“Carmel Road used to run through to High Street by way of a steep hairpin-turned roadway, which, especially for stick shifts cars, was the most interesting short piece of roadway in Andover; but, alas. the road gods took it away, “ I wrote a few weeks ago.
Jennifer Caffrey responded, “It was also most interesting to those of us who would push off on our bikes at the start of the hill, barrel at full speed down Carmel and across High at the bottom, and take a sharp right onto Burnham. Then we’d continue down that hill on the way to our Shawsheen homes, all thanks to gravity and an apparent belief in our immortality. Honestly, I don’t know how any of us survived our childhoods back then – there were certainly no bike helmets and there must have been much less traffic.” (Incidentally, Burnham Road was named for a superintendent of the Almshouse circa 1885, according to Goldsmith.)
Carol Towle, whose father owned Caruso’s Shoe repair on Barnard Street, wrote, “I grew up on Carmel Road and played in Carmel woods. My bike rides included all of Johnson Acres as well as “uptown.” Carmel hill was a favorite sledding area in the wintertime. We would place a lookout at the bottom of the hill to OK the sliding process and make sure no cars were coming.”
A reader asked me about where the name “Hidden Road” comes from. As with other road names that can have another meaning, such as Blood Road and Flint Circle, the names usually do not come from the fact that Hidden Road couldn’t be found, or Blood Road was the sight of a massacre, or Flint Circle was a great source of rocks you could spark fires from. Like many roads, such as Blood and Flint, were named after people who once lived in the area, often owning much of the land around what is now the road. However, that is not quite the reason for Hidden Road’s name.
Hidden Road was named not for someone who owned much of the land around the road, although his mother’s family, the Chandlers, once did. David Hidden, who was born in 1832, was a well known local builder who lived in a house that was built before he was born at what was 17 Hidden Road, according to Bessie Goldsmith’s 1964 booklet, “The Townswoman’s Andover.” Hidden Road runs south southwest off Main Street and then rejoins Main Street further south. The portion of the road to Porter Road was originally part of a street called South Street, and, according to Miss Goldsmith, it is a very old road.
This gets a little tricky to me because, according to Goldsmith, South Street continued down what is now called Porter Road while she does not explain what that part of Hidden Road that continues south back to Main Street was named before it was named “Hidden.” There were two houses on that lower piece of today’s Hidden Road according to an 1830 map that doesn’t name the road. According to Goldsmith, Hidden and Porter roads were both called South Street as late as 1863. It’s clear to me that there is a lot of educated guessing that goes into discovering old road names, unless a mapmaker provided some clarity by fixing a road’s name in ink.
Porter Road received its name change in memory of Ebenezer Porter (1772-1834), who was elected chairman of Sacred Rhetoric at Andover Theological Seminary and then was the seminary’s temporary president at the time of his death. As mentioned in my column two weeks ago, the Seminary played a role in many Andover names. (To find more information about the Seminary go to AndoverTownsman.com, and use the search function on the upper right side.)
Sunset Rock Road is named for a 250 foot high, mile long landmark called Sunset Rock. For more information on this geologic feature that can be seen by the public, see the Andover Village Improvement Society’s (AVIS) website. When I was about 10 and riding my bike around town just meandering and looking around. I came across Sunset Rock and didn’t know what it was except it was so impressive that I remember it to this day.
Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Andover Townsman, and his email address is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com.