17 Main Street

Historical Narrative: 

This little building on the left has been a part of the downtown business district since the early 19th century. It is the most original shop of the three connecting wooden buildings that make up the oldest merchant block on Main Street. Built in 1820s, the building is just 21 feet wide and 37 feet deep and has survived virtually unchanged except for period alterations to the main level shop windows. Two small windows once flanked either side of the main entrance similar to the windows on the top floor. Later they were replaced by two box bay windows, then returned to two flush windows before the front facade was opened up entirely to the current display configuration.

Recent research finds Guy Carlton purchased the property in July 1822 and built his shop on the lot. We know that the parcel also included the lot at #13-#15 to the north, referred to in deeds as the Post Office lot. Which building was Carlton's has not yet been determined, but one of these two stores is the oldest store on Main Street.

This lot of land was once owned by David Holt Jr. & Isaac Osgood Jr. and was the southern portion of their corner parcel on Main St. and Elm Sq. Holt & Osgood built a Federal Brick block in 1814 at the intersection and opened a business there, renting out two other stores and offices above. Holts estate, was taken over by guardians, to pay off debts and placed in trust for his wife and children. Lots were then sold south of the Brick block as funds were needed. (See 1 Main St. Brick Block)

This parcel was sold to Guy Carlton of Roxbury, MA, a Morocco Leather Dresser and manufacturer. Carlton bought on July 31, 1822 from the Holt family, for $250. The parcel included both #13 - #15 Main and #17 Main. Carlton then built a store on the property and owned it for seven years. Carlton then sold to Nathaniel Swift from $775 on Mar. 5, 1829. Nathaniel Swift was a Physician, the Post Master and served on several committees in town. Nathaniel built a second store on the property. This lot was referred to as the Post Office lot and may be the second building. Dr. Swift died on Dec. 7, 1840 and his property went to his children. The heirs; Nathaniel Swift (Jr.), Sarah Frances Hall & husband Jeffries Hall, Charles Swift, Jonathan Swift all of Andover, George B. Swift of Hillsborough, NH, Samuel Swift and Catherine Trow wife of John F. Trow of NYC, The homestead went to Nathaniel Swift Jr. for $1175 on January 1, 1842. They quit claimed these two lots to siblings Jonathan Swift, who got the lot and store at #13-#15, and Sarah Frances Hall, wife of Rev. Jeffries Hall, who got this store at #17 Main St for $775. The deeds were transferred on Jun. 1, 1842.

The deed reads; on the west side of the Turnpike (Main St.) bounded on the east by said Turnpike, bounded on the north by the Post Office lot deeded to Jonathan Swift, on the west by heirs of Stephen Abbott deceased, and on the south by the Bank building. The building continued to be used as retail space and income property. Sarah F. Swift was born in 1807 and married Reverend Jeffries Hall of Hopkinton on June 19, 1833. Sarah died on November 18, 1877 age 70 and Rev. Hall died on Jan. 5, 1888 at age 85. The property was inherited by their surviving children, son Henry K. W. Hall and daughter Caroline H. Foster deed recorded Mar. 8, 1892. Son Percival Edwards Hall died on Mar. 10, 1865 at Cheraw, SC age 28, during the Civil War.

In the 1850’s-1872 it served as a variety store called Jonathan Swift’s. Jonathan was the brother of Sarah Hall and owned the adjoining store and property. This has added to the confusion of the location of Jonathan’s shop as no street numbers were regularly assigned. A fire in Swift’s building at #13 Main Street reported on December 18, 1874 AA – Jonathan Swift owned the building. … The store building of John J. Brown on the north (9-11), and that of J. E. Whiting on the south, were in imminent danger, the former only nine feet from the burned shop, and the latter connected with it by a stairway, all three of them being wooden buildings. The noted businesses to the north and south reveal the location of his store building at #13 Main Street but his variety store appears to have been now located at #17 when he sells his stock and trade to Walter S. Donald in 1872.
Resident E. Kendall Jenkins remembers….“Jonathan Swift's variety store, where if you asked for 1 pound of candy and it was all he had, he would not sell it, "because he must have some on hand."

