The Ballardvale Playground was completely redesigned in 2015 and completed in 2016. The current site covers 2.2 acres of land and was acquired in two separate parcels by the Town of Andover. This lot at 164 - 168 Andover St. is the south end of the playground purchased on May 8, 1945 and is 1.2 acres. It contains the parking area and playground equipment for children and an all purpose court. The north end of the playground, 160 Andover St., sporting a new baseball diamond, was acquired on Dec. 31, 1951 and contains 1 acre.
The south section of the playground has a unique history. If one stands with their back to the fire station and looks across the playground to the railroad tracks, you must imagine a road running through the parcel and over the tracks to the MBTA lot beyond. This road was called Mechanics Street and gave access to the Ballard Vale Machine Shop that was formerly located on the parking lot of the MBTA. It would become the Whipple File & Steel Co. in the 1860s and later Craighead & Kintz Co.
On the south corner of Mechanics and Andover Street stood the Ballard Vale House, a large hotel and tenement building which ended at Clinton Court. On the north side of Mechanics Court was the Abbot Hat Factory building which comprised one acre of land. The 1885 Birdseye map of Ballardvale pictured above shows both the Ballard Vale House and the hat factory building, marked "H" as the Raw Hide Manufacturing Co.
The Ballard Vale House was a village hotel and tavern in the early years and later a tenement house for workers in the mills. A two part history of Ballardvale published in the Andover Advertiser on Feb. 7 and 13 in 1864 states (AT 2/13/1864 p. 2) "The Ballard House, since the commencement of the village has been occupied for a tavern or boarding house by Abel Blanchard, Weston, Rider, Hiram Hill and now Beedle."
Abel Blanchard, paper-maker, was in partnership with Daniel Poor, Abraham J. Flagg and Mark Newman and had acquired the Grist Mill, Saw Mill and water rights of the late Timothy Ballard on the site of 212 Andover St. in 1833. It was their plan to build a paper mill on the sight under the name "Poor, Blanchard & Co." Flagg & Newman owned book stores in Andover and Flagg also published books and documents. Their venture quickly turned to wool mill when John Marland entered into the picture in 1834. The Ballard Vale Mill was then founded with these five men as principle partners but Blanchard seems to have left. He and his family are in New York City in 1870.
The 1860 census lists William Beetle, 42 b. England, Boarding House, wife Claramona 30 b. MA, Mary Beetle, 70. b. England, his mother a servant, and boarders James Gallan 22, b. Ire., File Cutter, James White 21 b. NH File cutter and Anna Sass 39 b. Ire. Servant. William Beedle died Aug. 9, 1866 at 47 of a bowel disease. He was listed as a Teamster. His estate inventory included several livery items and household goods. There were 15 chambers on two floors, 61 blankets/comforters.
The Abbot Hat Company was established by Alfred Kittredge of Haverhill, MA in 1863. Kittredge then deeds the property to the Abbot Hat Company on Dec. 5, 1863 which comprises three parcels: the factory lot of one acre on the baseball field, the tenement house known as Block #3 at #40 Center St. (Lot #25) and the six tenement known as the "Schooner Block" on the corner of Oak and Center Streets, now demolished. Abbot Hat Company then acquired a fourth parcel of land on Andover St. on May 16, 1864. The Andover Advertiser - June 18, 1864 p.2 - BV - "The Hat Factory is approaching completion, which will employ a large number of hands."
Alfred Kittredge was the president of the company in 1864 and held 160 shares of stock. On April 20, 1865 the stockholders met in Boston and voted to sell the business and property. Hart, Taylor & Co. held 10 shares, L. D. Richardson 30 shares, Samuel R. Richards 55 shares, Charles H. Peabody 30 shares and James B. Potter 8 shares. Augustus Russ, esquire, was the Clerk. The property was bought by Hart, Taylor & Co of Boston June 8, 1865. The partners,Thomas W. Hart, Frederick B. Taylor and Orin B. North paid $10,000. Hart would then sell the property to the Whipple File Manufacturing Co. on Aug. 28, 1865 at the same price.
It is not known what the Whipple File Co. used the Hat Factory building for but the Ballard Vale House and the two tenement blocks were for housing their employees. Whipple File Company, William Pierce President, employed 400 men in the foundry in 1864. The Whipple File Manufacturing Co, went into bankruptcy in 1871 and the company holdings were assigned to Edward L. Page, John W. Beals, Thomas J. Homer, and Thorton K. Lathrop on June 21, 1871.
Stephen Blaney, of Peabody, a wool buyer purchased the former Abbot Hat Factory building and much of the property along Andover St. on July 1, 1871. The 1872 Ballardvale map list the Hat Factory as the Blaney Shoe Factory. Blaney also held the Ballard Vale House. Stephen Blaney died on Feb. 8, 1901 and his property then was placed in the Blaney Real Estate Trust by his family. The property was held by the Blaney family until Mar. 4, 1941 when the lot was sold to Ernest & Nellie Hazelton. Four years later Hazelton sold the property to the Town of Andover on May 8, 1945.
The Hat Factory lot on the north was acquired on Dec. 31, 1951 enlarging the playground to 2.2 acres.
Essex County Registry Deeds, Salem, MA
Essex Northern Registry Deeds, Lawrence, MA
John Frye, Henry W. Abbot, Ezra F. Abbot - Aug. 28, 1865 - b. 688 leaf 286
Whipple File Manufacturing Co. - Aug. 28, 1865 - b. 688 leaf 286
Whipple File Manufacturing Co, bankruptcy - 1871
Edward L. Page, John W. Beals, Thomas J. Homer, Thornton K. Lathrop, assignee's - June 21, 1871 -
Stephen Blaney, of Peabody, MA - Apr. 27, 1870 - b. 6 p. 236
Stephen Blaney, of Peabody - July 1, 1871 - b. 10 p. 61
Stephen Blaney estate, Feb. 8, 1901
Stepehn Blaney Estate, April 24, 1939 - Probate #87760
Blaney Real Estate Trust, Lester W. Cooch, Roger Blaney Trs.- Sept. 1, 1939 - b. 627 p. 109
Blaney Real Estate Trust, Lester W. Cooch, Roger Blaney Trs.- Nov. 7, 1939 - b. 627 p. 115-121 (p. 218)
Ernest & Nellie Hazelton - Mar. 4, 1941 - b. 638 p. 446
Inhabitants of Town of Andover - May 8, 1945 - b. 673 p. 20
|Historic District||Ballardvale Local Historic District|
|Historic Name||Ballard Vale House - Ballardvale Playground|
|Present Use||Ballardvale Playground|
|Original Use||open land|
|Construction Date||1946 - 1951|
|Major Alterations||2015 - 2016 - redesigned playground and reoriented baseball diamond|
|Map and parcel||138-2|
|Recorded by||James S. Batchelder|
|Organization||Andover Preservation Commission|
|Date entered||Jan 19, 2017|