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Cutter & Finishing Crew 1885
Dana, Woodbury K.
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Decemvir Club
Electricity arrives in Westbrook
Electic cars come to Westbrook
Fire Department
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Forest Street School
Glass Plate Slides
Haskell Silk Mill
Highland Lake Grange No. 87
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Let it Snow!
Looking Down Mechanic Street
Main Street 1925, Revisited
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Minstrel Show Movie Theater
Native Heritage
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Paper City Lunch
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Portland Woodenware Co.
Post Card
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"Other" White House
Swimming Pool
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S.D. Warren Machins shop Crew 1888
S.D. Warren Stack
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Solar Eclipse 1932
State Class L Basketball Champions 1951
Stephen W. Manchester Post #62
St. Hyacinth School
Summer Time
This Old House
Walker Memorial Library
Warren Congregational Church
Westbrook 200
Westbrook Centennial 1914
Westbrook Concert Band
Westbrook Electric Co.
Westbrook Garage & Machine Co.
Westbrook Inn
Westbrook Opera House
Winter Fun

 
     
 
WESTBROOK'S OTHER WHITE HOUSE
   

WHITE HOUSE




   

For those readers out there who worked at the S.D. Warren paper mills, I'm sure they will remember the monthly company publication the Warren Standard. This 'newspaper' was printed on a beautiful glossy paper and contained a wealth of information about the paper industry, the employees and the city of Westbrook.

A couple of months ago, the Photo of the Month was about the Westbrook Inn, or White House, as some called it. For those with a mill connections, the photo seen above, is the White House they remember.

This photo, and the photos below, were in Vol. 19, No.7, 1969 Warren Standard. The title was "Then and Now". The script follows below:

"Then, the 130-year-old White House [seen above]-- known as the "Goodell" house -- served the Company for many years during which it was used for various office purposes.

During the summer in 1968, a new main-office building was completed, the former main-office building was renovated and given a new name -- The Gate House -- and down came the White House!

Now, a new guard station has been built where once the White House stood. [see photo below] The balance of the space has become a most welcome expansion of the office parking lot. Newly paved, with a raised blacktop foot walk, attractively planted with evergreens and vines, fenced in with wrought-iron fence and entrance and exit gates, the "now" approach to the main offices presents an attractive and functional look."

 
SDW whitehouse
Before
WHITE HOUSE2
After
 
NOTE: The Westbrook Historical Society has a near-complete collection of the Warren Standard, as well as a vast collection of other mill ephemera.
 
     
 
THE APASUNTA CLUB
   

apasunta




   

Standing, left to right: Rose Webber. Mrs.Edna Webber (daughter-in-law to Rose, sister-in-law to Geraldine), ?Hazel Chambers, Neta Fielding Manchester, Ella Sawyer Barber, Wilhelmina Scholl, Ada Hawkes (sister-in-law of Harriet Clark), Belle Wheeler, Harriet Clark, Marion Noiles, ??, Eva Aube
Seated, left to right: Mildred Chase, Mrs. Stewert, Kathy Dunfield, Geraldine Webber Bickford (her mother, Rose Belle Webber is standing in back), Katherine Thompson, Mrs Verna Jones, ??, Dorothy Gordon
[names updated Nov. 2014 thanks to Roland Hawkes & Nancy Curran]

 
   

Since last month was devoted to a men's club, it is only fitting that this month we look at a women's organization.

The Ap-a-sun-ta Club was started by Kathy Thompson Nichols Jones, for the purpose of getting the women of Pride's Corner together. Her daughter, Arlene Dunfield Bean, was a Camp Fire Girl and her campfire name was "Apasunta", which means "Greater Beauty". Kathy felt this was a fitting name for the women's club, which met in members' homes. [We do not know when the club was started or when it ceased to be. If you have any information, please contact the Westbrook Historical Society. ]

The picture of the Apasunta Club was sent to the Historical Society a few years ago by Geraldine Webber's granddaughter. She also sent a photo of the Grain & Feed Co. which was on the corner of Bridgton Road and Brook Street in Pride's Corner. It was owned by her great grandfather, Walter Webber. *The general store (larger building in the older photo) was destroyed by fire in the 1940s and was replaced by the building seen here on the right. The grain and feed building on the left side of the store, survived the fire and was later replaced by the current structure. * [later information supplied by Roland Hawkes]


 
AP2 302&Brooka
 
Yesterday .................................................2012
 
     
 
THE DECEMVIR CLUB
   

decemvir




   

Back: Harry W. Saunders, Richard J. Libby, Stephen E. Cordwell, Horace H. Towle, H.J.R. Tewksbury
Front: Josiah D. Winship, Luther Dana, Paul Huss Smith, Oscar A. Fick, Ralph W. Haskell
[NOTE: Photograph taken after the death of charter member Rev.Jonas Taylor, who died in 1921. Oscar Fick replaced him.]

 
   

Clubs, societies and organizations are in every area of the country, but the Westbrook’s Decemvir Club was a most unique organization. It was the 'brain child' of Joe Winship and H.J.R. Tewksbury, who decided to form a small business man's club. Its uniqueness lay in the fact that it consisted of ten members, engaged in ten different lines of business, and it met ten times a year.   The first meeting was January 13, 1921 and held at the so-called White House. [See last month’s article about the Westbrook Inn or “White House”.]

The charter members were: the Rev. Jonas Taylor of the Warren Church; Stephen E. Cordwell of S.D. Warren Mills; Luther Dana of the Dana Warp Mills; Ralph W. Haskell of the Haskell Silk Mills; Harry W. Saunders of the Saunders Dowel Mill; Richard J. Libby, Superintendent of Schools; Paul Huss Smith, Merchants; H.J.R. Tewksbury, Press; Horace H. Towle, Law, and Josiah D. Winship, Real Estate.  When the Rev. Jonas Taylor suddenly died, five months after the organization of the club, Oscar Fick was chosen to fill the vacant spot.

The Decemvir Club’s meetings were on the second Wednesday of each month, from September to June, and held in a member’s home. A different member entertained at the meetings by presenting a paper, followed by an informal discussion. Not much is found about the contents of these presentations, except for one newspaper article which mentions they were "of a very high order.”  It tells of a paper written by Rev. Jonas Taylor, and presented at the first meeting; its title was The Art of Conversation.  Subjects of other presentations were Daniel Webster, the Romance of General Knox, and an amusing sermonette given by Luther Dana.  If only these papers had been preserved for us to read today!

One amusing news article preserved at the Historical Society is titled Decemvir Ladies Dine.  It seems that club members expected their wives to provide a supper at each of the meetings. Apparently, after awhile, the wives got tired of this arrangement and announced that there would be “a strike next fall unless the men came across and gave them a good time this summer”.  Rather than see their club come to an untimely end, the men took their ladies out to Gray Rock, Dingley’s Island, and gave them a banquet and 'thank you' gifts.  Needless to say, the strike was called off and the club continued, at least through 1942 when Harry W. Saunders wrote a history of the club. It also seems that the 'Ladies' Outing' became a yearly event!

 
decemvir clock
 
A beautiful piece of memorabilia, related to the Decemvir Club, was recently donated to the Historical Society. It is a wooden,10 inch, facsimile of a clock, once belonging to Oscar Fick who was one of the earliest members of the Club. The time of 7 o'clock relates to the time of the monthly meetings but a big question is...what does that little red bug on the right side stand for? Any ideas?
 
  References: The Decemvir Club of Westbrook, Maine by Harry E. Saunders & various news clippings
See articles about other Westbrook organizations in the Photo of the Month Archives and in the Newsletters

 
     
 
THE WESTBROOK INN
   

WESTBROOK INN




   

The "White House" at Cumberland Mills was once home to several generations of the Larrabee family. It later became the Westbrook Inn, a "public resort of ill repute." . There was a story that the Rev. Parson Bradley once stopped in and found a gambling game going on. He scooped up all the money and took it with him for his church. The life of this White House was short since the S.D. Warren Company bought it to rid the community of its bad influence. They moved the building to its present location at 36 Cumberland Street and converted it into a company boarding house. It later became a hotel and is now an apartment building. It still bears the Westbrook Inn sign. This old post card shows the railroad or trolley tracks just to the left of the building; a brick apartment building is now between the Inn and the tracks.

The Westbrook Inn (aka The White House at Cumberland Mills) was originally built on a tract of land on lower Main Street opposite present day City Hall. The original building was only one story and built by an early settler named David Small. Benjamin Larrabee of Portland acquired this house and sixty acres of land and he sold the house which was moved to Cumberland Mills. It is said that the S.D. Warren Company purchased the building and greatly enlarged it to serve as a boarding house for some of it’s workers. There are no dates given of when the house was built, moved or expanded. S.D. Warren purchased the Mill in 1854 so maybe 1880’s was when the Mill acquired it.  

In an old Trade Journal it was stated that the Inn "established in October 1905 in close proximity to the business center, is a most home-like hostelry, and has a good reputation for excellence of service ...There are 30 nicely furnished sleeping rooms, with hot and cold water, electric lights and steam heat. The dining room seats 60 people...The rates are one dollar and a half per day...Five people are employed."

In 2007, when the St. Hyacinth Historical Society disbanded, they donated the "Bell-Hop", (seen below) to the Westbrook Historical Society. This type of front desk bell was used in inns and hotels. By pushing on the flange at the base of the clapper, the clapper springs back and hits the bell. This would notify the hotel personnel that someone was at the desk.

 
   

INN BELL

 
    References: Highlights of Westbrook History, compiled by Ernest Rowe: Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook, compiled by Karen Ketover  
     
 
FOREST STREET SCHOOL
   

cheerleadersFSS
                               FOREST STREET SCHOOL 1949  CHEERLEADERS
Front: Wanda Christensen, Frances Stackie, Virginia Nash, Sally Percival, Marilyn Pennell, Janet Manchester
Back: Richard Levesque, Diane McKinley, Ann Blodgett, Shirley Kinmond, Amarylis Blake, James Johnson




   

The following information was supplied by Sally Percival Knigh regarding the above photo:  “Oh yes, the Forest Street School Cheerleaders - We wore red skirts & bows - All 8th graders, we cheered the boys’ basketball games, mostly against Bridge Street,  in Cumberland gym (no gymnastics back in ’49) and no girl’s games. I think Virginia could twirl the baton and became the leader”

Ever start one project and get side-tracked to something else? Well, that happened with this photo. The Society is always happy to receive school photos, especially with names attached, so when we received this one I started to file it in the appropriate Forest Street School notebook …we have 3 pertaining to this school! 

Lo and behold, I found more information about Forest Street School than I realized we had.  During its 8oth ‘Birthday’ Celebration, in 1974, Marion McFarland compiled a history of the school.  Marion had been a teacher at Forest Street from 1932 - 1972, so was well versed in the subject. [To see full text, click  HERE]

In 1984, Jr. High students at the Forest Street School Enrichment Center, came up with the following time line for the school:
            1894 - School was built
            1899 - Eight rooms completed and put into use
            1912 - First drinking fountains installed
            1914 - First piano purchased
            1917 - Electric lights installed
            1923 - Library started
            1927 - Rooms divided in two with barriers
            1952 - Dewey Decimal System set up for library
            1968 - Hot lunches offered
            1974 - 52 students transfer to Congin School
            1983 - School Closed

            1984 - Enrichment Center

 
   

FSS
Forest Street School, corner of Main & Forest Street, Westbrook, ME

 
     
 
FIRST MEETING HALL
   

WESTBROOK MEETING HALL
Westbrook's First Meeting Hall in Deering, Corner of Brighton and Stevens Avenue




   

When the area now known as Westbrook was set off from Falmouth in 1814, a new town named Stroudwater was incorporated. However, this name did not meet the approval of the majority of the inhabitants, so three months later the name was changed to Westbrook, in honor of Col. Thomas Westbrook. At that time the town boundaries included Woodfords, Stroudwater and Deering (which extended as far as the Forest Avenue entrance to Deering Oaks) and was in the District of Maine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, since Maine did not become an independent  State until 1820.

Archelaus Lewis, Justice of Peace, called the first town meeting, before the name was changed to Westbrook, at the meeting house in Stroudwater.  In 1820 town meetings were held in the First Parish Meeting House on Capisic Street, later known as the Parson Bradley Church.  In 1830 when the town was no longer allowed to use that facility they arranged with the Universalist Society to use their chapel on Stevens Avenue for town meetings. Soon it was voted to build a town house on Riverside Street near Warren Avenue, which at that time was the geographical center of the town.  Since the meetings were held in March when heavy snow often covered the roads, the town soon realized that this site was not ideal and the building was sold. Later meetings were probably held in the Saccarappa section of town.     

 
   

This information, as well as early maps of Westbrook boundaries, lists of Westbrook Post Masters and Town and City Clerks, can be found in the updated Westbrook Mayors book, now on sale at the Society and on our 'Gift' page.

 
     
 
RIVER BANK PARK
   

riverbank1




   

On May 28th 1914 a clipping in a local newspaper reported that  “…a huge bowlder (sic), which will form the center of the entrance to Riverbank, the new park which will be dedicated during the centennial celebration, was placed in position. The bowlder was secured at Rocky Hill and hauled to Riverbank during the day yesterday. Before the centennial the bowler will be properly inscribed as a permanent monument to the centennial.”

That boulder can be seen in this beautiful old post card of Riverbank  Park. The Park was dedicated on June 9, 1914, the last day of celebration of the Centennial of the Incorporation of the Town of Westbrook.  One would think that the park site was selected because it was located midway between the east and west ends of the city.* The name of the park was suggested by the Honorable John E. Warren. Mr. Warren had a pathway built from the old swimming pool along the bank of the Presumpscot River to the grounds of Riverbank Park. In order that no building enterprise could destroy the plans he had made, he bought, and held for many years, the land which eventually became the park, paying the taxes and finally selling it to the city for the original purchase price.

In the 1915 first annual report of the Trustees of Riverbank Park, then under the management of the Cemetery trustees, they commented that the park was the “one spot in our city dedicated for the benefit and recreation of all our citizens.”

A Monument Association was formed as a result of the 100th year anniversary. Their purpose was to raise funds and plan a design for a monument to honor all of Westbrook’s veterans, at that time, the veterans of the Civil War.  On July 4, 1917, Mayor O.G. K. Robinson accepted the 8-foot bronze soldier in Civil War uniform, atop its 9½ -foot base of Barre granite.  Mr. & Mrs. Woodbury Dana donated the statue and it was designed by sculpturess Alice Ruggles Kitson of Quincy, MA.  The town paid $500 for the base, partly paid by school children who purchased shares in the Monument Association  at 10 cents a share.

Judging from this information, the post card must have shown Riverbank around 1915-1916, after the boulder was placed and before the monument was dedicated.  The Park has been changed over the years: new monuments to veterans and events , houses torn down, trees planted, but with such a history, it is no surprise that Riverbank Park is still a very vital spot and is probably the most used park in the City.

*One older Westbrook citizen remembers her father relating that the area where the park is now, then empty land, was the dividing line between Cumberland Mills and Saccarappa Village; a line that boys of the two villages hesitated to cross. 

 
   

riverbank2 riverbank3

 
     
 

WOODBURY K. DANA

   

W.K. DANA
Woodbury K. Dana, circa 1900


   

A town or city is built on its citizens. So, during Westbrook’s bicentennial year as a town, it may be advantageous to take a brief look at a few of our early citizens.

W. K. Dana is one person who comes to mind when thinking of early Westbrook. “When one’s eyes fall upon the words Dana Warp Mills, the name Woodbury K. Dana instantly is spoken for he is the Dana Warp Mills”, so commented Judge Fabius M. Ray in an early article about Dana Mills.

Born on June 7, 1840 to prominent Portland citizens, Woodbury Kidder Dana attended private and public schools in Portland, then graduated from the Lewiston Falls Academy (later named Edward Little High School).  At this point he knew he wanted to enter into business, preferably one of his own.  After an early business adventure failed due to his lack of experience, he worked in Lewiston and Gray mills, gaining experience in the manufacturing of cod lines and bags and bunch yarn, 2 products which would later become staples of his Westbrook mill. He gave little regard to the stigma of the son of a prominent businessman becoming a laborer in the cotton trade.  He obviously felt he had to start at the ground level in order to learn his business. 

Mr. Dana was a religious man who read the Bible through at least once a year. It was written in a family biography that he spent several evenings a week going into homes of fellow employees and teaching them to read, write, and do arithmetic. He purchased books and supplies and taught them elementary studies.  This characteristic of caring  would be reflected in the treatment of his employees throughout his business career.

In September 1863 he enlisted in the 29th Me. during the Civil War. He served in Texas, Louisiana and Virginia.  He was discharged in 1865 and was named department commander of the Maine G.A.R. in June 1865. 

After the war Mr. Dana was ready to begin his life work as an independent manufacturer.  In 1866, with Thomas McEwan, he formed the Dana & McEwan Company at Saccarappa Falls; its purpose was the manufacturing of cotton warps. After a few years, Mr. Dana bought Mr. McEwan’s interest in the company and shortened its name to Dana Mills.    Within seven years, the mill had grown so large that it had to move into larger building on Main Street, then six years later it moved to the Island at the Falls.

The character of the man who made the goods was stamped on the goods themselves. They were made with honor and of a high standard; for years they sold themselves.  The quality of his product was due to the used of the best-known appliances, skilled labor, and intelligent supervision.  He valued his employees in an era when this was not always the case. He encouraged his employees to experiment in the Company’s machine shop and generously recognized the results of their efforts and their skills.

He served as an alderman in his adopted city, was President of Mallison Power Company, and a trustee of the Walker Memorial Library.

When interview in 1976, Miss Marion Dana, a niece, stated that “Mr. Dana was very much loved, and at…[the 50th anniversary of the founding of the mill]… in 1916, everyone turned out. Thousands of people came, and they celebrated by a parade….”  She relates that the mill employees gave him a diamond stick pin as a token of their affection.    

With its closure in 1958, The Dana Mill ended its 91 year history (1887 – 1958) in Westbrook.
 
 

 

To read more about W. K. Dana and the Dana Mills, see: Highlights of Westbrook History; Interview with Miss Marion Dana; Woodbury Kidder Dana, a Biographical Sketch; Fabius M. Ray's History of Westbrook.

 
     
 

WINTER FUN ON THE SCHOOL BARGE

   

winter


   

Let it snow…let it snow…let it snow!  Maybe we don’t feel this way in this cold winter of 2014, but “back in the old days”, when life was simpler and didn’t offer as many options as today, winter was seen as wonderful time for outdoor activities.  Ice skating on the pond, sliding down the local hill and going for a sleigh ride, were greatly anticipated events.  

The Historical Society has many old photographs of winter activities and snow cleanups.     

In this photograph, a group of young people are going on a sleigh ride…maybe an old time school bus?* Hopefully it was not too cold out that day since the boys are not wearing mittens and, even though most of them are wearing hats, their ears are bare.   The few girls in the wagon are wearing warm knitted hats and scarfs.   But the one thing they all have in common, they all seem to be enjoying a sunny, winter day.

 
    *This is a photo of "The School Barge", according to Margaret Hawkes St. Pierre. Her father, the late Rev. Kenneth C. Hawkes, told her that the barge was driven by Mr. Woodbury and was stored for many years in the barn at Duck Pond on Rte. 304. Later the barge was moved to Smiling Hill Farm.  
     
 

WESTBROOK - 200 YEARS

   

CM1914a
Warren Block in Cumberland Mills, 1914
(Circular sign: "Westbrook Centennial")


   

        In this year of 2014, we will celebrate the Bicentennial of the Incorporation of the Town of Westbrook. In 1914 the celebration of the Centennial encompassed one week of festivities, and old photographs show the bunting decorated store fronts on the Westbrook businesses.   With the celebrating to come in June 2014, it is good to look back and try to imagine what life was like when Westbrook was in its infancy. 
       The years leading up to Westbrook’s Incorporation were filled with hardship, brought on by both National upheaval and primitive conditions.  The War of 1812 resulted in the United States being infested with British cruisers, from Eastport to Mississippi, and causing a state of blockade.  Provisions were so scarce that imported articles, even flour and bread, commanded extravagant prices. Without local harvests or imported foodstuffs, Westbrook must have suffered heavily.  Black markets flourished. Supplies were so dear that pork went for $50 a barrel. Coffee, molasses, brandy and tea prices skyrocketed in 1813, often doubling from the pre-war cost. Prices did not return to normal until 1815.
        The winter of 1815, the first for the Town of Westbrook, recorded heavy frosts throughout the area. Frost was reported upon the window panes in July and most all crops were ruined. At that time the people were so dependent upon the local soil for sustenance that they were obliged to resort to game meat and fish; other foods could only be purchased as a luxury.
       On the brighter side, paradoxically, while the blockade injured seacoast areas, it helped manufacturing grow inland.  Thirty new companies were incorporated in Maine in 1814. Westbrook could easily have enjoyed this manufacturing boom — thirty-one local business concerns were assessed that year.
          Adding to the hardships of this war was the fact that Maine's heart wasn't in it. In 1814 the    "United States" were not, in fact, united in spirit.  Massachusetts was thinking of seceding; and we must remember that at the time of Westbrook’s Incorporation it was a town in the District of Maine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  On June 9, 1814, the very day of Westbrook's incorporation, proof of the sentiments of Massachusetts, appeared in an article in a major local newspaper, the Portland Argus:

         “Advices have been received .... of a proclamation issued by the
             government of  Massachusetts……

          “By this proclamation it is asserted that Massachusetts withdraws
           herself
from all participation of the war, and declares her amity towards
           England. It is also said that English prisoners in that state have been liberated
           and means been taken to effect a perfect conciliation with this country (England)."

