Ayer – From Lowell to Boston

Frederick Ayer, brother to Dr. J. C. Ayer of patent medicine fame, is in the news today. He too was in the patent medicine business, also the coal business but even more so in the textile business  in the Merrimack Valley in both Lowell and Lawrence. His fashionable home on Pawtucket Street in Lowell designed in the Second Empire style by S. S. Woodcock  is now the home of the Franco-American School that celebrated its Centennial last year. One of his daughters – Beatrice – was married to General George S. Patton and daughter Ellen was married to William Wood Ayer’s partner in the American Woolen  Mills in Lawrence. A study of the Ayers allows a fascinating look at the lives and influence of  a local  entrepreneurial family. For the locals a reminder that both brothers are buried at the Lowell Cemetery. The UMASS Lowell Center for Lowell History and the Lowell Historical Society are excellent sources for more on the Ayers, the patent medicine business and business in 19th and early 20th century Lowell.  Check the Center for Lowell History here  and the Lowell Historical Society here.

Of note today,  is a mansion Frederick Ayer had built for his second wife on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. As stated in Meghan Irons story in today’s Boston Globe :  “It is believed to be the only surviving residential property designed entirely by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Art Nouveau titan.”  About fifteen years ago a committee was formed to restore the mansion: 

“This house was sort of the unknown to the Tiffany scholars, and it was largely unknown to the architectural scholars in Boston,’’ said Scott Steward, a great-great-grandson of Ayer and president of the restoration campaign. “It couldn’t have been more obvious on Commonwealth Avenue, but no one noticed it.’’

Read the Globe article here. Read much more about the Ayer Mansion, its current use and restoration here on The Ayer Mansion website.