Size-wise, Andover was one of the largest towns in early Massachusetts. It got so big that it would take the better part of a day to travel from the southern part of town, where the farmlands were, to the northern part of town, where the village formed and the meetinghouse existed. When the people in the South Parish agitated for their own meetinghouse Andover was broken in two in 1855, the town area in the north became North Andover and the agrarian area to the south became Andover.
Only by this time what little remained of Andover’s agricultural beginnings was fast disappearing. By the Revolutionary War there were sawmills and gristmills and ironworks powered by the Shawsheen River. To supply gunpowder for the patriot cause a powder mill started in Andover. It would eventually blow itself out of existence but shortly after that came textile mills and a rubber factory. The patriarchal millowners built housing and recreation halls for their workers and Andover was essentially a mill town its whole existence.
Our walking tour of what became of the land purchased in 1641 for “six pounds of currency and a coat” will begin with the lifeline that arrived in town in 1835 and brought the promise of prosperity that would define Andover in the 19th century and beyond...
Boston and Maine Depot
1 Lupine Road at Essex Street
The Andover and Wilmington Railroad was incorporated March 15, 1833 to build a branch from the Boston and Lowell Railroad at Wilmington north to Andover. The line opened to Andover on August 8, 1836 gradually made its way to Portland, Maine and was the dominant railroad of the northern New England for more than a century, operating until 1964. This Victorian building, constructed as a freight and passenger depot, was constructed in 1906. Beautifully restored, it operates as private businesses.
WITH THE RAILROAD TRACKS ON YOUR LEFT, WALK OUT TO ESSEX STREET AND TURN LEFT. CROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND TURN LEFT INTO THE PARKING LOT OF DUNDEE PARK.
Smith & Dove warehouse
3 Railroad Street
John Smith, it is said, left his native Scotland at the age of 19 “with a shilling, a Bible and his mother’s blessing.” He found his way to Andover and began to earn his way spinning cotton. In 1824, when his younger brother Peter and John Dove arrived from Scotland they formed their own mill. In 1836 the Smith & Dove Manufacturing Company built the first flax mill in the United States here and their linen twine business would dominate Andover Village for nearly 100 years. The company built these brick warehouses like this one along the railroad tracks.
AGAIN WALK BACK OUT TO ESSEX STREET AND TURN LEFT TO WALK DOWN THE HILL TOWARDS SHAWSHEEN RIVER.
Abbot Village worker housing
66-69 Essex Street
Abel and Paschal Abbot began to manufacture woolen and cotton yarn in 1814 and they constructed Federal-style worker housing along Essex Street. This one, that is clad in modern siding still retains its original form from 1830. The Abbot’s business would fail during the Panic of 1837. The Abbot Mill still stands on the west bank of the Shawsheen River at 18-20 Red Spring Road and is the oldest surviving mill structure in Andover.
Smith and Dove worker housing
70-84 Essex Street
This block of attached homes from the early 1900s was among the last worker housing ever built by Smith and Dove for its employees. The company owned over 100 houses in Andover Village. You didn’t have to work for Smith and Dove to live in one but workers’ families got a 25% break on the rent.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS UP THE HILL AND TURN LEFT ON RAILROAD STREET BEFORE THE RAILROAD TRACKS.
15 Railroad Street
Walk around to the trackside of the building, now used for office and dining space, and you can see how this early freight warehouse was designed for trains to drive through and load and unload undercover.
Tyer Rubber Company
30 Railroad Street
In 1856 Henry G. Tyer, an Englishman, found space in some old railroad buildings and began making rubber cement. Over the years the company prospered and expanded and in 1912 built this impressive Romanesque Revival brick factory complex to produce rubber galoshes and automobile tires. The company operated until 1977 and since then the building has been re-adapted for residential space.
TURN RIGHT ON NORTH MAIN STREET AND WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE OVER THE RAILROAD TRACKS TOWARDS THE CENTER OF TOWN.