          If in 1814 the Nation was primitive politically, it was equally primitive domestically. "Chains, shackles and ring bolts" were standard equipment at the County House (jail). At home, "homespun clothing was generally worn by all classes. The girls were taught the art of spinning and weaving, and if they were adept in this art, coupled with that of cooking, it was considered their highest accomplishment to meet the duties of wife and mother."  
         1814 is a significant  year in Westbrook history; but it is also a year that will long be remembered in our nation's history. For it was after a night-long battle, when the haze and smoke of the cannons had finally cleared, that ...our flag was revealed intact at the battle of Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, Maryland. On that September morning, in 1814, Francis Scott Key, a prisoner aboard ship in the harbor, dashed off most of the verses of our immortal Star-Spangled Banner!
          As these words shows, we have come a long way since Westbrook became a town.

 
 
banner
Centennial Banner which hangs in the Westbrook Historical Society
 

auto1914
Auto and Girl Scout floats

centennial14


Saccarappa Grange float

 
     
 
THE MACHINE SHOP
   

SDmill88




   

Machine Shop 1888
Front row, left to right: Ed Randell, H. Barber, Geo. Melcher
2nd row: Jim Fisk, Dana Plummer, Geo. Graham, Clark Morton, Frank Murray
3rd row: Ruben Holsten, Geo. Hallowell, Andrew Cloudman, Geo. Morrill (foreman), Ed. Richardson, Chas Morrill,
Simon Elder
Back row: Fred Naylor, Dave Hannaway, Sam Hallowell, Ed Hale, Ed Hamblen

 
   

This great photograph of the S.D. Warren Machine Shop crew of 1888, is from our S.D. Warren Collection. Throughout the years, the Warren mill preserved many of their workers and departments in hundreds of photographs. This was probably due to the fact that they published a workers' newspaper, in later years called the Warren Standard. Those of us who had family members working there, remember the paper printed on mill glossy paper, full of pictures and interesting article about the employees.

This picture is representative of most of the worker photographs ...the men proudly showing off for the camera, work tools proudly displayed ...notice the wrench and hammer, instruments of their trade.

Another good feature of the Warren photographs is that names are usually included,again, because of the printing of the photos into the newsletter. But whatever the reasons for the pictures and their labeling, they remain for our pleasure all these 100 plus years later.

NOTE: Names were copied as they were spelled on the photograph

 
     
 
THE CONANT / WARREN HOUSE
   

conant




   

Isabel T.Ray, in her Historical Sketch of Westbrook, commented that "it is not known with any degree of accuracy on what date the first white man settled within the limits of what is now known as the City of Westbrook….what settlers came did not remain …probably the earliest settler here of whom we have any record was Joseph Conant", who came from Beverly, MA with his brother Samuel. They were the great grandsons of Roger Conant, first settler and Governor of Naumkeg, now Salem.

The year of the Conants arrival in this area is not known but in 1728 two lots of land in the area were assigned to him. The Conants ran a saw mill & grist mill on the falls at Saccarappa and were also farmers. Some of Joseph's descendants settled in the Highland Lake area of Westbrook. Samuel married Mary Peabody and it is from this family that Conant Street was named.

This old photograph, from the Warren Library Collection, shows the old Conant homestead on Park Hill. It was built by Samuel Conant and at one time was considered to be one of the oldest houses in Westbrook. The renowned sculptor Benjamin Paul Akers, creator of the Pearl Diver, was born here.

The Warren family took title of the property from the Conant family and the property had several other owners before it became vacant and fell into a dilapidated state. The House was destroyed by fire sometime around 1915.

 
   

Const.-Conant
Presumpscot Elect Co. under construction in 1907 ...Park Hill and the Conant House can be seen in background

 
     
 

COLONEL THOMAS WESTBROOK

   

ColWestbrook
Stone marking site of Colonel Thomas Westbrook's grave




   

June 9, 2014 will mark the Bicentennial of the Incorporation of Westbrook.  In 1988, Mayor Philip Spiller (1922 - 2005) was contacted for information on the origin of the name ‘Westbrook’ and for some details about our City. Some of his responses, as well as information taken from “Letters of Colonel Thomas Westbrook”  give a history of our City and its namesake.

 
 

Westbrook was named in honor of Colonel Thomas Westbrook, an early Indian Scout in the Province of Maine (when Maine was still a part of Massachusetts) who in 1727 became Mast Agent for the Royal Navy at old Falmouth. It was named June 9, 1814, 70 years after the death of Col. Westbrook.   Col. Westbrook was remembered as being the first of the area's great Colonial entrepreneurs, a visionary businessman.  It has been suggested but not documented, that the name was brought to the attention of select­men by a member of the family descending from the Colonel's sister, Mary Westbrook Knight.

Although his home was in Portsmouth, NH, Col. Westbrook was an Indian scout and fighter in the Maine area as early as 1704.  He did not come to live in Maine until 1710 and  is recorded as living in Scarborough by 1719. His brother-in-law, Nathan Knight, an agent and contractor for Col. Westbrook, also lived in that town.

In 1727 Col. Westbrook permanently settled at Stroudwater and was admitted as a citizen and proprietor of the town of Falmouth. He had received an appointment as the King's Mast Agent and he found Stroudwater the place best suited to his needs because the nearby Saccarappa area was already deeply involved in lumbering.

 
   

In 1718 the Town of Falmouth had been incorporated and covered a very large area of land on Casco Bay, the Fore River and Presumpscot River; but as business community centers emerged, citizens chose to carve out separate towns with separate leadership: Cape Elizabeth in 1765; Portland in 1786; and West-brook in 1814. Westbrook was separated from the town of old Falmouth in 1814; and within its boundaries was the village of Stroudwater on the Fore River where Col. Westbrook had settled.

At the first town meeting on March 14, 1814, the name "Stroudwater" was chosen for the new town, but within 3 months the name was changed to Westbrook to honor the Colonel. (The Town of Westbrook became the City of Westbrook in 1891 when Leander Valentine was elected the first Mayor under a mayor-council form of government.) 

  During Col. Westbrook's military service he became well acquainted with, and joined into business ventures with Brig. Gen. Samuel Waldo. Waldo later took him to court and, through shrewd legal procedures, stripped Westbrook of his land and money.  The Colonel’s financial losses, combined with impaired health caused a rapid decline in his health and he died in debt in February, 1744, leaving a wife and daughter.

It was Col. Westbrook's family who decided to bury his body secretly because it was then the custom for any creditors to hold the body for settlement of outstanding claims. No one was sure for 232 years exactly where the old Colonel's body was laid to rest.                  

 
   

Roger Knight, a descendent of Nathan Knight, had been told that a rock framed mound located in the woods of his family farm was the grave of Col. Westbrook.  In 1976, the Country’s Bicentennial,  Mr. Knight invited the Westbrook Historical Society to excavate the site on the property and Col. Westbrook’s remains were found there along with a metal plaque with part of Westbrook's name showing and a hinge and small steel oval that could possibly have been a piece of his belt buckle. The stone and plaque shown here now marks the burial site which is located just over the Scarborough line on the Knight farm.




 
   

 

To the right is a copy of the King's Broad Arrow or King's Mark. Col. Westbrook's men would stamp trees with this mark to signify that the tree belonged to the King and would be cut and sent to England for use for ships' masts. Of course these were the best trees with the largest diameters, 24" or larger, and selected for the King's Navy.


This is the significance behind the Westbrook schools'
teams being call "BLUE BLAZES"

BLAZES
   
     
 

CATHOLIC ACTION CRUSADERS CLUB

   

crus
This is a photograph of the Catholic Action Crusaders Clubhouse on the corner of Lincoln and Bridge Streets. The building was originally used as the office for   the executive and clerical staff of the Haskell Silk Mill until purchased by the Crusaders in 1939.




   

The Catholic Action Crusaders Club of St. Hyacinthe Church was comprised of male youth, 16 years old and up, from the Westbrook parish.  The Crusaders were formed on April 12, 1937 when a young curate, Father Adrien Casavant, encouraged  twelve baseball players to form a catholic action movement. Within four months the original membership of twelve rose to the astounding number of one hundred and thirty-six. The parishioners rallied behind their young men and patronized every enterprise of the new Crusaders.  These endeavors included baseball, basketball and hockey teams, as well as light dramatic presentations and minstrel shows. The Crusaders baseball team won the 1938 Westbrook Twilight League championship.

Upon joining, the young parishioners learned the purpose and expectations of the organization:
"This club is an organization of catholic young men grouped together in order
    to promote good clean social, athletic, intellectual, and religious activities.

"Of a Crusader, we expect one thing: to be a gentleman. We expect him to live
    a good clean decent life
and to do nothing that will bring shame and dishonor
    upon
himself, his family, his religion or his club.
“We expect him to be a man of honor and a good sport. We want him to be
    friendly with all his fellow
members and to be courageous and gentlemanly…
“If you follow these simple rules of a Crusader, you'll be an honor to yourself, your country and your religion…..”

Within a few years of its formation, the church members decided that the boys needed a place of their own where they could meet and group together. The club president, Raymond Morin, and his aides found a suitable location and building, the old offices of the Haskell Silk Mill. Father Casavant and Armand LeBlanc took upon themselves the task of secur­ing the purchase money and a Corporation to oversee the adventure was formed from leading men of the parish.

Thus, by early 1940 the Catholic Action Crusaders were proud possessors of one of the best club­houses in the state. In a news article at that time, the building was described as such:
 “On the first floor of the 42 by 35 foot, two story structure, will be a large social room with a fireplace, a library with another fireplace, a trophy room, directors' office, a large reception hall and a pool and game room. The entire second floor will be given over to a gymnasium with a boxing ring and apparatus. The building will be completely air con­ditioned and indirect lighting will be installed. It will be finished in a modernistic style.”
Youngsters, by the dozens, flocked to the membership committee seeking admission, a comfort­ing fact for those who had labored hard to make their organization enviable to all catholic youth.

     By the fifties membership in the club was waning and the building was sold to the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1951. In 1958 a fire in the building greatly altered its outside appearance.

 
   

crusaders2
Ray Morin proudly shows off his Crusader
Drum & Bugle Corps uniform

crusaders
Crusaders New England Baseball Champions
Front: Jules Bernier, Roger Belanger, Gerard Fefevre, Conrad Poitras,
Roger Aucoin, Albert Doyle
Back: Adrian Cote, Aime Daniel, Bill Aube, Red Francoeur (manager),
Rev. Casavant, Jimmy Morris, Arrthue Bernier, Roland Fredette,
Camile Brochu

 
     
 

WESTBROOK HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL TEAM 1951

   

whsbaseb51
First row, left to right: Coach Frederick Harlow, Malcolm Roma, Philip Buotte, Robert MacHardy, William Cary,
Ronald LaBrecque,Ronald Johnson
Second row, left to right: Manager Richard Robinson, Robert Barrows, Donald Fogg, Wayne Worcester, Armand Caron,
Jackie Gaudette, Peter Grondin, John Johnson, Asst. Manager Lawrence Rousseau
Third row, left to right: Richard Landry, Josiah Morse, Maurice Harvey, Richard Fortin, Lawr4ence Robichaud, Edward Poitras, Robert Bernier, Erlon Knight




   

Little did this team know that when they won the Telegram League and State Championship in 1951, that it would be FIFTY-THREE years before Westbrook would ever capture another such titile!

Below is the team information as it appeared in the Westbrook High School yearbook The Blue & White 1952:

 

The Westbrook High baseball season of 1951 was really successful. Our team captured the Telegram League and State Championship.

When we entered the final game with South Portland, we had a 12-3 record and were tied with the Capers for first place. We won the game 4-3 in ten innings behind Bill Cary, ace moundsman. The winning play turned out to be the "double-squeeze" which Coach Harlow had had the boys practicing all year.

We drew a bye in the first round of the State Tournament and faced South Portland again in the second round. With another close game expected, a large crowd turned out. Cary again held the Capers and we pounded out a 7-1 victory. With South Portland out of the way, we faced Lewiston. Cary went to the mound again and we smacked Lewiston, 9-4, to win the Western Maine Championship. This gave us the right to meet Presque Isle for the State Cham­pionship at Bangor. Gary went to the mound and pitched tremendous ball to hold Presque Isle to three hits. We won the game, 9-0, and ended a very successful season.

As anyone who followed the team could see, it was built around ace south­paw Bill Cary, who pitched terrifically all year. Bunky Buotte rounded out the other half of the battery doing a great job of receiving Cary's southpaw slants. The infield gave Cary good support during the year. Mal Roma was at first base, Freshman Bob Bernier was at second base and Joe Morse was at third base. Bob MacHardy, the batting star of the club, was at shortshop. The speedy outfield consisted of Larry Robicheaw, a great defensive outfielder, in left; Toots LaBrecque, a former second baseman, in center; and Dick Fortin, a transfer from Cheverus, in right. A good spot pitcher was Erlon Knight, who had a 3-0 record. Reserves who played an important part were Jackie Gaudette, Armand Caron, Wayne Worcester, Maurice Harvey, and Bob Barrows. Cary, Buotte, Robicheaw, and MacHardy were selected for the All-Telegram League Team, while LaBrecque, Morse and Fortin were given honorable mention.

A great deal of credit should be given to Coach Harlow, who brought the the team through in beautiful style. His knowledge of baseball and his love for the "world's greatest game" inspired the team throughout the season.

     
 

THE SEWING CIRCLE

   

sewing circle


   

This beautiful old, unmarked photograph…probably taken in the 1920s or 1930s, judging from the dress, hair styles and wrist watches… speaks to a time long gone.    A favorite afternoon activity for young ladies of the early 19th and 20th Century  was to gather with friends and do needlework; this group paused a moment to capture their handiwork on film. On close-up we can see lace-work (tatting), crochet, embroidery, cut work, sewing and hooking; what a variety of skills!  These pieces could be packed away for the bridal chest, used as gifts, or donated to the needier families in the town.

One early local organization dedicated to doing charitable deeds...such as sewing for the needy...was The Martha Washington Charitable Society of Saccarappa, Maine. The group was formed in 1846 and amended its Constitution from that of the Female Charitable Society developed on September 6, 1842.

 
“…believing that to alleviate the miseries of the poor and extend a hand of
Charity to the suffering and destitute is a duty incumbent on all…the object
of the M. W. C. Society is…to aid the poor without regard to religious
sect... by giving or lending such articles of clothing or other means
of promoting their comfort or happiness….”
In the M.W.C. Society’s book of minutes from 1850 - 1852 they list some of the following items  that they donated:   …a hood & gloves , pillowcases, shoes,  night caps,  shirts, dickeys, chemises, night drapes, cradle quilts, shawls, quilts and sheets, as well as cloth and yarn.

For more information on the Martha Washington Charitable Society and on other Westbrook organizations see:
Fabius M. Ray's Story of Westbrook compiled by Karen Sherman Ketover
The M.W.C.S. Record Book at the Historical Society
Westbrook Historical Society's collection on Westbrook Organizations

     
 

DANA WARP MILLS

   

DanaMills
Joe Vigeant, Bill Laviolet, Phil Guimond and father Sam Guimond****


   

This photo shows the interior of the old Dana Warp Mill. Smiling men stand beside bales of cotton which would eventually be made into warp for use in weaving cotton fabric. The process of making warp is described  as follows:
                             “ The process of making warp is most interesting. The bales of cotton are taken to the picker room where it is put into machinery from which it emerges in a wide white alt. It is now taken to the carding room and made into rolls, and from here to the doubling frames. Then the yearn goes through
four processes, making it each time a little finer. The next step is spinning, then comes the spooling and warping; the warps are dressed into beams and are ready for shipment.”

These workers had good reason to smile; Woodbury K. Dana, the progressive general manager of the mill for fifty-six years, was known for being generous and thoughtful toward the treatment of his employees.  The company insured the lives of all employees who had been with them nine months or longer and adopted a liberal policy in helping its employees own their own homes. By the 1950s fringe benefits were listed as: Accident & Life insurance, life insurance, a pension plan, six paid holidays a year, vacation pay, and workmen’s compensation insurance.

The mill was started in 1866 under the name of Dana & McEwen and was a simple  2-story wooden structure which stood on Bridge Street,  on the banks of the Presumpscot River overlooking Saccarappa Falls.   Under Dana’s management the Westbrook business, which started with a few spinning frames, gradually grew to a fair sized cotton mill of 56,000 spindles and over 600 employees. By then it was called Dana Warp Mill.  At one time it consumed 4,500,000 pounds of cotton and produced over 4,000,000 pounds of yarn per year. Due to the company’s growth and the need for more space, the large brick building which can be seen today, was erected on the same site as the original building. 

Even though the management of the company was always wisely progressive, the increasing use of synthetic fabrics, increasing government regulations and heavier labor costs forced the closing of Dana Warp Mills on January of 1957.

 
**** After this page was put up, a photocopy of the picture was found labeled "Bails & Bails of Cotton, Dana Warp Mill, 1920s". The men's names were listed under the photocopy. It is always exciting to find a photograph which is dated and has names!

To read further on the Dana Warp Mills, see the following books at the Westbrook Historical Society:
Highlights of Westbrook History,
Woodbury Kidder Dana - Biographical Sketch
Fabius M. Ray’s Story of Westbrook
Westbrook, Maine, a History (booklet)
History of Westbrook by Westbrook Historical Society (booklet)
Dana Warp Mill Notebook containing articles & photographs of Dana Mill

     
 

ELECTRIC STREET CARS COME TO WESTBROOK

   

1st trolley
Westbrook’s first electric car, Car No. 74, was built in 1892. The “Spring Street” on the letter board is now Woodfords Street. (This picture is taken on Congress Street where the horses are towing the car over to the electrified Deering and Westbrook tracks.)


   

The first electric street cars appeared in Portland in 1891 on the Deering line, and ran from Monument Square to Morrill’s Corner.  Horse cars had been operating in this area, which was part of Westbrook until 1871, since 1864.

On December 22, 1891 the Westbrook City Council discussed a proposed electric line extension into Westbrook. The line would operate through Spring (now Woodford’s) Street from Forest Avenue, then along Brighton Avenue, on through Cumberland Mills and Main Street, to the foot of Saco Street.  The Westbrook line would the first section to be built purposely for electric operation on the Portland system.

In January 1892 the Westbrook Council accepted the Portland Railroad Company’s offer of a 25 year franchise.  Certain rules and regulations were discussed and accepted: a 5 cent fare would be charged between Cumberland Mills and Saco Street; cars would be limited to eight miles per hour in the city and no more than fifteen miles per hour outside the compact area; the rails would be installed in the center of the street instead of on the side.   There were some concerns about the line coming too close to a Cumberland Mills church but the Council approved the location.

Two new electric cars being built at the new Bracket Street car barn would be finished in time for the opening of the June extension. The cars were described as being 32 feet long, furnished with an oak and South American red wood interior and the exterior was to be painted olive brown or wheat (then better known as Pullman car color) and decorated in gold and vermillion. The top panel was to read: SPRING, BRIGHTON & MAIN STEETS.  In the middle of the car WESTBROOK was to be painted in large letters with the lower panel reading NASONS CORNER & CUMBERLAND MILLS.

 The early cars were equipped with two twenty-five horse power motors, hand brakes, no fenders or vestibule. A brakeman was employed to help stop the train when passengers wished to get off, to announce the streets and to ring the signal bell to the motorman. The conductor of the train collected all fares and checked all railroad crossings

June 29, 1892 was the Official opening of the Westbrook Trolley Line. Two electric cars carrying the Directors of the company and guests arrived at the Westbrook city square. The American Cadet Band and a large crowd was in the square as the cars glided to a stop amid the music and the waving of handkerchiefs. As soon as the cars were emptied of the dignitaries, the band and the citizens boarded and were given a ride to the east end and return. It was a joyous occasion.

From then on cars left the head of Preble Street for Westbrook every half hour starting at 7:10 Am. By July it was reported that more than 1,000 people per day used the line.  In 1898 the Westbrook City Council approved an extension of the Westbrook line which would allow it to continue on into Windham and Naples. 

By the early 1900s electric street railroads operated in most large cities in New England. By changing cars several times it was at one time possible to ride on electric cars from Westbrook to Boston. Electric street cars were a convenient means of transportation and a lucrative investment for its owners. They also stimulated the building of suburban homes and businesses outside the now-expensive city limits.

But time and progress march steadily on and by 1939 some of  the trolley cars were replaced by  gas driven buses. The Westbrook trolley line continued until April 20, 1941 when it was reported on the front page of a Portland newspaper:

                                     “ Crowd Jams Last Trolley to Westbrook
                                             Buses Take Over Service Today
           The rumbling wheels of the trolley No. 175, described by company employes (sic)
           as a Saco car, wrote the last chapter in an era of Paper City trolley transportation
           that covered a 45-year period”.

To read more about the Westbrook street cars, visit the Society and ask to see Charles Heseltine’s collection on Westbrook Trolleys      .

 
     
 

HASKELL SILK MILL

   

Haskell Mill


   

The Haskell Silk Company, manufacturers of silk dress goods, was one of the foremost silk manufacturers in New England. Their product was supplied through retail houses in almost every state of the union and carried the name Westbrook throughout the country. The company was established in 1874 and was the only company of this type in Maine and was one of the oldest in New England. James Haskell resigned his position as Agent for the Westbrook Manufacturing Company to establish this business. James Haskell was the President of the company, his son Frank Haskell was the treasurer and his other son, Edwin Haskell, was the General Manager. Frank Haskell, was appointed to succeed his father as agent of the Westbrook Manufacturing Company. He served both companies until 1889 when he was forced to resign as Treasurer of Haskell Silk Company to devote full time to the Westbrook Manufacturing Company. He did however continue as a director and part owner of tie Haskell Silk Company until his death in 1896.

