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The Historical Society's sale and removal.

The home of the Medford Historical Society has felt the shock of upheaval, has been sold, and at this moment the work of transformation for business purposes is in progress.

At the November meeting of this Society it was voted to sell its realty, at the discretion of the Executive Committee. Various offers were received, some so insignificant as to be ridiculous, but on May 26 last, by the unanimous approval of the committee, a sale was made to Edmund T. Steere, of Melrose, and the agreement thereto signed by him and by the President and Treasurer of the Society.

With this issue of the register, the familiar cover page design (showing the house) will cease, as the Historical Society has moved its library and collection into temporary quarters, thus vacating the historic house that for eighteen years has been its home, first by rental and in 1902 by purchase. [p. 47]

The new owner will change the same by two stores on the ground floor with modern accessories of plate glass, etc., but will as far as possible preserve the old style exterior of the upper portion so familiar to Medford people.

The present register is sent out from the new location—the site of Governor Cradock's ‘ferme house’ by the way—the quarters secured at No. 6 Main street. These can be but temporary (as changes are contemplated on Riverside avenue ) but for the immediate future are well adapted both for our library and collection and for a meeting place until plans can be made for a future home. ‘It is hoped that a fireproof building will be forthcoming, where the library and choice collection of antiques can be properly housed, and to this end active work will soon begin. The people will be asked to assist in preserving Medford's history, and by their moral and financial aid to place the Medford Historical Society in a position second to none in the state.’

In some quarters an idea has obtained, that historical societies are worshippers of things old, worn out, and useless; also that ‘Medford is too——historical’ (the adjective we omit.) This Historical Society does not exist for the ‘preservation of old foot-stoves and spinning wheels.’ Neither has it any interest in the preservation of the numerous old rattletraps and rookeries that (dis) grace our streets and have long been eyesores to the public, other than by photos to show what has been, to the newer and better Medford. There is room for better things on the ground they cumber.

As the sale of the house occurred just after the last meeting of the season, and is doubtless still unknown to some members, as soon as we are ‘settled in housekeeping’ all will be apprised of the fact, and an early meeting be held, to which friends will be invited.

Many pleasant memories will be held of our former home, and brief mention of its history and occupants is timely. [p. 48]

Convers Francis served an apprenticeship in Medford, learning the art and trade of a baker of Capt. Ebenezer Hall. He became the captain's foreman for some years and was in business two years at Menotomy. At his former master's desire he succeeded him in 1797, and himself retired at the age of fifty-two, with what was then a fortune, $50,000. He soon erected (in 1800, it is said) a substantial house, that has these historic interests: First, that there his talented daughter, Lydia Maria (by marriage, Child), was born February 1, 1802. See Vol. III, p. 95, register, therefor. Second, that the ‘Medford Cracker’ was there designed and first made. All work incident thereto was for many years by hand. ‘This bread deserved all the fame it acquired,’ and as each little loaf, because of its peculiar making, split in halves, it got the name, crackers.

Mr. Francis faced his house to the sun, with its front door on Salem street, the rear reached by a path, later called Blanchard's lane, now Ashland street. Further back a brick building contained his ovens.

After he retired, Timothy Brigden, ‘whose bread was excellent,’ was baker for a time, but in 1829 Henry Withington used the ovens until his own were built.

Capt. Andrew Blanchard, Jr., had, ere this, purchased the Francis house and the older ones westward. The latter he sold to Withington, reserving certain rights and prohibiting certain acts on part of the land. Exercising those rights he made alterations improving the house, residing there until his death in 1853. For a brief time Alfred A. Pierce was its owner, and next, in 1866, Charles P. Lauriat, the well-known gold-beater, who used the brick oven-building as a workshop. By inheritance it passed to his children, and from some of them to the Historical Society in June, 1902. Here's hoping that its solid brick walls may long stand, housing honorable and legitimate business on old Salem street, worthily succeeding those gone before. [p. 49]

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