The final installment of the "Westville Road" follows (apologies for the delay in posting and for the length of this post):
As stated in previous installments, there were no houses on Westville Road until 1893 when the brick house and brick barn at what is now #27 Westville Road was built (now owned by the Richard and Norma Dickey).
That statement was not exactly correct as there was once a farmhouse on the north side of the road on land owned by the Nichols family located about where #7 is today.
You can see where that house was on the accompanying 1892 map, then owned by Thomas J. Nichols who had grown up there and inherited it from his father George in 1879. The house was likely built in the 1820s or 1830s. .
T.J. Nichols was a local businessman who ran a store located just north of Town Hall about where the WWI monument is today (it was torn down about 1905). Tragically, T.J. took his own life by drinking laudanum in 1895 to the surprise of most townspeople. He died in the old family farmhouse as describe
d by the accompanying death record and news clipping.
To compound the family tragedy, T.J.’s only son, Edwin Nichols also committed suicide the following year also in the farmhouse, though we don’t know which method he used.
The farmhouse and surrounding farm lands then went to the Towle family around 1897, and the Towles would live there until 1927 when they sub-divided the proper (now #7, #5A & #5 Westville Road) and sold both parcels. The farmhouse was soon after taken down with all it’s bad karma.
Meanwhile, around 1915, more houses began to be built
along the east end of Westville Road.
Let’s look first at the 10 houses and land on the north side of the road from the bridge eastward:
#27 – This great old brick house and barn was built in 1893 by Hilaire Gilbert, an immigrant from Quebec and a successful brick maker with yards in both Haverhill and Plaistow, including one across the bridge at what is now #31 where the commercial condos are today. The Gilberts lived there until 1930 when Hilaire died at age 77. In 1939, the Clifton & Edith Libby bought the 13-acre property and lived there for 30 years. In 1977, Richard and Norma Dickey bought the land and have owned it now for 43 years. In 2007, they sold the 7-acre lot west of the bridge to Westville Realty who built the commercial condos there at what is now #31 (see previous installment). The remaining land at #27 is 6 acres.
#17- Around 1912, Hilaire Gilbert built the house next to his brick house at #27 for his youngest daughter Orielda and her new husband Henry Colgan, a shoe maker. The house was not built entirely of bricks like Hilaire’s house (even the foundation and frames are brick there), but with only a brick front and a wood frame. The Colgans would own the house until 1965. It was sold a few times until 1974 when the Painchauds bought it and lived there until 1986. They sold it to John Blinn, Sr. (now a selectman) who owned it for 15 years until 2000 when the Lewis family bought it. In 2018, the house was foreclosed on and is owned by the bank as of this writing.
#15- This house was likely built around 1945, possibly in the 1960s and is now owned by the Senter family. It was foreclosed on in 2011. Prior to that, it was owned by Alan Colby, Charles & Mary Blinn from 1983 through 2003, the Letoiles, the Bryers, the Rutledges and the Libbys. This lot was Lot #1 on the plan for Rutledge Drive in 1959.
#13- This house was built around 1960 by the Leonardis family who bought the lot from the Rutledges that year. It was original lot #16 on Rutledge Drive, but became #13 Westville Road. The Leonardis family (Louis & Bessie, then William) owned the property until 2012 when they sold it to Mary and Joseph Gori, the current owners.
#11- This is one of the oldest houses on the street, built around 1915 when #9 next door was also likely built. Frank Davis, who owned a large amount of land north of Westville Road and on Main Street, died in 1915, giving this lot to his son Edgar and Edgar’s wife Bernice Keezer Davis, shortly after their marriage in 1914. It was Edgar, who was a real estate salesman, who built this house in 1915, and also the house at #9 the same year. Edgar Atwood Davis then tragically died at the young age of 26 in 1918 of the Spanish Flu, one of a dozen people who died in Plaistow of that pandemic in 1918 and 1919. Today, the house is owned by Coleen Curtin who bought it in 2017.
#9- Also built in 1915 by Edgar Davis, the first owners of this house were Charles & Laura Warren for 30 years from 1916 through 1946. Charles worked as a lineman for New England Telephone for many years. Local realtor Carlton Ingalls bought the house from the Warrens in 1946 and sold it in 1953 to Richard and Geraldine Ryan who lived there until 1964. Mill Realty bought it then and sold it in 1967 to the current owners, Robert and Penny Gagnon, who now have owned it for 53 years.
