Ted Avery’s Costume Shop

Photograph held by the Local History Room
Ted Avery and The New England Costume Co., c.1948

While going through a box of photographs, I came across this striking image of Ted Avery, holding a mask in front of his face just inside the doorway of his costume shop on Summer Street. With Halloween just around the corner, it was too fitting not to share!

 

Source: Image from the Local History Room Image Collection (IC7)

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New Exhibit: It’s Been a Pleasure to do Business With You…

There’s a new exhibit in the Local History Room’s lobby display case featuring photos, artifacts, and ephemera from a selection of notable Kingston businesses, including H. K. Keith & Company Store, Toabe’s Hardware, Tura’s Pharmacy, Ye Kyng’s Towne Sweetes, and the stores of Myrick’s Block.

Old Railroad Station and Burges and Bailey Store, 1868
Old Railroad Station (left) and Burges & Bailey Store (right), 1868

It will be up until the end of August. Stop by and check it out!

 

Source: Image from Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slides IC4.

Throwback Thursday: Myrick’s Tin Shop

In honor of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look back at a moment in Kingston’s past!

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Myrick’s Tin Shop, Summer Street, 1876

Over 140 years ago, William H. Myrick of Kingston entered the tinsmith’s business, and his first shop was located on Summer Street. Emily Fuller Drew, a Kingston resident and the creator of the lantern slide shown above, kept a card file of valuable information about the images she took. The file for this image reads:

55. Myrick’s Tin Shop & Cart, 1876

Building used previously as a finishing shop for augers by “Uncle” Nahum Bailey. Such work as did not require water power, such as filing and hand polishing, could be done here. All else was done at the Stony Brook Mill. The work, or the use of the building, antedates that at the Mill (1805). Later Myrick (Wm. H.) used, as shown, as tin shop and stove works. The tin car went the rounds of the outlying districts, serving the more distant farm-wives, bartering tinware and the like for eggs, fowl and other farm produce.

She expands on her description in her notebooks, explaining:

The tin cart was always a curious sight, especially when it started out in the morning from the shop. Tinware, brooms, wooden buckets and other wares hung from every conceivable spot, so that “those who ran” might see. At first only metals wares were carried, but soon all sorts of household conveniences were added, and they became small departments stores in themselves…Mr. Myrick built up quite a business, of tinware, later stoves and furnace heating equipment. He soon outgrew his small shop with metal ware and stoves alone; then he built in 1878 the block at the corner of Summer and Evergreen Street, which bears his name, and increased his business to correspond.

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Myrick’s Block, about 1878

As you can see, this building was a great improvement! Myrick’s store was on the second floor, while the post office, O. B. Cole’s Apothecary, Cantori’s fruit store, and Stegmaier’s Barber Shop were on the ground floor. The building even had a dentist, Dr. A. C. Woodward. In this image, William Myrick Sr. and William Myrick Jr. are both standing on the top steps.

Myrick’s Block was eventually moved from its location at 48 Summer Street to 78 Evergreen Street by Edgar W. Loring, Inc. for use in his wood, coal, and cranberry business around 1940. The building is now occupied by Kingston Sheet Metal.

 

Both of these images are part of the Jones River Village Historical Society’s collection here in the Local History Room. As always, if you have any questions or comments about Kingston history, you can send us an email at history@kingstonpubliclibrary.org. You can also visit the Jones River Village Historical Society’s website for current information about the Major John Bradford Homestead and the group, including membership and events.

 

 

Source: Text from Emily Fuller Drew’s lantern slide card file and notebooks; images from Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slides IC4. Scanned with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and digitized at the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth)

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

What’s in a name?

There’s a spot in Kingston just west of Exit 9 on Route 3, elevation about 68 feet, which has been long known as Thomas’ Hill.

Area around Thomas' Hill from Kingston GIS, 2016
Area around Thomas’ Hill from Kingston GIS, 2016

[This screen shot is from the Town’s GIS, which is just amazing. Give it a try!]

In her 1933 description of Kingston place names, Emily Fuller Drew tells us that

Colonel Thomas’ Hill is located from the Great Bridge up the slope, going south of the River. This hill was named for the Thomas family whose home was located on the hill.

That’s this house.

John Thomas House, Thomas Hill, 156 Main Street, circa 1900
John Thomas House, Thomas Hill, 156 Main Street, circa 1900

Here’s a view south, up the hill towards the Thomas House, taken from a spot just before the Great Bridge over the Jones River.

Main Street, looking south up Thomas' Hill, circa 1900
Main Street, looking south up Thomas’ Hill, circa 1900

And here are a couple of views looking the opposite way down the hill.

Kingston Village from Col. Thomas' Hill in 1838, reproduced 1975
Kingston Village from Col. Thomas’ Hill in 1838, reproduced 1975

[This wood cut is from this book, originally published in 1839.]