The first Haskell Silk Mill stood on the west side of Bridge Street, next to the bridge that crosses over the Presumpscot River [at the rear of the present day Portland Pie Company and on the land where the Bridge Street traffic spur is located.]

The Haskell Silk Company started off manufacturing spool silk and twist and six operatives were employed. The business grew at a rapid pace and in 1881 the company began the manufacture of dress goods. Black was the predominant color at first. The silks were woven from pure silk, dyed in the yam. In the next few years many beautiful colored silk and satin patterns were woven.

All of the silk used in the manufacturing was imported from Japan in the form of skeins and the following process of making silk material was used. The skeins were rewound, followed by a procedure known as "doubling", and were then ready for the spinners. Next, the silk was reeled, dyed and wound again making it ready to be warped and quilted and woven into yard goods. The inspection or "picking" followed and the material was finally ready for finishing. The "picking" of the silk was for many years done by women in their own homes, creating a flourishing home industry in the town. The Haskell taffetas, with black warps and colored filling, were manufactured in large quantities and were widely sold throughout the United States.

Due to the large demand for these Glace' Taffetas, it was necessary to expand still further and a new mill was built further up the river on Bridge Street. This new mill contained thirty-thousand square feet of floor space and employed from two hundred fifty to two hundred seventy-five employees. The dye department boiler house and repair shop were housed in a separate building. The Mattison Power Company, located at Mattison Falls in South Windham, supplied electric power for this mill. This power station was built at the same time as the mill by the owners of the Haskell Silk Company and Dana Warp Mills. The president of the company, James Haskell, retired during this period due to ill health. William Poole became the new president of the company and Lemuel Lane became the Treasurer of the company both of these men were family connected.

 
     
 

THE NEW MARGUERITE LUNCH

   

marguerita lunch2


   

I am sure there is no one around who remembers The New Marguerite Lunch on Main Street near Vallee Square, but these two old photographs deserve more than just a passing glance, especially since they show both the inside and the outside of the business. The faint writing on the back of the photographs indicates that they were taken in 1912.  They were donated to the Society by the daughter of John Hay, a well-known Westbrook citizen and local ‘undertaker’ whose extensive collection of cabinet card photographs of Westbrook buildings and businesses can be seen at the Society.

In looking at the outside view we see, on the right, Rocheleau’s Clothing Store, a local landmark until the 1970s. Although there was no listing for Marguerite’s Lunch in the Westbrook City Directories available at the Society, Rocheleau’s was listed at 861 Main Street in the 1912 Directory. A barber (pole) can be seen on the other of Marguerite’s and a Moxie sign hangs in the window behind the man in the doorway. Obviously a celebration was in progress when this picture was taken ...maybe the 4th of July was the occassion for all the patriotic decorations?

Inside the lunch we can see a sign over the fountain which says: “Our Trusting Dept. is on roof…Take Elevator”…an early 'business' sense of humor? There is also a small sign on the top shelf which expresses: ‘Merry Christmas’ so this photographs was not taken at the same time as the exterior one but together they give us a real flavor of a small town business at the turn of the century.

 

Marguerite interior

     
 

THE 'BLACK BRIDGE'

   

Black bridge
Looking from Brown Street side of river, below Cottage Place, toward Main Street and downtown; footbridge
would be on the downtown side of the bridge


   

The old railroad bridge which spans the Presumpscot River from Brown Street (across from Cottage Place) to just below Fraser Field, bridges more than the river that once brought life to the Indians’ corn and fish to the high fishing place called Ammoncongin. The “Black Bridge”, as it has been called by many generations of Westbrook residents, also bridges time. Just its name evokes many a memory in the hearts of Westbrook citizens. A 1988 news article found at the historical society states:

          “Many a boy, contrary to the instructions of his parents, has hurled himself from the bridge to
plummet into the cooling waters on a hot summer day. Thousands of cigarettes have been sneaked,
and thousands of kisses have been stolen, in the shadows of the black bridge… Upon the granite blocks that hold its steel girders are layers upon layers of paint, and upon its girders are splotches of paint as if some artist had gone mad. Yellows, blues, greens, whites, pledging love, immortalizing rock stars, cussing teachers and policemen, and publishing the politics of the day. They are all there. The hippies of the sixties, the Beatles, Nixon, Kennedy, AC-DC and Van Halen, Power to the People, and Hell No We Won't Go.  Yes, the black bridge has seen it all, and  recorded most of it.”  

[ED note: A walk across the bridge in 2012 found that the graffiti has been mostly painted over…but the bridge still remains a busy thoroughfare.]  

This black hulk of steel, (now red with age and rust), grows out of the skeleton of its wooden predecessor and remains today much as it did when our fathers and grandfathers yelled out in glee and leaped skyward, to fall into the waters below. It seems much the same as when a boy carved the name of the girl who would become his life's partner into the railing of the footbridge. Yet, the bridge does change.

The first bridge at this site was built in 1870 as part of the first 17-mile stage of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad (completed to Vermont in 1875). For the first years the only people who saw the bridge were crews and passengers on the railroad, boaters on the Presumpscot, and those few who troubled to walk through the woods or fields that stretched unbroken along both sides of the river in that area.  That first bridge, built of wood, went out in 1896, victim of a raging ice-clogged river. It was replaced with a steel bridge standing on the stone piers of its predecessor.

By that time, settlement on the northwest side of the river had reached the point where there was a demand for more direct access to the commercial and cultural advantages on the Main Street side. The result was a wooden foot­bridge hung beneath the steel. Over the years this became many a youngster’s favorite route to Main Street, the ball field and swimming pool and to school. In 1989 a galvanized steel grating replaced the traditional wooden walkway of the bridge. Pipe rails were installed along inner sides of the walkway at 18 and 42 inches.  The cribbing that supports the Brown Street end was replaced with three hangers that clamp and are welded to the I beam girder.  In 1992 the City Council voted for two street lights to be installed at the ends of the bridge which had become an unsupervised center were teenagers and young adults hung out; underbrush was also cut back due to fires in the area. One year later, the Council decided to consider other ways to light the area since CMP costs for the proposed lighting would have been $5,000.

Today there are no trains traveling over the bridge. The through trains on the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad, which carried people across the bridge by the hundreds and thousands to Sebago Lake picnics and parties, to vacations in the White Mountains, and on to destinations in Vermont and Canada, are only memories. 
           
But the footbridge remains a vital piece of our history.  Maintained by the city of Westbrook, the walkway remains a thoroughfare for those who aren't old enough to drive a car or don’t own a car and to some who use it to reach the pathways that stretch along the riverbank. A well maintained walkway is on the Main Street side and goes from the Sappi Fine Paper Co. all the way to Saccarappa Falls and Vallee Square.

When my husband and I visited the bridge in November 2012, on a beautiful sunny fall day, people were walking on the bridge, both on the walkway and overhead on the rails, and families were walking the Main Street side foot path. It was a busy day for foot traffic. Yes, the people still come, probably now for exercise or as a shortcut, since there are cleaner places to swim. But the view along the river remains a beautiful thing to see. We did not see any lighting on the ends of the bridge nor did we see much graffiti. It appears that the huge blocks of granite supporting the bridge have been painted gray but there are still a few places where you can spot a person’s name spray painted on the blocks or on the bridge itself.  Two things of interest that we discovered on our walk, (1) there are two sets of tracks, one for narrow-gauge and one for wide-gauge trains and (2) there is a U.S. Geological Survey Marker on the bridge stating that the elevation is 69 feet above sea level.
           
In this era of growth, when we are losing more and more of our landmarks, historic buildings and farmlands, this great Westbrook landmark continues to serve Westbrook’s citizens.

 
bb32012
Early photo of the wooden footbridge ........................................Metal footbridge of 2013

     
 

WESTBROOK CITY OFFICES

   

city hall
1910: Charles Moses & H.F.G. Hay, Mayor


   

In 1814 a new town of Stroudwater was incorporated. This name did not meet the approval of the majority of its inhabitant so three months later its name was changed to Westbrook, in honor of Col. Thomas Westbrook. At that time the town boundaries included Woodfords, Stroudwater, and Deering which extended as far as the Forest Ave entrance to Deering Oaks.

Archelaus Lewis, Justice of Peace, called the first town meeting, before the name was changed to Westbrook, at the meeting house in Stroudwater in 1814.  In 1820 town meetings were held in the First Parish Meeting House on Capisic Street, later known as the Parson Bradley Church.  In 1830 when the town was no longer allowed to use that facility they arranged with the Universalist Society to use their chapel on Stevens Avenue for town meetings. Soon it was voted to build a town house on Riverside Street near Warren Avenue. The town soon realized that this site was not ideal, since the meetings were held in March when heavy snow often covered the roads. so the building was sold. It is probable that later meeting were held in the Saccarappa section of town.

By 1868 Westbrook’s population had increased to the extent that management of municipal affairs of such a wide spread area were unwieldy. The town petitioned  the state to divide. In 1871 the town of Deering, which included Woodsfords, Morrills Corner and Stroudwater, was incorporated.  This left Westbrook with a population of less than 3000 but with industries developing and two railroads passing through the town, by 1880 the population had doubled.
 
By 1887 there was a  general consensus that the old government no longer suited Westbrook’s increasing needs and a town meeting was held at the Odd Fellows Hall in Cumberland Mills to discuss a City Charter. The state was petitioned and the legislature charter was granted that same year (1887) but was not accepted and put into operation until 1891.

The first official Westbrook City Offices were on the 2nd floor of the Scates Building, built in 1903 and located facing Bridge Street. The Municipal Court Room was located in the rear of the offices. During the years the court was held here (until about 1965) the Westbrook lawyers serving as judges were Judge Tolman, Fabius M. Ray, William Lyons, Frank Pride, Wade Brigham, Armand LeBlanc and Francis Rocheleau.   The Police Station and jail were behind the Scates Building on Carpenter Street.
This photograph was taken in the city offices in 1910. It shows Charles Moses on the left (listed as ‘real estate’ in the City Directory of 1910) and H.F.G. Hay, Mayor on the right.  It is interesting to note the cords going from the chandeliers to the table lamps..were the city fathers trying to save on expenses? And what a ‘great view’ out the window!

Due to urban renewal, City Hall moved to 795 Main Street in 1967..  The Offices moved to 1 York Street in 1995, where they remain today.

 
     
 

THE MILKMAN

   


milk2
"Mr. Landry Milkman Saco St. House 1943"


   

Here comes the milkman!  Do you ever wonder what those words mean to today’s young people?  To a lot of us it means the delivery of milk right to our front door stoops…fresh and oh, so cold in the winter months.   Remember how the milk would freeze in winter and the cap would pop off the bottle?  And how the cream separated from the milk and Mom would use it to make fudge…or chowdah?  And how you knew the milkman’s name since he walked to your door, milk bottles clinking, to pick up the empty bottles and leave the new order? This snapshot of “Mr. Landry, the milk man” was taken in 1943 when milk was still delivered in a horse-drawn wagon and came from local Westbrook farmers.  Who is it that complains about the ‘good-old-days’? 

The 1891 Westbrook City Directory lists sixteen people under the heading ‘MILK’: Isaac G. Babb (off Spring St.), Smith Babb (Stroudwater), George M. Cobb (listed as Methodist Rd, Rocky Hill District),James H. Gowen (Duck Pond Rd), Deering Colley (Brook Rd, Prides Corner), George E. Herman (Cottage Place, Cumberland Mills),George R. Johnson, (Buxton Rd), Alonzo Libby (Main St.), James Morris (Methodist Rd), S.F. Pride (Bridgton Rd), Albion Quinby (Saco St), John Roberts (Saco St.), Cornelius Small (Methodist Rd), John Tilton (Stroudwater), Woodbury Bros. (Bridge St. Duck Pond district), and Frank Woodman (E. Bridge St.).

Over the years there have been many small dairies in Westbrook which delivered milk in their own labeled bottles:  Westbrook Dairy (run by Mace Willis Messenger)*, Elm Maple Farm (Roscoe and Richard F. Libby), Blue Spruce Farm (William L. Clarke), Grondin Dairy (R.J. Grondin), Westbrook Croft Dairy (G.A. Smith), Maplehurst (F.D. Bachelder, R.B.Taggart), Riverton Dairy, Valley View Farm (I. M. Boothby), Walnut Crest Farm (Clinton Rines), Twin Falls (R.J. Grondin), Ledgemere Farm (J.A. Kimball and Sons), Green Acres (Clifford and Gorman Thompson), Old Acres (M. H. Waterhouse) and Pine Grove Farm (J. S. Gordon).  Today, I believe there is only one dairy farm in Westbrook, Smiling Hill Farm; and their milk, still in glass bottles, is delivered to the supermarket.

As years went on and the cause and spread of diseases became better known, larger dairies like Hood and Oakhurst were better equipped to sterilize and process the milk. Since the milk was consolidated, the delivery areas expanded and for many years the milk was delivered door-to-door from small trucks.  When the automobile became more prevalent and everyone could get to the market, that practice was stopped.  No one will deny that the milk is much safer now but some of us do not want to forget the Milkman and this piece of our history.

*ADDENDUM: Linda Messenger Stewart of Delaware sent a correction for this article in regards to the name of the owner of Westbrook Dairy, Mace Willis Messanger, her father, She also supplied further information on that dairy: "I am the first born daughter of Mace Messenger named in your reference to Westbrook Dairy. Please be advised that Daddy's name is Mace Willis Messenger ... there was no such person as William Messenger. Westbrook Dairy was established by my grandfather, Carl Harvey Messenger. My Daddy took over when his father passed away in the early 1950's (I believe 1951 or 1952)" . We welcome any comments or corrections to our Photo pages.

 
The Society has a Westbrook Dairy display which includes photos and articles, a milkman's bottle basket, milk cans and a large collection of Westbrook milk bottles. 
     
 

A CITY OF CHURCHES

   

churches


   

When I first moved to Westbrook in 1951 it seemed as though there was a church on every corner.  When I came upon this (collage) postcard at the historical society it seemed to support my earlier thoughts. Recently I checked the City Directory for 1953 and discovered that there were 15 churches in Westbrook at that time, 10 on Main Street!!!  They were: Advent Christian at 677 Main St., Bethany Hall at 540 Main, First Baptist at 733 Main, Full Gospel Assembly at corner of Seavey & Oak, Highland Lake Union on Bridgeton Rd, Plymouth Brethren at 540 Main, Pride’s Corner Union on Elmwood Ave., St. Hyacinthe at 295 Brown St., St Mary’s at 631 Main, Salvation Army at 10 Fitch St., Trinity Lutheran at Main & School St., Universalist at 719 Main, Warren Congregational at Warren Ave. & Cumberland St., Westbrook Congregational at 852 Main and Westbrook Methodist at 755 Main.   The churches pictured on this card in 1909 were a few of our older churches.
ADVENT –The Advent Christian Parish, under the leadership of the Reverend William Mitchell of Kennebunk raised funds to purchase a lot of land and build a church in Westbrook.  Services were held in the Red Men’s Hall until 1886 when the church building was dedicated. The Church tower, stained glass windows and a new organ was installed in 1910-12.   The building still stands next to Riverbank Park and is being used for religious purposes but not connected to the Adventist faith.
DANISH LUTHERAN/ FIRST LUTHERAN - The first Danish family arrived in Westbrook around 1873. They brought with them the old family Bible, Luther's Postil, and their hymn books. Feeling the need of spiritual guidance, they called together other local Lutheran families for religious services. By 1876 Lutheran services were held in Westbrook homes nearly every Sunday afternoon.  With increasing attendance there was a need for a church building so on November 2, 1882 the First Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Westbrook, Maine, was organized.   By 1891 the land for the site of the present church building, on the corner of Main and School Streets, was purchased from John E. Warren. On New Year's day 1893, the church was dedicated. All services were conducted in the Danish language until 1905 when one English service a month was held. The church has been enlarged and remodeled but it still stands and maintains an active congregation.
CATHOLIC - In 1854 many catholic families arrived in Westbrook to work in the mills, on the railroad and clearing the river way. Originally Catholic settlers had to walk to Portland to attend Mass. Later it is claimed that they met in a brick house on Cumberland Mills before renting a chapel in Brigham Hall in downtown Saccarappa. As the number of families increased and after outgrowing their chapel, land was purchased on Brown St. in 1877 for a church building.  St. Hyacinthe Parish, seen on this card, was dedicated in 1879.  In 1941, due to an increasing congregation, a long-planned large stone church was erected to replace this old wooden structure. The last service was held in the old church in 1942 and services started in the new church across the street. Work continued on the new church until January 15, 1950 when a solemn High Mass and dedication took place in the completed church.  The 3 Catholic parishes of Westbrook, St. Hyacinth on Brown St., St. Mary’s (1916) on Main St. and St. Edmunds on Bridgeton Rd (in Pride’s Corner) merged in 2010.  Due to the overwhelming choice of the parishioners, the Catholic services still continue at the older stone church building on Brown St., now call St. Anthony’s Parish at St. Hyacinth.
WESTBROOK CONGREGATIONAL - There was a First Congregational meeting house at Capisic Street, now in Portland, as early as 1767. This church was where Rev. Bradley served for 30 yrs. It was quite a walk from Saccarappa to Capisic so in 1832 twenty-three members of Parson Bradley’s Church asked dismission to form the Second Congregational Church of Westbrook, later called the Westbrook Congregational Church. The Rev Joseph Searle was called as pastor and for two years meetings were held in Small’s Hall on the second floor of the Edward’s Block on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets.  In 1834 land was purchased on the corner of Main & Brackett Streets and a church building, modeled after the meeting house on Capisic, was built for $2300. The building underwent many renovations, additions and improvements over the years but it always kept its clean, simple beauty. When the Westbrook Urban Renewal was in full swing in 1974, the church building was demolished and the congregation merged with the Warren Congregational Church to form the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.  A new church building was then built on land further up on Main Street, next to the Walker Memorial Library.
WARREN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH - In 1865, under the Rev. Joseph Danielson, the First Congregational Church started prayer services in the Village of  Cumberland Mills. The meetings were held at different homes until the size of the group outgrew this arrangement. In 1866 the women of the village joined together into the Cumberland Mills Ladies’ Sewing Society with the object of raising funds toward furnishing the first Protestant church to be erected in the Village. Samuel D. Warren, owner of the local mills, offered to purchase a lot for the building and to contribute $5000 toward its erection. Any cost over that amount he would match dollar for dollar from pledges. The Cumberland Mills Ladies Sewing Society became affiliated with the church and helped raise funds. The Warren Parish was legally organized and incorporated in July 1868 and the church building on the corner of Warren Ave. and Cumberland St. was completed in 1869.  The first minister was Rev. Elijah Kellogg of Harpswell.  The congregation remained active until 1974 when structural problems, so severe as to be impossible to repair, were discovered in the church. With the news that the Westbrook Congregational Church would be razed and moved by urban renewal, the two congregations merged to form the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, United Church of Christ.  This congregation is still an active participant in our city.
UNIVERSALIST - Early in the nineteenth century about forty members of Parson Bradley’s Stroudwater Congregational Church “withdrew” because of their Universalist tendencies and formed a free meetinghouse on Saco St.  A church building was constructed on Upper Main Street in 1832 but it did not seem satisfactory to its members. Many years of inactivity followed its construction, with only occasional services, until 1887 when a new church ‘more centrally located to accommodate those living in Cumberland Mills’, was envisioned.  Construction on this church, seen on the postcard, was started in 1887 and in 1888 a 3-day celebration of dedication was held. In 1904 the Rev. Harry E. Townsend was called to the pastorate and stayed for over 40 years, a much beloved minister of the church and an active member of the community.    The Westbrook Methodist Church continued to be active until 2010 when a dwindling and aging congregation prompted it to close its doors and offer the building for sale;  the building remains empty two years later.
FIRST BAPTIST – “The Lord surely works in mysterious ways”, reports the Brief History of the Westbrook Baptist Church, ”and when, in 1885, there was still no Baptist Church in Saccarappa, He sent to Scotland for the one who would start the work to place one here. To accomplish this he made use of the needs of the Westbrook Manufacturing Company Gingham Mills for trained personnel from Scotland to instruct their people here in the textile process. Among those who came over at this time from Scotland was Mrs. Roger Hilton, a woman who loved the Lord and immediately set out to work for Him here. Seeing the need in Westbrook, she started a Sunday School Class of small children in her kitchen on Scotch Hill.”  Soon more than just the Scottish people were attending the classes. The class size grew rapidly and it became necessary to transfer to larger quarters; during the next few the years the Scotchmen’s Football club house, the Grand Army  and the  Odd Fellows Halls were all used for the Sunday School. Many at the school members also attended the Free Baptist Church in Portland. As the group enlarged the locals wished to establish a church in Westbrook. The present church, designed by architect John Calvin Stevens, was dedicated on Oct 28, 1888 and was fee of debt at its completion.  The church history relates that the local Press reported on November 2, 1888: “The Church starts out in its good work with twenty-eight members and a bright outlook for future growth.”  And how true that statement was; the church building has undergone renovations and improvements over the years but its congregation remains an active force in the City.
 METHODIST – According to tradition, Methodism  made its first appearance in Saccarappa (later called Westbrook) when Robert Fellowbee, a circuit rider came and preached in Mr. Conant’s house on Park Hill in 1799. The First Methodist Class was formed in 1814.  After the first town meeting house (later called “the Old Iron Works” ) was built on Saco Street in 1817, Methodist meetings were held there every other Sunday.  (Congregationalists met on the alternating Sundays.)  When conflicts arose among the users of the meeting house, the Methodist members withdrew to a variety of locations. First they built a vestry on Main Street but by 1841 they had outgrown it and built a larger church on the present Church Street (which thus acquired its name). This church was destroyed by fire in 1864. For the following two years the Methodists met in the Universalists church and then in Warren Hall. In 1866 the congregation took steps to erect a new building on the corner of Main and Foster Streets, the structure pictured on this post card. The church was dedicated October 17,1867.  Methodists flourished in Westbrook, holding the first Methodist conference here in 1871 and boasting the largest Bible Class in the state up to that time in 1916.  However, by the 21st Century the church’s enrollment was aging and diminishing so the structure was sold and in 2003 it became a Teen Center

            Sources: Highlights of Westbrook History and local church histories; all may be found in the Society’s research collection.

