From the corner of Cedar Street down to Walpole Street is not actually part of Swedeville. The Winslow family had owned the land between Cedar and Walpole Streets – Their property ran along Chapel Street from Cedar Street to Walpole Street, and along Walpole Street to about Laurel Road. They also owned a large parcel on the opposite side of Walpole Street From Fisher down to Geraldine. On these parcels of land they built opulent mansions, Oak View, built by FO Winslow, still stands today and is thought to be one of the finest examples of Second Empire style in Massachusetts. Another Winslow house is still standing on the corner of Fisher and Walpole and today is a medical office. On the opposite side of Chapel Street from the Winslow lands was the Winslow School and Winslow Park (now the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars Memorial Park); these were certainly spaces that the residents of Swedeville inhabited.
The Winslow School – (95 Chapel Street)
Initially the children of Swedeville attended the West (Elementary) School on the corner of Walpole and Elliot Streets. The two-room school was opened in 1891, then enlarged, but by 1907, it was deemed be out of date and most likely too small for Norwood’s growing population. A new larger, modern school was built to replace it on the corner of Chapel Street and Winslow Avenue. It opened in 1907 and was named the “Winslow School,” after F. O. Winslow, one of the founders of Winslow Bros. Tannery, and a prominent citizen in the public life of the town. There were four classrooms on each floor, situated in each corner of the building. The classrooms for the lower grades were located on the first floor as was the principal’s office and the older grades had classrooms on the second floor. By the 1950s, Norwood offered Kindergarten to their residents. Winslow’s Kindergarten classroom occupied a corner room in the basement, and next room was an all-purpose room. Also located in the basement were the bathrooms for the entire student population. In the 1950s the children had a bathroom break after recess time before returning to the classroom.
Rooms were large and bright, each room had two blackboards on a sidewall and a large blackboard in the front of the room, and the cloakroom was behind it. Desks were fixed to the floor in straight rows, early desks had an ink well and an opening on the seat side to store your schools supplies, later the desktops were movable with the chair attached, and the desk top was hinged and could be lifted to store books and papers inside. Initially, teachers were single women, but as time went on, it became acceptable for married women to teach. A bell rang several times a day – to start and end the school day, to signal the beginning and ending of recess, twice at noon-time because children went home for lunch then returned for afternoon classes, and there were also early and late bells.
Children had a standard curriculum, with lessons in arithmetic, reading, spelling, grammar, history/geography (…later it was called social studies), penmanship, and for the older grades science was offered. An earlier generation of students had hygiene, and deportment. At recess time, the boys and girls had their own designated playground – boys on the right and girls on the left. Girls enjoyed playing Four-Square, jump rope, Kitty Corner, Rattlesnake, Mother May I, and several varieties of tag. Boys enjoyed playing cops & robbers, cowboys & Indians, and baseball. The boys playground had the jungle gym, swings and a see-saw. People who attended the Winslow School in the 1950s and 1960s would remember filmstrips, and hoping to be the lucky one the teacher picked take the erasers outside to clap them clean. How on rainy days they had indoor recess, and played games such as Huckle-buckle Beanstalk, Going on a Bear Hunt, King and Queen (an indoor tag style game). Everyday the children had snack time, which the school provided to them, for 15 cents a week. It consisted of milk, served in a small carton, and crackers, always two Ritz Crackers. And if they misbehaved, they might get stuck writing some sort of phrase 100 times, have a “time out” in the cloakroom or have to stay in for recess, or stay afterschool for a little while.
As the population continued to grow in Norwood, the Winslow School added two attached portable classrooms, in the 1960s. One of these classrooms is still at the Winslow School site, and the other was moved to Walpole Street and can be seen across the street from Walgreen’s, it has been several restaurants; Café Lisa and The Silver Skillet, and a driving school and today it is the upper grades of a Montessori School. After 66 years, the school closed it doors in 1973. Today it is a medical building, which is ironic because in the 1950s children got their polio vaccine here and during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, the school was used as a “well child” center. Children whose parents were too sick to care for them or had been orphaned bunked in the school until they could return to their homes.