#7- The town tax records say this house was built in 1940, but it appears on the accompanying 1938 aerial map along with #27, #17, #11, #9 and #3 on the north side of the road. The deed search shows it was built sometime between 1929 and 1937. This parcel and the two next to it - #5A and #5 were part of the T.J. Nichols farm 9later Towles), discussed above, but the old Nichols farmhouse was demolished by 1927. The current owners are Brian and Karen Johnson, who have lived there for 23 years. Before them were the Netz family from 1986 to 1997, the Clough family from 1960 through 1986, the Ladds from 1937 through 1960 and the Walkers from 1929 through 1937.
#5A- This house that sits back from the road is now owned by the Randell family who have owned the property since 1987. We’re not exactly sure when it was built, as the tax card says 1970, but the deeds point to later after 1987. In any event it was formerly part of the Clough land when they owned #7 and also part of T.J. Nichols farm back in the 1800s.
#5- This house is currently owned by Peter Day & Brenda Johnston who have owned it since 2003 when Peter bought it from Ralph and Judy Mayo. The Mayo family owned the property for 31 years from 1972 on. Before that, it was owned by Bob and Carol Senter, Laurence and Beatrice Ackerson (1951-1968), Thelma Todd and Don and Enid Gilman. Along the way, it was foreclosed on in 1950. It’s difficult to determine when the house was built, but it doesn’t appear on the 1938 aerial, so our best guess is it was built between 1938 and 1951, probably closer to 1939. As stated above, the land was originally part of the Nichols and then Towle farms.
#3- The Beaulieu family has owned this house for 45 years, starting with Ed and Josephine Beaulieu who bought it in 1975. Ed was a Marine and was an aid for President Roosevelt back in the 1940s. His son David, Sr., started Beaulieu Cabinetry in 1974, the year his son David, Jr. was born. Dave, Jr. took over the business and has grown into a successful, well respected local business. The property has 75 feet along Westville Road and stretches 200 feet north on the small hill there. This parcel was originally part of the corner lot where the Tucker Tavern was (now a residence at 100 Main Street, as covered in the last installment). In fact, the Beaulieu house was likely built around 1920 just after the Tucker Tavern was taken down (see last installment and more below). Owners before the Beaulieus include the Georges (who owned the Tavern property), Toziers, Poores, Stackpoles, Dodiers, Blinns (Robert & Alma) and Fosses.
100 Main Street- The history of this corner lot was covered in detail last installment. We’ve added some more old pictures of the Tucker Tavern in the accompanying scans.
Now, let’s look first at the 13 houses and land on the south side of Westville Road from Main Street west to the bridge:
#4- This is the first house west of the Mini Express Store on the corner which has been owned by Randall Caron since 2003. In 2011, Randall donated an old board with “Plaistow Shoe Co.” written on it in paint (see accompanying picture). He discovered it in the wall of his house when he was renovating it. The Plaistow Shoe Company was actually located somewhere nearby on Main Street according to a 1937 ad (accompanying) and we’re not sure how it got in the wall of #4 Westville Road, possibly as it was on a wooden crate used to ship materials or supplies to the company and the residents of the house worked at the company. In fact, Abel and Yvonne Lagasse who owned the property from 1950 through 1996 were both shoe workers and may have worked for the Plaistow Shoe Company. Yvonne’s parents, Alexander and Jessie Desilets, had bought the house in 1927 and Yvonne grew up there, then moved in with Abel some time before 1940. The house was likely built around 1911 possibly by Napoleon Ray on land that was originally the Bly farm then went to the Gulezian family who sold 45 acres to George Jewell in 1910, who in turn sold it off, 40 acres to Royal Whiton (see more below) and the other 5 acres including lots at #4, #6 and #8 Westville Road. Mary Brennan bought the .39-acre parcel (no house) at #4 from Jewell in 1911.
#6- This lot was also bought by George Jewell from the Gulezians in 1910. There was definitely no house there at that time, but by 1916 a house had been built. We don’t know for certain if it was the house there today as the tax card says it was built in 1945. It could have been renovated then and contain part of the original house. In any event, this house has been owned by the Bezanson family for 66 years since 1954. Before that, it has had eight owners going back to 1916 when Jewell sold it. It was also foreclosed on in 1930, then bought by local realtor George Keezer who quickly sold it in 1931 to the Tiltons then the Shaws who sold to Charles and Myrtle Bezanson. It’s now owned by their son Charles and his wife Susan, and has been since 1978.
