Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rocking Out in Rockdale Common Housing District

Rockdale area first mill was built in 1814 by Sylvanus Holbrook for producing textiles, especially satinet. The growth of his businesss was great until he faced firs in 1841 and 1851, which devastated the local village of Rockdale. In 1856 P. Whitin & Sons bought both the mill site and water rights. The Whitins had already made their stake in Whitinsville (Northbridge as well) and built a new mill in 1857 for producing cotton cloth. The Sr retired from the family business and divided up his holdings between the four sons and this mill became Paul Whitin, Jr,'s.

In keeping with the Whitin philosophy of building entire towns including housing, schools, meeting places and other civic building, the Whitin Manufacturing Company built tenement houses to attract workers with comfortable and affordable housing to a very rural area. The Rockdale Common Housing District comprises 6 tenement buildings reflecting some of the last housing constructed by the Whitin family.

This particular tenement dates back to 1880. It was moved to this site sometime in the early 20th century. It is beyond me how they moved buildings of this size, but the Egyptians figured out how to move and lift those huge blocks to build the pyramids, so this move had to be a snap.

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There are 4 identical 3 story tenements, 1 on Plantation St and 3 on McBride St, all built in 1917. These are 3 bedroom apartments and in immaculate shape. This whole neighborhood is low income housing and it is impressive how clean and tidy the whole area is.

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The last style is a long tenement built in 1915 located on Taft St

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Map of the area. The circled area to the right is the Rockdale Common Housing District. The circled are to the left is the Rockdale Mill

Rockdale 2

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fore - Missiles Incoming

On the way home from Oxford, having had a great meal at my daughters, I decided I have put off this National Historic Landmark long enough. Auburn was on the way home.

Nestled on a golf course on Upland Rd, a short walk  (for most) down the stone wall separating fairway 1 and fairway 9 is a small obelisk commemorating the world's first successful liquid-fueled rocket.

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

The walk down wasn't bad, however half way back that great meal started to take effect on my stamina, or lack thereof.

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

We finally made it back to the first tee and I sat down and took this shot.

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

Next to the clubhouse you will find additional markers and memorials for Goddard.

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

Goddard Rocket Launching Site - Auburn MA

One more Landmark off the bucket list.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rogerson's Village Historical District

North Uxbridge is a village of Uxbridge. Within that village is Rogerson's Village. The main focus is the 2 mills called Crown and Eagle Mills that are joined by a section built over the Mumford River. If you take a good look at this section of Uxbridge, you would realize that not much has changed in the look and feel of the area since the early 1800's. Yes you can see the satellite dishes hanging off the brick structures and the cars on the street, but the quaintness is still there.

The village is mainly centered on East Hartford Ave, up Whitin St, across Linwood Ave and back to East Hartford. It does spread out a little west, but at the time there were only meadows separating the 2 large mills from the other buildings.

The mills were built in 1823-25 for the Crown Mill and 1827 for the Eagle Mill. They were connected by the structure spanning the Mumford River in 1851. They are the only existing mills in New England with clerestory-monitor roofs.

Crown and Eagle Mills Rogerson's Village Historic District

Crown and Eagle Mills

Crown and Eagle Mills

Right across the street the was a Community Center built in 1830. The first floor contained a company store, second floor was used for meetings and church affairs and the third for tenements.

D'arcy Block

D'arcy Block

Also on this side of the street was a collection of multi family housing for the workers. These were mainly brick, but also included some wood structures. These were simple single story brick buildings and my guess were for the more unskilled workers.

Brick Worker's Houses

Brick Worker's Houses

Along East Hartford Ave, were 2 story brick residences, much larger that the ones above and in a nicer setting.

Rogerson's Village Worker Houses

Rogerson's Village Worker Houses

Further from the mills but still within an easy walking distance were the wood multi unit housing.

Rogerson's Village Wooden Tenements

Rogerson's Village Wooden Tenements

East of the two mills is a cotton mill that was built in 1810, called Clapp Mill. This was moved to this location sometime in the 1820's and converted to tenement living. It is beyond me how they moved buildings like this back in the 1800's other than taking them apart and reassembling them. They must have had a method because I have found this pretty common.

Rogerson's Village Wooden Tenement and Mill

Right across the street is another tenement.

Rogerson's Village Wooden Tenement

Gray Rock was the owners mansion, since torn down. On site is a memorial for parents that have lost a child.

Gray Rock

Gray Rock

The last building in the district was used for cotton storage and is adjacent to the mill, set back a bit. These are part of a condo complex now.

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This village is pretty compact and is a perfect example of what the old mill towns were like in the 1800's

Rogerson Village

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Seeing Double Presidents

If you missed the first part of the days ride you can find it here. It was off to Jefferson MA to pickup 2 spots. Initially I told the guys (Giff and Leith) that we were heading for Jefferson Jewelers, but I had placed this spot in the GPS first. Leith thanked my for the sand filled parking lot.