Oct. 26, 1866 New Millinery Rooms. Miss S. J. Shattuck has taken rooms over the store of Jonathan Swift, on Main St., where she will carry on the Millinery Business, and keep constantly on hand a supply on Millinery Goods,- Bonnets and Hats Bleached & Pressed. Jan. 25, 1867 Miss S. Jane Shattuck fell down the stairs of her shop on Main St. on Wednesday, and was severely injured.
April 22, 1870 – An attempt was made Thursday night of last week to enter the store of Jonathan Swift, on Main Street…
September 13, 1872 AA - Jonathan Swift has sold his stock and trade to Walter S. Donald.
Oct 4, 1872 AA Donald has opened a neat and attractive store. Advertisement – Walter S. Donald New Store – Confectionary, canned goods, fruits,…
On February 28, 1873 it was reported that Donald had sold his business to Moody O. Russell who will continue the business in lamps, confectionery, fruit and fancy goods. One week later Donald had purchased his business back. In December Donald advertises – he has a large assortment and great variety of holiday gifts, including nicknacks, [sic] gimcracks and all sorts of funny and queer articles. He also has a great quantity of cutlery, stationary, fruits, and confections. Give him a call and let the little folks have a merry Christmas with plenty of presents.
John E. Whiting moved his jewelry store, for the fourth time, to this location. He was previously in the Draper block sharing space with Parker’s drug store at #35.
April 3, 1874 AA – Walter S. Donald has sold his stock in trade and the lease on his store on Main Street to J. E. Whiting.
Mr. J. E. Whiting has removed to the store recently occupied by Walter S. Donald….Whiting has obtained one of the best locations in town. In December 1883 Whiting moved across to the new Barnard brick block #36 Main Street.

July 22, 1910 AT - The property at 17 Main St. has been purchased by Joseph L. Burns. It is located between William J. Burns store and the bank building and was formerly owned by Helen M. Andrews of Boston and Sarah F. Moore of Worcester, in who’s family it has been for more than half a century.

Other tenants include;
John Cornell’s wood, coal, hay & straw business office before 1885, T. Murphy 1896 moved to 4 Cenrtal St., Edgar M. Gilpatrick variety store 1897-8, and Dr. J. A. Leitch’s office.
1900 Federal census has Wing Chin 46 b. China naturalized 1878, brother Ong Chin age 30 NA 1890, and Gow Chin partner Alien 1896 all living here and laundrymen. Sewey Chin & Wing Chin Laundry 1901-02, Chin Dang & Co. laundry 1913, they later relocated to PO Ave, and then 4 Central St. by 1926.
Western Union Telegraph 1916-1920’s, American Dry Goods Store early 1920’s,
April 24, 1924 AT pg. 1 The Ginter Co. of Boston have leased the store on Main St. recently vacated by the American Dry Goods Co., next to Burn’s tailor shop & will open in a few days. First National Store, Inc. 1928, Marie Mile Millinery 1930, The Harborn Shop 1932-1941-2,
The store has now been the location of a series of barbershops since World War II. Bennies Barber Shop 1943-1960’s – owner Charles Torrisi, which moved down from #9 Main Street. Steve’s Barber Shop 1972 - Steve Balsama, Joe’s Barber Shop – Joe Mazza and The Andover Barber Shop owned by John Freitas.
The upper floor occupied by Ranaghan & Ranaghan 1962, Bruno Realty 1960’s & 70s and Attorney Robert T. Wyman in 2009-2010


Essex County Registry Deeds, Salem, MA
Essex Northern Registry Deeds, Lawrence, MA
Nathaniel Swift
Heirs of Nathaniel Swift - Jan. 1, 1842 - b. 364 lf. 185 Salem Deeds
Sarah Frances Hall, wife of Jeffries Hall - Jan. 1, 1842 b. 364 lf. 185 Salem Deeds - (1 of 9 heirs)
Henry K. W. Hall, son of Sarah F. - Heirs of Sarah F. Hall
Caroline H. Foster, dau. of Sarah F. - Mar. 8, 1892 - b. 130 p. 94
Helen M. Andrews & Sarah F. Moore - July 1, 1897 - b. 156 p. 46 undivided ½
Joseph L. Burns - July 20, 1910 - b. 293 p. 280
Annie F. Burns - Aug 9, 1910 - b. 294 p. 127
William J. Burns - Sept. 27, 1905 - b. 481 p. 223 parcel #1 - June 25, 1923 - b. 481 p. 223 recorded
Florence S. Burns - b.2387 p.
Florence Burns Realty Trust - Mar. 9, 1991 - b. 3367 p. 276 - Nancy B. McArdle, David S. Burns Jr. trustees

Researched by James Batchelder, Andover Preservation Commission - July 2010,
Revised March 2011
Northern Essex Registry of Deeds, Lawrence MA
Essex County Registry of Deeds, Salem, MA
Andover Historical Society Archives
Andover Resident Street Directories
Andover Evaluation Reports, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910, 1920.
Andover Town Maps, 1852, 1855, 1872, 1888, Sanborn Maps, 1896, 1906
Andover Advertiser & Andover Townsman newspapers

Inventory Data:

StreetMain St
PlaceAndover Center
Historic DistrictNot Applicable
Historic NameNathaniel Swift Building
Present UseRetail
Original UseRetail / Commercial
Construction Datecirca 1830
Architectural StyleOther
Foundationstone & granite
Settingcommercial business district
Map and parcel55-99
Recorded byJames S. Batchelder
OrganizationAndover Preservation Commission
Date enteredMarch 23, 2014