 

Main Street, looking north down Thomas' Hill, 1876
Main Street, looking north down Thomas’ Hill, 1876

And here’s one of indeterminate direction, but with a nice shady feel to it.

Strolling on Thomas' Hill, 1890
Strolling on Thomas’ Hill, 1890

 

These images all bear the description “Thomas’ Hill,” because that’s what’s it’s been called for quite some time.  Now, though, there’s a need to update our shared geographical vocabulary. There’s a whole group of Kingstonians with a completely different point of reference, for whom this area doesn’t relate at all to an 18th century Kingston family or their stately home atop the hill.

Let the historical record now reflect the vernacular alternative: “HoJo Hill.”

 

Kingston-Plymouth Howard Johnson's. Photograph courtesy of Dan Holbrook 2003, via highwayhost.org
Kingston-Plymouth Howard Johnson’s. Photograph courtesy of Dan Holbrook 2003, via highwayhost.org

Here’s more.

 

Source: Jones River Village Historical Society Lantern Slides IC4; LHR Image Collection IC7; Mitchell Toabe Papers MC18; and highwayhost.org.

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

 

August 22 was a Saturday in 1863 too

The Local History Room recently received a trove of old ledgers from H. K. Keith & Co.  These hand-written record books track inventory in the general store, customer accounts and daily sales, like this apparently busy Saturday exactly 153 years ago today.

Page 138 from H.K. Keith's 1863 register of daily sales
Page 138 from H.K. Keith’s 1863 register of daily sales
Page 139 from H.K. Keith's 1863 register of daily sales
Page 139 from H.K. Keith’s 1863 register of daily sales
Page 140 from H.K. Keith's 1863 register of daily sales
Page 140 from H.K. Keith’s 1863 register of daily sales

It appears that the column between the item and the price is a code for the purchaser’s account.

Henry Kingman Keith (1826-1909) was born in North Bridgewater and spent some time in Duxbuy, but lived most of his adult life in Kingston.

Henry Kingman Keith, portrait, circa 1860
Henry Kingman Keith, portrait, circa 1860

In 1847, he married Vesta Snell Cary (1827-1903).

Vesta Snell Carey Keith, portrait, circa 1860
Vesta Snell Carey Keith, portrait, circa 1860

Keith built his general store in Kingston in 1848, just three years after the Old Colony Railroad first drove through town.

H. K. Keith and Company General Store, 58-60 Summer Street, circa 1860
H. K. Keith and Company General Store, 58-60 Summer Street, circa 1860

The store was a success, and would thrive under a variety of owners and retail formats: Lewis H. Keith, Henry and Vesta’s son; Burges and Keith; Burges and Bailey; Toabe Hardware; Kingston Hardware; Crossroads Liquor; Trackside Liquor (and possibly more).

Two men at the entrance of the store at 58-60 Summer Street, circa 1875
Two men at the entrance of the store at 58-60 Summer Street, circa 1875

The building has been enlarged and lowered and added-onto; here’s a more recent look.

58-60 Summer Street, 1998
58-60 Summer Street, 1998

New Old Business: Kingston Wants You!

There’s a lot of talk about Kingston’s business community these days, so here’s a look at efforts 50 years back to bring new business to town.

Published in 1965 by the Industrial Development Commission, this colorful pamphlet lays out the advantages of mid-20th century Kingston: a strategic historic location, efficient town government, fine schools, a well informed public, and more!

Kingston Public Library, Local History Room

Here’s the pdf version of Kingston’s Just Right for Your Plant Site.

Source: Town of Kingston Annual and Miscellaneous Publications TOK3

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

Garage

Garage, 66-68 Summer Street, circa 1925
Garage, 66-68 Summer Street, circa 1925

This is one of those with little information attached; we have only what’s depicted in the image.  It looks like it may have been taken between 1920, when the garage was built, and 1925, when the Fire Department moved the Surprise Hose Company in.

The building at right was the second train station at the Old Colony Railroad’s Kingston stop. It was moved sometime around 1890 to the spot shown here, used as a laundry, then demolished in the early 1960s.

 

Source: Loring Photographs IC15 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

“This place will suit you.” Kingston’s first hotel, 1854-1970

We’ve got a new exhibit in the Library lobby. Stop by and take a look.

Patuxet House, circa 1870
Patuxet House, circa 1870

The spot where the Kingston Public Library stands was once the site of Kingston’s first hotel, built in 1854, just nine years after the Old Colony Railroad first chugged through town. Former boarding house proprietor Josiah Cushman bought the land from Spencer Cushman, and immediately borrowed $1500 from the seller to finance the building. Josiah ran the hotel, known as the Patuxet House, for the next 25 years, until another of his creditors, merchant Henry K. Keith (listed in the 1888 publication Twenty Thousand Rich New Englanders), took over the property, though Keith did not run the Inn himself.

