18 Railroad Street

Architectural Description: 

Greek Revival home, gable end to street

Historical Narrative: 

18 Rail Road St. – Merrill - Byers - McDonald House
This parcel of land was once occupied by the home shown in the 1910 photo of the Smith & Dove Mill complex in the lower left corner of the image. In local 20th century directories it was listed as #37 Railroad St.

This parcel and house was purchased by James Byers on June 19, 1869 from George Foster, Administrator. The J. Merrill family is listed on the 1852 map of Andover. Jonathan Merrill's property is listed in the 1850 Valuation schedule as dwelling house, barn, bake house, blacksmith shop and 3 acres of land $1900. Farm stock $60.

Jonathan Merrill was born in NH in 1793. He was a blacksmith, became a Mason of St. Mathews Lodge Andover in March 1824. Jonathan married on Sept. 15, 1831 to Eliza F. Frye b. 1812. They had three children; Mary "Polly" F. b. 1832, Louis P. b. 1844 and Ella Florence b. 1853. Polly was a milliner in 1860 and then a teacher by 1865. Louis, a merchant apprentice.
Eliza died in 1866 and Jonathan died of paralysis on Jan 15, 1869.

The house, barn and shed stood where the current apartments are located to the rear of the property. The small drive on the south side of the building, now called Amici Way, was once the right-of-way to the Merrill - Byers home. The rear yard extended to the boundry of the old Free Christian Church located at #22 and razed in 1908.

The access way was granted to James Byers by Francis Cogswell, president of the Boston & Maine Railroad Co. on October 7, 1870. It gave Byers permission to "create a road not less than 25' wide, across their land to his homestead - a private way to use on foot, with horses, cattle, and teams from the traveled way belonging to the Boston & Maine from the passenger depot to the Nathan Frye House, (now Railroad St), - Byers may make a suitable sidewalk and carriage road. - B & M reserved the right to lay track across the private way."

James Byers was born in Brechin, Scotland on Feb. 17, 1800, son of James & Jean Byers. James married a Mary S. in Scotland and they had one daughter Agnes (Annis) F. b. in 1836 in Scotland. The Byers arrived in Andover by 1837 as James Byers is listed on the Poll Tax Schedules. In the 1850 census James is listed as an Overseer in the flax mill. His wife Mary died of Consumption on Feb. 7, 1855. Daughter Agnes married on Mar. 7, 1852 to David S. Foster of Boston. James then married in April 1859 to Charlotte Finan McIntosh b. 1822 dau. of John & Isabella McIntosh of Scotland. James give Flax Manufacturer as his profession. They had one son Alfred S. b. Sept. 1862 in Andover. James Byers lists his occupation as Woolen Manufacturer in 1860.
James Byers died on Oct. 3, 1880 at the age of 80 y 8m 17d. His son Alfred was 18 at that time. Charlotte died on Nov. 9, 1899. Alfred Byers sold the property to James & Catherine McDonald on Jan. 28, 1901

The MacDonald family owned the property for nearly 60 years. James A. McDonald was born Sept. 27, 1843 in Kikenny, Ireland, son of James 7 Margaret (Purcell) McDonald. James married on April 21, 1864 at St. Marys' Church in Lawrence to Catherine Agnes Neilon b. June. 1, 1849 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, dau. of John & Catherine (Kehoe) Neilon.
They had twelve children ten who survived to adulthood;
Patrick b. 1865-1865, Catherine 1867-1954, John 1870-187?, John H. 1875-1944, James A. 1877-1941, Joseph A. 1877-1942, Mary Ann 1878-1955, William L. 1880-1955, Elizabeth 1883-1883, Francis S. 1884-1941, Theresa C. 1887-1970, Bernard L. 1889-1956.

James worked at Tyer Rubber Co. and they lived at 50 Marland St. (name changed to Stevens St.) in 1900. The family moved to Railroad St in 1901.
Until the children married most lived in the family home. Catherine died on Mar. 24, 1918 and James died on Feb. 17, 1921.
William L. McDonald, was administrator of his estate on Feb. 20, 1922. The property went to Mary A. McDonald & Theresa G. McDonald on Mar. 21, 1922. Brothers; William L. a cashier for the B&M Railroad then bookkeeper for B. L. McDonald Coal Co. and Joseph F. a spinner at Smith & Dove lived with their sisters. Their older brother John H. McDonald became the Andover Postmaster. Mary worked as a domestic and Teresa as a waitress at Phillips Academy. Mary A. died on Aug. 6, 1955 and her brother William on Aug. 17th. Theresa G. McDonald was sole heir in 1955.

Theresa G. McDonald sold the property to George B. Westhaver Trust on Sept. 18, 1959. The Westhaver Trust acquired most of the property west of Railroad St, East of Baker Lane, and south of Tyer Rubber Co.

The house had been divided up into apartments and the former barn converted into two additional units most likely when the McDonald family owned the property. The old house was razed in the 1960s.

Westhaver sold this parcel to Micgudan Realty Trust, Michael S. Nicolosi in May 12, 1972. John F. & A. Patricia McGarry purchased the property on Oct. 3, 1977. The sixteen apartment units were constructed at this time.


Essex County Registry Deeds, Salem, MA
Essex Northern Registry Deeds, Lawrence, MA
Andover Townsman - Sept. 9, 1982 - Office Building Under Construction
See maps #6605 Parcel "C" - bld. A three apts. bld. B two apts.
map #4584, #5043, #5149, #6310 and #8550 additional parcels
Andover Historical Society vertical files.
George Foster, Administrator - 1869
James Byers - June 19, 1869 - b. 778 leaf 154 Salem deeds
Right of Way from B&M RR - Oct. 7, 1870 - b. 24 p. 184 Lawrence deeds
James Byers estate, Alfred S. Byers heir - 1901
James & Catherine McDonald - Jan. 28, 1901 - b. 183 p. 153
James McDonald estate, Wm. L. McDonald, Adm. - Feb. 20, 1922 - b 456 p. 469 Probate
Mary A. McDonald & Theresa G. McDonald - Mar. 21, 1922 - b. 456 p. 470
Mary A. McDonald estate, Theresa G. McDonald heir - Aug.6, 1955 - Mary died
George B. Westhaver Trust - Sept. 18, 1959 - b. 901 p. 447
George B. Westhaver Trust - Oct. 9, 1962 - b. 971 p. 13 - parcel "C"
Micgudan Realty Trust, Michale S. Nicolosi - May 12, 1972 - b. 1193 p. 70
John F. & A. Patricia McGarry - Oct. 3, 1977 - b. 1321 p. 2 & 3

Inventory Data:

StreetRailroad St
PlaceAbbott Village
Historic DistrictAndover Village Industrial NRH District
Historic NameMerrill - Byers - McDonald House
Present UseProfessional offices/apartments
Original Useresidence
Construction Datecirca 1840 - 1845
Architectural StyleGreek Revival
Foundationstone & granite
Roofgable - asphalt
Outbuildings / Secondary StructuresBarn and shed
Major AlterationsConversion to apartments
Demolition Details1960 - 1961
Map and parcel54-57
Recorded byJames S. Batchelder
OrganizationAndover Preservation Commission
Date enteredDec. 29, 2014