Methuen History

 
 

Personal Histories

July 23, 2005

Ed Zilinski wrote:

Back in 1940, my folks bought a house at 15 Tower Street in the Oakside District of Methuen. We were on property that Mr. Searles previously owned.
 
    My father was a farmer at heart and dug up the backyard to plant a small garden. Next year he expanded into the field (that we didn’t own) behind our house. Everywhere he dug he found cows teeth.
     There were no houses on Tudor Street behind us and none in the next field/ block either. That field, bounded by Tudor, Pinewood, Oakside Ave. and Larchwood Rd. did have two cellar holes. The cellar hole at Pinewood and Oakside was about 20 feet square and not deep with a round walled hole at its center. The cellar hole at Larchwood and Oakside was larger and deep, about the size of a normal modern cellar hole. The two cellar holes were aligned to present Oakside Ave. leading me to believe that a previous road took the same path as Oakside Ave, now does. Along Tudor Street there was a good cluster of black raspberry bushes. Behind them in a swampy area there were many strawberry plants bearing large, not wild, strawberries. The Veterans Project now occupies this block.
     Further west down Tudor Street, there was a windmill built on a small rise. When we moved in, in 1940 it still had its wooden upper structure but that collapsed soon after, leaving a granite wall, about 16 feet square and eight feet high. Its door was to the west and it had two window holes.
    In the block bounded by East, Pinewood, Brewster and Oakside Ave, There was a very large cellar hole. To its southeast there was a covered artesian well. The flow of he well was drained some feet beneath the cover by a pipe that kept a steady flow under Oakside Ave, to form a small stream in the field to the south. Presently, the house at 119 Oakside Ave. is constructed over the artesian well.   An old road ran by the northwest face of the large cellar hole and continued to the northeast right up to the passage through the wall on East Street. This passage can still be found between Davis Road and Pleseant View Streets. It is about eight feet wide.

 
    Its strange that I spent my boyhood playing on these ruins and never thought much of it. In later life I read a book about Mr. Searles written by a Mr. Fremmer . He speaks of Searles Highfield Farm. It was located to the south of the East Street wall. Mr. Searles had the farm managed by a fellow from Fitchburg and just about all of Searles food was grown there. The book goes on to describe a fire in 1922 (two years after Mr. Searles death) during a February blizzard that consumed the farm.

        Bingo---it all fell into place!

    The cows teeth were still a mystery for many years as there were no stone walls in the area in 1940. Cows and walled fields were a way of life back in the early 1900s. Looking at the foundation of the homes in the Tower Street area that were built after 1922 solves that mystery as each has a granite stone foundation!




November 7, 2004

Margery Jones wrote:

Recently while visiting California, I went to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, CA.  It is a very interesting place with many things to see.  As we Approached an area called the Garden of Freedom, I looked up and could not believe my eyes.  There, standing tall and proud, was the statue of George Washington and the piece of chain that I grew up seeing on Lawrence Street where St. Monica's school stands.  I had to catch my breath and wipe tears away.  Three thousand miles from home I had found a little piece of Methuen, my home town.  I inquired at the gate if they knew any of the history of the statue and chain only to be told that no one had any idea.  I would love to see these wonderful objects returned to Methuen some day, as no one in California seems to care about them.



October 6, 2000

Joan Budron Manning wrote:

In 1940, my parents Adele and Charles Budron purchased Stillwater Manor (Dairy Court) as a 3 story private English Tudor-style home (about 24 rooms) including approx. 365 acres from Pond St. to Pleasant St. bordering 2 States MA. and NH. My sister Betty, brothers, John and Howard and I lived with my parents in the Manor.


The staircases and rooms all had this magnificent oak wood. There was an organ room on the first floor, with a curved ceiling, that I played in because the acoustics would make my voice echo. The Master bedroom walls were lined with silk tapestry.


I was 8 years old and went to the Howe St. school, starting 4th grade with Miss Garland; 5th and 6th grade( in one room) with Miss Cosantine; 7th grade with Miss Silver, who was also Principal. There was a young boy in that class with me. We just celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary. In 1941 Howard died in a hunting accident on the bridal path, he was sixteen. The Archibald family owned the home at the entrance to the bridal path that Mr Searles discreetly used to go from one estate to another.


My brother,John, was stationed in Germany in WWII. As part of the war effort, my parents gave a Grand Formal Ball, at the Manor, for the local Servicemen. The fireplace in the living room where the Ball was held was so big, my Mother had decorated it with 2 end tables and sofa which fit inside the fireplace. The only requirement to attend the event was that the guests donate blood to the American Red Cross.


Next to the Manor was a greenhouse with curved ceiling glass and also a chicken coop. We lost those buildings in a terrible fire. My sister Elaine was born in 1942.

After the Service John met and married Rose Hajjar. All these special events were part of our lives living in the Manor. My Dad sold the Manor in about 1950 but he kept the acreage. Dad converted the carriage barn into a duplex for John and Rose. The Kfoury family lived next door.


In 1951 Betty and I were living with Mother and Dad in a 2 story home which was originally part of the back entrance and Gate to the Manor. Dad kept up the 2 apple orchards for years. We had ice skating parties on the pond. The ice house out by the far end of the pond was active. When I married, Dad converted a 2 story building that used to be the caretaker's cottage, which housed a huge grinding wheel, into a home for my husband and me. Our 2 sons were born there. My husband was in the Navy, stationed at Chelsea and we were transferred to Bermuda and then to Key West, Fl. The huge stable, on the hill, near the pond he then converted into apartments. My sister Betty had one-- Mom and Dad the other. Eventually there were 2 more apartments on the other side facing the other end of the pond overlooking the hay field.


The Silverthornes had a very small home near the back entrance gate. John and Rose had 4 children. Three of his daughters and their husbands and children are all living in the homes my Dad built at Stillwater. John and Rose are still residing in a large home they built by the back entrance gate. Five generations of Budrons still occupy some of the Searles property my Dad bought 60 years ago; some of which is now known as Stillwater Circle, Budron Avenue and streets around it were named by my Mother.

 



November 7, 2004

Margery Jones wrote:

Recently while visiting California, I went to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, CA.  It is a very interesting place with many things to see.  As we Approached an area called the Garden of Freedom, I looked up and could not believe my eyes.  There, standing tall and proud, was the statue of George Washington and the piece of chain that I grew up seeing on Lawrence Street where St. Monica's school stands.  I had to catch my breath and wipe tears away.  Three thousand miles from home I had found a little piece of Methuen, my home town.  I inquired at the gate if they knew any of the history of the statue and chain only to be told that no one had any idea.  I would love to see these wonderful objects returned to Methuen some day, as no one in California seems to care about them.


If you would like to share a personal story about Methuen history please email me.

Let me know if I have permission to post it.



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