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Locust Street and Mill Street, an ancient pair

Clapp Mill dam, SawMill Road Burlington MA

The Daily Times and Chronicle, Tuesday, March 17, 1981

Burlington Past and Present, by John E. Fogelberg
(Article # 091)

‘…As old roads will’

One of Burlington’s oldest roads followed the path of today’s Locust Street, continued to Mill Street, went down Sawmill Road into Wilmington. Along the way are plenty of historic features:

  • Wood Hill is mentioned in the early records, for much of the land in that area belonged to the Baldwin family, whose homestead was in North Woburn, then called Newbridge. It’s the hilly part of Mill Street now crossed by Chandler Road. In the early years of this century, the outstanding landmark there was the big white two-story Chandler house which could be seen for miles around. The Chandlers arrived about 1915. They were a family of teachers. Clyde Roy Chandler married Doris Perkins here in 1920 and to them were born Jean in 1921, Everett in 1923, and Alan in 1926. Clyde died in 1927. He had never taught in Burlington but three of his sisters did. Madeline was graduated from Lowell Normal School in 1924 and taught Grade One in the Union School until she died of pneumonia in 1929. Her funeral was held from the house on the hill and many of Burlington’s school children walked to the home for the services. Clyde’s twin sisters Marguerite and Marjorie also attended Lowell Normal from which school they were graduated the year their elder sister died. They, too, taught school in Burlington, Marjorie, Grade Three, Marguerite, Grade Four. Clyde’s two younger brothers died in the flu epidemic of 1918; Arthur was but 14, Charles only 17. The Chandler home later became the property of J. Ellery French, an excellent journeyman printer.
  • At the corner of Mill Street and Chandler Road is the Revolutionary home of Lt. Nathaniel Cutler about which more will be said at a later time. That house, built prior to 1724 has a long and interesting history and involves such family names as Cutler, Butters, Taylor, Kilbride and Mohan.
  • At the bottom of the hill and on the other side of Wood Hill Brook lies Rahanis Park. It comprises only a portion of the farm of Stylianos C. Rahanis, a tract given over to the raising of hogs at one time. But many years before the time of Rahanis that area grew the finest wild blueberry crop in Burlington. Before 1920 when the trolley cars were operating along Winn Street, people from Woburn carrying ten-quart pails often during the season took the cars to Mill Street and then walked the short distance to pick berries there. They seldom came away disappointed.
  • Further along on the old roadway stands the fieldstone house once the home of the Albert G. Vigneau family. They moved to Burlington in 1921 and Vigneau held the office of town accountant here from 1934 to 1939. With him when he came to Burlington was his year-old son Robert. That boy grew up to become a selectman and then Burlington’s representative to the Great and General Court, an office he has held continuously since first elected in 1968.
  • Just beyond that house, Mill Street crosses a stream. Here probably was the mill where Luther Simonds died in April of 1792 when, as the Rev. Mr. John Marrett writes in his Account of Deaths, “a log rolled on him at a saw mill.” During the early days of the WPA in the 1930’s, a water hole was constructed here, then the property of David Barnum, to give the town’s volunteer call fire department a ready supply of water there.
  • And right on the Burlington/Wilmington line stood Clapp’s Mill, which may have been built on the site of a previous Butter’s mill. The mill itself was in Burlington as was the body of water it held back. Out of business by 1904 and the mill buildings now long gone, the dam itself and its millrace are still in fairly good condition.

As Whittier wrote in his The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall, “Old roads winding as old roads will” can be said of the old Wood Hill Road.