Kingston Inn, Flag Day 1915
Kingston Inn, Flag Day 1915

Sometime around 1900, the hotel’s name had changed to either the Hotel Kingston or, the better known Kingston Inn. In 1921, right in the thick of Prohibition, crime struck. The double-crossing rum runner murder happened after hotel proprietor Richard Rowland (or Roland) ordered 26 cases of illegal Scotch from a well-known bootlegger. According to the Boston Globe, “Rowland had a good market for liquor at the Kingston Inn,” which had a reputation as a sporting house with a regular dice game, but he didn’t want to pay for the booze. Rowland plotted with two local thugs to fake a robbery in the hotel garage, but the bootlegger fought back and his driver, Edward Cardinal aka Eddie Gardner, was gunned down. The bootlegger escaped with the liquor, and Rowland, “the debonair blond gambler,” was eventually convicted of manslaughter, but his accomplices were never caught.

Kingston Inn, Keith House and World War I monument, circa 1930
Kingston Inn, Keith House and World War I monument, circa 1930

By 1927, the hotel was known Bay View Inn, and served as the grand prize in a raffle advertised by the Plymouth chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The brochure described the Inn’s

“28 rooms, including reception parlor, one large and three small dining rooms, hotel office and billiard parlor. It is situated on over 1 acre of land and the beautiful trees and lawns add to the enhancing surroundings. In addition to the main Hotel, there is a 20-car garage, with a cement floor, with an accessory store and office included in the buildings.”

For reasons unknown, the raffle never happened. The Inn sat empty and changed hands a few times until 1953, when Coley and Lillian Mae Hayes bought the property. Originally from Georgia, the couple worked together as chauffeur/butler and housekeeper/cook in the 1930s and 1940s in private homes around New York City and Boston. Between 1933 and 1941, they spent summers at Twin Oaks, the Duxbury camp they owned with Lillian’s two sisters and their husbands. The camp was a great success among its African-American clientele, but when one of the sisters died, another took over, and the Hayes went back to private employment, until 1953 when they bought the Kingston Inn.

Guests on the lawn of the Kingston Inn, circa 1960
Guests on the lawn of the Kingston Inn, circa 1960

The Hayes advertised in publications like Ebony and the Amsterdam News, and focused on African-American vacationers from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The promotional materials produced during the Hayes’s tenure emphasized the near-by sights of Plymouth, the delights of Cape Cod, and the comfortable family atmosphere at the Kingston Inn, where “you don’t have to dress for dinner.” Coley Hayes ran the Inn until his death in 1966; Lillian appears to have predeceased him, though her death date isn’t known. In 1970, Hayes’ executor sold the vacant hotel to New England Telephone, which razed the building and constructed the long-distance equipment facility, which eventually became the Kingston Public Library in 1995.

Kingston Inn giant postcard, circa 1960
Kingston Inn giant postcard, circa 1960

File under: What the…?

Lungmotor letter, circa 1920
Lungmotor letter, circa 1920

 

Okay, it’s a business pitch to the Board of Selectmen, but what exactly  is a lungmotor?

Our friends at the Library of Congress can help!

Lungmotor, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]
Lungmotor, [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]

If you need to know more about the Lungmotor (like I did), the Boston company put out a whole book on their product. Popular Science reported on a special motorcycle squad with Lungmotor-equipped sidecars in Chicago. And finally, according to this, screenwriter Rube Goldberg picked the Lung Motor as the favored resuscitation apparatus in the big-screen debut of Three Stooges.

Now, that’s an endorsement that should have made the pitch letter.

 

 

Source: Town House Attic II TOK5, “Health”  Digitized glass plate negative from the Library of Congress: catalog record here.

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Fruit delivery

"Peanut Jack" Costa, around 1908
“Peanut Jack” Costa, around 1908

Who was Peanut Jack?  There’s nothing in the Local History Room to help identify him, but the 1890 Plymouth and Kingston Directory gives us this.

Mrs. D. Costa, Wholesale and Retail Dealer in...Fruits and Confectionery, Cigars and Tobacco, 1890
Mrs. D. Costa, Wholesale and Retail Dealer in…Fruits and Confectionery, Cigars and Tobacco, 1890

The 1909 Plymouth Directory has almost the same ad, but the proprietress in that version is a Mrs. M. D. Costa, exactly what we see printed on the tarp or wagon cover right next to Peanut Jack in the photo.  So it seems likely that Peanut Jack was one of the “teams making regular trips to all places in the vicinity.”

 

Sources: Delano Photograph Collection IC11; Books OC7

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.