At the junction of Cedar Street and Savin Avenue, the train tracks are visible. These tracks were here years before the neighborhood. When Cedar Street was originally laid out, it did not go any further than these railroad tracks. On the other side of the tracks, Norwood businessman filed plans for a new road, complete with house lots. This road was to be called “Wellington Street,” but it eventually became an extension of Cedar Street. One can walk to this end of Cedar Street, because there is a passageway or a tunnel under the railroad tracks. It is because of this tunnel, that Swedeville extends into South Norwood. Just on the other side of these railroad tracks was a sauna and the first chapel the Swedish Baptists had.
For people who lived in Swedeville, using the tunnel was the fastest way to the shops in South Norwood, to East Walpole and most important, if you were a kid…to Hawes Pool. If you look closely, you will see this egress is too small for a car to pass through….which actually did not matter, because most people walked to local destinations… or for the kids, they rode their bikes…everywhere! Bikes were the main transportation for kids….not their parents’ cars! The Wiik brothers, recall riding their bikes to East Walpole to visit friends and to Ellis Pond for fishing. This was a time when kids had a lot more freedom and independence.
Lane Drive –
The area of Lane Drive, (and just beyond), which includes Bruce Road, Stratford Road, Valley Road, and Wood Drive was developed in the late 1950s, by Albert Nelson, he called this development the “Plimpton Estates.” It appears many of the homes here were built in the 1960s. Before it was developed it was a forested area. In fact, on the 1889 plans to develop Cedar Street, the area near the entrance of Lane Drive is noted to be “The Savins.” A savin is a “scrubby juniper plant.” The kids who grew up here in Swedeville before this extension was developed loved to play in this wooded area.
Site of the First Swedish Baptist Church/Chapel (1898-1902) – 77 Cedar Street
Swedish Baptists first organized in Norwood in 1890, when a Ladies Sewing Circle was formed among them. Soon, the Swedish Baptists held religious services with their neighbors, the Swedish Congregationalists, and Swedish Lutherans, but as Swedeville was growing, all three religious societies found they were able to maintain their own church. The Swedish Baptists built a small chapel on the other side of the railroad tracks, which was dedicated July 10, 1898. The chapel had seating for 150 people and cost $1,300 to build. They received two grants of $500 each from the Massachusetts Baptist Sunday School Association and from the Massachusetts Baptist’s State Convention. Not only did the membership have Sunday services, the also had a Sunday School, a Missionary Circle, and a Young People’s Society. In under five years, the original 14 members of the congregation had outgrown this small chapel. A new larger church was built on Chapel Street, across from Savin Avenue. The Cedar Street, Baptist Chapel is long gone, now an auto repair shop is in its place.
The Cedar Street Bathhouse – 74 Cedar Street
This sauna was owned and managed by cousins, Kusta Anttila and Werner Toivonen. The sauna itself was a large single story cinder block building. The walls were coated with a special waterproof cement-like-plaster and painted silver to reflect the heat back into the space. There were six steam rooms (saunas), each had a cast iron hot water radiator that sat in the center of the space. A slender drip pipe was suspended over the radiator, and when a chain was pulled, water would drip onto the cast iron radiator, which created a cloud of steam. Also in each steam room was a showerhead and a soap holder so each visitor could shower off before going to the dressing room, that was adjacent to the steam rooms. Business directories indicate the Anttila family lived next-door at number 76 Cedar Street. In later years, the bathhouse was owned by Victor Suomi, who lived on Melville Ave. Sometime in the 1950s, eventually the property was sold to David Lehto, who turned the bathhouse into a garage to store his trucks and heavy equipment.
More About Swedeville:
Four family building on Savin Avenue. (photo LLKearney) The house lots in Swedeville, when originally sold, were empty lots, ready to have a house…