33 Lowell Street
Site of History 🛈The Site of History tag is given to properties that were lost before this building survey was undertaken.

Historical Narrative: 

Playdon Nursey and Greenhouses

Alfred George Playdon was born on July 14, 1844 in Pershore, Worcestershire, England, son of George & Elizabeth (Sallis) Playdon. Alfred is listed as a wool sorter in the 1861 British census. Alfred married in Worcester, Eng. on May 9, 1864 to Emma Jelf. They had five children; Vincent Jelf b. 1864 d. 1865, Jennie b. 1865, Ellen Maud b. 1866 and Mary E. abt. 1867 and Alfred Joseph b. Feb. 24, 1868. Emma died about 1869. Alfred remarried on Oct. 8, 1870 to Elizabeth H. Williams b. 1845 in Chester, Cheshire, England. Alfred & Eliza had five children born in Bradford, England; John Henry b. June 30, 1872, Calvert Howard b. Feb. 18, 1874, Margaret Annie b. Dec. 15, 1876, George b. Apr. 5, 1876 – d. Jan 13, 1879, Frederick Gaythorne b. Jan. 13, 1879 – d. 1881 in Bradford.

Alfred immigrated to America arriving in Boston on Feb. 15, 1880. Wife Elizabeth and John H., Calvert H. and Margaret Annie arrived in 1881. Alfred first settled in Methuen, worked in the Lawrence mills as a wool sorter.

Alfred purchased the property at 35 Lowell Street on Aug. 27, 1883 for $2450 from John C. Lakey. The property had once been owned by Smith & Dove Manufacturing Co. Alfred’s farm was 17¾ acres extending back to Hussey’s Pond brook. Today 7.14 acres are now owned by the Town of Andover’s Conservation Commission which it purchased it by eminent domain on Nov. 13, 1968. The remaining 10 acres held thr Playdon home.

The Andover directory of 1893 lists Alfred G. as a Milk Dealer and son Calvert as a milkman. John Henry, known as Harry is a farmer and florist. Alfred’s older children with Emma; Jennie, Ellen Maud, Mary E. and Alfred J. also made their way to Andover. Son Alfred J. married on June 16, 1891 in Lawrence to Mary E. Hill b. 1864 in England, a weaver, dau. of Thomas & Jane Hill. Alfred was a plumber for Lawrence Gas Co. and lived in Methuen. They had seven children; Louis C, Marion E., Roy A, Leon H, Helen G., Byron H. and Frederick J.

Margaret Annie married June 30, 1903 to Thomas J. Ryan a storehouse manager at the A.W.Co. mill. Ellen Maud never married and was a house maid for the Draper family at 27 School Street.
Jennie Playdon married March 18, 1903 to John Hodge who later died. She remarried to David Buick Laing and lived in Andover.

Son John Henry Playdon, known as Harry, began the very successful florist farm on his father’s farm on Lowell St. Harry married on Nov. 29, 1900 in Andover to Adelaide F. Hanson b. July 1870 in Cape Britton, Canada, a nurse living in Cohaset, MA, dau. of Jacob & Jane (Moore) Hanson. They did not have children.

Calvert H. Playdon graduated from Harvard in 1896, became a veterinarian in Reading. Calvert married Nov. 18, 1903 to Alice May Haley, b. Cambridge, Eng., a compositor, dau. of Charles B. & Emma V. (Austin) Haley. They had two children: Heloise Williams and George Winchester.

John H. or Harry Playdon partnered with a Mr. Allen in 1894 and built large greenhouses on the open lot at 31 Lowell St. The cement foundations are all that survive today. Allen was head gardener for John Dove’s estate, now Arden. By 1897 Harry was sole owner of his business. Harry Playdon got the contract to supply the garden plantings of the newly expanded West Parish Cemetery in 1908 – 1909. The Hydrangea bushes continue to delight visitors with their blooms in September. Harry opened a florist shop at 58 Main in the ARCO building in 1907 and moved next door to #60 in 1924 which he held until his death on June 3, 1953.

The 1920 Valuation lists. John H. Playdon – 35 Lowell St – house $800, barn & shed $400, Greenhouse $1500 and 17 ¾ acres $1200 = $3900 assessment.

Elizabeth Playdon died on Sept. 10, 1918 at age 72 and Alfred died Aug. 11, 1919 age 75. Both are interred at West Parish Garden Cemetery. Harry’s wife Adelaide died on July 5, 1932. The business and homestead were inherited by their nephew Byron Hill Playdon b. Aug. 31, 1902 son of Harry’s half- brother Alfred J. Playdon. Byron worked for his uncle and is listed at 406 North Main St. in 1928 directory. Byron married Mabel L. Mathison and had one daughter Joyce b. 1932. They continued as florists, residing at this address until 1962.

