first floor, provided living space for the Spooner family until they bought a house further down Center Street a few years later. Once that happened, in 1882 the second floor became the home of the “Queset Club” of leading merchants and men in North Easton. The group met in nicely appointed rooms, complete with a pool table and newspapers, “for the benefit and amusements of the members,” of which Spooner was the first president. Various groups used the hall as well. The G.A.R. Post 52 of South Easton met there following a fire that burned their hall in the mid-1880’s. Other local clubs and organizations such as the Sons of Temperance met there too. When this photo was taken the building was occupied by Ryder’s Store, one of many small stores in the center. By 1903 George W. Swanson, a Swedish immigrant, ran a lunch room and pool parlor here, serving spirits as well, into the 1940’s. The building was occupied by the Betty Jean Shop for a number of years, and today houses a yoga studio. The top two floors were removed, possibly following a fire, and the building has been extensively remodeled several times over the past fifty years.
Just to the left of that building is a wood frame house. The location of the house in the photo is misleading. At first glance, it looks like the house is on the site of the former telephone building at the corner of Center and Main Street. It is actually across the street, near the site of the current Sundell’s Citgo Station. Owned in the early 1800’s by one of the Andrew’s families in North Easton, the house was home to the Waite family when this photo was taken. A careful look to the left of the trolley will reveal the water fountain that once stood in the intersection, and cupolas on top of the Ames Shovel Factories overlook the entire scene. If that isn’t enough for your eyes to take in, look at the amount of people in the photo. The period dress is always interesting. Can you find the bicycle hiding in this photo?
Today the location appears different, but still very familiar. The trolley tracks no longer run along Center Street, and the brick facade of Harry J. D. Sundell’s Gas Station reminds us of the advances in transportation that hastened the end of the trolley cars. The brick New England Telephone and Telegraph Company building, erected in 1941, now stands right at the corner of the intersection. You might remember it as being the telephone office, but most of us will remember the building as home of the North Easton (later Easton) Co-Operative Bank, which today is the Bank of Easton. The shutters on the building still retain the distinctive “Bell System” cutout, a reminder of what purpose the building was first built for. On the right is the heavily remodeled former Spooner tin shop and Betty Jean Shop, where we bought school supplies and gym uniforms – remember those?
Until next week, stay well, and stay cool!
Curator: Frank Meninno