Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In Search of Old Iron

Fenway in search of "old iron" for our history blog!
... and we found some at Stan's Service Center in Conway Village. 

A 1956 Chevy Bel Air.

Note the incredible styling and color scheme. At one time all of these curves and chrome was common. However, that has all changed. You just don’t see a combination jet and eagle hood ornament on today’s cars.

However, we can use these wonderful relics of the past as way markers on our historical road trip.

You can see what used to be at the site of Stan’s Service Center if you look at the 1896 Bird’s Eye View of Conway on display near the circulation desk at the Conway Public Library. (click on the images to enlarge them).

In this panoramic view you can see earlier modes of transportation. There are a number of horse drawn vehicles on the streets. A train that just went through a wooden covered bridge can be seen in the middle ground. The Moats and Mount Washington can be seen in the background. That has not changed, but some of the open fields have grown in. 

Near the center of the print, you can see several tall towers with thick black smoke billowing out of them. In the late 19th century this would not have been seen as pollution but as a sign of progress. Clustered around the factories are the smaller houses of the workers and the larger houses of the owners. 

If we zoom in closer we can see that many of the buildings are numbered and tied to a key on the print.

Stan’s is now at the site of number 34. In 1896 this was listed as Geo. C. Wells, Horseshoeing and Jobbing. So while the technology, sources of power, types of exhaust, sights and sounds have changed, the folks who worked there then and now still help keep us moving on the road.

While Mr. Wells would shoe your horse, next door to the north from Stan’s at number 32 L.S. Merrill could repair your carriage if you had an accident. If the accident was really bad, he could also help you out as he was also an undertaker. Not far way, Fred Eaton was a carriage maker and undertaker, so their competition resulted in you having a choice and perhaps helped keep prices down?

The lumber for these workers could have come from building number 25, B.F. Clark’s lumber mill.

At the Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room, you can also compare the bird’s eye view with several of our Sanborn Insurance Maps. 

In this 1908 map, you can see that the B.F. Clark sawmill was actually built out over the water. The map details the logway on the south used to feed the logs to the mill. In the bird's eye view above you can see the logs floating in the pond waiting to be directed into the mill. This mill also generated electricity for village lights. You can also find photographs of this mill on our online collections database for more details.

Comparing the 1908 map with the 1929 Sanborn Insurance Map shows that B.F.Clark sawmill had been removed. The Sturtevant peg factory was now the Fred W. Mears Heel Co. and heel factory. The Majestic Theater has replaced Shaws grocery store and there is now a filling station east of the site of Stan’s.

So stay tuned to this blog as Fenway and I drive around in my daughter’s Chevy in search of history. While this may not quite be a 1956 Bel Air, ….

…. I do have a great co-pilot!

For more information contact us at the Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room

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