 
     
 

MAIN STREET REVISITED

   

MAINST03A
The picture was taken from a 1975 newspaper (staff photo by Walter H. Elwell).


   

This photo shows two mid-19th Century houses on Main St next to the old junior high school. You can also see the Methodist Church on the far right. These houses sat on the site of the ‘new’ central post office planned by Westbrook Urban Renewal Authority.  

The house in the foreground, the former Douglass Wallace residence, was moved to 128 Spring St to become the home of Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Lefebvre. The house next to the school, also owned by Mr. Wallace, was offered for sale  ….but ended up demolished, along with the west wing of the school, in order to make room for the post office.

In the photo below, taken in 2012, you can see the post office and hidden behind the large tree, is the school. At the far right you can just make out the front of the Methodist church (sans part of its steeple) which now serves as a teen center.  The house that was moved to Spring St. is still serving as a residence.

Editor's Note (8/2013): A recent vistor to the Historical Society reported that the house next to the school was NOT demolished but was moved to Little Avenue..

 
MAINST09A
     
 

THE PRIDE'S CORNER UNION BIBLE SOCIETY

   

PCsunday
Back Row: Mildred Swain, Mrs. E.S. Walter, Neta Bailey Fielding, Dorothy Hawkes, Wilhelmina Scholl, Harriet Clark
Middle Row: Ruby Swain, Beatrice Pride, Edna Pride, Mildred Pride, Alba Pride, Inez Clark, Helen Clark
Two girls, second row:  Mildred Swain, Kathleen Thompson
Front Row: ? ,      ? ,    ?/ Dorothy Gordon, Esther Swain, Adelaide Gordon Marion Walker.
Left seated:  Philip Scholl, George Gross, Mrs. Gross behind
Right seated:  Minister Alexander Duncan (1911-1918), Milton Swain, Ellen (Bidie) Thompson behind


   

According to AN EARLY HISTORY of PRIDE’S CORNER by John R. Lewis, the early religious affiliation for the settlers of The Corner centered around the Friend’s Meeting House in Riverton and the Parish Church in Westbrook.  Even though there  was a  Sunday School  meeting in the area by 1885, it wasn't until 1909 that it was felt that there was a need for a  church and church school in Pride’s Corner. An organizational meeting was held in John Clark’s store and officers were elected, teachers selected and the Sunday School was named the Pride’s Corner Union Bible Society.

Up until 1911 the school and preaching services were held in the Pride’s Corner school with the city’s permission, but the city began showing “a change of heart” in this setup.  In 1912 land on Elmwood Street was purchased and fund-raising was started for the construction of a  church building. With great pride, and lots of hard work, The Pride’s Corner Union Church Society dedicated the Prides Corner Church on June 20, 1915, free from debt.

The church has always been a strong influence in the lives of the people of The Corner. This picture of a Sunday School class was taken on the steps of the Pride’s Corner school so was taken before 1912. Many of the people in the photo were children of the original founders. The names are included on the back as well as a brief insight into the lives of some of the school members.

 
 

On the back of the photograph is this summary of some of the people pictured:

Dorothy Hawkes, dtr of Isaiah Hawkes, m. Harold Hawkes
Harriet Clark, wife of John Clark
Ruby Swain m. VanVliet
Beatrice Pride, dtr of James & Dora Pride/m. Francis Libby
Edna Pride, dtr. of Charles & Cora Pride,m. Sheldon Chase
Mildred Pride, dtr. of James & Dora Pride, m. Harold Pride
Alba Pride, dtr of Charles & Cora Pride, m. Charles Lewis
Inez Clark, dtr of Harriet & John Clark,m. Morris Hawkes
Helen Clark, dtr. of Harriet & John Clark ,m.Leon Eldridge
Mildred Swain, m. Lawrence Harmon
Kathleen Thompson, m. Fred Dunfield, m. Nichols, m. Jones

Thus we have a mini history of a neighborhood... on one photograph!

Thanks go to Nancy Curran for sharing the names and information listed on the back of her photograph

 
     
 

THE OLD SWIMMING POOL

   

SWIMMING POOL
(Cumberland St. bridge on left with S.D. Warren mill behind, Warren Congregational Church in the background)


   

In 1905 Cornelia Warren funded a ‘swimming pool’ to be built in the river since this was the only swimming area available to the children at the turn of the century.  The pool was placed on the banks of the Presumpscot River, nestled between the Elms and S.D. Warren Paper Company. From early morning until dusk, boys and girls would swim, wade and splash at the ‘river bath’.

The pool was constructed by placing cement block bases in the river and building a ‘pool house’ upon the blocks. The area was surrounded with a boom, and slats placed around the blocks were meant to keep out most of the flotsam. The river flowed through the slates connecting the pieces of foundation, making the center a “fresh” water tank which formed a swimming area.

In one old newspaper article the pool house is described as follows:  “lockers ringed two sides of the pool. There were steps into the pool, and a wooden floor slanted downwards from one end; each year the river was drawn down and workmen from S.D. Warren Co. repaired or replaced the dryer felt (heavy canvas) that covered the floor. A rope in the middle warned swimmers of deep water beyond. On the opposite end were two diving boards, one on a platform.”  The center of the house was left open to the sky. 

This early photograph shows what looks like a full roof but everyone remembers the center roof-area being left open to the sky, and most other photos support this. The cement foundations are all that is left of the river bath and they can be seen along the east banks of the river.  This was a very popular summer spot for Westbrook children but there was no way to purify the water flowing through the pool. Remember, at that time there were many active mills along the river and above the swimming pool.  Despite being subject to pollution, it was long agreed by the Cornelia Warren Community Association* that the facility was still safer for children since they were under the eye of a life guard, than to risk a fatal accident in the river due to unsupervised swimming. However concerns for the children’s health and safety became a major concern when the polio outbreaks in the 1940s were thought to be spread via swimming. 

In 1947, the Association seriously considered the idea of building a new swimming pool. Once they were able to secure financial backing with funds provided by the Association, the S.D. Warren Paper Mill, the Warren Memorial Foundation, Dana Warp Mills, and funds collected through a city wide fund drive, the excavation for a the new facility was started in October of 1947.

The new pool, which would utilize Sebago Lake water, would replace the old tank operated by the Association. A wading pool was also made available on the playground before the season opened the following June. The swimming pool was eighty feet wide and 150 feet long and allowed 300 people to swim at one session. It was completed in 1949 and the ‘river bath' became history.

Did you ever swim there? If so, drop us a note to tell us of your experiences.

* Cornelia Warren Community Foundation was incorporated in 1925 from a trust left by Miss Warren who died in 1921. (She was the daughter of Samuel D. & Susan Warren.) Its purpose is to maintain the many gifts that Miss Warren gave to the City of Westbrook.

(Information taken from A Presence in the Community: The Warren Family Legacy.  2000)
Visit the Society to see interior photographs of the pool house and photos of kids jumping from the 2nd story into the river.

 
     
 

CUMBERLAND HALL : WARREN BLOCK

   

WARREN BLOCK


 

A recent query to the web page prompted a look at this old photo (c. 1900s) of the Warren Block in Cumberland Mills. Notice the horse and wagon…and the two-way streets. Today the block is a one-way triangle route.

In 1882 Mrs. S.D. Warren (wife of the owner of the nearby S.D. Warren Paper Co.) commissioned the construction of the Cumberland Hall. In later years the building has come to be called the Warren Block.  Francis H. Fassett and John Calvin Stevens of Portland were hired as architects and Stevens designed the building, considered to be one of his finest early designs. Mrs. Warren intended the building to be used for community services and activities and to benefit the citizens of the area, many of whom were employed by her husband. [See archived photo article about the Cumberland Gymnasium founded in 1904 by Miss Cornelia Warren, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel D. Warren.]

Cumberland Hall was built in the Queen Anne style, one of the most sophisticated and complex style structures in Maine at the time. It portrayed the progressive trend in the late 19th century to let the inside use of the building dictate the outside design. Another factor in its design was the triangular piece of land on which it was designed and built, thereby making the three storied building an elongated shape. The roof is an irregular hipped style with a small domed tower.  The foundation is granite while the building is a mixture of brick and frame construction. The first two stories are of brick and the third is wood covered with shingles. Exterior decorations are made of brownstone and terra cotta.  Also reflecting the period style, the windows were designed with many small panes.

This photo shows the building as originally constructed, before the ‘nose’ building was added in the late 1940s, early 1950s.  Since its erection the block has been ‘rehabbed’ a few times but the outside original  style and flavor have been maintained.

The Warren Block has always been an active and focal part of the Cumberland Mills community. Over the years it has housed a branch of the post office, a pharmacy, a dress alterations shop, a cobbler shop, a book binders, a bakery, a laundry, KFC, as well as restaurants, bars and, today, a tattoo parlor. 

It may have been 1974 before the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places but it has always been a Cumberland Mills landmark.

 
     
 

1951 MAINE STATE CLASS L BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS

   

WHS1951
Back: Coach John Paddy Davan, Bill Palmer (Manager), Philip “Bunky” Buotte, Tony Wedge, Earl Barrows,  
         Bob Barrows, John Barton (Assistant Manager)
Front: Bill Cary, Bobby Morton, Bob MacHardy, Larry Swett


   

In 1951 Westbrook High School’s basketball team became the 1st Westbrook team in twenty-four years to win the Maine Class L Championship title and bring the trophy home to the Paper City. The team marked up its 26th straight victory when it beat Bangor High 71 to 54 to win the final game of the tournament.

The Blazers headed off to the New England Tournament with high hopes. They were pitted against Worcester's St. John's High in the first play-off game and St. John's won, 69 to 61. Westbrook put up a good fight and ended its season with a 26 – 1 record.   Bill Cary was named to the second team of the Boston Garden’s New England Inter-Scholastic Basketball Tournament all-star team. The high school students and the entire Westbrook community gave the team a heroes 'welcomed home'.

This team photograph and two scrapbooks with clippings of the team members histories, going back to their grammar school basketball years, were recently donated to the Society by Manager Bill Palmer (seen in the photograph.) Bill still beams with pride when he speaks about those glory days. His sacrifice in donating the memorabilia for all to share is much appreciated by the Westbrook Historical Society.

 
     
 
HIGHLAND LAKE GRANGE NO. 87
   

HL Grange


   

The Westbrook Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, No. 87 was organized January 11, 1875.  In 1934 the name was changed to Highland Lake Grange No. 87.

Meetings were held in the upper room of the Duck Pond school until 1889 when this building (photo circa 1910) was erected on the corner of Hardy Road and Bridgton Road (Rte. 302).

The hall was used for church meetings during the winter months. A stable and storage building was added next to the hall in 1905.  Money for the addition was raised from a two day “Fair and Exhibition” which raised $75.10. Electricity was installed in 1926 and the first floor was leased from 1926 to 1937 to P.B. Burns for a store.

The Grange was an active member of the community. In 1934 their protests aided in preventing the proposed closure of the Prides Corner fire barn. Fire protection for the hall, however,  continued to be twelve pails of water.  The Welfare committee furnished a clock for the school and members set up playground swings.

In the 1960's the Grange was moved from its original location and placed on a new foundation, with an addition.  In the early 2000's the building underwent further improvements including new windows, insulation, roofing and electrical upgrades.

The Grange has been and continues to be a vital member of the community, from its founding to the present in the 21st century. In the early years the Grange supported local farmers with a store, entertainment programs, and agricultural fairs. In recent years public suppers are held to support various causes, and the  Grange opened the hall for use by other groups such as 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

Thanks go to David Gowen for an update on this still vital facility.
.

 

 

   
grange
Highland Lake Grange 2013
 
     
 
BRACKETT STREET POST OFFICE
   

POSTOFFICE


   

According to records in Washington, D.C., a post office was established in Saccarappa on November 1, 1797. Enoch Freeman was the Postmaster and the “town” was a part of Falmouth. The post office was named Saccarappa until the town of Westbrook was incorporated in 1814. (Westbrook was actually incorporated in February 1814 under the name Stroudwater but three months later the name was changed to Westbrook).

In the early years the post office was located in a store on Bridge Street and mail was distributed to patrons from a “merry go round”: all the mail was placed on the merry go round and patrons would twirled it about and retrieve their mail.

There were also post office branches in Cumberland Mills in the Warren Block (opened in 1870) and in Prides’ Corner.  [See Photo Achieves: A.D. Woodbury Store]

In 1903 the main post office was moved to the Scates Block on Main St across from Bridge.  At this time free delivery of mail was instituted  and Charles W. Munson, a local historian, was appointed as one of the four first City mail carriers. He later became a carrier in the Cumberland Mills branch. [Most of the information in this article was taken from Charles W. Munson's article History of Westbrook, published in the local newspaper. The full article may be found at in the Society's archives.]

In 1935 a federal post office building, seen here,  was erected on Brackett St. where the main post office remained until 1978 when the current building was constructed next to the old high school on Main Street.. The building on Brackett St. has been converted for commercial use.

 
     
 
ANATOMY OF A MOVE
January 2012

   

1a
Leaving the old location
17 Dunn Street


1d
A lot of packing to do
1f

   
1x
The new home
2c
Where to put it all?
2e
Putting it together again
 
   

2a
Here to help....

                                     

2b
It all depended on the volunteers!
1k
Opening soon! - 426 Bridge Street
 
     
 
PAPER CITY LUNCH

   


PC Lunch


   
Cumberland Mills
(The following is Robert Barton's memories of the white building on the left of this photo. The large three-story building was the Brown Block which later became the Warren Library)
 
   

            Paper City Lunch, owned by Chester Watson, used to set on the west side of  the Warren Library, on land owned by the S.D. Warren Co. When Cornelia Warren decided to close the old swimming tank on the river in 1945 and build a new one on higher ground, Mr. Watson was told that he would have to close his diner. When the diner closed George Barton (my father) bought all the dishes for $100, then in 1946 decided to buy the building for another $100.   Dad got Mr. Richardson from Gorham to help move the building to the other side of the library onto land owned by Charles Thompson.  This move was done at night so as to avoid all the public works and City hassles….the building was put on rollers, a rake was used to hold the power lines up, and the building was moved to its new home at 16 Warren Ave. [At that time Warren Ave ran from Portland, past the mill and met up with Main St. by the library.]  
            My mother worked at the paper mill then so it was up to Dad to run the diner. Since he did not have the know-how or the funding to run it alone, he entered into partnership with Bertha Laffin and renamed the place Friend’s Lunch. However, these two co-owners were not too friendly and Mrs. Laffin told Mrs. Barton that she was with going to either “kill her husband (Mr. Barton) or buy him out!”  But it came about that Mr. Barton, Dad to me, bought her out and changed the name to Barton’s Lunch in 1954. (By this time we were also running the greenhouse on Brown St. where we lived.) During the 8 years the luncheon as owned by our family, we paid rent for the land to Charles Thompson and, after his death, to his daughter Margie Doulin.
            It soon became too much to run both the luncheon and the greenhouse so Dad sold Barton’s Lunch to a Mr. Kenney. When the business closed in the 1960s it was known as Lynn’s Lunch and was run by Harlan & Evelyn Rounds.
                                                                  

 
  NOTE: The portion of Warren Avenue between Cumberland Street and the Warren Library, just beyond Paper City Lunch, was later renamed Harnois Avenue in Honor of Chief Pierre Harnois, first permanent Chief of the Westbrook Police Department who was killed while assisting other law enforcement agencies at Limerick Maine in May of 1959.   
     
 
OUR NATIVE HERITAGE

   


indians


   
Westbrook Centennial 1914
 
   

In 1657 Squitterrygusset traded a tract of land running from Capisic (now part of Portland) to the Ammoncongin falls to fisherman Francis Small for “one trading coat a year and one gallon of whiskey”. In 1666 George Murphy bought a tract of land on the opposite side of the river which ran from the area of the great falls (Saccarappa Falls) down river from the lower most planting grounds. These two transactions with the local chief Squitterrygusset are believed to have been the first to give a deed of land within our city to the white man speculator.

In the years to come the local tribes experienced some embittered resentment of the white man’s usurping of their lands and staged rampages and skirmishes resulting in the the exodus and then return of the settlers. The settlers prevailed and the city of Westbrook was created in 1814. As this photograph shows, all was peaceful by 1914 and the local native peoples joined in the festivities of Westbrook’s Bicentennial Celebration. The Aucociscos culture and influence on our city is still reflected in the area by its many Indian place-names:

Saccarappa, changed from Saccarabigg (original native name) means - “falling toward the rising sun”. This name was used as the “upper” village name for many years and is still the name of one of our grammar schools.
Ammoncongin, the name used for the “lower” village and falls means– “high fishing place”.
This was the area later called Cumberland Mills and was often shortened to “Congin”, the name of another of our grammar schools. 
Presumpscot River means “many rough places river” referring to the many falls.

                                        

 
     
 
WESTBROOK QUARRIES
   

quarry2


   

 According to An Early History of Pride’s Corner by John R. Lewis, there were at least two major quarries in the Pride’s Corner area of Westbrook.

The oldest quarry was located behind the old Pride’s Corner Union Church.  It is thought that stone from this quarry was hauled into Portland by oxen to build Fort Gorges and other fortifications following the War of 1812. Also, stone from this quarry may have been used to build the 'Palmer House' at 295 Pride Street. 

The second quarry was located near 607 Bridgton Road (US-302) and started operation in 1868. Owned by Jim Pride, the quarry consisted of a stone shed, tool shed, a polishing machine and two cranes. The cranes were operated by hand winches and were used to lift heavy blocks of stone onto horse drawn wagons. Stone taken from this quarry was used for boundary stones, paving stones and curb stones for the city of Portland. The quarry ceased operation during World War II and is now filled with water, making it a serene looking pond beside the road.

Although both quarries have ceased to exist, the Westbrook Historical Society has a few beautiful old photos, such as the one above, which show the process of stone excavating in the late 19th century. Especially poignant is the proud stance of the workers.

 
     
 
OUR HOME
   

Longfellow


   

 "A picture is worth a thousand words...."
That may be, but this beautiful old photograph is labeled only "Longfellow Street Westbrook, Maine circa 1890s." Who are these people standing in front of their lovely home and barn? Where is the house located? Is it still there? These are all questions asked each time an unidentified photo appears at a historical society. Certainly when this photo was taken these questions would have been easily answered but time goes by, people move and pass on, and buildings are modified or destroyed. These people are probably ancestors to some budding genealogists out there...if only the photograph had more information!

 
     
 
THE "PAIL FACTORY"
By Edna Gowen
 

[Ed.: The Historical Society has many early memories of the Duck Pond/Highland Lake area which were written by local historian and life-long Westbrook resident, Edna Nye Gowen (1892 - 1981). Without these written accounts much of the area history and genealogy would have been lost. Articles similar to this would make wonderful, informative entries into the 1st Annual Westbrook History Contest, sponsored by the Westbrook Historical Society.  See Activities page.]

   

WOODENMILL
PORTLAND WOODEN WARE CO.
939 DUCK POND RD.
"Man in vest on far left is Frank Pinder. Man behind children is Fred Pinder. The man to right of Fred is Howard Gordon.
The two small children are Pinder children: Ora Pinder Roberts is the smaller child."


   

  As one stands by Gordon Grotton's home near Hill Pond [937 Duck Pond Road] it becomes morn and more difficult to imagine how it must have looked there when a factory occupied the east bank of Mill Brook for most of the distance from Duck Pond Road to the Dam.

From 1880 to 1900 the Portland Woodenware Co. was located there, employing a large crew of men making wooden pails; 12 qt. Water pails, 25 Ib. candy pails and small and large tubs. The official name of the factory was that given above but the local name was always the “Pail Factory”.

In Clayton’s History of Cumberland County I found the following: "At the outlet of Duck Pond there is an improved water power, of 50 horsepower upon a fall of 17ft."  This was written about 1870 and at that time or earlier the water power was being used by the Cumberland Bone Mfg. Co, producing bone manure with an annual product rated at $23,000.

About 1884 the factory burned and from then on it was under the management of the Portland Woodenware Co.

I have been told that loads of logs were dumped into the Mill pond and as needed were pushed into the saw mill atop the dam, and there, sawed into lumber.  There also was a stave mill.  Those operations used power from the Water wheel or from an engine house below the dam when the water was low.
Back on the hill beyond the dam was the lumber yard and drying shed.  Here many of the teen aged boys around the corner earned their first pay checks - One dollar for a ten hour day stacking lumber and staves.
Horses were used to haul the pails to market and somewhere in back was a building where the drivers stabled the horses.

On the west side of mill brook about where the Macomber house is now, was a storage building, 35’ X 50'.  The road to the lumber yard passed this building.

Beyond the bridge and on the side opposite the storage building was a cooper shop, known otherwise as the shook mill.  Those hogsheads and barrels were made [here]. It was a fascinating shop for school boys - fire and water produced the steam that helped shape the staves.
 
