Every morning as I prepare my Facebook weather comments, I open my front door, look around and get a feel for the conditions in my immediate neighborhood. This morning I had a clear view of the white wood clapboarded Baptist Church on the corner at Andover Street at the top of the hill in our North Tewksbury neighborhood. What I have known for forty-three years of living here as the Winthrop and Elsie Fitzgerald home has been completely razed. The home of weathered dark brown wood with an attached garage or small barn sat closely adjacent to the church – looking almost a part of the property.
For weeks now the inside has been gutted, picked clean of what was once the Jonas Clark home and historic property – built in 1820. The Tewksbury historic properties list of the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Inventory notes it was built in the Federal style and its usage as a “General Retail Store; Post Office; Single Family Dwelling House” and its location as “North Parish – North Tewksbury.” The church acquired the property a few years ago and while some rooms were used briefly for church business and perhaps for residential living, the home continued to deteriorate. While not quite an eyesore, it certainly became a shaky property. The current pastor and church board felt that the time had come for the home to come down.
The neighborhood continues to be a wonderful place to live even as many changes have come to these environs. Many more homes – many more recently in the mini-mansion style -have been built especially closer to River Road. Traffic levels are high as the street is a serious crossroad between River Road and Andover Street or what many know as Route 133. The commercialization of North Tewksbury has come gradually especially between North Street and the on-ramps to Route 495 – the Mobil station, Cracker Barrel, other eateries, hotels, and the office complexes. Plans and concept proposals are on the table for more changes. This past summer the gaming/SLOTS push for the beautiful Ames Pond Road area became a point where residents put their collective foot down and pushed back.
But whatever more comes to the area – the iconic church, the old red schoolhouse, the newer school, the gracious historic homes, the newer residences continue to be the focus of the neighborhood – all backed by the closeness to the Merrimack River, the connective way of River Road, the staid seminary and the bucolic feel of St. Mary’s Cemetery and even the rolling waves and ridges of the golf course. I’m keeping my eye out every morning checking for the weather conditions but ever mindful of what other conditions need checking as well. More coming on my North Tewksbury neighborhood!
An update ~ here is my view from a few houses down of the 20 Fiske Street “Clark-Fitzgerald” home site at just before noon today. Debris removal and tree work is underway.