Memorial Hall Library
2 North Main Street
Andover’s public library actually started when the town raised $4,500 in 1866 to build a monument to its Civil War veterans. Four years later John Smith, founder of Smith and Dove mills, offered to donate $25,000 for the establishment of a library with the provision that the town match the gift. Subscriptions from the townsfolk failed to reach the goal so the decision was made to use the money set aside for a Civil War Memorial and the library would be that memorial. On the cornerstone laid on September 19, 1871 was a list of all the Andover men enrolled in the Army & Navy and of the 46 who gave their lives. J.F. Eaton designed Memorial Hall in an exuberant Victorian style but the appearance today reflects a Georgian Revival makeover in the 1920s.
2 Elm Square
The Elm House, a hotel that had stood since the 1850s was dismantled in 1894 to make way for this commercial block at the crossroads of town. The Musgrove Block was actually raised on a patch of open space that fronted the old hotel. The Romanesque Revival centerpiece is constructed of brick with stone trim and is highlighted by particularly fine brickwork on the third floor and at the roofline. That roof collapsed in 1975 and after the renovation was complete the multi-use Musgrove Block landed on the National Register of Historic Places.
10-16 Main Street
The Barnards were one of the founding families of Andover and by the 1800s were heavily involved in the shoe manufacturing business. This eye-catching commercial block was built by Henry Barnard in 1910 in the Classical Revival style. It is highly decorated on two sides with Ionic pilasters, Palladian windows and granite trim and corner quoins.
20 Main Street
After the town was cleaved into Andover and North Andover in 1855 the first government business was conducted in the furniture warehouse of Henry F. Barnard. Fifteen thousand dollars was hastily allocated to pay for a site and building of an Andover Town Hall. Boston architect Theodor Voelkers provided a Romanesque red brick building and the the entire project only went over budget by $500.
TURN AND WALK BACK TO THE 5-WAY INTERSECTION AND TURN LEFT ON ESSEX STREET.
Andover Baptist Church
6 Essex Street
The Andover Baptists were organized at the home of Orlando Lovejoy on September 21, 1832 and 30 members began meeting the next week in Masonic Hall. This was the first Baptist church constructed in Andover, built in 1834 in the Greek Revival style by local builder Jacob Chickering, whose craftsmanship will be seen all along Essex Street. The architectural detail of the two-stage steeple stands in stark contrast to lack of ornamentation on the brick building. That could be because when it was built the basement rooms were rented out to business concerns, most famously T.A. Holt who ran the first grocery in town. It was not until 1924, when the sanctuary was renovated, that local business was no longer conducted inside the church.
Major Gamaliel Gleason House
12 Essex Street
This house was built in 1834 for Major Gamaliel Gleason by Jacob Chickering. Gleason was a mason by trade and is assumed to have done the brick work himself. The building began as a two-story building in the Federal style. In the 1870s a French Empire mansard roof was plopped on top of the house and additional space tacked onto the back as is morphed into apartments.
Jacob Chickering House
28 Essex Street
Jacob Chickering was born 1806 in North Andover and began apprenticing as a carpenter at the age of 12. He built houses for over 30 years around Andover before shifting to the construction of pianos. He built this Greek Revival house for himself before his marriage in 1835. After his marriage, he moved across the street to 29 Essex Street and left this house to his parents. It shows his tell-tale handiwork - decorative wood trim over the windows.
34 Essex Street
This fanciful Gothic cottage was built in 1850 by Jacob Chickering for J.T. Abbot. Wonderfully maintained, the wood clapboard house still shows the craftsmanship that went into its creation, especially with the delightful gingerbread trim at the eaves and the parade of sharp Gothic peaks.
St Augustine of Andover
43 Essex Street
Saint Augustine Parish was founded as a mission of St. Mary’s of Lawrence in 1852. The first Catholic chapel arrived in 1866 on Central Street but with the influx of immigrant worshipers left it inadequate in short order. The congregation relocated to this site and settled into a fine wooden sanctuary in 1883 but it was destroyed by fire believed to have been started by faulty primitive wiring in 1894. The current Gothic-inspired church, this time constructed of red brick, was dedicated on May 6, 1900.
WALK A FEW MORE STEPS TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.