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It was let for two dollars per evening, and to a religious society for two dollars per Sunday. The building-committee were Messrs. John P. Clisby, John Sparrell, and Thomas R. Peck.
The first story is occupied by stores on Main Street, and by the selectmen's room on the west. The hall includes the second story.
Oct. 27, 1839: Saturday night it was partly destroyed by fire. Nov. 25, the town voted to rebuild on the original model. The insurance of $5,000 was used to pay for the repairs, and nearly covered the whole amount, which was $5,389.89. The south end was built of brick, and the house made thirteen feet longer than at first. It was again insured, at the same office, for $5,000. The building-committee were Messrs. Darius Waite, Milton James, and John P. Clisby.
Oct. 18, 1850: Saturday night it was again burned in part. The town voted to rebuild ; and, having received from the insurance-office $4,580, this money was used for payment. The building-committee were Messrs. Daniel Lawrence, George T. Goodwin, and Charles S. Jacobs; the masterbuilder, M. Charles Caldwell. The cost of rebuilding was $5 941.36& Its dimensions now are ninety-two feet ridge, eis it three feet body, and forty feet width.
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e feet body, anons now are hint of rebuildings
Or intelligent and thrifty Puritan ancestors had no need of alusthouses. They who came here were the robust and your; ara way insisted on obedience to the text, “ He that will not work, neither shall he eat.” Idleness was whipped out of the men by the magistrates, as out of the boys by their parents. The first mention in our Medford records of any alms-house is May 16, 1737,-- more than a century after the incorporation of the town; and then it is proposed to invite neighboring towns to unite in building a common workhouse. The inhabitants chose a committee to confer with the adjacent towns, and to induce them to join in “building a house for employing poor, indigent, and slothful persons.” This proposition was not accepted ; and Medford did nothing more about the matter till May 23, 1774, when a committee was chosen to provide a poorhouse on account of the town exclu
sively. This was the definite movement that led to practical results, and it was the first in this particular direction. It shows that the number of paupers were small till this time.
In 1790, the town purchased a large house at the West End, near where the Lowell Railroad Station now is, together with a small lot of land, sufficient only for a vegetable garden. Here the poor and helpless were gathered and made comfortable ; but after twenty years it was found insufficient; and the constant perplexities to which the overseers of the poor were subjected, induced the town to think of building a new and ample house of brick. On the 4th of March, 1811, the whole matter was committed to the five following gentlemen : Timothy Bigelow, John Brooks, Jonathan Brooks, Isaac Brooks, and Abner Bartlett. After several meetings and much investigation, they report, that it is expedient for the town to build a large and commodious house, of brick, on the spot occupied by the old one. This report was accepted; and the same gentlemen were appointed the building-committee, to proceed immediately in the work. Discontents arose to fetter the proceeding; and, after much vacillating legislation, the final result was the ample brick square house, whose strong walls only are yet standing to support a new, expensive, and commodious country-seat. It is only justice to say, that this act of the town was suggested, and the work carried forward, through the wisdom and energy of Isaac Brooks, Esq., who was indefatigable, as an overseer of the poor, in procuring every convenience and comfort for the inmates of the house that he consistently could.
This house answered its purpose well for forty years. In 1827, the town voted to purchase eight acres of land adjoining the alms-house lot, at one hundred dollars per acre. In 1828, the project of purchasing a farm, as some towns had done, on which to employ the poor as laborers, came up for discussion; and so favorably did the inhabitants view it, that they voted to purchase as soon as a 'proper one could be found. No purchase was made, and in 1832 a committee is directed to sell the poorhouse, if they think it advisable. It is not done; and in 1837 the town again called up the subject, and appointed a committee to examine lands and close the bargain. But no farm was purchased.
In 1849, the town bought a large lot of ten and a half acres in West Medford, on Purchase Street, for a cemetery. After the purchase, it was thought that the situation was better for an alms-house than a cemetery; and accordingly, March 10, 1851, they voted to change the appropriation.
April 8, 1852: A committee was appointed to sell the old alms-house, and devise a plan for a new one. This committee consisted of the following gentlemen: Samuel Joyce, Elisha Stetson, Caleb' Mills, John A. Page, and Franklin Patch. The committee performed their duty acceptably, and were directed to build according to the model ; and the consequence was the spacious and comfortable house now occupied by the public poor of the town.
June 28, 1852: The town appropriated $5,500 for the building of the house. It cost $6,450.
MEDFORD having for its friend the richest merchant belonging to the “Company” of the Massachusetts Plantation, its trade was great at first.
Oct. 16, 1629: The General Court ordered that the company's joint stock shall have the trade of beaver and all other furs in those parts, solely, for the term of seven years from this day.”
May 18, 1631: “It is ordered that every plantation within the limits of this patent shall, before the last day of June next, provide common weights and measures, which shall be made by some which the governor hath already sealed, and
by which also all others that will have weights and measures of their own are to be made.”
1635: Voted that beaver-skins shall pass for ten shillings per pound.
Sept. 6, 1638: Mr. Cradock's accounts were audited in Boston.
Mr. Cradock's large outlay here, for all the accommodations requisite in building schooners and carrying on an extensive fishing business, made this region a trading centre. This first state of things continued till the withdrawal of Mr. Cradock's property, a few years after his death. The fishing business had been unsuccessful, and no one would continue it. The second period of trade in Medford reached (to speak in round numbers) from 1650 to 1750, during which time the manufacture of bricks was the most important and lucrative business pursued in the town. Other branches gradually increased.
1650 to 1700, there were no newspapers, no scientific lectures, no bank, no insurance-companies, no post-office, no stage-coaches, no good roads. Must not trade have been small ? • The third period extended from 1750 to 1805. It began to be understood that Medford could furnish the staple arti. cles of iron, steel, lead, salt, molasses, sugar, tea, codfish, chocolate, guns, powder, rum, &c., to country traders at a less price than they could get them at Boston. The distilling business and the manufacture of bricks required many lighters to go loaded to Boston: returning, they could bring back iron, steel, &c., at small cost. Medford, therefore, by its river, became a centre of supply to country traders from New Hampshire and Vermont. Supply begets market, as market begets supply. Traders here could purchase ivory-handled knives, spring-locks, brass-ware, tin, and pewter; of groceries, every thing but good tea and coffee ; of dry goods, Kent linen, cotton, Irish stockings, Turkey mohair, red serge, broadcloth, muffs, ribbons, lace, silks, combs, napkins, yellow taffety, thread-lace, gloves, &c. Barter was the most common form of trade; and the exchanges were made with about half the care and selfishness so active at this day.
Pitch, tar, and turpentine were brought from the interior at an early date; but, in 1755, it became an active business. Casks for them were made in Medford ; and the vote of the