Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 11, 2012

Alice Buck, Harold Rafton: Two lives, one mission

This is the second column in a two-part series.

Andover in the 1880s and 1890s was experiencing change of unprecedented proportions. A growing economic vitality and brisk business climate saw the invention of the telephone, the advent of the electric trolley that allowed travel and faster connections to nearby locations, and the change in the work environment that enabled more leisure-time activities. Social clubs and sports groups were being formed on a regular basis to meet the needs of this new opportunity for leisure entertainment.

The hustle and bustle of progress had its share of negative effects as well. What was once described as a very pleasing town to visit was soon being described as a despoiled and untidy town. The need for a local beautification effort was expressed.

The very nature of Main Street was changing with this new prosperity. The appearance of various means of transportation called for improvements in the surfaces on which people traveled. Mostly dirt and hard-packed streets were giving way to covered surfaces. The expanding need for “quality gravel” led local owners to offer to convert their forested property into a source of gravel for road building.

One particular property was known as Indian Ridge. This property’s unusual geological features along with its reputed health-invigorating qualities and its proximity to the center of the town’s population meant that it had a strong following in certain segments of this new leisure-seeking community. The response to the potential destruction of this magnificent glacial formation and wooded area was immediate and vigorous.

And Alice Buck was one of the earliest and most energetic townspeople to rise to the call for saving it.

The ten-year period following the end of World War II featured another stretch of economic rebuilding and budding prosperity. Andover did not appear to be enjoying all the fruits of this new energy. It was not until the mid-1950s that there was evidence of a new age of growth. Interstate highways were being built through the town, first by Interstate 93 linking Andover with Boston and the rapidly changing Route 128 technology highway. Andover was emerging as a popular town to locate one’s family while still enjoying the proximity to metropolitan Boston. The prestigious Phillips Academy was another draw.

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