     
 
A.D.WOODBURY, DUCK POND
   

DuckPond
A.D. Woodbury Store, c. 1890



   

A.D. Woodbury Store was located at the corner of the Bridgton (Rte. 302) and Duck Pond Roads. It was operated by Dyer and Sadie Woodbury (Alvin Dyer Woodbury). The Woodburys lived at 1102 Bridgton Road opposite Ridge Road.

The store was heated by a wood stove with a base of sand around it to prevent a fire.  It was not only a store, but a post office and local gathering place. Dyer was the post master there for thirty years and at the time of his death was the fourth oldest in the state. After the R.F.D. service was established his post office was the only 4th Class post office in the state.

A dancing school was located on the second floor and community dances and event were held there.

The stage coach ran from Lower India Street, Portland (Grand Trunk Station) to Harrison. The stage
carried mail, freight and passengers. Despite bear skin robes, it was a cold trip from Portland in the winter! The stage stopped at Woodbury’s, one of several stops, to change horses. Woodbury had scales for weighing freight pick up along the way.

Sadie Woodbury was described as a strong willed person. She wore dentures that she would clack and in an argument they would not stay in place. She was reported to have changed the name of the post office from Duck Pond to Highland Lake, influencing the change of name of the area.

[Much of this information was received from Fred Gowen and recorded for the Historical Society records.]

 
     
 

SUMMER TIME

   

summertime



   

Summer time is a time to be enjoyed...be it 2011 or 1900! This photo was sent to the Society by Michel Giguére, of Quebec City, the grandson of Anna Rose del Lima Labrecque Giguére (third from the right). It was taken on the rocks "near Portland around 1900 - 1905" . Anna was an elementary school teacher in Westbrook before marrying Conroy Giguére and returning to Quebec City to live. Three of the women are holding lobsters. Their dresses are all so sparkling white...it makes you wonder what was the nature of the happy occasion...graduation, perhaps?

**(See People, Places and Events page for more information on Anna Labreque)

 
     
 

REMEMBERING BROWN STREET SCHOOL

   
BROWN ST

   

In an 1982 article in the American Journal (the local weekly newspaper) Ione Barton (1902 – 1988) reminisced about Brown Street School. The school was erected in 1887, the year before her father built his house next door, and Ione attended Grades 1-5 there. She recalled that the parents of a lot of the children worked at S.D. Warren and that “Lots of French children were sent to the Brown Street School so they could learn to speak English.”   This only seems logical since it was a neighborhood school situated on the edge of the French speaking section of town and next to all the “mill-built” housing. (Located on Brown Street at the head of Garfield Street.) 

Ione remembered Julia Doyle as principal and teacher of Grades 1 and 2. (Miss Doyle would later celebrate 55 years as a teacher and principal at Brown Street.)  The photograph below is from Miss Doyle's collection; you can see her in the back row.  If you were able to enlarge this photograph, taken in the late 1890s, you would see that at least 10 of those pupils in the front row are without shoes!

The school was destroyed by a massive fire on March 23, 1958.  The school was never replaced and Barton’s Florist was built on the old school foundation, using the same sewer and water mains as the school.

Westbrook neighborhood grammar schools are now replaced with 4 area schools – Canal, Congin, Saccarappa and Pride’s Corner.

 
   

I BrownSt

 
   

 

 

SOME INTERESTING SCHOOL FACTS
(from Development of the Westbrook School System by Marian V. Chick, 1955):

1794 - 1st recorded school in the area is held at the Wiinslow-Boody house on E. Bridge St.
1812 - North School built; 1st schoolhouse in Westbrook
1820 - Legislature requires all incorporated towns to be divided into school districts; by 1824 Westbrook has 13 districts.
1871 - Deering becomes a separate town, thus reducing Westbrook’s school districts to 7
1873 - Westbrook School System begins when the old school districts are abolished and all schools
become the property and responsibility of the towns. Westbrook has 7 buildings and districts in which  schools are maintained, there are  2 high schools, one in Pride’s Corner).
             Westbrook is unusual in that 2 of its teachers are Normal graduates (there are only 294 in the entire state.)
1897 - First time that “no school” signal applies to high school – before that, school rain or shine!
1888 - First special teacher of music is hired
1906 - First practice teachers from Gorham Normal are used
1906 - Electric lights  installed in 1 or 2 rooms in high school
1909 - Industrial Department started in Dana Warp Mill
1911 - First sanitary drinking fountain installed in Brown Street school; all buildings, except rural schools (Rocky Hill, Pride's Corner and Highland Lake), have them by 1913.
1920s - (early) S.D. Warren Co. gives each commercial course student 2 weeks of practical experience in the company office.
              Boot and Shoe Fund established to supply pupils with necessary clothing
1925 - Forest Street School averages over 51 pupils per teacher
            Every school room in the city and Prides’ corner has electric lights
1927 - Out-houses finally eliminated
1947 - Drivers Education started
1954 - 42% of the class goes on to further education
            Westbrook provides equal pay for equal work regardless of sex (prior to state requirement)
1955 – City’s total teaching staff is 80

**2011 - Student enrollment citywide 2,438 - Teaching staff 274

 
     
 

WESTBROOK POLICE

   

police1906
Left to right: Louis Chretien, Joseph Hebert, Walter Hale, Edward Hebert, Willis (Billie) Mitchell,
John Pare




   

In 1873 the police force for the town of Westbrook worked under a constable style of policing. When Westbrook was incorporated as a city in 1891 an official police department was organized.

This great photograph of the Westbrook Police Department was given to the Society by the grand daughter of Willis Mitchell. The names and the date 1906 are listed on the back. However, a reprint of the photograph appeared in a local newspaper with the date of 1912. No matter the date, these men stand proud in their tall helmets and brass-buttoned uniforms ....ready to protect the citizens of Westbrook.

 
   

 
     
 
THE WESTBROOK
Westbrook's Opera House
 
 

operahouse1

 
 
A sketch of the Speirs Block, corner of Main and Speirs Streets
(current site of Subway)
 
 
The Westbrook Chronicle, Friday, November 19, 1897
Handsome New Opera House  “THE WESTBROOK”
 
     
 


“In the erection of the handsome four story block, bearing his name, Mr. Alexander Speirs of this city has conferred a positive and lasting benefit on the city of Westbrook that cannot fail to be appreciated in time to come.  The building…forms an important link in the business interests of the east and west ends of the city…”


This article goes on to describe the interior of the building in glowing terms and at great length. (We should note that the Westbrook Chronicle was owned by Mr. Speirs!)

The Speirs Block was located nearly in the center of Westbrook, on the corner of Main and Speirs Streets.  'The Westbrook', as the opera house was quickly dubbed, was situated on the top floor of the building. The Surehold Truss Company was located on the ground floor and a mail order business, a newspaper and a bean pot factory were also in the building.

The opera house was dedicated November 24, 1897. Ladies were assisted from their horse drawn surreys by men in top hat and tails and Mr. Speirs himself was on hand to greet the guests. The evening’s  entertainment was provided by the Oxford Concert Company of Boston and the Jefferson Orchestra of Portland.

'The Westbrook' soon became the hub of city activity, hosting social and political events and all types of entertainment. Westbrook High School held its graduations here for the classes of 1898 through 1904.

Surprisingly, no actual photographs of the building have been located. However, the tattered newspaper photograph seen below, appeared in the CHRONICLE-GAZETTE on Friday, November 25, 1904 when the “disastrous conflagration” of the previous Saturday night was reported.

Seven years almost to the day, after its dedication, a fire broke out and destroyed the building. The cause of the fire was attributed to a short circuit in “the apparatus used by Mr. George W. Collins for his moving pictures.” 200 people had been at the movie show when, at ten o’clock, Mr. Collins started the last picture of the evening. Flames sprang from the machine and the celluloid film started to blaze. Luckily the manager and ushers calmly assisted the patrons to the exits and no injuries resulted. The damage to the building however was beyond repair. 

Thus, Westbrook lost its opera house.

 
 
operahouse2
 
To read more about Mr. Alexander Speirs, the Speirs Block and The Westbrook,
visit the Westbrook Historical Society library’
 
     
 
WESTBROOK ELECTRIC COMPANY

 
 
POWER CO
Main Street Office
 
 

Before the advent of power companies it was necessary to build an industry close to a river in order to use the water power…via water wheels, pulleys and pipes… to work the machinery.  Power companies allowed factories to be located wherever it was most convenient since the power could be brought to the business over wires.

The Westbrook Electric Light & Power Co. was the first such company to supply electricity to Westbrook.  The name was later changed to the “Presumpscot Electric Company”. Their main office, seen here decorated for the 1914 Westbrook Centennial celebration, was located on Main Street.

The company had three power stations in Westbrook’s west end. Water was taken in at station No. 1 and transformed into electricity which was used for supplying the lights here and in Deering. Its power was also used for driving motors for various establishments. Station No. 2 transmitted power to the paper mills and Station No. 3 supplied power for operating the Westbrook, Windham and Naples road. There was also a station at the Lower Falls of the Presumpscot, which transmitted power to the paper mills. This electric power plant is owned by S.D. Warren Co.

The Company was described in a 1907 Trade Journal as follows:
“The company, originally established with 50 H.P., has today a 10,000 H.P. capacity and furnishes light and power for the city. That the company has been a great benefit to the city and vicinity goes without saying, always giving steady and reliable service. The plant is quipped with all the latest and most up-to-date machinery and is under the management of W.B. Bragdon, an efficient and practical electrician.”

The Presumpscot Electric Company continued in business until 1922 when the city lighting interests were sold to the Cumberland County Power and Light Company which is now known as the Central Maine Power Company.

 
 
PresumElec1
Saccarappa Station of Presumpsoct Electric Co. as seen in an early Trade Journal
 
 

The original power company may be gone but the Saccarappa Station still stands beside the Presumpscot River in Westbrook's 'west end' and there is still a sign over the doorway proclaiming its history.

 
PresumElec2
PresumElectric6
 
Saccarappa Station in 2010
     
 
A CITY OF FLOURISHING LODGES
by Oliver A. Cobb
[From the 1907 Board of Trade Journal]

   
Masons
1900 - Officers of Warren Phillips Lodge of Masons; Henry S. Cobb Master
 
   

The early conditions of Westbrook were not conducive to secret societies, neither were they plenty or flourishing at that time anywhere in Maine or…in the world…

We find no record or tradition of any secret society in Westbrook previous to 1840. About that time a Lodge of Rechabites was organized…but it was short lived….

About 1844, Odd Fellowship having obtained a footing in the State, a Lodge of that order was founded in Westbrook and received many members, the number of members reaching two hundred within five years.  The name chosen for the Lodge was Saccarappa and the number was eleven. After a few years of prosperity and rapid growth the interest in the Fraternity began to decline and practically ceased to exist,   although the charter was never surrendered, it being held by a faithful few during these years of adversity,   they keeping the Grand Lodge dues paid.  After these few years of quietude the Lodge was re-organized, the charter brought from its concealment and another era of prosperity began which has continued with slight interruption to the present time. About 1880 some fifty of the members withdrew and formed Ammencongin (sic) Lodge at Cumberland Mills.  While a little feeling probably arose at this time on account of their action it soon passed away and the Lodges work harmoniously… Cummings Encampment and Naomi Lodge of Rebekahs meet with Saccarappa Lodge, the members of which are made up about equally from both places.

About 1850 a Lodge of Temperance Watchman was organized and flourished for several years. The temperance movement became so strong after a few years that prohibition was made the law of the State and the society of Temperance Watchman ceased to exist. About 1860 societies of Good Templars began to be formed and several have existed in different places in the town, Duck Pond now Highland Lake, Prides Corner, Saccarappa and Cumberland Mills… Free Masonry was introduced into Westbrook in 1856. Temple Lodge No. 86 being organized and chartered that year… In 1883 fifty odd of its members dimitted and organized Warren Phillips Lodge No. 186. The brethen (sic) left peaceably and quietly and the old Lodge presented the new a set of silver Jewells for their officers as an earnest of their good feeling. ....Eagle Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was organized in Gorham about 1857 and was moved to Westbrook a few years later. They hold their meetings in the hall with Temple Lodge and their membership is practically equal with the Lodge, reaching 216 at last report. Westbrook Council No. 15 Royal and Select Masters also meets in the same hall. It was organized and chartered in 1891… Masonry was long considered to be expressly ordained for men and no woman need apply but degrees connected with the order having been formulated, woman knocked at the door of the Lodge-room, where they confer degrees both upon themselves and the brethren… Mishap Chapter No. 3 was organized in 1891 at Westbrook and Beulah No. 5 a year later at Cumberland Mills.

About 1870 the organization known as Knights of Pythias was launched in the community and Presumpscot Valley Lodge No. 3 was chartered at Saccarappa and grew apace… and later Westbrook Lodge was started in Saccarappa…Connected with the Pythians is the Pythian Sisterhood called Calanthe Assembly and is wholly made up of the ladies…

About 1875 when Granges were being organized the citizens in the north part of the town started one to be known as Westbrook Grange…the number is augmented by those coming from the neighboring towns of Windham and Falmouth… They own their commodious hall.

The veterans of the Civil War were not early in uniting and forming a Post but about 1880 Cloudman Post, named after Andrew C. Cloudman who early gave his life for his Country, was organized…  While the members are growing old they made a commendable appearance Memorial day and hold meetings twice a month. Connected with the institution is a Ladies' Relief Corps made up of the veteran's wives and daughters. The Sons of Veterans and the Ladies' Aid, composed of their wives and sisters, are also nourishing organizations. The camp was named after William Wade, a young man formerly residing here…

About 1880 the order of the Golden Cross having risen to promience in the country a Commandery was established at Saccarappa and shortly after another at Cumberland Mills…About the same time a Lodge of the Iron Hall was formed. The order was for men only and required a mint of money to run…

A year or two later labor organizations began to be popular and the Knights of Labor being the pioneer grew apace. Within a year there were over a million in the United States. The need of a society like this was never really felt in Westbrook yet it came and came with a rush. Within a year four lodges were established in the town… The Knights of Labor organization was worthy of a better fate as the precepts taught were good and nearly all were eligible to join, the only occupations that were denied admission were Lawyers, Bankers, Gamblers and Politicians, but Trades Unions took the place of the general union, being more select and more easily managed. Trades Unions have never flourished in Westbrook the only attempt being a Paper Makers Union which lasted only a few months.

The Red Men started at Cumberland Mills about 1890 with over one hundred charter members… The wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of members have a society connected with the Red Men called Daughters of Pocahontas.

The Foresters of America also hold meetings regularly and are a worthy organization as their name would indicate.  [See Spring 2009 Newsletter, for more information on this Order.]

Occasionally one portion of a cummunity (sic) feels called upon to look after and regulate doings of another portion hence we early find among us the Society of Knownothings who took upon themselves to say who should and who should not hold office. They began about 1853 and were short lived. The American Protective Association followed later, on the same lines, then the Orange Men and finally the American Mechanics, a very much milder and less aggressive order, has gained a foot hold with us and are doing a good work. The ladies connected with them and are styled Daughters of Liberty.

The new England Order of Protection also is a flourishing body composed of both men and women and have an insurance connected with them and are doing a good work.

The Catholic people also have their societies and hold meetings regularly. The principal among them are the Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph's Lodges. They are in a measure under the care of the church and the members are pledged to temperance. The work is performed in the French language.

There may be other societies which the writer has overlooked but enough has been written to show that no one coming here either transiently or permanently need fear of not finding a lodge home. The societies at present in existence are Masons Lodge, and Eastern Star in each end of the town, also Chapter and Council Odd Fellows, two lodges, Encampment and Rebekah, Knights of Pythias, two lodges and the Sisterhood, a Grange, Grand Army Post with Relief Corps, Sons of Veterans with Ladies' Aid, two Commanderies of the Golden Cross, two of Red Men with Pocahontas, Foresters, United Order of American Mechanics with Daughters of Liberty, Saint John and Saint Joseph's societies, Good Templars, New England Order of Protection with an open field for any other promising order that may choose to come among us.

[Condensed from the 1907 Board of Trade Magazine; spelling left uncorrected.]
[Also of note, the Society has a record book from The Saccarappa Martha Washington Charitable Society, 1846}

 
 

Cloudman Post

 
Cloudman Post G.A.R. 1913 ("none living by 1943")
Photo taken in Cumberland Mills beside Warren Block

 
     
 

WESTBROOK CORNET BAND
and the
WESTBROOK, CONNECTICUT CONNECTION

   

wsbk cornet band
Picture of a picture, taken by Fred W. Bull, Westbrook, CT - date and photographer unknown


   

Unless you live in Westbrook, MAINE, you’ve probably never wondered how Westbrook, CONNECTICUT got its name.  Well, some of the (Maine) society  workers wondered and they sent a query off to the “other” (CT) historical society.  The answer, kindly given by Margaret Buckridge Bock, was that “Saybrook Colony” was originally composed of the present towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, Westbrook, Deep River and part of Lyme. Westbrook (also known by the Indian name of Pochaug) was the West Parish of the colony. When it separated to form its own church, it was West Saybrook, the “Say” was soon dropped.”  So, Col. Thomas Westbrook had nothing to do with it!

            But more importantly, along with this information Margaret sent a copy of a photo of the Westbrook Cornet Band. She said that her group knew was not a band from their city and wondered if they ‘belonged’ to us. After searching our records and the internet, it was discovered (in an 1885-86 Maine Register) that this was indeed one of our bands. It was lead by Howard S. Babb and was located in Cumberland Mills. Thus we attained a lost piece of our local heritage along with new friends in Connecticut.

            This proves that there is still a lot of information to be learned and shared by our Societies...if we continue to ask the questions!

 
     
 
STEPHEN W. MANCHESTER POST #62 - AMERICAN LEGION
image0039

MOVE CURSOR OVER PHOTO TO SEE THEN & NOW PICTURE

American Legion Post #62 was formed in October 1919 by 44 returning WW I veterans.  The Post was named for Stephen W. Manchester**, the first Westbrook man killed in that war.  The first meetings were held in the Armory, then in the Cloudman’s Relief Corps Hall and the Redman’s Hall until they were able to erect their own building.

The building was funded somewhat by the sale of Stephen W. Manchester Post #62 stock certificates, which sold at $5 per share. The beautiful two storied building was completed in 1929 on land at the edge of Riverbank Park; the land was leased for 100 years from the City.  This old photograph shows large metal eagles on each corner of the roof. Over the years these eagles have come off and the last one was found on the ground, in the snow. That eagle is now on display in the Historical Society museum.

The building has always had an active history. The first floor is used for Post meetings and functions and is rented out for local social events. The upstairs, completed with ceiling mirror-ball, and at one time a large stage at one end, was used for local minstrel shows, plays, school graduations and dances.  This room has been home for the Westbrook Historical Society since 2001.

**Stephen Walter Manchester was born in Westbrook on December 15, 1886 and entered the service on July 28, 1917.  His serial number was 147208.  Stephen was
sent overseas on October 9, 1917. He was known by the nickname "Happy" Manchester, by his comrades in the 101st Trench Motar Battery. Stephen died on July 18, 1918 in the 103d Field Hospital, of wounds received in action at Chateau-Thierry.

     
 
WESTBROOK HIGH SCHOOL
1933 BASEBALL CHAMPS


 
 
BB33
 
 

Front row (left to right)—Rudolph “Rudy” Anderson (Captain), Harlan ”Red” Shane '34 (pitcher), Robert “Pete” Tetrault '34 (3rd base),  Harold “Jack” Harmon, Henry “Buck” Cote '34 (centerfield), Lloyd “Shrimp” Spiller '35 (2nd base),
Forrest “Stud”  King.
Middle row—Paul “Ginger” Fraser (Coach), Roland “Rollie” Tetrault '36 (short stop), Edmund “Tud” Waterman,
Albert "Fat" Bernier (pitcher), Wyman “Jack” Foster, Lawrence ”Joe”  Farr, Armand  “Danny” Daniel '36 (sub, catcher).
Back row—Millard Chaplin (Ass’t Manager), Edward “Eddie” Mayo (Manager), Leo Cormier,
Ronald “Ronnie” Jordan '33,
Philip “Harvey” Nelson '33, Joseph “Joe” Robichaud, Raymond “Buck” Cote, Neil “Neally” Leighton.
========================================================================================

 
 

Coach Paul F. Fraser* made his valedictory bow at Westbrook High School in 1933, by molding a championship nine and leaving a strong nucleus for another team in 1934. Westbrook asserted its supremacy in the Telegram League by capturing all divisions of play except home runs and stolen bases. After an inauspicious beginning at the Warren League grounds, where they were beaten, 6 to 5, by Sanford, the team gained its stride and swept the opposition aside methodically to win the Telegram League pennant for the eighth time, winning eight games and losing two.

At Deering, the following week, in the midst of a sleet storm and bitter cold, the boys were victorious, 9 to 4. Robert Tetrault's home run in the first inning started the ball rolling and Forrest King held the Deering batters well in check for the remainder of the game.

In the final and what proved to be the championship game, Westbrook bent South Portland in easy fashion, a pair of errors and Westbrook hits contributing to the downfall of Kershaw, the opposing pitcher, to the tune of 6 to 2.

In the All-Telegram selections, Shane, Bernier, Cote and Spiller gained positions and Shane was the League's leading pitcher and batter. The school received the Telegram League cup and the Wilson Trophy. The boys later went to Boston as guests of the Westbrook Merchants. At a benefit game in which we won over the All Stars, 4 to 3, enough money was realized to purchase chamois jackets for the letter men and Coach Fraser.

