Friday, March 11, 2011
Pop and Ma Neilson's boarding house and farm was well loved.
In this Then photo you see the Pop and Ma Neilson farm and boarding house known as The Elms. The original house was built around 1827 or the beginning part of the 1800s, date unknown. Christian and Kristine Neilson bought the property in 1904, which included 27 acres that stretched all the way to the now Town Hall, where a mill had been constructed. Before the Neilsons bought the farm, there had been a few owners. Henry Harnden, the same Lt. Colonel of Cavalry Harnden that fought in the Civil War and captured Jefferson Davis, had lived at the farm and operated the mill before heading off to war. The Union Ice Company of Boston had also owned the mill land from 1880 until they sold it to the Neilsons. The Neilsons had three daughters and …
Friday, March 4, 2011
From small to united.
The Then photo here shows the Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington in 1931. The church generally started in Wilmington in 1881, when services for the congregation began at the Ames Hall. This Then photo shows the original chapel, built in 1884 (land for the church was bought just one year prior). In 1889, a small classroom was added to the chapel for Sunday school; and in 1917, after the Roberts family donated money and more land to the church, considerable additions were made to the building (some of which is visible in this Then photo). After WWII ended and the population in Wilmington increased exponentially, so did the congregation size at the Methodist church and in 1952 the church joined up with the Wilmington Council of Churches…
Friday, February 18, 2011
Schooling the children to protecting the town.
In 1894 there were five school buildings in use: the Center (sometimes spelled Centre), North, South, East and West schools. The largest was the Center School which was built in 1888 and demolished in 1980. In 1896, the town built its second multi-room schoolhouse, the Walker School. You can see the school here in the Then picture, standing facing towards Church Street. The town purchased the parcel of land on which to build the school from Mrs. France B. Hiller for $500. At the time, Hiller was probably the town's wealthiest resident and owned a great deal of the surrounding property and buildings. Her first husband's laboratory (now Masonic Hall), her cranberry bog (now Rotary Pond and Rotary Park), her cranberry house (no longer …
Friday, February 11, 2011
From fields of green to wells-a-plenty.
Also known as Brown's Crossing, the Water and Sewer department's location was once the site of a railroad stop. In this Then picture, the department's building was already erected (in 1927-1928). The picture was taken around 1930 and you can see the old Public Works trucks out front, very different from what they look like today. The field behind the building held just one water well and inside the building was only one diesel pump, according to Superintendent Michael Woods. The diesel pumps were changed to electric in the 80s and now the pumps are slower than in previous decades, to push the water to the treatment plants, said Woods. The water is then pushed with high-pressure pumps back out to Wilmington residents. Today, the town of …
Friday, February 4, 2011
After a long time on Church Street, the department moved down the road.
In this Then and Now we take a glimpse into the history of the Wilmington Fire Department. Unlike the Police Department, the Fire Department stayed put for the most part. In this Then photo, taken around 1906, you see one of the first photos of the department ever taken. The Wilmington Fire Department had just formed in 1903 after a Special Town Meeting was called to address the lack of firefighting equipment and abilities of the town. In this meeting, the town voted to form a fire department and give them a house on Church Street, where the Post Office stands today and can be seen in this Now photo. There was also a barn and corral for the firemen's horses built a bit later on. The original Fire Department consisted of 23 volunteer …
Friday, January 28, 2011
The building has not changed too much, but its uses certainly have.
The Arts Council building has changed hands a few times over the course of its life. The building itself is the same it has always been, since around 1845, but the look and use of it has changed substantially. First erected in 1845, the Free Will Baptist Society constructed this building as a place of worship. The congregation and thus church went defunct in the 1860s after the Congregational Church burned to the ground across the street and the town was able to buy the Baptist church’s land for about $1,000. The building was then used as a secondary school until around 1885 and then a Boy and Girl Scout meeting place as well as a Grange Hall. The steeple was removed and the building became Wilmington’s Town Hall. A jail was even added to …
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Where the Boutwell House once stood is now nothing more than a bend in the road.
Boutwell Street was once home to the Boutwell House. Today, all that remains from the historical house is a bend in the road. Built before 1710, the Boutwell House was one of the original settler homes of Wilmington. The original home was later converted into the shed, with the main home being built around 1725. The house was home to ancestors of Massachusetts Gov. George S. Boutwell. It was resided in in the mid to late 1870s, according to town records, but was abandoned by the 1930s. Today, you will find some residential homes, and the Boutwell Early Childhood Center set back, at the intersection of Carter Lane and Boutwell Street, however, the historic home and buildings are long gone.
Friday, December 17, 2010
The land where the Wilmington Memorial Library stands was once the site of the St. Thomas of Villanova Church. In about 1818 the Mission of Augustinian Priests set up a church at this site, 175 Middlesex Avenue. In 1919, His Eminence William Cardinal O'Connell set up the parish as a seperate entity and appointed Rev. Richard A. Boland to lead the parish, which became St. Thomas of Villanova parish. But the priests and Boland needed a place to live, so the church bought up land at the once Thomas D. Bond estate and built their rectory. This location, at 126 Middlesex Avenue, is where the St. Thomas Rectory still stands today. Villanova Hal was built next to the rectory and when Wilmington's population boomed, after WWII, the hall was …
Friday, November 19, 2010
Silver Lake, once a summer retreat for vacationers across the state, is now a local treasure.
Silver Lake was once a very popular summer retreat destination for people in Boston and surrounding areas. Vacationers came up to Silver Lake via a mass-transit train that left them near the lake. Entrepreneurs bought up large tracts of land and split them up, which were turned into summer cottages for all the tourists. Eastern Mass Street Railway Co. organized excursions to Wilmington and soon the area was covered in small cottages. Boats were once for rent off Grove Beach and there was little in the way of proper streets or development. After Wilmington residents cried out about a lack of quality housing, the Silver Lake area was turned into proper residential homes. Today, Silver Lake is a local treasure for sun worshippers and …