Join us on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 6:30-8:30pm in the Pollard Library Meeting Room for our annual meeting and a special program by Kim Zunino on the US Cartridge Company Magazine Explosion!
On July 29, 1903, the Town of Tewksbury was rocked by a major explosion. That morning, two cartridge magazines owned by the U.S. Cartridge Company exploded,killing 22 people, injuring 70 more, and destroying the nearby neighborhood of Riverside Park. News of the event spread across the country, and tourists arrived to see the site en masse. The City of Lowell provided aid to the overwhelmed town, including militia to control the crowds. The magazines were located along the Concord River in what is now South Lowell.
So why were there cartridges holding over 20 tons of black gunpowder and almost a ton of dynamite so close to a populated area? Join us for an in-depth look at the series of events leading up to the explosion and its aftermath
“Praying Town: John Eliot and the Praying Indians” is a documentary film by Zadi Zokou, and will be shown on March 14th in South Acton.
This film has interest to Lowellians as Wamesit, which today is largely in Lowell, was one of Eliot’s praying towns.
More information is available in the flyer here.
In today’s Sun we learned of the passing of Sally Birke – who along with her husband Nathan – owned Birke’s clothing store in downtown Lowell. As noted in obituary ~
“Her awareness of her customers’ likes and dislikes and her sense of style and taste combined with her friendliness and small food treats, won her the affection of a wide variety of people. Often two or three generations from the same family would speak of her with special fondness.”
The Lowell Historical Society would like to offer her fans and customers the opportunity to share a story or fond remembrance of Sally Birke here on the blog in the comment section.
Read the full obituary here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lowellsun/obituary.aspx?n=sally-birke&pid=162090720&fhid=8743#fbLoggedOut
Lowell Historical Society board member and Assistant Administrator Kim Zunino of the Lowell Historic Board gives us more information about the history and fate of the Ames Castle – once located on Prospect Hill in North Tewksbury – in the latest edition of the Lowell Historic Board’s Winter 2013 Newsletter:
Adelbert Ames and His Castle
By Kim Zunino
On Monday in Tewksbury the General Adelbert Ames home, better known as the Ames Castle, was demolished to make way for new development. Looking at the rubble of the home of America’s longest-living Union Civil War general and son-in-law of our own General Benjamin Butler, one can’t help but mourn the loss of yet another historic structure to “progress.” While the loss of the building can and should be felt in Tewksbury, we here in Lowell should also mourn its passing.
Adelbert Ames was not born in Lowell, but his marriage to Blanche Butler in 1870 gave him family ties to the area. His six children were born in Lowell and were active in Lowell’s community. In 1906 he built his 17-room home on Prospect Hill, not far from the Lowell line, with a commanding view of the rural countryside. The castle was built of fieldstone walls and concrete reinforced floors. He spent summers in Tewksbury and winters at Ormand Beach, Florida, where he spent days golfing with his good friend John D. Rockefeller. Ames passed away in 1933 at the age of 91, the last surviving General of the Civil War. He is buried in the private section of the Hildreth Cemetery with his wife and her family.
While the loss of such a historic structure is a tragedy, one can learn from the experience. Lowell lost many historic structures to the wrecking ball before it embraced its history and began preserving pieces of its heritage. The Lowell National Historical Park was created and review districts were established to halt the loss of historic fabric and help plan how the city would develop in the future.
Since history doesn’t stop at municipal boundaries, the loss will echo here and elsewhere. With the loss of shared history, we are like a tree without roots. Shared history is what keeps a community together and working toward a common good. With the loss of such a valuable structure
we can only hope that the leaders and residents of Tewksbury can heed the lesson learned and work toward saving their historic fabric before it is lost.
Read the entire Newsletter here: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=jcl44pbab&v=001iv6lNzjdvpMBGF_FhZdwxdcgHDrtne3mDan_OHqNHnLRX0zITiy4VPiB0HMU5IOfGL6DGLN2A_rRh-d0t9bNjL_LbJpTemKa2ZqFBdNhK-g%3D
After years of wrangling among the town fathers, the Historic Commission and the former owner, the remains of the famous Ames Castle atop a hill in Tewksbury – known now as Catamount Road – are strewn about, as crews tear down the historic estate to make way for 3 new homes. Once the home of Adelbert Ames – an American sailor, soldier, and politician – who served with distinction as a Union Army general during the American Civil War – being deemed historically significant wasn’t enough to save the Castle given it’s recent condition.
Learn more about Adelbert Ames here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelbert_Ames
Photo by Katie Lannan of the Lowell Sun:
Before there was Instagram, there were actual film cameras and photos left to age for decades. As Lowell National Historical Park looks at its 35th birthday, this set of snapshots donated to the Historical Society anonymously is a great insight to a city in flux 30 years ago:
Central Savings Bank and Woolworths ca. 1982
This album is on Facebook, but you can view it even if you are not a member: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.478770402173854.142462.108756882508543&type=1&l=581bae71b7
Enjoy, share, and don’t forget we are a volunteer nonprofit and depend on your donations and membership to keep material like this coming!
Our friend and Lowell Historical Society colleague Ryan Owen over at “Forgotten New England” offers us an interesting glimpse in to a forgotten but important occupation in Lowell and elsewhere from back in the Victorian era.
Lamplighters turned night into day. A staple of the urban Victorian streetscape, the nostalgic image persists of a lone man, walking a darkening city street as dusk descended behind him, extending his staff to ignite each dark, cold lamp stem to life with a small flame. He would light the way along the lonely city lanes, so that those who were out after dark would not lose their way…
Read the full account here: http://forgottennewengland.com/2012/11/22/past-occupations-lamplighters-in-lowell-massachusetts/
The Lowell Historical Society is constantly receiving artifacts from people around the country. While it would be an impossible task to share them all out with the world, we like to share a few of our more recent acquisitions.
Recently, an 80-year-old woman who moved from Lowell to Vermont in the 1950s sent us a box of newspapers and panoramas. One of them was this George Russell that will celebrate its 100th birthday in a few more years.
Click the thumbnail to view the full (4.5 MB) image:
And a tagged version
Our friends at St. Patrick’s, historian Dave McKeon and the Ancient Order of Hibernians have just announced their Fall tour of St. Patrick’s Cemetery:
Join us for our
Annual Historical Walking Tour of St.. Patrick Cemetery
Saturday, October 6th at
St. Patrick Cemetery
1251 Gorham Street, Lowell, MA.
Find out how the first generation of Irish pioneers
lived and died. The tour is free of charge.
Coffee and refreshments will be provided at 9:30 AM
next to the office area at the main gate entrance.
10:00 A.M. Hibernian Dedication Ceremony
10:30 A.M. Historical Walking Tour
Tour goes on rain or shine.
Wear comfortable walking shoes.