52 - 54 Haverhill Street – The Variety Store - Circa 1922
This small building built into the hillside is just 22’ x 33’ and has been a neighborhood variety store for 75 years. The business has been patronized by the residents of Shawsheen Village, the workers of the former American Woolen Company, the Raytheon Corporation and now the businesses in Brickstone Square.
The building was probably constructed by Edward Fleming who purchased the land in 1908 from the John Barrett estate. The estate consisted of two parcels of land on Haverhill St. adjoining the Boston & Maine Railroad and along what was then called Hillside Avenue now Fleming Ave. It included the former John Barrett house directly behind this store and slightly west. Originally Fleming Ave. went straight up the hill next to the east side of the store and was probably the driveway to the Barrett house and Alexander Cohen’s home. The Fleming house was once numbered #54 Haverhill St. and renumbered to #4 Fleming Avenue when the road was relocated to the current configuration.
In the 1920 Andover Valuation schedule lists Fleming’s property; house $1000, barn $300, 2 acres #54 Haverhill St. $600 and 4.91 acres behind #54 at $200. There is no listing of the store building, however a year later in the Andover Townsman p8, Aug. 19, 1921 – Shawsheen Villager is the following news item; Burglars Enter Lunch Room – Burglars entered the lunch room of Edward T. Fleming of Haverhill Street shortly after midnight Thursday morning and made away with a considerable amount of food. The thieves gained entrance by tearing away the screening in several windows in Mr. Fleming’s lunch room, which is just across the tracks from the railroad station and while the matter has been reported to the police and they are working on the case, no clue has yet been unearthed as to their identity. The thieves got no money, but the owner reports the loss of 12 pounds of stewed beef, 5 dozen eggs, 4-5 loaves of bread, two pies, a carton of cigarettes and some cigars.
While Fleming’s lunch room may not be the village store, Fleming certainly seized the opportunity to serve lunches to the crews of contractors employed by the American Woolen Co. in the construction the Shawsheen mill buildings in 1921. A small variety store located next to the Shawsheen Depot was a smart business move. Shawsheen Village was under construction from 1918-1924. The soon to be completed Mills and the creation of a train stop, which was first used on Saturday September 10, 1921 (closed 1958), would generate a need for a convenience store for the hundreds of daily workers. The property remained with the Fleming family until 1956.
The first record of this building in an Andover Directory is listed in 1926. Leonidas Hamel has a Variety store at #52 Haverhill St. and lives at #58 Haverhill St. with wife Delphine and adult children Albert, Germaine M. and Treffle. Mr. Herbert & Florence Chadwick are living at #54. Herbert is a machinist. Edward & Elizabeth Fleming the owners of the property live at #3 Hillside Ave. and are renting the building.
In 1928 Mr. Hamel sells the business to Edmund B. & Marjorie Hill who continue the grocery store at #56 and reside at #13 Carlisle Street. Above the store at #54 is now Ernest E. & Annie V. Gauthier living in the apartment. Ernest is a card setter at the mill. The Hills operated the grocery store until about 1940. Both Hill and Gauthier are occupants of the building in 1939. A map #737 in July 1928 shows the relocation of the store to its current place about half the distance of its length, closer to the street, with room for the current stairway on the east side.
The Hill’s grocery business and store was taken over about 1941 by the Vermont Tea & Butter Co. as a branch of their main store at 2 Essex St, Elm Square in the Carter Block. In 1943 George P. Fielden of Lawrence managed the store at #52 and Elizabeth McCormish managed the main store at Elm Square. The store had a succession of managers and, as of 1947, Albert Blazonis managed both stores. In 1949 Fred Baldwin of Methuen was the manager.
The store has a new name “Village Food and Variety Store” in 1953 and new proprietors, Luger M. & Aurore A. Corriveau. They lived at #15 Canterbury Street. Luger was a Canadian immigrant who became a Naturalized US citizen in 1918. He was employed as a grocer in Lawrence and eventually owned the store at #313 So. Broadway, Lawrence. His first wife Yvonne died in 1929 leaving Luger to raise his 8 year old son Roger. Luger remarried in 1931 to Aurore Alidia Lambert and they had a daughter Clare in 1933. They moved to Andover in the early 1930’s. Luger died in 1958 and Aurore sold their home and business.
The variety store has continued through the years under different owners and names. A 1959 directory has the "Village Superette" at #54. It was also known as "Branko’s" and "The Midway".
George Howie purchased the variety store and building in September 1977 and under the name the “Grocery Bag” transformed the typical products of a variety store to include a fresh deli and sandwiches. George continued with the business for over 30 years until early 2010 when health issues forced him to close. Howie’s son Jonathan Howie then stepped in and reinvented the business, remodeled the store and opened 18 months later on August 8, 2011 as “Mr. Takeout, Grill & Deli.” The expanded take out business now includes pizza, calzone, fresh salads, wings and a variety of dinner menu selections. Keeping with tradition one can still purchase ice cream, cookies and tonic, aka soda.
The apartment now listed as #52 Haverhill St. has been occupied by many residents over the years. Ernest E. & Annie V. Gauthier 1928-1940, vacant in 1941, Percy L. & Mary T. Cook lived here in 1943. Eliza Cairns widow of Robert lived here in 1945 followed by Joseph W. Cairns, hostler for the B&M RR in 1949. In 1998-2001 Todd M. Denish rented the apartment followed by Wendy J. Garon in 2002. Stephen J. Therrien in 2006 and then in 2008 it was occupied by the owner George Howie.
John Barrett - July 3, 1900 - b. 178 p. 230 – 232 two parcels
John Barrett estate, Jane Barrett, trustee - 1901
Edward Flemming - June 27, 1908 - b. 262 p. 346
John J. Flemming - Mar. 11, 1950 - b. 733 p. 395
Harry M. Swartz - Dec. 5, 1956 - b. 846 p. 331
Thomas F. & Erika C. Branco - Apr. 15, 1960 - b. 913 p. 180
Joseph G. & Irene Bedard - Apr. 5, 1968 - b. 1103 p. 214
Joseph G. Bedard estate, Irene Bedard heir - May 13, 1970
Robert E. & Katherine M. Hussey - Jun. 23, 1970 - b. 1154 p. 635
Katherine M. Hussey - Aug. 24, 1971 - b. 1178 p. 90
Jos. J. Pappalardo & Roland A. Morassee - Dec. 21, 1976 - b. 1298 p. 668
Jos. J. Pappalardo & Arthur Dennis - Feb. 17, 1977 - b. 1320 p. 673
George Howie - Sept. 30, 1977 - b. 1320 p. 673
|Place||Shawsheen Village - Frye Village|
|Historic District||Shawsheen Village NRH District|
|Historic Name||The Variety Store|
|Present Use||Deli Shop & apartment above|
|Original Use||Variety Store & Apt. above|
|Construction Date||1923 - 1924|
|Source||ERDS, ENRDL, assessers' rec./style-njs|
|Architect/Builder||Edward Fleming builder|
|Roof||asphalt - hip|
|Map and parcel||18-3|
|Recorded by||James S. Batchelder|
|Organization||Andover Preservation Commission|
|Date entered||Oct. 3013 - 8/2/2015|