#8- Michael and Constance Steadman have owned this house since 1987. If you drove by it this week, you’d see it is being re-sided and painted. The Steadmans bought it from TRHS Principal Bill Mealey and his wife Dianna who bought it in 1978 and lived there only 10 years. There thirteen owners before the Mealeys from 1916 through 1978. As for when the house was built, the tax card says 1894, but we believe it was more likely around 1916 based on deeds and old plans.
#10 through #26- There were no houses from #10 west to the bridge in 1916 when George Jewell sold 40 acres of the old Bly/Gulezian farmland to Royal Whiton on March 23, 1916 for $5,500. Mr. Whiton was a retired railway official from Boston who had become a contractor and builder in the Boston area.
As related before on the “Whiton Place Street of the Week” posted last year, Whiton quickly had a grandiose plan drawn up to subdivide the 40 acres into a huge development which he called “Plaistow Manor”. There were 151 lots, most of them small (60 by 120) with twelve of them on the south side of Westville Road, and the rest stretching south along five new north to south roads off Westville and one east-west road extended from Evans Avenue off Main Street. See accompanying 1916 plan which you will need to zoom to see details.
Whiton and his agent Newell Atwood set about selling lots in 1917 including many of the twelve new lots on the south side of Westville Road. Royal Whiton was already 70 years old, but he and his 57-year-old wife Ella came to town a few times to host sales parties. However, they were successful in selling only 25 of the 151 lots when Royal died in 1928, then the stock market crashed in 1929 and the Great Depression followed. The town repossessed most of Plaistow Manor in 1941.
In 1942, a large 23-acre part of land was sold by the town to J. William Peaslee for only $250. Peaslee then proceeded to sell lots including a number to other builders such as J. Russell and Kenneth Colcord who built many houses and sold the houses and lots in the 40s through the 70s.
Here’s what we know about the ten houses built along Westville Road in the former Plaistow Manor land from #10 through #26:
#10- This ¼ acre lot was Lot #1 in Plaistow Manor (see that plan). Originally sold for $200 along with Lot#2 to Charles Lovely, he never paid and the town got it in 1941 when Whiton defaulted, then it went to J. William Peaslee in 1942. While the tax card today still says a house was built here in 1904 and it appears on the 1938 aerial, we believe it was more likely built sometime between 1937 and 1943, then sold to Don and Enid Gilman. The Gilmans sold the house to the Cosgroves who sold it three years later to Leo and Helen Lafontaine whose family lived there from 1950 through 1985. In 1987, the current owners, Ilidio and Maria Costa bought it and have owned it now for 33 years.
#12- This is a big lot with 2.85 acres and 196 feet of frontage on Westville Road. Originally this property was 18 lots in Plaistow Manor plus a planned road named Jewell Road that never went in. In 1946, J. Russell Colcord bought most of the land and he built a house there with the help of his father Arthur, a contractor and builder, and his brother Kenneth. J. Russell and Mina Colcord would raise their family there and own the property until 1981. (Mina Colcord is now 103 years old and holds the Boston Post Cane in Plaistow as our oldest living citizen!) The Colcord kids had a great place to grow up on that big lot, playing baseball, skating and learning to drive in an old Plymouth in the pastures. In 1981, the Colcord family sold the property to the Ireland family who owned it 26 years until 2007 when they sold it to the current owner, Alan Davis, who is a manager at Pulsar Alarm Systems.
#14- We’re told that this house was built between 1946 and 1948 shortly after #10 by Ken Colcord, J. Russell’s brother also with the help of their father Arthur, the local builder. Ken bought the property which was 2 ½ lots in the Plaistow Manor. Ken and his wife Eleanor and their family lived there until 1960 when they sold the house to Paul & Mildred Moran and moved to 11 Center Circle. The Morans lived there only seven years and sold to Wadsworth Winslow who in turn sold in 1969 to George and Theresa Bourque. The Bourques lived there 25 years until 1994. There were then four other owners until 2011 when the current owners Alexander and Denee Mackarowski bought it.
#16- This ½ acre lot parcel was lots 14 & 15 and ½ of lot 13 in Plaistow Manor. The house was built as a brown cape around 1950 by the owner, Walter Signor, according to his daughter Kristie Signor Krebs. Signor bought the land from the Colcords. The Signor family lived there until 1988 when they sold to Michael Berube. Berube sold to the current owners Gerry and Juanita Marchand in 1998.
