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brackett st, early
Looking up Brackett Street

In this age of automobile mobility and changing scenery, it is nice to look back on an era when life was stable and everyone knew their neighbors and neighborhoods.   [See the ‘People, Places and Events’ page for an article about ‘Remembering Brown Street 1930s to 1940s’.]  

The Society recently received this beautiful photograph, taken before the construction of William Clarke Drive, and labeled ‘Brackett Street’.  At the same time, we received an article entitled  “Memories of More than 65 years of old Brackett Street, Saccarappa Village.”   The article is unsigned but due items in its contents, it was probably written around the turn of the Century by Albert H. Parker.  It is a long narrative, describing in detail the street, neighborhood, and people; some of the writer’s memories are written below.

“Going one morning up to the “Village” as many of the older residents  still call that part of the town, I noticed that the wonderful century-old elms were being cut down. These trees were on the Main street just opposite Brackett Street…. The beautiful old trees made a very pretty setting for old Brackett Street. The memories of over sixty years seemed to come to me and I could see the old street as when I was a child…. I saw the old church on the left [Westbrook Congregational Church]. This church was built in 1832…[here he goes on to describe the interior of the church; see the ‘Photos Archives to see pictures of the interior of the church]….

“Brackett Street was laid out by Zachariah Brackett and named for him. His son, Sewell Brackett built the brick block on the right hand corner and carried on the tin business, making all kinds of tin ware and selling stoves... 

“…back of the church was the little house…owned and occupied by the Coolbroth ladies, three sisters, girls they were always called.  One was the wife of Leander Valentine…teacher in the little red schoolhouse [and later first Mayor of Westbrook]…. [one of the houses on Brackett Street] was the home of Rev. Mr. Stout, a Methodist minister, and of Rev. Mr. Whitcher of the Baptist faith……the big double house next to the track was owned by Captain Isaac Quimby and my father, Joshua G. Parker…

…what a wonderful jubilee we had when the news came that General Lee had surrendered to General Grant and the war was practically ended… followed by the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln… The windows of all the homes on Brackett Street expressed their grief….”


And so the writer's memories go, giving us a wonderful taste of days gone by!

References: See House Survey and Neighborhoods notebooks at the Westbrook Historical Society
All photographs and information is taken from the Westbrook Historical Society archives, unless otherwise noted.
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