Strolling Along Washington Street

by Harry Wilkinson

Centered in a real historic setting in downtown Marblehead, the 1727 Town House stands, its 'Cradle of Liberty' surrounded on all sides by many old time buildings, housing interesting businesses and former private residences for many a year.

To continue our walk up Washington Street, we start at the corner of State, seeing at #86 and #88 the large wooden building, once the hardware store of William F. Cloon. He had started his business in a small one-story building on the site of the present building, erected in 1872, 120 years back. Cloon, who died in May of 1896, had two sons, Samuel F. and Horace, who continued on most successfully. At one time the store carried on its books the accounts of some 84 fishing vessels that dotted the harbor.

Later on, "Uncle" Ben Chadwick operated the store for 28 years, followed by Peter E. Uhlendorf. The Handprints was on one side of the divided store with Natural Foods on the other. These days the entire lower floor is occupied by Ammenheuser's Country Store. The floors above contain apartments and the top floor has the Skylight Gallery, studio of the school's art teacher, Ann T. Fleming.

Next door at #92 was for years another hardware store, that of John F. Randall with his family living above. Now the two stores there are Calico Country and H.W. Piper, Ltd.

The drug store of William Hooper Shepard at #96 was always rated high, for besides the apothecary items on hand, there was an elaborate soda fountain, best in town, that attracted ever so many. It dispensed Moxie, the Dr. Pepper drink, sarsaparilla and out of this world college ices, banana royales and other tasty ice cream creations.

Shepard, who started at the store when 27, died in April 1934 at age 86. Among many faithful employees were Ruth Nichols, Freddie Barron and Harvey Millett, once holder of the Boston Post Cane, who died at 98 in 1954.

After Shepard, others stepped in to operate the drug store - Arthur N. Sumner, Dr. Thomas G. Barrett and Phil Goldman. These days Evie Goldman has the store jam packed with antiques, and it is called Evie's Corner.

In the next building, of red brick, was a second druggist, William M. Lemmon, selling Cuban cigars, snuff and cigarettes to his men customers. In his day, there was a front door in the middle of the store with windows on each side, a druggist's pestle hanging outside overhead and sporting awnings in the summer time. Oldsters recall Lemmon's motto, prominently displayed over the cash register: IN GOD WE TRUST, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH. Later on the optometrist, William Ball, purchased this property, had the store front bricked in and made the first floor into an apartment where the retired school teacher, Betty Gleason, resided.

Then we approach the former Dr. Elisha Story house. A Boston physician and surgeon, he lived there in 1770 and was noted in history as being a Son of Liberty, one who had dumped tea in Boston Harbor and helped capture British cannon on Boston Common.

His son, Joseph, 1779 - 1845, became the noted jurist who served 34 years on the Supreme court and for whom our Story Grammar School was named. Later on, William Goodwin had a small drug store in the right hand side of the house. Then his son, Dr. John H. Goodwin and Dr. Frederick W. Dane had their dental offices in the house.

The next building, with two stores, had many occupants over the years, with families living above. Once there was the Craft Shop of Scottish Margaret Buchanan, now occupied by Tory's Jewelry. The larger store had Kelley's Luncheonette, a laundry and now has Wicker, Unlimited.

The imposing Mugford Building (1880) stands out, especially after the wonderful restoration job done on it in 1983. For many years this was the home of Salkins and Laskey, yacht outfitters, who occupied the entire first floor until 1941. John H. Salkins, with William A. Laskey, had once done a flourishing business there in the building named for the town's Revolutionary hero, James Mugford. The Mugford Association, with quarters above, disbanded in 1943 when the property was acquired by Charles Kelley. The Market Square Associates and Mosaic Club members had their meetings upstairs for some years.

For some 30 years the store was the home of the Supermarket of Louis Halpern. Now we see the occupants are the Marine Outfitters, Haley's Package Store and Truffles.

Directly across the street, at the intersection of Washington and Pleasant Streets, is the large 1885 Grader Block with store fronts on Pleasant Street, but a front door and window display on Washington, the kite shop of Betty Breunhaus.

At 111 Washington, is the old building for many years under different occupants - a first class stationery store of Merrill H. Graves, Herman Gordon, Flossie Carroll, Harold and Elsie Hammond and lastly Ed and Cynthia Butler. These days it is the home of Arnould Gallery and Framery.

The large parking lot was once occupied by the Snow Building with stores on the ground floor. Once the Central House was above, later the homes of the Kelley, Cash and Callahan families.