#16A- This house sits back from Westville Road about 100 yards and the property has only a driveway width on Westville Road between #16 and #20 with 1.65 acres of land in the back. The driveway is exactly where the proposed Atwood Road was supposed to be built in the Plaistow Manor Plan of 1916. The land includes eight lots that were set out in that 1916 plan. However, the house is one of the newest on Westville Road, built in 1995 for Donald Davis who sold it in 2002 to Amy & Steven Perreault the current owners. The land was carved out in 1988 by owner William Ireland who also owned #12 and all the land behind #12 through #20 over to Whiton Place.
#18- This lot was lots 25 & 26 in Plaistow Manor and is one of the few that were sold by Royal Whiton that were paid for by the original buyers, in this case Peter LaFleur, a French-Canadian immigrant, who bought the lots off Whiton in 1917 for $500. LaFleur then sold the lot to his daughter Bernice and her husband Alfred Rivard in 1952. It was the Rivards who likely built the house around that time. They owned the house and property for 41 years until 1993 when they sold it to the current owners, Sean & Myra Hogan.
#20- This lot is the small original lot #27 in Plaistow Manor located on the east corner of Whiton Place. It was sold in 1919 by Royal Whiton to Annie Collyer, but she never paid. The lot ended going to the town in 1941 along with most of Plaistow Manor. J. William Peaslee snapped up this lot amongst others in 1942, then sold lot #27 to Norman and Jeanne LaBranche in 1950. The house was built around that time, probably by Peaslee and the LaBranches lived there until 1972. Norman was a barber with his small shop located by his parent’s house on the other end of Westville Road where it intersected with Route 25 below the railroad bridge. Norman was the second of three LaBranche barbers after his father Oliver and before his son Wayne. Norman was a decorated WWII veteran and ran LaBranche's Barbershop in Plaistow, known by locals as "The Little Red Barbershop" for over 25 years. (See the previous installment for pictures of the LaBranche house at #70 Westville Road and the shop that later became Frank’s Hairlines). The #20 Westville road property had four more owners from 1972 through 1986 when Nancy Hall and Russell MacLeish bought it. They lived there until 2016 when it was bought by the current owner, Nicholas Harbilas. It is now listed for sale as we write this.
#22- This small ¼ acre lot on the west corner of Whiton Place was likely built between 1943 and 1950. It was lots 66 & 67 in Plaistow Manor and was sold to Hilaire Gilbert’s third son Albert in 1919 for $500. Albert never built a house or lived there as he died in 1927 and his wife Rose moved to Haverhill. The town took the land in 1939, then sold it to Fred St. Laurent. In 1943, Harrison and Muriel Herrick bought it and were likely the ones to build the house and they lived there until 1985. Robert and Patricia Peters then owned it 20 years from 1985 through 2014. The current owners, Derreck Reisinger and Elizabeth Kane bought it in 2015. They continue to grow the rare and beautiful yellow roses on their fence by Whiton Place and are in the midst of renovating their back porch this week.
#24- This property was lots 68 through 71 of Plaistow Manor, sold by Royal Whiton to two buyers, Albert Dupont and Phineas Roger, who both paid for their two lots each. In 1941, Herman and Kathleen Halloran bought the four lots and built the house there in 1942. Herman was born on Price Edward Island in Canada. The Hallorans lived there for 42 years until 1982, when Herman died. Their son John then inherited the property and sold it in 1988. Two owners later, the current owners, Brendan & Patricia Rainville, bought the house in 1997 and have lived there now for 23 years.
#26- This house, on lots 106 through 109 in the Plaistow Manor plan of 1916, sits back from the road just before the bridge. The current owners, the Hendersons, have owned the property since 1976. Colin Henderson was born in London and was a decorated Marine and Viet Nam War Veteran who passed away in 2014.His wife Judy lives there today. Their three children grew up in the house. It was Colin and Judy who tore down the original house which had been built around 1920. Gustave LaFontaine bought the four lots in Plaistow Manor from Royal Whiton that year and sold them in 1921 with the house. (Gustave and his family had their farm at west end of Westville Road at what is now #62 and #64). The 1916 Plaistow Manor Plan showed two roads passing by the property, Fisher Road and Brookside Road, but neither was ever built (the Henderson’s driveway is roughly were Brookside Road was to start.). The house and property had many owners over the years after being foreclosed on in 1928, the longest being the Foleys, from 1928 through 1941. Finally, after thirteen short-term owners, the Hendersons bought the old house and land in 1976, lived in it for 28 years, then tore down the old house in 2004 and built the current one. (Thanks to Judy Henderson for info on this property!)
We will be polling soon for the next “Street of the Month”.