Letter men were: Harlan Shane, Forrest King, Albert Bernier, Henry Cote, Rudolph Anderson, Captain, Lloyd Spiller, Robert Tetrault, Roland Tetrault, Harold Harmon, Wyman Foster and Edward Mayo, Manager.

[Taken from the Westbrook High School Blue & White 1934]

 
This photograph and the autographed game baseball were recently donated to the Westbrook Historical Society by the daughter of Albert Bernier, pitcher for the championship team of 1933.

*Paul "Ginger" Fraser came to Westbrook in 1922 to accept a position at the Westbrook Community Association. From 1929 to1932 he served as assistant football coach at the high school. In 1933 he himself coached not only this championship baseball team, but also the football and basketball teams at Westbrook High. When Coach Fraser died suddenly in 1938 at the age of 45,S he was eulogized as "a coach and athletic director, one of Maine's all-time football luminaries, teacher and youth leader". Long remembered as a local legend, the softball field behind Warren Library was named Fraser Field in his honor on July 22, 2000.

ball33
 
     
 
- WESTBROOK GARAGE & MACHINE COMPANY -
- ROWE MOTORS, INC. -


   
ROWE PARTS
This photo of the Rowe Parts Department shows George Sullivan [a salesman] and Charles Champlain [the mechanic] tending stock. You frequently find old photos of the outside of businesses but it's not often that you find photos of the interior.
 
   

The Westbrook Garage & Machine Co. was advertised in Motor Age Magazine, (Vol. 18, Sep 1, 1910) as a recently incorporated Westbrook business with “a capital stock of $10,000 to buy, sell, manufacture and repair motor cars and deal in all kinds of vehicles.” The incorporators were listed as John T Skill, Alexander Spiers and William Lyons. The business was located at 609 Main Street on the corner of Stevens Avenue, in the same building that now houses Mr. Bagel.

By 1921 Westbrook City Directory listed the company President as David L. Rowe, with Raymond B. Rowe as Treasurer and William J. Rowe as Manager. This is the same year that they became dealers of Ford automobiles. By the 1929 the name had been changed to Rowe Motor Co.

In 1966 the business moved to their current location at 91 Main St. A merger with the former Portland Motor Sales Co. created a name change to Rowe Ford Sales.

100 years in business...in the same town...is a record of which to be proud!

 
   
Westb Garage
Original Rowe Motors - Charles Champlain, George Sullivan, Raymond Rowe, Owner
 
     
 
WALKER MEMORIAL LIBRARY
 
 
 
 

Walker Library
Walker Memorial Library, circa 1900

 
 

OUR LAST LANDMARK…HOW DO WE LET IT GO?

            The citizens of Westbrook (Saccarappa) saw the need for a free public library as far back as 1802. Books were gathered into a small circulation library that year. The Hon. Fabius M. Ray appears to have been the “librarian and caretaker” of this collection, giving his time as a librarian on Saturday afternoons, and housing the books in his barn. Around 1890 a group of citizens began to look for ways to raise money to purchase new books and to find a permanent storage place for them.  
            At that time Mr. Ray had a client by the name of Joseph Walker. Mr. Walker was a Portland resident, having moved from Saccarappa. He began his business career in the lumber industry and in such amassed a considerable fortune in Westbrook. Mr. Ray suggested that Mr. Walker donate, in his will, his considerable trust fund for a library to be known as Walker Memorial Library. The rest became history.
            In his bequest to the Town of Westbrook, Mr. Walker wrote, “My wish and desire is that the trust created for the benefit of the town shall be construed as an earnest expression on my part to promote the cause of education, and advance knowledge and information among the residents of the town, and I trust that said town in its corporate capacity will add to said fund, and assist, continue, and maintain this object in which I take a deep interest, and that residents of said town, knowing the usefulness and benefit which must result from efforts to promote knowledge and education among the people, will aid the same by their influence and means.”

 
  Mr. Walker died in 1891 and his executor Frederick Fox, took up the cause of fulfilling the extent of Walker’s bequest by finding a place and a design for the library.  Architect Frederick A. Thompson of Portland drew up the plans and the building design was described as follows:
            “The building will be constructed of light terra cotta brick, with terra cotta trimmings and a granite underpinning. The trimmings will be of brown, and the spandrels in the ornamentation over the doorway will be modeled. The roof will be covered with Monson slate. The building will be a story and a half structure, the upper story being used for storage and the basement for he heating apparatus and also for storage.  The main floor will be devoted for library purposes, and will be beautiful and commodious as well as perfectly adapted to the purpose.”
            When the Library was built in 1894 the land, building and furniture cost $40,000. The Library was built to house 15,000 volumes and had 4,000 volumes at the time of opening.
 
  In 1988 a much needed new wing was added to the Library.  Since then the collection has continued to grow and the Library continues to be a meeting and gathering place for the citizens of Westbrook.

The Walker Memorial Library was placed on the National Register of Historical Places on November 10, 1980 and was registered as a Greater Portland Landmark in 1994. The Library now houses a Local History Room and a Gathering room in the original part of the library where the beauty and planning of the original designers is still evident.
            The Walker Memorial Library has remained a jewel in the downtown area of Westbrook for 116 years; its beauty unsurpassed in any other building in the City.
 
 
Wlib4

 
     
 
** 1814 ** WESTBROOK CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION ** 1914 **
JUNE 7, 8, 9, 1914

 
 
1914Shoestore
 
 

"Previous to 1814, Westbrook was a part of Falmouth... At the time of the incorporation of Portland, in 1786, up to 1814, Falmouth contained the present Falmouth, Deering District of Portland and Westbrook, as one town; even with the loss of Portland and Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth had become an unwieldy town especially in extent of territory. Its two parishes, the New Casco within the present Falmouth and the Stroudwater in this section, were the main cause of the division of the town in 1814. "
(Taken from the Official Program of the Commemorative Exercises of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town of Stroudwater Name Changed to Westbrook, June 9th, 1814.}

Just as the call for the first town meeting in 1814 must have been a time of celebration, so too was the 100th anniversary of that occasion! A forty page Official Program, complete with extensive history, and a Centennial Celebration flyer were printed by Westbrook's own H.S. Cobb Printer of Cumberland Mills; committees were formed on Church Observances, Music & Band Concerts, Children's Day & Exercises, Historical Matter & Exhibits, Parades (there were two), Bonfire & Fireworks, Decorations & Illuminations, Sports, Reception & Entertainment ...these are just a few of those listed in the Official Program.

The photograph shown here of one of Westbrook's shoe stores is representative of the wonderful job that the Decorations Committee did. Looking through the Society's collection, it would seem that every business along Main Street was decorated with banners and flags. It also seems that a photograph was taken of each establishment and most included employees proudly standing out front.

The Firemen's and the Civic and Trades Parades were also well covered by the photographers. There are many pictures of flag-draped horse-drawn wagons and automobiles filled with local merchandize and citizens. And, of course, the sidewalks were crowded with onlookers.

Let's hope that we're all as public spirited in 2014!! See you there!

 
1914Parade

1814 WESTBROOK'S 1914
CENTENNIALCELEBRATION
JUNE 7, 8 & 9
PROGRAM

SUNDAY, JUNE 7th
Forenoon—Special Services in all the churches.
1:30 p. m. A sacred concert will be given at the new park, "Riverbank," by the Westbrook City Band.
8:00 p. m. All will unite in a big religious mass meeting at the Warren League Grounds. Address by Hon. Carl E. Milliken, of Island Falls, Maine, on "Good Citizenship." Music by Chandler's Band (accompanying the vocal numbers), also rendering instrumental selections.
7:00 p. m. Special services in the various churches.

MONDAY, JUNE 8th
Children's day
9:00 a. m. Beautiful Parade including 1500 school children, from Bridge Street Square to Warren League Grounds. Following the Parade there will be exercises by the children and addresses by two prominent speakers.
2:00 p. m. Baseball Game at Warren League Grounds. Old Presumpscot vs. Old Yarmouth
3:30 p. m. Canoe Races.
8:00 p. m. Canoe Pageant. Over 100 canoes will participate.

TUESDAY, JUNE 9th
Our 100th Anniversary
9:00 a. m. Baseball Game. Portland New England Team vs. All Westbrook.
10:00 a.m. Grand Military, Civic and Trades Parade.
2:00 p. m. Dedication of our New Park, "Riverbank." Westbrook City Band will furnish music.
2:00 p. m. A Field Artillery Drill, by Naval Reserves, at Scotch Hill. Military Athletic Contest by the Coast Artillery and the Coast Artillery Reserves, followed by a Dress Parade by the entire companies.
2:00 p.m. Ball Game, All Westbrook vs. Maine Centrals, at Warren League Grounds.
2:00 p. m. Athletic Meet, at the Cumberland Mills Playgrounds.
The concluding event of the celebration, on Tuesday evening, will consist of the grandest display of fireworks ever produced east of Mass.

 
**To view more photographs of the Centennial or to read more information, visit our Collection at 17B Dunn Street **
     
 
CUTTER & FINISHING CREW 1885
 
 
1885cuttercrew
 
 

Front row (left to right): Charles W. Bailey, Eugene M. Walker, John Wesley Bacon, Charles W. Mace, Joseph P. Ricker, Oliver Berry, Frank L. Parker, Calvin  S. Walker, William W. Hammond and Lorenzo Barbour.
Second row: George F. Hunt, Charles H. Hunt, Charles Hanscomb, Warren S. Flye, Howard Rice, Charles H. Leighton, George Dunnells, Bert Bailey, Neil Murray, Wendell Bailey and George (Grip) Hunt.
Third row: Leander Moody, Winfield Crowley, Walter Whitehouse, Fred Lord, Marsh Morris, Fred L. Leighton, Edward Rounds, Isaiah Staples, Charles M. Cobb and Henry Howe.
Back row: Samuel F. Wilkins, Edwin A. Barbour, Ernest F. Bragdon, Edgar A. Durrell, Ira T. Brackett, Louis Christian, Edward Fernald, Alphonzo E. Greenlaw, Frank W. Ricker, William E. Vanner, Frank J. Little and Almon N. Waterhouse. 

This picture was taken way back in 1885— one hundred fifteen years ago. It shows the crew of the old cutter and finishing rooms of the local paper mill, S.D. Warren Company.  At one time this company was the major employer in the area, employing close to 4000 men and women. The mill is still in existence, although much smaller, and is now known as SAPPI FINE PAPER.

Last year a relative of the Hunt men (seen in the 3rd row) requested a print of this photograph. She had a copy but it was old and faded.   Her old copy had come from the Portland Sunday Telegram of March 26, 1922.  The same photo again appeared in the Warren Standard, the Warren Co.’s monthly paper, in 1954, proving that you and your history do have immortality via the archiving of our local photos and information.

The captions included with each article give a wealth of information about these men.

***************
PORTLAND SUNDAY TELEGRAM    MARCH 26, 1922:
11 STILL EMPLOYED, 15 DEAD (heading of photograph)
[The name’s of the men listed as still working at SD Warren  are written in bold type under the photo]

At the time of this publication further information is given on the following men:  Ernest F. Bragdon is living in Gorham, Edgar A. Durrell is still employed at SDW in another part of mill, Ira T. Brackett  is living in Buxton, Alphonzo E. Greenlaw is a prosperous farmer living on Stroudwater St., Isaiah Staples is living on a farm in Windham, Charles M. Cobb is proprietor of the general store at Cliff Island, George F. Hunt is retired and living on Lamb St., Warren S. Flye lives in Gray, Eugene M. Walker lives on a farm in the eastern part of the state, Charles W. Mace was foreman of the department for many years and is now retired and living on Main St. Mr. Mace was a representative to the Legislature in 1920. Oliver Berry has a farm in Standish, Frank L. Parker is with Patrons co-operative association in Portland

*************

WARREN STANDARD March 1954

The man fourth from the left is the late Charles W. Mace who was superintendent of the finishing department when the picture was taken and who was succeeded considerably later by the late A. N. Waterhouse. Mr. Waterhouse was superintendent for many years until he retired in 1931 after fifty years of service to the Warren Company. He was the uncle of Leon E. Waterhouse, who recently re­tired after forty-five years with the Company, all of it in the finishing department.

We don't believe that many of these men have survived until now—but we are sure of one. He is Fred Leighton, the good-looking man sixth from the left, in the next to the back row. At ninety-two, Fred lives alone and does all his own shopping, gets his own meals and he still looks hale and hearty.

 
     
 
LOOKING DOWN MECHANIC STREET
 
 
mechanic st
 
 

C.G. Gooding  Photographer  Saccarappa, Me.

This beautiful cabinet card, circa late 1800s, shows a view "looking down Mechanic Street" toward Main Street. It takes a while to get oriented to the location since the bare hill seen in the foreground of the photograph now contains parking lots and buildings. The railroad cars and tracks seen here have been replaced by Wayside Drive. The Armory, the tall brick building just at the end of Mechanic St., still remains and is an apartment building. The brick building to the left of the Armory is painted white today and Dana Mills buildings still stand in the background.

The white three-story house to the left of the street still looks about the same except dormers have been added and the white building behind it now houses a Chinese restaurant. All of the white buildings on the right side of the street were torn down during urban renewal. The old Universalist Church, with its pillared roof, can be seen just beyond the houses; that building, built in 1840, was torn down this winter to make way for an apartment building.

In comparing the scene of yesteryear with the scene of 2010, we find much has changed...but much has stayed the same.

 
2010Mechanic
Looking down Mechanic Street - 2010
     
 
MILLS OF SACCARAPPA
 
WOODMILL

In keeping with last month’s theme, and to enlighten those who believe that Westbrook was called a ‘mill town’ only because of S.D. Warren Paper Co. & Dana Warp Mills, here is a transcript of an article from the Society’s archives.  There is no notation if it appeared in a local paper but the photo that accompanied the article seems to have come from newsprint and was not of reproduction quality. (It is a photo of an “old Saccarappa Sawmill that was about 100 years old when it was torn down at the turn of the century” from its site near “Pork Hill”.) The mill scene photograph seen above is from the Ernest Rowe Collection which was originally photographed on glass lantern slides. The slides were digitized by the Warren Memorial Library and donated to the Society.   

THE MILLS OF SACCARAPPA IN 1858

This sketch of early Westbrook was written about the turn of the century by Mr. E. J. Haskell

Starting on the right bank of the river, the first mill on the upper dam was that of the G. & L. P. Warren Company. It was a saw mill and ran the year around. On the island was the thread mill, so called, filled with machinery for making cotton cloth. This mill was not operated in 1858. At the opening of the Civil War it was started as a paper mill, but ran only a short time because on a Saturday morning it caught fire and burned to the ground. There were also the ruins of another mill on the island.
On the mainland there was a grist-mill run by Mr. Bickford; next a mill for grinding plaster run by Mr. Allen, the father of Mrs. W. L. Knowlton; then the saw mill of Mr. Dana Brigham, and the saw mill of Mr. Samuel Clements. With that of the Warren's, these mills did a large business sawing logs into dimension timber and boards.
Next there was a shingle and clapboard mill run by Mr. Thomas Akers; then the old silk mill built by Mr. Vogel and run by him until it was broken into one night and all the stock and the silk stock taken. After that, the business was given up and the mill was used for making harnesses for cotton and woolen mills. This was operated, I think, by Mr. James Pennell.
On the other side of the river on the upper dam was a small mill making bats or batting from the waste of cotton mills, run by Mr. Stephen Cole and others. It was not operated much after 1858. Then came the mills of the Westbrook Mfg. Company, composed of one brick mill of five stories, a two-story building beside it, and a wooden building nearer the road, that was the duck mill, so called. This building was replaced in 1865 by a three-story brick building, the foundations of which are still standing.
The power for all these mills was generated by over-shot, breast, and under-shot wheels. I think the only under-shot wheel was used in the harness mill and that was run by the water discharged by the mills above.
The river was full of logs almost all the time. There was a main boom opposite the place where the house of Ovide Fredette now stands, a boom at Small's and one at Steep Ledge. There were side booms between these as well as below the main boom and between the dams.
The river was very uneven in its flow. In the late summer it was so low that men could go out into the bed of the river with rakes and hoes and clear out the channel so that the water would flow to their side of the river and keep the wheels turning. Then in late fall and in the spring it was so high that the mills were troubled with back-water.
As soon as it was sawed, the lumber was taken to the yards and stacked. One yard for the Warren mill was between Park Hill and the river. Another yard was the flat between Depot and Saco Streets on the south side of the railroad tracks.
The yards were well filled with lumber although teams of six and eight yoke of oxen with a span of horses as leaders, were hauling it day and night to Portland to be shipped.
The roads in the spring and fall were very bad. The wheels of the lumber teams would sink to the hubs even in the villages, and sometimes they were obliged to go into the fields to get out of a bad place…[area missing in article]…turbines. This meant taking out enough ledge at the end of the mill to make a flume eighteen feet deep and a raceway to the river below the falls.
The work of drilling and blasting, all hand work, was started in the spring of 1858. The agent being a stranger, did not know what wages to give the men. He called them together and asked what they thought they should have.  After talking it over, they said their work was worth 75 cents a day and they were paid that. These wages were not as low as might appear, as milk was 4 cents a quart, eggs 12 cents a dozen and butter about 15 cents a pound.  Everything was in the same proportion except sugar and flour, but as molasses and meal were quite generally used, it was not hard to support a family.
The hours of labor were about twelve in the saw mills and eleven in the textile mills.
This is a sketch of how mills of Saccarappa looked to a boy if eight in those times.


     
 
CORN SHOPS OF WESTBROOK
 

The Historical Society recently received this sepia-colored, cardboard-backed 8 X 10 photograph of the old Davis & Baxter corn shop of Cumberland Mills. The original owner of the picture was Samuel B. Ingersoll of 126 Forest Street.  Mr. Ingersoll had been employed as a sealer at the shop for many years and  he had made notes on the back of the picture... ”all cut by hand; women employees; now swim pool...”

An old newspaper article in the Society's collection shows the same photograph with the following inscription:

“...the corn shop, owned by Davis & Baxter, was located in Cumberland Mills on the    present site of the swimming pool...In those days the corn was cut by hand, women being employed for this task. On the opposite bank of the Presumpscot River on the present site of the “Elms”, ...stood the corn shop of J. Winslow Jones, believed to be the first man to pack corn in this vicinity.”

Westbrook's corn shop history is also  referenced in Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook :

“...to Nathan Winslow...belongs the credit of having inaugurated what is now a colossal industry in most parts of the United States and Canada, the preservation of food products in cans by what is known as the process of hermetically sealing. In this connection it is worthy to mention that the first sweet corn ever canned for the market, was so canned by Mr. Winslow in what was then a woodshed at Cumberland Mills...”


     
 
THE SCHOOL SAFETY PATROL CROSSING GUARD
 
 


Front row
: Roland Pitres, Jean Rene Brochu, Raymond Hebert, Raymond Belanger, Jean Claude Audet, Robert Grondin, Phillippe Gagnon, Paul Levesque, Ronald Delcourt, Arthur Bonin, Paul Dufour & Laurent Landry.
2nd row : Gerald Delcourt, Robert Breton, Gerard Duchesne, Robert Landry, Amedee Chaisson, Robert Arsenault, Maurice Moreau, Aime Thibeault, Edgar Savoie, Aime Labrecque, Edmond Savoie, Leo Paul Pinette, Paul Bernard
Back row: Leo Pednault, Lt.; Leo Champagne, Cpt; Roland Gagne Lt; Willis P. Mitchell Patrolman

 
 

This photo from the St. Hyacinth Collection was taken on October 27, 1939. Members of the Schoolboy Patrol, organized that year at St. Hyacinthe and St. John the Baptist* School, Westbrook, stand proudly at attention.  The job of the Patrol members was to escort some of the children nearly half a mile, from the schools on North and Walker Streets, to Vallée Square where they would assist them safely through the traffic on Main St. 

 
 

First sponsored in 1926, the School Safety Patrol was one of ‘Triple A’s’ (AAA) oldest programs.  In the 40s and 50s Arlan Barnard was the ‘Three A Safety Man’ on Greater Portland radio.  The Patrol Guard, wearing the official white belt and a badge supplied by ‘Triple A’, would hold up traffic for students to cross the streets on their way to and from school. Later on girls were included in the Patrol. Westbrook schools continued using the Safety Patrol into the 1950s. 

 
 

AAA School Safety Patrols were mostly composed of boys and girls from upper elementary grades and junior high/middle school. The students were selected on the merit of their grades, conduct, and attendance. It was considered quite an honor to be one of those chosen to wear the white belt and safety badge. The length of time students served depended on the schools...some schools selected students to serve for a full year and others changed students on a monthly basis. The job of a Safety Patrol was to regulate the safe movement of school children in the immediate vicinity of a school. Patrol Guards were positioned on street corners to protect fellow students, especially the younger students, from the hazards of crossing roads. At some schools the duty of the Safety Patrol also included the raising and lowering the flag each day.

As school-age leaders in traffic safety, Patrols helped teach students about traffic safety on a peer-to-peer basis. They also served as role models to the younger children who looked up to them.

 
     
 

LET IT SNOW! snow2

The holiday season is fast approaching and the expectancy of snow is high here in Westbrook! What could be more fitting than an old photo, turned post card, of Main Street in winter. This photo points out some changes that have occurred over the years. Note that everyone is out shoveling their own snow... even down the middle of the street! Maybe it's to make it easier for the horse-pulled rollers to get through. [In those days they didn't 'plow' the roads, they 'rolled' and packed them.]