Lots of businesses operated there - Lew Allen's Barber Shop, Archie O'Neal's Quality Fish Market, Boston Branch Grocery, the Public Market of Ed Haley, Hartley's Men's Store, Buddy Prescott's Shop and Burley's Radio Service, just to name a few.

Next door was a store which one time housed Robert MacLean, the Jeweler, the Western Union and Von's Florist. In the rambling main house was the photo studio and living quarters of Franklin E.S. Thompson.

All these buildings were razed in March of 1968 to make way for the parking lot for Louis's Super Market.

Boardman's Bake Shop was quite famous over the years with the family living in the 1684 house. Sad, indeed, when it was razed in 1937 when Malcom Bell put up his Gulf Filling Station, operated by Orrel Hansen. Later came other occupants like The Fife and Drum, Claire House, Kate Harriman. Today the attractive building has N. Larson, Jeweler, Around the World Travel and Caribbean Yacht Charters.

Behind the Town House still stands the unusual 1695 William Waters House, once the site of the Town Pound.

The Alley Steps run up to Mechanic Street and, until 1958, was just a pile of huge rocks that school kids climbed on their way to the Gerry School. Now with seventeen concrete steps, and hand railings, it is much easier to climb to the street above.

Alley Steps on lower Washington Street (left to right, the first two) and (far right) from Mechanic Street circa 1950.
When you went up these "lower Alley Steps," you could go across the street and by Doaks Lane there was a path that
you could walk on that took you over to Pond Street, and then out across from Redd's Pond. Many years ago this path
was a favorite short cut in the winter when Marbleheaders all went skating. (with special thanks to PGD.)

The Bus Stop building of Kathy Bruins, at Market Square, housed many a business over the years. John S. Rogers had his fruit store there, and the Rum-tique Antique Shop of Howard and Elise Finerty was on the premises eleven years. Other occupants had been Almy's Appliances, Ludwig Cleaners, Francis the Tailor, Waterfield Free School, Granny Osborne's Art Shop and Neil Fuller, Carpentry. At times town barbers were on hand - Jack Destito and Axel Person, and the cobbler shops, too, of Peter Mormino and Peter Pandapapas.

The imposing Town House, which predates Boston's Faneuil Hall, stands out in its bright yellow dress, and is still being used for voting purposes, art auctions and the keeping of the veterans records. The top floor is devoted to Civil War artifacts for the Lieutenant John Goodwin, Jr. Post 32 of the Grand Army of the Republic, which met there for years.

The Police Department had their headquarters and the lockup on the ground floor until 1961; they then moved to new quarters on Gerry Street. Outside the Town House, oldsters recall the watering trough for thirsty horses, and the hand pump - items long gone with the Marblehead wind.

Part II: Still Strolling....

Over the years many changes have taken place in the old building at 118-120 Washington Street. Originally a three-storied structure with two stores on the ground floor and living quarters above, it suffered a bad fire in December of 1944. The upper floors were then razed and the building cut down in size. As a boy, living near Tucker's Wharf, I had to run many errands for the family so I do have pleasant memories of all the shopkeepers I met on this street.

For a long period the stores were occupied by the grocery store of Harris Langley with his son and his daughter Ethel assisting. The other store housed the plumbing and tinsmith shop of Ernest C. Doane. Later his sons William and Stanley conducted the business.

After the Langleys, came the enterprising Samuel O. Penni. Sam was born in Sicily as Salvatore Occipini. He came to this country when he was just 17, in 1932. He opened up "The Farm Store" dealing at first in only fresh fruits and vegetables. He was assisted by his wife, Francoise, and his four sons: Samuel Jr., Joseph, Al and William and four daughters: Anne, Sylvia, Mary and Teresa, with numerous grandchildren working in the store while they were growing up. Sam Sr. retired in 1965 but the family carried on as Samuel Penni & Sons and Penni's Supermarket.

Old Hathaway Building. Nat Snow had his grocery store here for many years.

Next door at #122 was the lovely Wilson House, the former mansion-style residence of Mrs. Laura Doane, mother of Lewis Doane, the popular high school teacher, of that time. When the mansion became vacant the Pennis took over and the first floor became a part of the main grocery store. The end of the Penni era came in November of 1989 when all the properties were acquired by James B. Crosby, who owned several other grocery interests at that time. But the name "Penni's" still remained high over the front entrance, until a fire destroyed the building on September 5, 1994. At the time of the fire only one of the Penni daughters, and her son, Matthew D. Cox, remained working in the store from the original family.

In the famous Penni's parking lot, for many years stood a wooden stable which sheltered the horses and wagons of the Doane plumbing business. Eventually all of the wasteland to the rear and the former State Street Garage property became one large parking facility.