82 & 84 Chapel Street – An old George Winslow house/Temporary Swedish Church
This initially was one large home, built for George S. Winslow around 1855. This Italianate style house originally sat on another site on Chapel Street, close to where today’s Grace Episcopal Church is located. Tyler Thayer, quite possibly, built this house, as it is in a style he was known to construct. In the mid-1890s the house was moved to its current site. Although, not divided up into two residential units immediately, for a few short years, the house became the site where the new Swedish immigrants held religious services, as it reportedly had a large space that could accommodate many. Initially, Norwood’s earliest Swedish residents, attended church at the local Congregational Church. However, as more Swedes arrived, they held religious services together in their native language, even though they were of several different denominations – Lutheran, Baptist and Congregationalist. Around 1900, as the Swedish population was growing, each denomination found they had enough members to establish their own churches.
A photograph of the house in the early 1900s, shows two walkways coming from the front of the house to the sidewalk along Chapel Street. This seems to indicate that the house had been divided up into two residential units, and off the side of the house (by #82) there appears to be an addition, this may be the stable. This picture also shows the original features of the building, detail millwork around the porches, wood quoining at corners, an oculus window in the top front gable, window cornices and a cupola on top. Today, all this detail has been removed or is hiding under the vinyl siding.
The property remained in the Winslow family until 1920, when Harriet (Winslow) Land and Frances (Winslow) Plimpton sold the property to John Deeb, he sold the property in 1923 (soon after his daughter died) to David Kahiel Kelly. John Deeb’s wife was a Kahiel, so he may be a brother-in-law. In 1943, the Joseph family bought the property, and owned it for sixty years. they sold it to Paul Angelo in 1995. It appears the residents were rental properties. Around 1930, the Huttunen Family had moved to Norwood from Gloucester and were living in one of the units and running a small variety store out of this property. They stayed in this property for less then 10 years before taking over the store at #41 Chapel Street. In the 1960s a pizza shop was located here and today this is the home of the Take Away that specializes in seafood.
The Disabled American Veterans Memorial Park:
Hemmed in by Cedar, Berwick and Walpole Streets is a small memorial park. The land was given by the Winslow family to the town of Norwood to be used as a park. The park was initially a semi-private park for the Winslow family. In 1868 the Winslows opened up the park for the public to enjoy. It was officially dedicated on November 6, 1876 and was the first public park in Norwood. The park is mostly a large grassy undulating area, which is fenced in. It has walking paths, a flagpole area, is dotted with trees and offers an occasional bench. Early descriptions of the park sound as if it has changed very little since it was dedicated. Win Everett (1878-1947), a local historian, described the park as “bare, stiff and uninviting,” he noted the park got little use as “for the citizens rather had the idea it was for the use of the Winslows.” However, in the mid-1900s it apparently was a terrific hang out area for Swedeville teens, looking to get away from the prying eyes of their parents.
Initially called Winslow Park, the name was changed to honor our veterans and today is called “The Disabled American Veterans Memorial Park.” Still not frequently visited, but it does host occasional festivals, usually sponsored by one of the abutting churches.
On the morning of August 5, 1944, a Navy pilot, Ensign Robert P. Coffin, was on a routine operational flight from Squantum Navel Air Station. He was practicing glide-angle training over Norwood, in a Hellcat F6F-5 a Navy fighter plane, when it exploded. Coffin successfully ejected from the plane and parachuted to safety, landing in the backyard of a Washington Street home. He only suffered bruises and minor lacerations. The plane broke apart and crashed in Winslow Park (now The Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Park), narrowly missing about 200 children playing on the Winslow School playground. However, the plane hit the Rombola home at 115 Chapel Street, knocking down their chimney, and causing such a scare that Mrs. Rombola fell down the stairs inside her home and broke her shoulder.
As the plane fell to earth it showered the Swedeville neighborhood with flaming debris and live ammunition! People rushed to collect pieces of the plane and bullets. Selectman Harry B. Butters appealed to citizens who collected the ammunition as “souvenirs” to turn it in to the authorities, as it was ”live ammunition” which might cause casualties. The flaming debris created a three-alarm fire, which was answered by the Norwood Fire Department, who put out fires on Chapel Street and Winslow Avenue. Fireman rushed to put out the flames at the homes of Joseph Pellowe, 114 Chapel St., Anthony Rombola, 115 Chapel St., and Mrs. Donald Falconer, 219 Winslow Ave., as well as a number of grass fires set by blazing wreckage or gasoline.
For more information on this accident, see here:
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