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Since the Team Strange Airhead tour will accept only post office or city limit signs and the GLMC specially excludes both of those, we headed for...

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Can't really say the ride out of Worcester to Jefferson was real scenic and with out traffic, but it did get somewhat countryish. Giff did say that he would be turning off at some point because he had to be home. I was frankly surprised that he was following me doing GT stuff. As we headed into Hubbardston, the scenery definitely became more rural. First I had picked up the library, but the sign was too small. We had passed the Highway department on the way up to the center, so I stopped to pick up a much bigger sign with HUBBARDSTON on it.

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Giff did say they would spinning off before the next town. Right turn and heading into Barre for the oldest newspaper still in print in Worcester County.

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Picked up 2 more towns that I had not planned on.

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Picked up the Post Office for another hobby of mine, Waymarking.

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Wheelwright was next up on deck. I was unable to find anything via Google for Wheelwright, so I did not have any hope of finding anything. I made this right turn down a side street and low and behold.

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By this time the ride had become very scenic. Picked up the old grammar school in New Braintree, which I was sure would be on the NRHP. When I got home it is not specifically listed, but is probably part of the Historic District. Found in MACRIS, it was built in 1938 as New Braintree's first consolidated school. It is Art Moderne in style, which was unusual for Massachusetts.

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Across the way was this massive farm. There has to be cows in that place and hooked up to tubes providing us with GOT MILK.

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The high point of the trip was pulling up to Three Rivers Laundromatt. A guy sitting in the joint, no pants, watching the washing machine tumble cleaning his clothes.

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This was the turn point to head back east for day. I had no clue what time it was, because the Nuvi 855 I was using had the time all screwed up this morning, the FJR battery was replaced and I never set the clock to the right time, but based on temperature in was before 5.

The last time I was specifically in Warren, MA was when I ran the 6 Warren town in New England to take the lead in OSJ's first treasure hunt. West Warren and Warren are 2 different towns for the GLMC Double Down tour.

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To finish the day up I hit the Brookfield's

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If you made it this far, I forgot to explain the 3 Grand Tours I am doing. Double Down is riding to towns that have double letters, except "LL". Team Strange is President GT, towns with the presidents last name for the town. There is 1 more I am doing but I didn't pick up any towns for this one, spell Team Strange Airheads 30.

What really surprised me today that potholes were not that bad, but there was sand everywhere, piles of it. I knew I would be sore when I got home. My throttle hand was killing me, especially the thumb. Of course the inner thighs would kick in, cramping up just as I made that one wrong twist on the couch. Not a long run for the day, just shy of 150 miles or so.

UL 2014 04 12

Breakfasting on the Boulevard with Bikers

Giff's employer finally let him go around 1pm or so this afternoon. Leith, Giff and I headed out for my first ride of the season. Giff actually was going to try out my version of riding, going to places that make no sense to anybody else, but us Grand Tourer's. Leith said he was starved and needed to grab some grub, so what fits better for food fare than a diner. We headed for the Miss Worcester, probably my all time favorite joint to have something to eat.

As we pulled up, a guy coming out says "too late they just closed". Immediately I knew where we were going. One of the few 24 Hour Diners left in the country, that's on the National Register of Historic places, has colorful folks that show up and the food not so bad. It has the well rounded diner experience.

Our arrival, we take up the whole front of the Boulevard Diner with our bikes.

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Leith was kind of upset that there was a change of plans because we had talked up the Miss Worcester so much. I ordered the Hash with 3 eggs, ordering them flipped and broken, no runny stuff. I wanted to make sure that the Lipitor I am taking is working at its fullest abilities. Actually there is so much available, that was the first little sign I saw and with the questioned answered that it was home made hash, that hooked it right there. Breakfast on the grill.

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Here's a picture of Leith, actually I was trying to get a pic of the character next to him.


The I wanted to grab a pic of our pretty waitress, but Giff decides to photobomb my pic.


A shot of the orginal stools that came with the Diner in 1937. This diner has remained in the same family for quite some time. One of the few 24 hours operations in Massachusetts.

I finally asked Superman if he minded if I take a picture of him. He said no problem. He must be a regular here, because the waitress seemed to know him quite well.


So breakfast came to an end. Giff and Leith went outside to prep for the ride, while I remained inside paying the bill. Go figa. (actually they gave me cash for their meals.)

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Giff, having way too many helmets. (he is going to some kind of therapy sessions for this, but the internet makes it all too easy) discovered he left his white HJC hanging from the helmet hook on the back of the bike. He has a white Arai and got confused on where and which white helmet he planned on wearing. The helmet lock was not locked, wide open, and a wonder it did not bounce off, especially riding the wonder slick pavement of Worcester. It now has a really nice tire burn on the side. Gives it that nice helmet patina