Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


November 28, 2013

An artist's view of downtown Andover, circa 1909

My Aunt Frances was an artist all her student and adult life and described things with an artist’s eye.

In 1907, her recently widowed mother moved Frances and her three older brothers from Amesbury to Andover in order to buy the Metropolitan Bakery. It had a soda fountain and became a place where local children congregated.

Young Frances painted a mental picture of the downtown that she retained for over 50 years until writing it down. (She died in 1989.)

Here is her description of the town’s center shortly before the Barnard Building was built on the corner of Main and Park in 1910. I transcribed her writing with parenthesis added for clarity:

“Andover was a beautiful small town when we moved here. Main Street was lined with tall, imposing wineglass elm trees. Elm Square, with these giant gifts of nature everywhere, made a lovely approach, from Lawrence, to the business section of town. On the right was the town library, with a beautiful, wrought-iron fence and a watering trough for horses. However, the cobblestone street had been invaded by the trolley cars and their tracks.

Small shops with well-dressed windows greeted you. The street was lighted at night with the soft glow of carbon lights (gas light). I remember the streetlights more clearly during winter time, when the snow fell softly along Main Street accompanied by the musical sounds of the horses’ trot and the sleighs. Everything had a mellow quality about it. When it was clear out, you could look up and see the stars because the carbon lights glowed so gently.

Early mornings, the sun cast long shadows from the buildings on the left (east) side of Main Street. The business section ended with the Press Building where John N. Cole published the Andover Townsman (northeast corner of Main and Chestnut streets). My mother’s shop was located just about in the center of the business section (on the east side of Main Street).

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