Monday, February 12, 2018


The F. W. Woolworth Company (Woolworth’s) first came to Middleborough in 1911, establishing a store in the American Building on South Main Street as Middleborough’s first chain department store. Increasing business prompted the company to have a building built to its own specifications on Center Street in 1927-28 (the building most recently occupied by Reedy's Archery), replacing the James Soule House which had originally stood on the site. This new building was built the same year that Woolworth’s principal Middleborough competitor W. T. Grant arrived in town. 

The building was purpose built for Woolworth's to that company's specifications by Arthur Shactman of Brookline, the owner of the property in 1927-28. Woolworth's proposed leasing the building for a period of 20 years commencing May 1, 1928 and ending May 1, 1948, with an annual rent of $3,600 for the first 10 years and $3,900 for the remaining years. In return, Woolworth's required the building to be "the same in workmanship and materials as the premises now occupied by the lessee at 297-297A Harvard Street, Brookline, Massachusetts." Specifications for the building were incorporated directly into the lease between Shactman and Woolworth's.
Woolworth’s occupied the southern store in the multi-store building. (The northern store in the block was occupied initially by the Park Cafe). In 1948, Woolworth's expanded to occupy the entire building and remodelled thoroughly in 1957.

Woolworth's closed its Middleborough store on December 24, 1971.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Winter Scene, c. 1923

A 1920s blizzard has tied up hapless motorists on South Main Street. The sole landmark recognizable today is the Central Congregational Church, the steeple of which can be seen plastered with snow. The buildings on the left have all since been replaced by what is now the Rockland Trust Company. At the time the building at the far left housed Williams' Specialty Shop, a business conducted by Harold Williams (later of Williams' Trading Post). The view is looking from the Four Corners.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

First Holy Communion, Sacred Heart Church, 1890s

The original Sacred Heart Church was built in 1881 following Archbishop John Joseph Williams' blessing of the cornerstone on July 12, 1881. The church stood on Center Street approximately on the site today occupied by the church rectory and parking lot.

Prior to the construction of the church, the community's Catholic residents worshipped in private homes as well as the upper floor of the P. H. Peirce grocery store (now the Middleborough Police Station). Mass was celebrated by visiting priests and the first recorded Mass in Middleborough was celebrated in the home of Patrick Sullivan on Wareham Street in 1852.

Here a group of children celebrating their first Holy Communion have gathered for the photographer. The girls are attired in white dresses, veils and gloves while the boys wear their best suits. Several proud parents look on.

 Though the image is undated, it appears to be from the 1890s.

Friday, January 26, 2018

B. F. Tripp Trade Cards

Trade cards were a popular means of advertising during the late 1800s. Small and highly-colored, these illustrated cards became widespread with the introduction of color lithography in the 1870s and their free distribution helped retailers and manufacturers advertise their goods. The cards were frequently changed by merchants, helping entice shoppers back for a return visit. Children often collected the cards, pasting them into bound volumes, and they remain highly collectible today.

One Middleborough merchant who made wide use of trade cards for advertising was Benjamin F. Tripp, who conducted a combined ice cream, confectionary, fruit and cigar store on the site now occupied by Kramer Park next to the former Savings Bank Building on Center Street. Tripp utilized many different styles of cards which would have been purchased in bulk and printed by a local printer (most often Thatcher & Company) with Tripp's specific information.

The samples below from the collection of Recollecting Nemasket provide a glimpse of the variety of trade cards offered by Tripp's.