Changes also have been made in the next big building at #126. For many-a-year it was the meat market of butcher Frank Brown. I can recall rabbits, deer meat and fresh poultry hanging in the large front windows there. The Brown family lived over the store: his wife, Jennie; his son Ambrose; whose hobby was coin collecting, and his daughter, Pearl. In time, other businesses were in this store: the Victorian Ice Cream Parlour, the art studio of Madeline Joyce Brown and The Brown Butler, the eating spot operated by Mrs. Ambrose Brown.

For a spell, muffins were sold there by the Pennis, but today The Muffin Shop is controlled by brothers, Nunzio and Tony Freddo. They also have the Vesuvius Restaurant serving dinners in the lower section of the building.

Next door, at #128, was once the home of J.C. Buzzell and family, who had a fine garden down back and sold their cut flowers. Later on, came numerous small businesses: Shilling Hardwood Furniture, H. E. Piper, Ltd., the Rogers Art Gallery, Dough Annies, Country Airs, Sweet Everlasting, the Gallery of Haitian Art and lastly, Paper Images.

The real old Hathaway Building at #132-133 had the large grocery store of Nathaniel Holmes Snow. Like the Pennis, Snow had all his children working for him at times: four daughters, Amy, Lucy, Mary and Ida and two sons Nat Jr., and John, who later became a town policeman.

Snow, who died at 79 in 1934, had a brother, Clarence, to help with the deliveries and in wintertime with snow on the ground, we kids on sleds would hang onto the back of his pung and ride through the street. Clare, who was a powerful, long-distance swimmer off Crocker Park, lived to age 90 and died in 1956 and enjoyed his own garden at the rear of the store.

Lots of changes in the Snow store over the years. David A. Marcus had his Washington Street Antiques there for years. Much later, came Benetton Clothing, Diversions (games and toys), and Margaretta's. At present it is occupied by L. L. Crispin's and B.L. Brunelle Leather Goods. On the floor above is Loynd & Company.

Next door, in the building with two stores, with apartments above, used to be the paper store of William D. Finch and his sister Ruth. Now it has become The Rusty Rudder, a craftsman co-op selling on the side the various Marblehead Joe Froggers to its customers.

The Heeltappers Antiques is in the second store. For years that was the barber shop of Lewis Melzard with Phil Regan taking over later. Melzard sold victrolas also and 78 RPM records. He loved to play opera selections while hair cutting and many had their first hearing of Caruso and other opera notables in that shop.

At #140 stood an old wooden building which once housed the Silas B. Duffield collection of antiques and before that, the Star Chinese Laundry of one Lew Hong. The building was razed in 1960 by Chummy Frost's wrecking company and soon a brand new building was erected by property owner John Proctor. Many a business has since been in the two stores: the Rental Company, Reflections Works of Heart, Port Canvas Company, Gallery of Folk Art, Country Mouse, Dandee Boutique, Bedrock Music and now Rosalie's Patchwork and Picnic. Below this store, facing Darling Street, is Fred Finkel the Goldsmith.

This brings us to the corner of Washington and Darling. We cross now to the other side and work our way back to Pleasant Street.

The brick Robie House of1729 holds our interest. Thomas Robie was a wealthy loyalist, a Tory, and when feelings ran high against the Crown, he was forced by the townfolk to take his family and go to Nova Scotia. One resident of the house was Major Joseph W. Green; then for years Mabel Jordan had her gift shop there called The Brick Path.

The large four-story building next to it had rooms and apartments to rent and now has condominiums. The stores beneath are The Factory Store, selling luggage and handbags and the Tyme Artisan Collection. Long years back, I recall Mike Musto's Barber Shop and Frank Lillibridge's Lunch Room and a co-op grocery on the premises.

Further along is the B&B called Lavendar Gate of Cate Olson and Nash Robbins and antiques by Rita and Ross Terrien. At one time, at #121, newspaperman and artist Charles H. Snow and daughter Louise had their studio and living quarters.

Right on the corner of Washington and Pleasant is the well-kept 1724 Holyoke House, once the home of Reverend Howard Holyoke of the Second Congregational (Unitarian) Church. Other occupants in this lovely house were the Town Treasurer William B. Brown, Mrs. Gertrude Stewart and the Leroyd family.