Andover Townsman – Frye Village news items.
Feb. 16, 1894 F.V. Frye Village now boasts of a new industry at the form of A.G. Playdon on Lowell Street. The proprietors, Playdon and Allen, have put up a large greenhouse and will pay attention to the growing and distribution of plants and all kinds of nursery stock. Both have made a study of the florist business and Mr. Allen is in addition an experienced nurseryman. He was the former gardener at the Dove estate and Mr. Playdon is a son of A. G. Playdon. They expect to build another larger house the coming season.

Mar. 9, 1894 F.V. – The Waterman greenhouses on High Street (#41) have been purchased by Playdon & Allen, the new Frye Village florists. The contents of the houses comprised a variety of choice plants and included a large number of carnations and roses. These were removed, Saturday, to Frye Village. The houses will probably be in their new location and ready for use in a month. It is understood that James Dennison intends to erect a residence on the site which has been occupied by the greenhouses.

Sept. 28, 1894 F.V.– Mr. Allen of the firm Allen & Playdon, florists of Frye Village, had purchased the house which has been occupied for a number of years by Charles Mayer in that part of the town.

Nov. 2, 1894 F.V.- Messers Playdon & Allen invited the Village School teachers and scholars to view their chrysanthemum show last evening. It is worth anybody’s time to see the display of these beautiful flowers.

A.T. Nov. 9, 1894 p. 1 - The Chrysanthemum Exhibition – over 1000 persons attended.

Sept. 27, 1907 AT pg. 6 The New Flower Store – “Aren’t those flowers lovely” Oh! What a pretty store”, “I’m so glad we’ve got a florist’s shop uptown”, etc., etc, are the comments made about J. H. Playdon’s store in the ARCO building. And it is a very attractive place. One window is filled with ferns with a great bunch of Japanese lilies in the centre, and in the other window begonias of all colors and kinds make a background for the handsome gladiolae displayed. Hanging in small baskets are little Japanese ferns greatly adding to the attractiveness.
Fresh cut flowers come every day from the greenhouses in Frye Village, where Mr. Playdon makes a specialty of carnations, violets, roses, chrysanthemums, and the beautiful specimens shown amply testify to his knowledge of the care of flowers.

July 9, 1909 AT - J. H. Playdon will close his store in the ARCO building during July. Orders can be taken at the green houses in Frye Village – Telephone 106-11


Essex County Registry Deeds, Salem, MA
Northern Essex Registry Deeds, Lawrence, MA
Andover Townsman -AT
Andover Advertiser - AA
Ancestry.com - Playdon family
Andover Directories, maps
Andover Town Meeting March 18, 1868 art. 51 - land by eminent domain for ACC

Smith & Dove Manufacturing Co. – Apr. 29, 1871 – b. 9 p. 264
Richard J. Dodson, wife Hannah – June 28, 1878 – b. 51 p. 568 – 4 lots
John C. Lakey – May 13, 1882 – b. 68 p. 33 - $2250
Alfred G. Playdon – Aug. 27, 1883 – b. 73 p. 73 - $2450
Alfred G. Playdon, wife Elizabeth – June 22, 1889 – b. 101 p. 126 – lot 2
John H. Playdon, wife Adelaide – Feb. 24, 1913 – b. 327 p. 508
John H Playdon estate – June 3, 1953 – Probate Doc. # 241,409
Byron H. Playdon – Dec. 7, 1953 – b. 785 p. 74-76
Felicia Sholik – Dec. 7, 1953 – b. 785 p. 77 – deed transfer
Byron H. & Mabel L. Playdon – Dec. 7, 1953 – b. 785 p. 77-78
N. J. Brox Realty Co., Inc. June 7, 1962 – b. 960 p. 64
Town of Andover Conservation Commission – Nov. 13, 1968 - b. 1119 p. 55 -

Inventory Data:

StreetLowell St
PlaceShawsheen Village - Frye Village
Historic DistrictShawsheen Village NRH District
Historic NamePlaydon's Florist Greenhouse site
Present UseConservation Commission land
Original Useresidence & greenhouse farm
Construction Date1892 - 1894
SourceERDS, NERDL, style,
Wall/Trimconcrete, metal & glass
Outbuildings / Secondary StructuresBarn, shed
Major Alterationsrazed greenhouses in 1960's, barn and shed 1970's
Demolition Detailsearly 1960's,
Acreage7.15 acres
Map and parcel52-81 A
Recorded byJames S. Batchelder
OrganizationAndover Preservation Commission
Date enteredApril 10, 2020