Opinion

Jourgensen: Scratching history’s surface

Scratch the surface of Lynn’s history even slightly and odd, sad and hard-to-believe stories reveal themselves. A good example is the Bacheller House that sat at 51 Franklin St. until 1967 and was a classical, if somewhat worn down, example of Colonial architecture. Built in 1794, Bacheller House had the distinctive sloped roof, shingles and clapboard walls that gave the house its “saltbox” style appearance. Home to a pair of aging sisters until 1952, it faced demolition 15 years later only to have the community rally to create the “1794 Fund” to save the house.

Owned apparently by the late Frederick Goodman (as colorful a character as any to stride across Lynn’s stage) the Bacheller was saved from extinction by donors who contributed $2,000 to pay to move the property to Pennybrook Road. That amount fell far short of the estimated $6,000 needed to cover the moving cost but the house was relocated in fall of 1967 to the edge of Lynn Woods. Alas, the move predestined the Bacheller’s final chapter which came in the form of a fire that destroyed the building in September 1970.

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Another house — still standing in all of its glory — is the Benz Estate on Ocean Street. The grand property became a lightning rod of sorts for a heated neighborhood debate over its reuse at the height of the 1980s condominium craze. An interesting side note to the drama was the relocation of the Benz caretaker’s house from Ocean Avenue behind the estate to a corner lot at Sagamore and Newhall street. That lot was the location in the 1960s of a small apartment building where the Boston Strangler claimed one of his victims.

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It was great to hear the veterans appreciation parade last Sunday pronounced an overwhelming success, with crowds enjoying fine weather and veterans basking in the appreciation they deserve. Perhaps the afterglow of the parade can illuminate local veterans posts and shine light on the problems and challenges faced by their shrinking numbers. Gone are the days when Wyoma Square, Summer Street near Neptune Boulevard, and the Highlands had posts and vets made their way from one post to another on Memorial and Veterans Day.

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I always like driving down Washington Street past that little alley-like stretch of sidewalk flanked by two brick or stone walls. I’d like to know who lives in the house at the end of the alley. Apropos of nothing, anybody remember Madeline Mavros?

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When you flip a light switch or pick up a landline phone today, make sure to give a quick thanks to Lewis H. Latimer. The Chelsea native lived in Lynn and went to work for Thomas Edison in 1884. He worked for the inventor for 40 years and also, according to informed sources, wrote the phone patent for Alexander Graham Bell.

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Rest in peace, Freddy Cronin: The cigar, the big car and a heart as big as the Highlands.

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File under “Who’d a thunk:” The YMCA in the 1920s sponsored an “auto school.” Speaking of head scratchers, I’ll never forget the guy I interviewed at a house on Wave Street who told me how he was born deaf and a childhood misdiagnosis sent him to Danvers State Hospital where he was confined with mentally ill people.

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It’s that time of year when old car owners put their rides into hibernation. Hopefully, that great old black ’50s-era sedan parked just off Essex Street at the base of the Highlands finds a nice garage soon. I wonder where the guy who has been tooling around in a ’70s vintage white Cadillac Eldorado convertible is going to park that beauty for its winter slumber.

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