Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Ninety-two years ago the Nemaskett Press wished its patrons a Merry Christmas by means of colorful and somewhat idealized image of a Pilgrim hauling a yule log. This year Recollecting Nemasket likewise wishes its  readers a Merry Christmas and a happy, safe and healthy New Year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Central Baptist Church Fire News Coverage, 1888

The January 22, 1888 fire that gutted the Central Baptist Church was a devastating blow for the community. Middleborough Four Corners was initially developed by a group of Baptist activists who were responsible for establishing a commercial and industrial base there, and they also constructed Middleborough center's first church, the Central Baptist Church in 1828. Sixty years later the Middleboro News documented the disaster, clippings from which still survive.

Monday, December 7, 2015

James A. Leonard House, Then & Now

The James A. Leonard House on Center Street opposite the present Sacred Heart rectory was built in the early 19th century and for a century and a half was a landmark in the neighborhood. James A. Leonard (1800-62) was a prominent shoe manufacturer of mid-19th century Middleborough.  In 1860, Leonard proposed developing the land to the rear of his house as thirty to forty individual house lots.  The sale of the lots by auctioneer Sylvanus Hinckley was advertised on September 8, 1860, and headed “Rare Chance.”  The land was described as being situated “on the high ground near the House of James A. Leonard, in about equal distance from the Four Corners and depot.” The Gazette opined: “No person who desires a building lot in this place on reasonable terms will fail of attending the auction.”

Following Leonard’s death in 1862, the house was owned by his son G. H. Leonard until 1876 when it was purchased by C. D. Kingman and Edson Ellis. That same year Kingman sold his share to Ellis who operated a marble yard on the property. In 1896, Dr. G. E. Ellis had the brick wall on Center Street constructed.

Shortly after the house’s demolition in December 1974, the Middleborough Antiquarian documented the later history of the home:

“In the memory of most of the older generation, the house recently demolished on Center Street, next to St. Luke’s Hospital, is known as the ‘Dr. Ellis House.’  Dr. George E. Ellis is listed as the owner in the 1884 Middleboro Directory, the earliest one on file at the Middleborough Historical Museum.  He was a very colorful character and can be vividly remembered pacing back and forth, hands behind his back, before the high brick wall that fronted his property….

“Dr. George E. Ellis came to Middleboro in 1879 and probably purchased the house at that time.  After his death in 1933, the property was owned by Mrs. William W. Wheeler, and to within a year’s time was owned and occupied by her son George E. Wheeler.  The house was demolished in December, 1974, and there are rumors that a professional building is to be erected on the site.”

James A. Leonard House, Center Street, Middleborough, photograph, c. 1900

James A. Leonard House site, Center Street, Middleborough, photograph by Michael J. Maddigan, November 30, 2015

James A. Leonard House, Center Street, Middleborough, photograph, 1930s

James A. Leonard House, Center Street, Middleborough, photographic half-tone, 1974

James A. Leonard House, Center Street, Middleborough, photographic half-tone, late 1974

Thursday, December 3, 2015

South Middleborough, 1940s

This photograph dating probably from the late 1940s depicts a gasoline pump and sign at Sisson's Garage at Wareham and Locust Streets in South Middleborough. In the background is the South Middleborough School, now being rehabilitated by the South Middleborough Protective Association. The vacant lot to the left of the school is now occupied by the South Middleborough fire station.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Solon Robertson House (c. 1893)

The Solon Robertson House at 9 West End Avenue was constructed about 1893 by Solon Robertson on land then being developed by Eugene P. LeBaron as a residential subdivision. While most of the houses eventually built on the West Side were relatively simple homes constructed for the industrial workers that resided in the district, Robertson's house reflected a degree of high Victorian style with its patterned shingles, multi-colored paint scheme and decorative ironwork. Robertson, a worker at the Bay State Straw Works on Courtland Street and later a painter, died in 1915 at which time his widow sold the hose. Since 1942 it has been owned by the Griswold family.

Solon Robertson House, photograph, c. 1895
The image may be dated to 1894 or later due to the presence of the West Side School which appears visible through the porch.

Solon Robertson House, photographic postcard, 1915
This photographic postcard may be dated with some certainty to spring 1915 as it was mailed by owners Joseph A. and Elsie Adams who acquired the property in February of that year. Though little else is known about the image, it is recorded that the cat's name was Tom.