And certainly the snow is a lot more than we seem to get now. I always thought that I remembered really deep snow storms because, being small, even 6 inches of snow would be up over my boots; but this scene shows that those drifts really were monstrous!

But the greatest change seems to have been on Main Street. Most of these houses, buildings and trees are long gone. Can anyone pick out some landmarks in this photograph? As a hint, written on the postcard, in pencil, is the note "in the 1800s."

sleigh
Anyone for the "good old days"?

 
     
 

THE SOKOKIS ON THE PRESUMPSCOT Sokosis

In the late 1800s an excursion boat named the Sokokis was placed on the Presumpscot River by Captain Joseph Hezelton.  Its purpose was to carry passengers from the electric car terminus at Westbrook, 5 ½ miles up the river to “Horse-Beef” Falls [Mallison Falls] in Windham and back, a very popular excursion. The wharf at the Westbrook end was just above the dam at the Dana Warp Mills and up river there were two landings, one at the Falls proper and one at an old pavilion which was the destination of pleasure parties. The Sokokis made 3 runs a day, all days but Sunday, in the warm months.

The Sokokis, made entirely of cypress, was 60 feet long with a 12 foot beam and a 19 inch draft. She was built in Portland by Joseph Dow, a famous shipwright in those days.  Around her deck was a row of built-in seats and in the wide space between them were camp chairs for the tourists who often crowded her to her full 125 seat capacity. “The sail up the river was a beautiful one, for the river wound between densely wooded banks and the old boat often ran within a foot or so of the shore so that the trees overhung her as she passed.”

She was christened SOKOKIS in memory of the brave chief of the Sokokis Indian tribe, Polan, who in 1750, was killed in battle on the shores of Lake Sebago and buried there.  History says that the Sokokis were a strong branch of the Abanaki tribe and had their main settlements near the head waters of the Kennebec, Androscoggin and Saco Rivers and also another river not named on the ancient map of 1660, but is thought to be the Presumpscot.

The Sokokis had 8 successful years of service before the extension of the electric railway from Westbrook to South Windham. The railway proved its downfall since the cars proved more convenient and popular than the river trip. The river boat was move overland …a story in itself!*...to Stroudwater where it spent a year as a pleasure boat in Back Cove. After that she was sailed around to Portland Harbor and Widgery’s Wharf  where she was used for excursions  to the cod ground 10 miles out to sea.

In the late 1890s, when Portland Harbor was frozen over she was frozen to the wharf in a solid mass of ice. When the tide went out the poor Sokokis, encased in tons of ice, turned over and went to the bottom of the bay.  When weather allowed she was raised and sold to a New Jersey party for use as a ferry boat. Her fate after that is unknown.

* The difficult task of moving this large boat five miles across country was undertaken by  Lorenzo Knight.  With 4 pairs of horses and 12 pairs of oxen, all hired from surrounding farms, he accomplished the task after overcoming multiple obstacles.]

 
     
 

MEET ME AT ... THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY!
JV&Frosh1951

JV and Freshman basketball team
Westbrook High School 1951
1st row: Nancy Keith, Wanda Christensen, Thelma Robertson, Carol Brown, Angela Hardy, Bella Gresley
2nd row: Sally Percival, manager; Margaret Jensen, Dawn Tetrault, Patricia Christian, Diane Turgeon, Patricia Lampron, Jean E. Miller, coach
3rd row: Marilyn Woods, Beverley Lufkin, Florence Frost

A historical society means many things to many people. It may be seen as a library...or a museum...or a place where old things that no one else wants are kept. Maybe it's a place to visit or work when you are retired...or a place that you might go if you have nothing better to do with a morning or afternoon.
But how about...a meeting place?

According to the By-laws of the Westbrook Historical Society its purpose is "to bring together those people interested in the history of Westbrook, Maine, and to discover, collect, and preserve any materials and objects that establish and illustrate the history of the area."

Last year the Society received an e-mail from Jean Miller, an English teacher and basketball coach at Westbrook High School in 1949 - 1951. Now living in Arlington, VT after retiring from a long career in education, Jean was interested in contacting some of her former WHS students. Old year books and alumni materials that the Society had gathered over the years, were the sources for a packet of photos and some addresses and telephone numbers that were sent off to Jean.

Last month the Society received a note saying that Jean would be passing through Westbrook and would like to stop into the Society. Member Diane Turgeon Dyer quickly called several former basketball team members and invited them to join in the visit with "Miss Miller". Even though it was a holiday weekend 5 ladies showed up to swap stories and reminisce about the 50s and to bring each other up to date on their lives. A wonderful 58 year reunion was had by all! A meeting place it is!

2009_901Society

Sally Percival Knight, Dianne Turgeon Dyer, Jean E. Miller, Pat Christian Currier, Phyllis Harnois Rogers, Joan Robie LaBrecque
2009

 
     
 

ST. HYACINTH SCHOOL

SH18

Wilfrid Albert, Agnés Moreau, Marie-Antoinette Giboin, Léo Fortin, Albanie Carignan, Eva Bergeron
1918

This picture of the class of 1918 is in the photo album ‘Graduations, St. Hyacinth School, 1899 – 1963’. The Society recently received the album from the disbanded St. Hyacinth Historical Society.  The album contains the names of the graduates of each 8th grade class as well as a photograph of them.  Every student is scrubbed, polished and in his or her best outfit...very different from today's graduation photos! The surnames are a testament to Westbrook's long and rich French Canadian heritage; any Catholic who grew up in Westbrook could probably trace their family tree in this album. 

Early on many Catholic Canadian families were attracted to Westbrook by the work offered by the industries in the area. One of the 1st Catholic families to arrive was that of John Graham who came here in 1854.  At that time the closest Catholic Church was in Portland and many a family walked there, with shoes in hand and lunch on their back, to observe the Sunday sacraments.

In the 1860s mass was celebrated in Cumberland Mills in John Brown’s brick house which is still standing and is marked as the “Site of the 1st Catholic Church service in Westbrook”. In 1872 mass was observed in the Warren Block at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets and in 1873 Brigham Hall, opposite Bridge Street, was used as a chapel. By 1877 a parcel of land on Brown Street was purchased and St. Hyacinth Church was erected. [In 1942 the original wooden church was replaced by a large granite church built across the street.]

In 1881 St. Hyacinth Parochial School (K-8) started classes in their new school building on Walker Street. [The first 8th grade class graduation was in 1899. The three students' names are listed in the photograph album but there is no photo: G. Auger, Rosie Welsh and Anna Labrecque.] This little wooden school was replaced by a large brick building in 1901. “The structure represented an outlay of $25,000 and contained well appointed classrooms. The nuns of the Presentation of Mary from St. Hyacinth P.Q. were installed as teachers.” [See ‘Photo Archives’ – Schools.]
            Some recent visitors to the Society talked about their memories of attending the school in the late 1940s and early 1950s:
            The girls had to wear a black skirt, a blouse with a very stiff Buster Brown collar and long brown cotton stockings. No one remembered special clothing for the boys.
            The classes were conducted in French in the morning and in English in the afternoon.  The Sisters weren't too strict as long as you behaved; although the nuns did seem to be stricter with the boys...they often got their hand hit with the ruler.
            At recess the boys were allowed to play on the field behind the church but the girls had to play on Walker Street. The recess was segregated but the classes were not.
            Typing was given in the 8th grade. When there was a test the nuns put brown paper bags over the students’ heads
so they couldn't see the keys. Diane Turgeon Dyer relates, “I have often wondered what anyone would have thought if they walked into that class and seen us all with bags on our heads!”
 

In 1963 the last 8th grade class graduated from St. Hyacinth School.  Grades 1 through 6 continued there for a few more years but the 7th and 8th grades attended Westbrook Junior High School on Main Street.

 
     
 

THE HASKELL SILK MILL AT SACCARAPPA FALLS

SaccFalls2 SaccFalls2

Photo labels: "High water at Saccarappa Falls, about 1875"...................................................... "on left is original Haskell Mill"

Saccarappa Falls, in the Presumpscot River on the west side of Westbrook, has been a hub of activity since the 1740s when saw mills, grist mills and lumbering pursuits occurred on the banks of the river.

In July of 1874 James Haskell, along with his sons Frank and Edwin, formed a company for the manufacture of silk…the Haskell Silk Company.  The business began in a wooden building on the west side of Bridge St., very near the falls as this photograph shows.  When the company opened for business in September 1874, there were six employees and only spool silk and twist was made. The Haskell Silk Mill was the only silk mill in Maine and one of the oldest in New England. This was one of the industries that carried the name of Westbrook throughout the entire country and attracted an industrious population to the town.

All of the silk used in the manufacturing came from Japan in the form of skeins. The skeins were quickly rewound and then underwent a procedure called ‘doubled’ before they were ready for the spinners. The silk was then reeled, dyed and wound again, making it ready to be warped and quilted, then woven into yard goods.  The inspection or “picking” followed before the finishing.  The “picking” of the silk was for many years done by women in their homes and this became a flourishing “cottage industry”.  

Over the years, as the company became more successful, the need to expand caused the company to move to a large brick building on the north side of the river beyond Dana Warp Mill. In 1881 the mill started to produce black dress silks and then later,  beautifully colored silks and woven silk patterns. At this time several hundred people were employed there.  The Haskell taffetas, with black warps and colored filling, were manufactured in large quantities and widely sold throughout the United States.

The founder of the Haskell Silk Company, James Haskell, died in 1891 at the age of eighty-three. He had become a prominent, public-spirited, and beloved  citizen  of Westbrook.

Due to drastic changes in market demands and the introduction of rayon and other synthetic fibers, the silk company was forced to suspend operations and the business closed in 1933.  The building remained standing and was used later by Sebago Moc Shoe Company.

[In 2006 the large brick building standing on the banks of the Presumpscot  was purchased by Westbrook Housing and made into the Riverfront Lofts,  which houses 44 residential units.  The lofts combine the historical with the contemporary: post and beam construction, high ceilings, huge windows, and polished wood floors recall the building’s industrial past while up-to-date amenities provide ease of modern living.  A wonderful use for our old buildings.]

Information from "Fabius Ray's Story of Westbrook" and "Highlights of Westbrook History". [Both books are at the Westbrook Historical Society]

 
     
 

RUDY VALLÉE

Hubert Prior Vallée was born July 28, 1901 and died July 3, 1986. He is buried with his parents Charles & Katherine Lynch Vallée, sister Kathleen and brother William in St. Hyacinth Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine.

RVallee
Thanks to Roland Tetrault for the photograph

July is certainly shaping up as Rudy Vallée month in Westbrook, Maine! On Saturday, July 25 the City of Westbrook will be rededicating Rudy Vallée Square and Eleanor Vallée (Rudy's widow) will be presenting the City with a bust of Rudy to be placed in the Square. [See the Activities page for a schedule of events.] The Westbrook Historical Society is gathering memories of the Vallée family from Westbrook citizens, to be shared at this event. Mr. Roland Tetrault, 92, whose mother's brother, Prosper Lenneville, was married to Rudy's older sister Kathleen, sent in his memories of the family as well as a copy of the photo seen above. Along with the stories and picture he shared his scrapbook which is devoted to Rudy's life.

The scrapbook, purchased at a local auctions years ago, was lovingly cut and pasted to form a collage of Rudy's personal and professional life. It contains pictures of his family, his college life, his love life (which he always admitted was extensive!) and pages of pictures of guest stars who appeared on Rudy's populare variety show The Fleischmann Hour. Snippets of magazine and news articles have been cut out and carefully pasted as captions under some of the pictures. One such item tells about Rudy being made an honorary cheer leader at the University of Maine for popularizing the "Maine Stein Song."

The following biography of Rudy's life, written in 1935, is included in the book: Rudy, christened Hubert, was born in Island Pond, Vermont [on July 28, 1901]. He was of Irish and French descent and received his education at the Westbrook, Maine high school and at the University of Maine and Yale.
        His youthful surrounding were those of the average small-town boy.  He worked in his father’s drug store and acted as usher in a movie theatre.  He might have stayed at his former tasks, were it not for his driving ambition – probably the keynote of his life.
        Always a lover of music, Rudy’s first lessons were from a correspondence school. His school days found him in a vacant room in the rear of the theatre playing phonograph records and taking lessons from a teacher. College found him making his expenses and starting a savings account from funds earned as manager of the orchestra which later became the famous Connecticut Yankees.
        Rudy’s hot saxophone became the talk of Yale and of New Haven.  The fame of his band spread and he and his orchestra went to London, where the Prince of Wales went into raptures over their music. Vallée made his radio debut in London, over the British Broadcasting Company's station and his moaning saxophone and voice made him the beau of London's feminine radio fans.
        Rudy and his Yankees, however, soon decided that there was no place like home and private engagements and night clubs offered them an opportunity to become known in New York. Then the National Broadcasting Company discovered this young collegian and after that he did better than all right
       Fan mail began to pour in and Rudy was soon hitting off the daily average of receiving 10,000 letters, 50 boxes of home­made candy, 20 boxes of flowers, 500 phone calls and messages and 6 to 10 cakes and pies. Some fame!
          As a singer Rudy [was] criticized and mimicked for years and although he had a considerable amount of coaching there is no use denying that he sang through his nose and that his tones were sometimes peculiarly flat. Nevertheless, it was reliably reported that during each broadcast 162 1/2  maidens swooned at his vocalizing, and entirely too many matrons thought that he is too, too divine; however, we must give Rudy credit for knowing how to enunciate so that every word was distinct and understandable. This, we believe was the secret of his singing success.

Because of Mr. Tetrault's thoughtfulness, a copy of this scrapbook will be available for viewing at the Westbrook Historical Society during the Rudy Vallée Exhibit on Saturday, July 25 from 9 - 12. The exhibit is free and open to the public as is the reception at 4 PM for Eleanor Vallée, William Vallée (nephew) and other honored guests. See you there!

 
     
 

THE POST CARD

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Postcards…why do people save postcards but throw away photographs?  There is probably no answer to this question but every historical society is happy that there are Deltiologists out there! [Deltiology is the formal name for postcard collecting and it is the 3rd largest collectable hobby in the world, surpassed only by coin and stamp collecting.]

The history of postcard collecting says that the first postcard printed with the intention for use as a souvenir were the cards placed on sale in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.   I am sure that the first postcard collection was also started in 1893! 

The Historical Society recently received a postcard collection from St. Hyacinth Historical Society which is disbanding. The collection included many postcards of Maine historic sites but also some postcards of Westbrook scenes, such as the one pictured above. It is printed on a linen type paper stock with very bright and vivid colors; it looks almost like a painting. [1930 - 1945 was the linen style postcard era.] This card is unused, except for the '1936' written on the front. It shows Main Street lined with awning-fronted stores. Even with all the on-street parking, Main Street still looks wider than it is today.

Urban Renewal hit downtown Westbrook in the 1970s so much of Main Street has changed since this photo card. First of all, there are very few sites where you can park on Main Street. The Westbrook Congregational Church seen on the left has disappeared, along with most of the buildings around it. The first brick building on the left is still there, as are the two white buildings on the back right. The red topped building on the right with a yellow first floor is the Vallee Block on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. This building was the home of Vallee's Pharmacy, where Rudy Vallee worked part time for his father. Most of the other buildings on the right side of the street are no longer there.

Thanks to postcard collectors, we have a picture of a downtown Westbrook that no longer exists. And thanks to the St. Hyacinth Historical Society for assuring that this image stays in Westbrook.


 
     
 

THE WESTBROOK FIRE DEPARTMENT

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The year was 1891. Sewers were being built on Lamb Street and electric lighting for Cumberland Mills was being talked about. It was in that year that the Westbrook Fire Department came into existence. Actually, if we go back to the town records we find that two hose companies, paying the men a salary of $3 per year, had been authorized by the selectmen in 1888. Just what happened between the time of its authorization and its apparent inception is not clear. However, we do see from limited records that much time and effort was spent in the purchase of teams of horses suitable for fire fighting work.

The first company to be formed was the Valentine Hose Company, housed in a wooden building on Mechanic Street. It was organized November 21, 1891 under the direction of Chief Charles H. Leighton but there were no fires during the rest of that year. The first fire on record which the Company attended was at the end of Brackett Street on July 5, 1892.

The second company formed was Presumpscot Hose Company 1S which was situated near 466 Main Street in Cumberland Mills, or as it was often called in those days, Congin. It was not long before the town realized the need of a hook and ladder, and in 1893 a company of men was formed. In that early time Ladder Company 1 was housed at the Valentine Station and the hooves of its wagon's single horse joined the clatter of the hose companies as they charged foward at the cry of "FIRE!"

By 1899, the villages at Saccarappa and Congin were in need of full-time firefighters. Charles Beesley was hired for Hose Company 1 and George Bennett drove the ladder. Volunteering has long been a way of life for the people of Westbrook and in particular the independent minded folks of Prides Corner. A hose reel that was stored in a barn belonging to Armand Wheeler, and later Harry Fielding's Blacksmith shop, was often hauled to a fire by whatever man and team happened to be close at hand. Later, in 1914, the Prides Corner Volunteers came into existence and were finally formed into Engine Company 3 in 1934.

As the century rounded the corner, the Westbrook Fire Department learned to live with the automobile. Many in those days worried that the gasoline engine could not be relied upon and wasn't nearly as dependable as a horse. The first fire truck in the city was a 1920 Reo. It was a chemical truck, that is, soda and acid where blended together and the chemical reaction formed a pressure that pushed the water toward the fire. The Prides Corner Volunteers had for its first truck a 1-ton Ford pickup. It proved itself unworthy, unable to climb some of of the hills in the area, and was soon replaced with a Lincoln town car that had been a rum runner's car in the days of prohibition. It had plenty of power.

Photo and information from Westbrook Historical Society's Fire Department Collection


 
     
 

THIS OLD HOUSE

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The Westbrook Historical Society often receives requests regarding old houses…when were they built, who owned them, are there any photos of them, etc.  One such recent request asked for a photo of the house seen above, on the left.  It stood on Bracket Street before Urban Renewal tore it down in the 1970s. The Westbrook Congregational Church, who’s steeple can be seen in the background, was on the corner of Main and Brackett and was also demolished.

The request came from Toby Guimond who asked for a photo of “the old brick house at the end of Brackett Street. I grew up there as a kid. My grandfather Benoit Tardiff owned 11 and 15 Brackett Street. I remember the old stone basement and the hole in the wall that had a tunnel that went down to the river for slaves to get passage to Canada.”

This house was attached to the large building facing Main Street which later became the Lafond Department Store.  Fabius M. Ray’s Story of Westbrook gives the following account: “The large block on the corner of Main and Brackett Streets, at that time owned and occupied by Mr. Brackett as his place of business…had on its fourth story a large dark room. To this refuge slaves were taken….and kept there until a particularly dark night or a  good opportunity made it feasible to take the hunted black people to some place from which Canada could easily be reached…So careful were [Mr. Sewall Brackett, Capt. Isaac F. Quinby, the Rev. Horace J. Bradbury, and Mr. John Brown] …to keep their doings secret that even members of their families were in total ignorance…Mrs. Brackett was greatly mystified as to where her food was disappearing.”

Since no physical reminders of this block remain, it is only through writings and memories that this piece of Westbrook history can be passed on.


 
     
 

CELEBRATIONS

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Memorial Day, Fourth of July, City Centenniel...all reasons for a celebration! And a celebration meant a parade and floats. Some floats were elaborate but others consisted of a little bunting added to a wagon and a group of girls dressed in their Sunday best.

The Westbrook Historical Society has many photographs of these events in it's collection.

 
     
 

THE BARRETT HOSPITAL

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Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy

Sometime after 1885 Dr. Felix Barrett came to Westbrook and by 1891 he was an established physician and prominent citizen of the City. By 1909 he had established the Barrett Hospital in his home at 537 Main Street.  Dr. Barrett died April 27, 1920 and in 1921 the City Directory listed the site as the Westbrook Hospital. (Note the carriageway attached to the hospital in this photo.)

Many of the local physicans admitted their patients from Westbrook, Gorham and Windham to the hospital.  Its capacity was twenty-two beds and eight bassinets.  The hospital closed its doors in December of 1959 due to new safety requirements for sprinklers and wider stairways.

The building was later made into apartments and today the outside is well kept and closely resembles the original building, minus the carriageway.

 
     
 

MAIN STREET 1925

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"Westbrook Monument Co., Main Street 1925
Owned by Kenneth & Evelyn Gale; he passed away in 1929 "

By writing a caption on the back of a photo and then donating it to the Historical Society, an interesting image of downtown Westbrook is saved. Through this photo we not only remember but are also able to view a slice of our past. 

This wonderful snapshot identifies the long-lost business as the Westbrook Monument Co. It was on the Gorham end of Main Street in the 1920s.  Now take a closer look and an image of the City in that era immerges…trolley tracks running down the center of a cobbled-stoned Main Street. All vestiges of this business may be gone...but a photo helps us remember so pass on any old photos to your local historical societies or libraries

 
     
 

THE CUMBERLAND GYMNASIUM

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A century after this photo was taken in 1905, it was donated to the Westbrook Historical Society by Janice Boucher. It had belonged to one of her relatives. Don't you love the hair-dos and the jewelry? The photograph is on hardboard and is as sharp as if it were taken yesterday. No names are on the photograph.

Cumberland Hall was located in the Warren Block at Cumberland Mills. According to Fabius M. Ray'sStory of Westbrook, one of the great benefits that the S.D. Warren family gave to the City was a gymnasium. In the winter of 1903-4, Miss Helen Coe of Portland was brought to Westbrook by the Warren family to conduct physical education classes for girls in the old Cumberland Hall. Cornelia Warren, daughter of S.D. Warren, paid for the cost of this venture. Cornelia, as well as the rest of the family, was ahead of her times in her beliefs and actions on Women's Rights.

