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[p. 23]

The Andover turnpike.

In the October, 1919, issue of the register appears a view of Forest street, originally the Andover turnpike, also ‘Scraps of Paper’ relative thereto.

As this is Turnpike number we show its toll-house by the forethought of the late George E. Davenport, who secured the view long after the old toll-road had become a public highway.

The road itself for the six miles from Medford square to Reading line represented an outlay of nearly $50,000. Its proprietors were supposed to make annual return to the State authorities, and are said to have done so concerning their first two years business, being an algebraic sum of minus $250. In not continuing to report, they were not more negligent than others, and probably no more profitable than others.

The Andover was a continuation of the Essex turnpike, which seems to have built the portion through Reading. It is said that there was provision for the maintenance of one gate at the county line. Be that as it may, it is certain that there was a toll-gate at this house in Medford. Major Wood says that in declaring the turnpike a public road, the county commissioners awarded the proprietors $3,000 damage and allowed them eighteen days to remove their gates and personal property; also that the dissatisfied corporation asked for a jury award, which being refused, next petitioned the Supreme Court for a mandamus in the case, also denied, and that in 1837 the Andover and Medford turnpike passed into history. It would appear that the commissioners were more generous than with the Medford, who in point of time ‘went further and fared worse.’

The old toll-road has become a beautiful residential street. Two of the old mile-stones remain in position. Near the first it is joined by the Fellsway, and close there also the street railway tracks extend onward into the Reservation, making the locality better known than ever it could have been in turnpike days. As can be seen, [p. 24] the toll-house was a substantial structure, as were those of its day. Save that it had a central chimney, instead of two at the rear, it was a counterpart of those erected just before at West Medford and Wilmington by the Middlesex Canal Company. The latter, in 1807, was built at a cost of $833.73 (as per record)1 and the same figure may well apply to this. Inquiry as to whether this house still remains brings no satisfactory reply. It may have been burnt, removed, or remodelled to different style during the years that have elapsed. Mr. Hooper informs us that though this was the residence of the toll-man and his family, the real toll-house was a little cabin on the other side of the road. It resembled the old-time shoemakers' shops, once so numerous in Eastern Massachusetts, and may have been thus used. This has long since gone, but the turnpike road has improved.

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