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Southbridge History & More

Helen Digregorio’s recollection of Paige Estate
and walk to School (in Town Hall)

Calvin Paige House on Main Street (Courtest of JEL/Digital Treasures)

When I was a youngster living on Coombs St circa 1933-34, the stately homes lining both sides of Main Street from Elm to Coombs Street were beyond my little girls dream. Starting with the Dresser House (now the Arts Center) followed by another home I knew nothing about the George Wells grand home (Now Credit Union Mortgage Center). This is slightly to the right and set back as it was the Turner Wells home and on to Main St which it was the Morse home and then the Paige home. Oh, how I loved that place.

To backtrack, my family lived in a three-decker house which was the first one on Coombs street on the left side which is now demolished. This was owned by a Miss Edith Dresser (relative). The big Dresser home was occasionally occupied and the overseer was an immigrant named T.D., a very scary man. Whenever we tried to take a shortcut through their property, TD always saw us and gave us a chase.

We were also conscious of the sanctity of these properties, never daring to even walk on their walls. I did not even think about walking on the lawn.

The Paige house fascinated me with its portico and one day as I was walking to school, I dared to take a shortcut through it. What a thrill, as no one caught me!!! The shortcut to school was the first and second grade at the town hall. My friend, Theresa Smith and I were so scared of that place. It was located down in the basement, and it felt like a dungeon.

Next door to the Town Hall was another Paige home (39 Elm Street).
The apple trees lined their driveway adjacent to the Town Hall. My friend and I decided to climb up and have some apples, and were caught, scolded and never set foot on the property again.

JEL Digital Treasures photo of 39 Elm St as it looked in 1916 (L) and undated postcard view, before brick building in front

To go back to the other side of Main Street (the A. B. Wells home where Caprara is now located) was beautiful. One day, our teacher of either first or second grade), took us on a tour of the house. I can still remember being awestruck over a chase lounge that was beautiful soft green. I could not believe that the people lived so well. Later on in life, I learned that the articles in this home were the beginnings of the Old Sturbridge Village.

The "Great Room" Antique collection of A.B.Wells which later becaem Old Sturbridge Village
Photos courtesy of OSV

Next to the A.B.Wells home, was Channing Wells’ beautiful home. He had a long, winding walk. To his entrance, and for no apparent reason, his home seemed to be most untouchable. When his home was demolished, I cried. I also cried when Mr. Harrington’s home and Marcy Street School bit the dust. It was such a waste.

To clarify- in my youth there were no fences or barriers, as it was easy to take shortcuts if you were brave or foolish.

See ~1910 view of AO Main Plant/ Grand Trunk Railway from about the location where J.C. Wells lived

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Last update 23-Aug-11
Dick Whitney