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Few from long ago would recognize Havenville now

The Daily Times and Chronicle, Tuesday, February 5, 1980

Burlington Past and Present, by John E. Fogelberg
(Article # 033)

Few will recognize Havenville

Most residents of Burlington recognize the name Winnmere as being that small portion of the town bordering Woburn and bisected by Winn Street. Today it has a group of stores, a gas station and several professional buildings. Few people today will recognize the name Havenville, yet for over a century, it was a village center almost as important and certainly more easily defined than “Burlington center” itself. At a time when Winnmere had nothing but a blacksmith shop, Havenville had a country store, a post office, a cluster of small houses, a shoe shop called a shoddy shop, and a schoolhouse. Today that schoolhouse still stands at the corner of Francis Wyman Road and Bedford Street, but the most interesting building in what was old Havenville is St. Malachy’s Church.

None of the houses in the Havenville area were large. The farmers there did not own large acreages as did the wealthier farmers around them. In 1799, there were large farms in every direction. Joseph McIntire was on the road to the center, Daze and Mathew Skelton were on the road to Billerica, and Samuel Nevers and Daniel McIntire were on the Bedford road. Havenville in 1799 was known as Pasho’s Corner, as the little home of John Pasho stood close to the fork on the road.

But close by was the still smaller home of Jonas Haven. Neither is listed in 1798 as having houses valued at $100 or more. In Burlington’s first rate, set in March of 1799, Pasho is assessed $1.75 for a town tax, $.59 for a Minister’s tax, and $.55 for a state tax. Haven paid only $1.26, $.42 and $.40. This, in comparison to Daze Skelton’s $13.10, $4.75 and $4.19.

To get an idea of how small some homes were, here is an account from Mrs. Dunham’s History: in Havenville “under a huge oak tree is the site of the tiny home of “Rindy” Reed, a maiden lady from a Burlington family. She lived here all alone for many years in her tiny house, which was about 10 by 12 foot square and of two stories high, the walls covered with pictures from newspapers and magazines. The whole place was immaculate and no stick of firewood was allowed to be taken into the house until it had been brushed clean. The house burned about 1880, but Miss Reed was rescued and from that time, she made her home with the Nathan Simonds family.” Nathan Simonds then lived in the old Nevers home, so she did not move very far.

The little house that Curtis Wright built some years prior to 1860 still stands on the far corner at the junction of roads. Writing of a walk in old Burlington in the year 1859, Martha Sewall Curtis mentions this house briefly, “We have only time to gaze over the fence at Mrs. White’s famous flower garden.” The house was assessed to Otis C. Haven in 1900. Today, much changed in appearance, it is the home of Louis Skelton. That fine gentleman only recently retired from the Burlington Fire Department.

Charles N. Haven once owned the little yellow house still standing next to St. Malachy’s Church. He owned a small parcel of land on each side of the road there and his well was across the road from his house. In 1908, the house went to Otis, whose widow sold It to Giambatista Ratto in 1944. At each transaction, the following clause was inserted, “A well on land formerly of Haven directly across the road from the premises and situated within about 20 feet from the road, including the right to draw water from the well and remove same from the well and to enter on that portion of the premises where the well is situated….limited to requirements of one family.” The house was sold to Edward Kozlowski in 1947. Thirty years later, the little house, which was thought to have been built by a Skelton early in the last century, was bought by a Jonathan Saunders.

The Havenville country store stood directly across the street from the schoolhouse. It was owned at the turn of the century by Jonas C. Haven. His brother Charles ran the store in the 1870s, and the second floor, entered from the rise of land to the rear, was rented out for living quarters. The enterprise closed about 1920 and that property, too, was sold to Mr. Ratto.

In 1870, Charles also owned and operated the shoe stock factory located just east of the West School. It was known to local people as the “shoddy shop” or “pancake shop.” It made parts for shoes such as innersoles from leather trimmings or excess stock from the Woburn tanneries. In 1877, the business went to William Carter and Sumner Shed. It went out of business in 1900 and the building was torn down some time later. In its boom days, Carter employed about 20 people. Today, a very new church faces a very old school across a still older road, a road the first Wymans and Skeltons walked more than 300 years ago. Not to mention the many Havens of Havenville, who walked that same road a century ago.

St. Malachy's artist rendering with different facade Burlington MA
St. Malachy’s artist rendering with different facade.