Albeeville: An 1800s Mendon Village

    Albeeville was an outskirt village and school district in the southwest corner of Mendon
    that was unique in character and charm.  Though most people who lived there in the
    1800s earned their living by farming, the village centered around buildings whose focus
    was on education and small scale industry.  Students from some of Mendon's finest
    families attended the Albeeville schools and went on to live successful and productive
    lives.  The boot shop continued to make boots long after the shops in Mendon center
    had closed down.  The 1800s brought continued change to surrounding towns due to
    industrialization, but life in Albeeville seemed to want to hang on to the way things had
    been done in the past.  For the people who had lived in the vicinity of the southern half
    of Millville Street, it was a special place to live.

    In 1821, the families in the Seventh School District decided that it was necessary to build
    a new school.  Each of the town's fourteen districts determined how their neighborhood
    schools would be run.  It was voted to purchase a parcel of land from Simeon Wheelock
    for one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) and to hire Arnold Taft to construct a new school for
    one hundred ninety-three dollars ($193.00).  It was constructed at 105 Millville Street,
    and it was partially made of brick.

    By 1845, it was voted to close the school and build a new one at the corner of Millville
    Street and Pleasant Street.  The intersection was known as "Horse Corner".  Land was
    purchased from Varville Taft for twelve dollars and fifty cents ($12.50), and a wooden
    school was constructed for four hundred twenty-five dollars ($425.00).  It served the
    educational needs of the children of Albeeville through the 1920's,  though after 1868, it
    served just grades 1-8.

    Enos and Charles Albee operated a small scale boot shop in their side yard at 116
    Millville Street from the mid 1800s through the 1880s.  They hired skilled neighborhood
    boot makers to work there.  It seemed unusual to have such a shop in a rural
    neighborhood, because nearby Milford had boot and shoe factories that were mass
    producing their products  and transporting them away from an adjacent railroad depot.  
    Perhaps it could be speculated that the Albees produced a special style boot or had a
    customer base that wanted only boots that were hand-crafted.

    The Fletcher family bought the 1821 schoolhouse after it closed in 1845 and turned it
    into a residence.  A son, Austin Barclay Fletcher, was born there in 1852.  He went on to
    become a well-known lawyer, university president, and philanthropist.  The Fletcher
    Fund, associated with Tufts University, is named in his honor.  In his will, he created a
    Fletcher Fund for Mendon's Taft Public Library for the purchase of books.  It appears
    that he remembered his earliest beginnings.

    Today, Albeeville has blended in with the rest of Mendon.  The 1821 school house
    continues to serve as a residence on a gently winding curve.  The 1845 wooden school
    on Horse Corner was sold, dismantled, and rebuilt as a shed behind 112 Millville Street.  
    The boot shop no longer exists.  The home of Enos and Charles Albee is now the
    residence of Wayne and Ellen Wagner.  A farm once owned by the Southwick family is
    now the home of Southwick's Zoo, operated by Justine Southwick Brewer.

    The Tafts, Wheelocks, Staples, Southwicks, and Fletchers are examples of the fine
    families from Albeeville.  It was for them, a special village with its own identity.

    Richard Grady

           Austin Barclay Fletcher               The Albeeville School                    Mendon Menu     

Albeeville School

    The 1845 Albeeville  School House as it looks now at 112 Millville
    Street  as a home.  Its previous location was at “Horse Corner,”
    about one hundred yards away.  After the school was closed in the
    1920s, it was sold to Joseph Randor, who dismantled it and used
    the wood to build a small home behind his house.

    "Horse Corner,” the corner of Millville Street and Pleasant
    Street, was the site of the 1845 Albeeville School.

    Historical Commission chairman, Wayne Wagner, and his
    wife, Ellen, reside at 116 Millville Street. Boot shop owners,
    Enos Albee and Charles Albee, lived here in the 1800s.

    Horse Corner, looking from the site of the school
    house to the site of the Albee Boot Shop, at the
    corner of Millville Street and Lovell Street.

    The 1821 Albeeville School House was located
    at 105 Millville Street. It closed in 1845, and it
    was purchased by the Fletcher family.

The site of the Albee Boot Shop in the 1800s

Google Earth view of Albeeville - June 18, 2010.

    The following information on Albeeville was sent by Paul Doucette.

    Most of you probably already know this; the old roads and remains of the shingle mill
    still exist.  

    Number 1: is Tower Road which is a fire road, except for a short paved section on the
    Millville end.  Patrice and I walked along the fire road which passes the mill site we
    visited several years ago.  We kept going and would have come out onto Asylum Street
    or near the Zoo, but were finally stopped by very heavy brush and plant growth where
    the fire lane was not cleared.

    Number 2 & 3: are the Pouliot & Armstrong properties.  This road is unimproved.  We
    live about where the red "X" is on the map.  

    Number 4 : Is a fire road which connects to Millville.  It is unpaved, but there are some
    homes on the road towards, or in, Millville.

    Number 5: Is an old road which no longer exists.  There is no evidence of its being here,
    as far as we can see.  It may have run along what is now part of Wood Drive.  When we
    purchased our property we had an easement across part of it, which we had removed at
    closing.  This could have been for the old road.

    Number 6: Is Millville Road

    Number 7: The remains of the shingle mill still exist off the far end of Wood Drive,  We
    used to walk to the site over a log bridge until it became private property when some
    homes where built fronting on Wood Drive.  If I remember correctly, you could still see
    where the axle for the water wheel was set into the rocks and where the water was
    dammed . We have a brook which runs from across Millville Street through the front of
    our property and on to the mill site.  It isn't indicated on this map, but it must be part of,
    or  it connects to the stream which powered the mill..

    The town or other property owner is selling a house lot a short way down Millville Road
    from us.  Its approximate location is across from the town forest and the "100"
    (elevation?) indicated on the map..

    Paul

    Justine Southwick Brewer added:

    I believe #4 is Grove Street which extends into Millville and #7 would be Legg Street in
    Millville. The Southwick land extends up and along the Millville line towards Wigwam Hill.

    And here's more from Wayne Wagner:

    From what I remember, the mill  around #5 is what is listed as A Taft's mill. Arnold Taft
    lived
    in the brick House and at one time owned most of the land around there. Millville road
    has been realigned at least twice. Once in the 30s when it was made a county road and
    again in the 60s or 70s I have a deed on the  taking and could look it up.  There are
    traces of the old road starting near
    Pouliots and continuing toward Millville. I passed near where the balancing stone is and
    I think came out on grove st. I think it is what you referred to near #5

    The remnants of mill race and dam for the A Taft mill are still there.

    I think #7 is what your are referring to in # 4 It is Grove St in Millville

    Does anyone but me remember a tenement in the vicinity of Meehan's gas station? I
    think it was owned by a Mr Sidney Smith.
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Austin Barclay Fletcher               The Albeeville School                    Mendon Menu  
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