At the corner of Darling Street and 146 Washington stands the Deacon Stephen Phillips House, buit in 1751. In this building over the years we can count many an important business. John Samuel Rogers, with his wife Liza Jane, lived upstairs and conducted his fruit and vegetable shop on the ground floor.
For years, Frank Howard Lillibridge, a former Selectman, had his popular restaurant there. Later came Doris and Charles Bartlett with their Bide-A-Wee eating spot, removed from Front Street. Betty and Harold La Londe also were present with fine food. Then came the Poodle Woofer Shop of Mrs. Judith Goonyup and that was fun for the animal lovers. Vivian and Boris 'Buz' Pundick opened their Sea Gull Gift Shop, coming from across the street. After lots of changes for the better the Sea Gull shop still carries on with success under a different management and has show rooms on the top floor.

Next door, the building had the tobacco shop of Herbert D. Homan with his family in apartments above. For a time Ann Nolan's Rose Grey Beauty Salon, Jack Clay and William Smethurst with their candy and ice cream store, Golden Needles and Marblehead Leather craftsmen. These days O'Rama's is there and Marblehead Jewelry since last March , taking over from Annie Dakota Fashions.

At #154 in the Huntz Block was The Bright Idea of Sally and Lesie Bright and Lynn Freeman, Cosmetics and the Casual Shop of Alice Dallaire. The Town Store had children's apparel and Penny Pinchers the kids all enjoyed.

In the #156 building was the Old Town Country Store, Harry Crossman's Bakery, The Rose and Magpie Shop. Now it has Betsy's Clothes and the real estate office of Gerald A. Kaplan and Comapny.
It was in January of 1958 that a Warner Brothers film unit was in town taking scenes for the movie Home Before Dark. Some of the stores were renamed for picture purposes. The Bide-A-Wee was then called Stacey's Confectionary Store, Rose Grey Beauty parlor called Sea View Grille and the Casual Shop renamed Angela Crabtree's Apparel Shop with Crossman's Bakery called Pickering's.
Across the way, at 158, corner of Hooper Street for years was the White's Furniture Store. From 1926-1954 it housed Old Country Antiques operated by Bessie and Ida Jacobs, a busy muffin shop, The Carriage Trade and Marblehead Antiques. Now we have th Russian Shop with a great collection of artifacts from abroad.

Next door was the electrical shop of Edwin Adams Freeto with his family living upstairs. Whidden and Harris, the real estate folk were there at one time, Robbie Sesen and the Christian Science Reading Room. At other times the Cheese Board and Fat Fingers.

Edward J. Boyle at #164 did a thriving business in bicycles in the 1700 building after an extensive restoration of the building, which had been vacant for many years, Susan Wonderly Designs took over. Now it is occupied by Francie Designers.

Further up the street at #170 was The Garden Spot, Inc. run successfully by Gretchen Bishop. Built in 1947 it once had been the art studio of Manley Butler.

Here now we cross Washington Street and head back towards the Old Town House on that side. Years back near the beautiful garden of the Lee Mansion was a long wooden building that housed the Sam Graves Clothing Store.

As all know at 161 the Historical Society in 1909 took over the historic Lee Mansion after some years of having the National and the Savings Banks on the lower floor.

Next door, at #157, we find the old established printing firm of Litchman, now operated by Raymond Orne and son Peter. Everyone it seems knew Ray's Dad Fred who was the ace photographer who took the first aerial shots of the town from a plane. A world traveler in later life he lived to be 102 years of age, passing on in 1993.

Ray and Stella Orne carrying on the family tradition at Litchman's Printing in January, 2000.

Then we see the former Marblehead Savings Bank building. Some years ago they moved on to a new location on Atlantic Avenue. Later Harold Gorman's jewlry shop was there, the Russian shop (now across the street) and Rosalie's Coconuts. Now Attorney-at-Law Ellen A. Peterson has her office on the premises.
The lovely 1756 mansion once owned by Nathaniel Hooper comes next. It was occupied for years by the Mary Fabens Boles family and later by Steven Juvelis. Now it is the home of the town attorney Paul Lausier and family.

Lastly, on our walk this particualr day, we see the dry goods store operated by Thomas W. Tucker years back. Later it was the store of F. P. Plummer, then Ralph W. Coy and then the Finch sisters took over and had their successful shop. Now it is titled Rememberance and has an interesting clientele.

Mr. Wilkinson continued on with his writings of his old home town until his death in late 1999, at the age of 91. Every issue of Marblehead Magazine has his regular contributions. For 22 years he had conducted his weekly Down Memory Lane columns in the Messenger-Reporter and was awarded a certificate of Appreciation by the Town's Improvement Association. Since 1966 his movie columns Looking Hollywood Way have been a feature of Good Old Days Magazine put in Berne, Indiana. His is also a Hall Of Fame Member at Marblehead Magazine, forever.