The benefits derived from the classes were so great that Miss Warren consulted with an instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association in Portland about equipping a regular gymnasium there. In the winter of 1904 preparations were started for a gymnasium for girls and the gym was completed about the first of March 1904. For the balance of the season the instructor came twice a week to give classes to the girls. A boys' department was added in March of 1905. The gymnasium was fitted with all the modern equipment and a small fee was charged.

The gym continued to be a focal point for local sports activities up into the 1970s. Tennis and golf lessons where given in the gym and many young boys learned and practiced their basketball skills in the Westbrook Community Association basketball league which was based in the hall. I remember going to the drug store or to the post office, both of which were on the ground floor of the Warren Block, and hearing the 'thump ...thump...thump' of the balls bouncing upstairs.

 
     
 

THE MINSTREL SHOW

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One of the reasons people visit a historical society is to reminisce about days gone by. At the Westbrook Historical Society they often ask us if we have any information on the minstrel shows ...maybe this is because we have our collection and meeting hall in the same room where some of the minstrels were once held. But whatever the reason, here is a little history of the minstrel shows in Westbrook.

Westbrook residents enjoyed the Minstrel show format of entertainment right up through the 1950s. The talented Libby family was well know for four of the local minstrel entertainers.  (They are always mentioned when the minstrel shows are discussed.) For over thirty years Stephen H. Libby entertained in black-face with vocal and instrumental numbers. He also coached many of the minstrel shows as indicated in the photograph above.  His sister Irene and brother Lloyd often performed in the cast. Later his son Philip S. Libby became a well known director and performer, "gaining recognition as a negro impersonator" during the evenings while going about his duties in the S.D. Warren Company during the day.

The typical minstrel performance followed a three-act structure. The troupe first danced onto stage then exchanged wisecracks and sang songs. Upon the instruction of the interlocutor, a sort of host, they sat in a semicircle. Various stock characters always took the same positions: the genteel interlocutor in the middle, flanked by two characters, who served as the endmen or cornermen. The interlocutor and the endmen exchanged jokes and performed a variety of humorous songs.The second act featured a variety of entertainments, including the pun-filled stump speech, and the final act consisted of a slapstick musical skit or a spin-off of a popular play

 
     
 

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME!

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The Old "Presumpscots"

Front row L-R: Fred Files (Capt. Mgr.), J. Campbell, Arthur Smith, Chas. Elkins
Back row L-R: F.E. Batchelder, S. Clark Morton, Bill Webb, C.S. Clark, Gene Harriman

"Quite a Team !"
1888
Highlight was game with Frederickton, N.B. played at St. John's, N.B. Won 2 out of 3.

[It is always wonderful for a Historical Society to receive an old photograph but it is especially great when it come with inscriptions, such as the above, on the back!]

Other Westbrook baseball players of note:

George “Piano Legs” Gore – born in Saccarappa in 1857 (there is discrepancy in his birth year
            and place, depending on which reference you read). He played for S.D. Warren paper mill team where he was known for his hitting…reportedly blasting a homer 450 feet.
            He played for New England League and the New Bedford Whalers, batting .324.
            He was offered $1,200 by the Chicago White Stocking, later the Cubs, but became the first holdout for more money. He asked for $2,500 but settled for $1,900.
In 1880 he lead the National League with a .360 average becoming 1st Mainer to ever win a batting championship. Set a League record by stealing 7 bases in one game.
            He was traded to New York Giants in 1887 and helped to win them pennants in ’88 & ‘89
            He was considered the Babe Ruth of his era.

Pete Tetreault – played professional and organized leagues for 3 decades, until in his 50s.
            1907 he played for Fall River baseball team in NE League.
            He shared birthday with Babe Ruth and in the 1920s played an exhibition game in Portland with the immortal Ruth.
            He was inducted into Maine’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975

Hormidas “Husky” Aube – lead Westbrook High team to Telegram Championship in 1926 and was a   member of college national all star team in 1930.         
He was a member of the New York Yankees organization for 4 years when an auto accident injury ended his career. While with the Yankees he roomed with Cy Perkins & Lefty Gomez. Babe Ruth called him “the kid”. 
He returned to Westbrook 1934 and joined the police force and later became the Chief of
Police.

 
     
 

SOLAR ECLIPSE - AUGUST 31, 1932

SOLAR ECLIPSE 1932

A total solar eclipse, where the moon fully blocks the sun from view for up to 7 minutes, occurs somewhere on earth almost every year. On August 31, 1932 Westbrook, Maine was in its direct path. (See map below) This is a photograph of Alfred Turgeon (the gentleman in the front row in the "eclipse glasses") and his family preparing to witness the magical event. The glasses were worn to protect the eyes from the harmful solar rays but the person on the right was taking no chances and it looks like he has also included a protective basket shield! Although made of lightweight cardboard, the glasses were a treasured memento of the event. Some have survived the passage of time and at least two pair can be seen in the Westbrook Historical Society's collection

.NE path

 
     
 

GLASS PLATE NEGATIVES

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This beautiful photograph of two men showing off their work place was developed from one of 28 glass-plate negatives recently donated to the Historical Society. A crate with these fine negatives was found in the attic of the “old Waterhouse” home in Westbrook and the negatives that seemed to be of Westbrook businesses were given to the Society.  (One of the Historical Society members identified this as a photo of the inside of the Knowlton Machine Shop.)

In the 1850s, the glass plate negative was developed for photography. The first negatives were called wet collodion negatives. The photographer coated one side of each plate of 1/8" thick glass with an emulsion of gelatin and metallic sliver. The plate was then immediately exposed and processed. This was the method that Matthew Brady used when taking his Civil War photographs. By the1880s the process had been refined to the dry-plate glass negative. These ready-made negatives could be stored before they were processed and multiple copies of prints could be made from each plate. This process greatly simplified photography. Prints made from these plates produced sharp, fine-detailed prints as you can see by the photograph above. You can see the glossy floors, the details of the machinery, the grain in the wood and the bright sun shining through the windows.  [It wasn't until 1888 that George Eastman developed the flexible material or negatives as we know it today.]

The Society contacted JUST BLACK & WHITE, a local studio that specializes in restoration of old photographs and negatives and had archival negatives and prints made of the slides. Thanks to the foresight of the discoverers of the glass negatives, these wonderful photographs are now a part of our Collection and the glass negatives are being preserved to prevent further damage.

What a wonderful gift to the Citizens of Westbrook!

 
     
 

ELECTRICITY ARRIVES IN WESTBROOK

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It is hard to believe that something that we take so for granted, was such a big deal at one time! This is a photograph titled "First electric lights in Westbrook." The use of electricity for lighting purposes arrived in Westbrook in the 1880s. According to Highlights of Westbrook History, the first electric generator was installed outside the Leatherboard Mill on Main Street. On the day that the mill was to be lighted a large crowd gathered to witness this event. Many of the mill employees were members of the Saccarappa Lodge of Odd Fellows and they induced the owner of the mill to run wires across the street to light the Odd Fellows Block, thus creating the first business block in Westbrook to have electric lights. [Possibly this photograph was taken at the first lighting of that block.] The Dana Mill quickly followed with a generator. Mr. Dana later ran wires up Bridge Street to Main Street and lighted the square there. Soon S.D. Warren replaced their gas lights with electricity.... and the rest is history! What a wonderful photograph to have in our Collection!

(Note: This photograph was probably reproduced from a glass negative. More about that at a later date!)

 
     
 

WESTBROOK IMMIGRANTS

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Although the above picture looks as though it was taken in Scotland, it is actually a snapshot found in our Genealogy Collection and was taken in Westbrook, Maine. On the back, written in pencil, is: "The Cairns family - #1 Johnnie, #2 Jimmy, #5 Thomas, #6 Christie, #7 father". [The missing sons' names are William and Joseph.]

The Cairns family came from Scotland to work at S.D. Warren paper mill. Family lore has it that Mr. Cairns developed a process for coating paper and would not sell it to Mr. Warren until he brought the whole family to America and gave the sons jobs at the mill. They lived on Stroudwater St. where this photo was probably taken. It is obvious that they carried many of their native customs with them and the daughter of John Cairns relates that "he never lost his brogue".

Westbrook was a town of many mills and immigrants were lured to the area for their special work skills. In the late 1880s the Westbrook Manufacturing Company added on to their mills. The new machinery for mill #3 came from Scotland and with it, 42 expert Scottish weavers. There was even a cluster of houses built for them to live in; the area is still known as Scotch Hill.

For the last 2 years the Historical Society has presented an evening program on Westbrook immigrants. This has been a very popular program with over 50 people attending this year. These Immigrants helped built our city and many of their traditions live on.

 
     
 

SCHOOL DAYS

With the advent of spring students get restless and look forward to summer vacation. This causes us to reflect on our youth and on classrooms long gone. Westbrook is fortunate in that although many of its schools have closed, the buildings have remained in use. In 2003 Vaun Born wrote the following article on Westbrook school usage

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north

The old North School, built in 1812-1813, stood at the corner of Cumberland & Bridge Streets. It was moved in 1848 to a lot on Cumberland Street near the paper mill and converted to a private residence. It is still occupied.

 
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  Valentine Street School was built on Main Street in 1850 as a grammar school and named for Peter Thacher.  The first high school classes opened there in 1873. The building was moved in 1885 to Valentine Street and so named, to make room on Main Street for a new high school. Valentine Street Grammar School closed in 1974. The building was converted to apartments and is still in use.  
 
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  Westbrook High School, main building, built in 1886, was discontinued as a high school in 1955. It continued as a junior high school until 1976. A separate annex building at the rear was built in 1914. An addition on the main building was added in 1936 for a gym and headquarters for the City Recreation Department.  After the school closed in 1976 the Westbrook Historical Society used the 2nd floor for meetings and a museum until 2002.  City Council meetings were held in the separate annex until 2003 when the entire complex, except for the Recreation Department, was converted into senior housing by The Westbrook Housing Authority. It is now called Presumpscot Commons.  
 
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  Bridge Street Grammar School was built 1881 with an addition in 1891.  Grades through 8 were held in the school until 1956 when the junior high classes were transferred to the old High School on Main Street. The grammar school closed in 1977 and a private contractor converted the building into apartments.  
 
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  Warren School was built in 1885 for a grammar school but by 1973 it was used only for kindergarten classes. The last classes were held there in the school year 1982-1983. When no longer used as a school the building housed the Superintendent of Schools office. The building was later sold and in 2003 it opened as a Day Care Center.    
 
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  Forest Street Grammar School was built in 1895. Classes through 8th grade met there until 1956 when all junior high classes transferred to the old High School. In 1974 about fifty students in grades 3-5 were transferred to the new Congin Grammar School. Grades 1-2 continued meeting there until 1982-1983 when the school was closed. Following its closure the Junior High Enrichment Center held classes there for a few semesters, then The Maine School of Ballet brought their classes to the building. The School of Ballet left in 2004 and the building was converted to condos by the Westbrook Housing Authority in 2007.  
 
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  Rocky Hill Grammar School was erected in 1916 after the original school burned. It was used only for kindergarten classes by the time it closed in 1980. It has been converted into a private residence, apartments and a day-care center.  
 
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  Saco Street Grammar School was erected in 1868 (second building) and closed in 1953. It was used by The Knights of Columbus as a meeting hall until 2007 when it was purchased by The Fraternal Order of Eagles.  
 
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  St. Hyacinth School , a parochial school, was built in 1893 and closed in the mid 1970s. It was then home to the St. Hyacinth Historical Society, the Westbrook Food Pantry and an occasional youth retreat. It is currently for sale. [The Westbrook Historical Society has a photo CD of all the graduating classes of St. Hyacinth School; a copy may be purchased from the St. Hyacinth Historical Society.]  
 
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  St. Mary’s Grammar School, a parochial school, was built in 1916 at the same time as St. Mary's Church. It closed in the mid 1970s.  The building was purchased in 2008 and is being converted into business offices.  
 
 
Two other schools which are of historical interest to Westbrook:
 
 
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Winslow-Boody House

A one-room school was built in 1852 by Westbrook School District #2 on the property of the old Bradley Meeting House on the “Road to Saccarappa”, which is now Capisic St., Portland.  (In 1852 that area of Portland was within the boundaries of Westbrook.)  The school was abandoned “before 1890”.  In 1902 it was converted into a chapel for the Eunice Frye Home, 37 Capisic St. The home and chapel are now owned by the Sisters of Mercy of St. Joseph Church.

Howard Stevens’ 1982 file on the history of Westbrook School buildings revealed that in 1794 school classes, taught by Robert Blair, were held in a room of the Winslow-Boody House on East Bridge Street. (The house continues to be a private residence.) Robert Blair then taught at the North School described above.

Researched at The Westbrook Historical Society, including notes from Howard Stevens’ 1982 file on the history of Westbrook School buildings. Compiled by Vaun Born 2003
[Black & white photos from Westbrook Historical Society Collection; color photos taken in 2003]

 
     
 

THE SODA FOUNTAIN

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This is a photo from the Westbrook Historical Society's vast photograph collection. It shows the soda fountain in the Raymond and Marr Drug Store, circa 1920s. Markings on the photo identify Roy Welch behind the counter and George Wilson as the customer.

At one time Westbrook had many drug stores where you could go to catch up on the local gossip and get an ice cream soda, a sundae or a Pine Tree Float! [As I remember it, a Pine Tree Float was what we ordered to try to 'stump the waitress'...it was a glass of water with a toothpick floating in it!]

Some of the long gone Westbrook spots that had soda fountains were: Paine’s Drug & Miller’s Drug in Cumberland Mills and Vallee’s Drug at Rudy Vallee Square. In the Scates Block there was Scates Drug which was sold in 1914 to Raymond & Marr of the above photo. This later became just Raymond's Drug, then B and B Drug Store and lastly, Tommy Lachance's Pharmacy. In the same vicinity, at different times, were Hood’s Drug and Reece’s Variety Store. Today there is a CVS...no soda fountain though!

 
     
 

WARREN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

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Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy; from the program Westbook Then & Now

The Warren Congregational Church and parsonage (seen to the right of the church) was on the corner of Cumberland Street and Warren Avenue until 1969. The church was chartered as the second Congregational Church of Westbrook in 1868; the first Congregational Church was on Main Street in Westbrook Village. [Copies of both church charters are on display at the Historical Society.] The church was erected on land adjacent to the S.D. Warren Paper mill. The land was donated by mill owner Samuel Dennis Warren. Between 1871 and 1874 the church underwent renovations and a clock, purchased by the townspeople, was installed in the steeple. This clock soon became known as "The Town Clock". In 1882 the parsonage was built on Cumberland Street behind the church.

When deterioration of the church's basic construction made it necessary to tear down the building in 1969, the parsonage was sold and moved about 2 miles up Cumberland Street to become a private residence.
The Warren and Westbrook Congregational Churches then voted to merge and built a new church on Main Street, the Westbrook-Warren Congregational United Church of Christ. This new church incorporated most of the stain glass windows from the Warren Church into its interior decor.

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taylorstone
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Note from the President, Westbrook Historical Society: BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER:

In April of 2007 the Society received an e-mail from Trevor Taylor of England. He was seeking information about his grandfather, Jonas Taylor, who he thought was buried in Westbrook and had been a pastor of one of our churches.

The Society's obituary archives held a copy of the Rev. Taylor's obituary which contained a picture of this 32 year old Cambridgeshire, England native. He had been called to serve as pastor of the Warren Congregational Church in 1916 and he served there until his sudden death June 22, 1921. A quick search of our cemetery records found that he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery under a beautiful light brown granite stone. Photos of the stone, a copy of the obituary and photos of the church and parsonage where Rev. Taylor would have lived with his wife Ethel and children Wesley and Ethel, were quickly e-mailed to this grandson who had never had the good fortune to meet his 'grandad'.

Also in our files was a photo of a stain glass window dedicated to Rev. Taylor that had been in the Warren Church. A quick trip to the Westbrook-Warren Church found the beautiful window, "In memory of Rev. Jonas Taylor", there in the sanctuary. This shows the purpose of a historical society!

 
     
 

THE MOVIE THEATER

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Photo courtesy of Mike Sanphy; from the program Westbrook Then & Now

The Star Theater was built on the corner of Main and Central Streets in 1912. It hosted stage and minstrel shows until the advent of motion pictures when a large screen was built over the stage and movies were shown. Many a Westbrook child spent his or her Saturday afternoons at the Theater. Hubert Prior Vallee, later known as Rudy Vallee, worked as an usher here before going on to star in the movies himself. [A postcard in the Westbrook Historical Society' collection shows the Star Theater with the marquee advertising the Beautiful Blond From Bashful Bend starring Betty Grable and Rudy Vallee.] Rudy maintained a life-long friendship with Fred Eugley, his one time boss and long time manager of the theater.
The Odd Fellows Hall next door to the Star housed the Rialto Theater, later the Brook Theater. These theaters were on the second floor of the building and most adults today will tell you that they never went there, "my mother said it was a fire trap!" But they all went to the Star.

The Star closed in the 1960s because it couldn't compete with the new multi-seated theaters such as Cinema City built at Bradlees Mall. But the memories remain...12¢ tickets...10¢ popcorn...cartoons...the Flash Gordon & Tarzan serials ...continuous double features..........

After standing empty for several years and suffering a partial roof collapse, the building was torn down in 1974 to make way for Urban Renewal.

COMMENT: The Star Theater was owned by Odie Kourapis in 1971 when the roof caved in on the right side. It had been closed for some time. There was a risk of the building collapsing so they had to tear it down which took about a week. As sad as it was to see our day care go (theater), I am surprised that there are no pictures of it's demolition. Submitted by T. Reece 1/17/09

 
     
 

BANDS

westbrook band

Front row: Ed Richardson, Fred Files, Joseph Hudson, Howard Wight, Melvin Knight, Wm. Hunter
2nd row: Irving Cook, Claud Lapay, Howard Babb, Leader Ed McLellan, Harry Bell, Chas. Dinzler
3rd row: Dan Shaw, Fred Babb, Peter Cooper, Chas. Bettis, Chas. Hurd

Westbrook has always been a 'band' town. The Old Westbrook Band (above) was one of the early bands in the City, adding music to the parades and the gathering of veterans and playing at political meetings and fairs. It was active until 1894. The Salaberry Band (below) was organized in 1884 by the Rev. Father A.D. DeCelles and was probably named after Charles Michel D'Irumberry DeSalaberry who had become a French-Canadian folk hero after the War of 1812. With the loss of the old band in '94, the Salaberry Band took over its duties and also gave concerts in Riverbank Park. (This practice continues today with Westbrook's summer "Concerts in the Park'.) Years later, as membership started to dwindle, many of the old Salaberry members joined the S.D. Warren Band when it was organized in 1936.

From the early 1900s when Rudy Vallee played sax in the high school orchestra, to more modern times when the Westbrook High School Marching Band performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Citrus Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl...Music continues to be a popular past time in Westbrook

salaberry band

Photographs from the Westbrook Historical Society Archives. For more information on Westbrook Bands see Highlights of Westbrook History

 
     
 

THE STACK

WarrenStack

Westbrook has long been associated with the S.D. Warren smoke stack. This is a picture of the stack taken during its construction in 1926...note the staging still at the top and the writing still incomplete. Ellie Conant Saunders, a long time member of the Historical Society and a life-long Westbrook resident, remembers that while the stack was being built you could ride to the top in a "bucket" if you were brave enough. One of her young girlfriends, Marion Smith, did and she became the heroine of the neighborhood! [The Historical Society photo collection contains a few snapshots that were taken from the top of the stack by resident who took the trip.]

Excerpts from the May 1954 Westbrook American:
Towering 353 feet into the air it is probably the highest smoke stack in New England, a landmark visible as far as 19 miles away. Aviators from Bar Harbor, 164 miles away can see the stack without gaining much altitude. The stack is 25 feet around the inside of the base, tapering to a circumference of 18 feet at the top.

Smoke from the stack gives the big pipe another distinction. Generations of Warren mill workers and residents of surrounding towns use the stack as a highly successful combination barometer and weather vane. Forecasting the weather is easy; if the smoke is blowing up river it means bad weather is on the way. (This figures out soundly since ordinarily storms hit this area on the wings of a northeaster and if the smoke is blowing up the Presumpsoct River it means the wind is blowing from the northeast.) Weather prophet, landmark, navigational aid and symbol of the mill's high place in the papermaking industry, that's the S.D. Warren chimney.

Each letter on the legend WARREN STANDARD PAPERS was 6 feet high. It took 1,990 tons of brick, 1,200 barrels of cement and more than 5 months to complete the chimney. Both buildings seen in the photo are still there; the one on the left houses #9 paper machine and the ivy-covered building on the right is the Gate House. Still standing tall, the stack today bears the name: SAPPI FINE PAPERS, which bought the mill in the late 1990s. In the 1970s the mill was the largest employer in the area, having in excess of 3,000 employees; today it employs a little over 300.

 
     
 

THE PEOPLE

berniers

Although the picture quality is not perfect...the family spirit is! This is a picture of the Jules Bernier family of Westbrook, gathered for Mother's Day in the 1940s. All seven of the Bernier sons served in World War II. Jules, Omer, Berton, Rudloph, Rene, Joseph and George...we thank you and all the families like yours who sent their sons and daughters off to serve and protect our country.
[This photo is from our scrapbook collection and appeared in local newspapers with an article stating that this was the first time in five years that the family had been able to all be together.]

Comments welcomed at: info@westbrookhistoricalsociety.org

 
   
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