Albeeville: An 1800s Mendon Village

    Albeeville was an outskirt village and school district in the southwest corner of Mendon that was
    unique in character and charm.  Though most people who lived there in the 1800s earned their living
    by farming, the village centered around buildings whose focus was on education and small scale
    industry.  Students from some of Mendon's finest families attended the Albeeville schools and went on
    to live successful and productive lives.  The boot shop continued to make boots long after the shops in
    Mendon center had closed down.  The 1800s brought continued change to surrounding towns due to
    industrialization, but life in Albeeville seemed to want to hang on to the way things had been done in
    the past.  For the people who had lived in the vicinity of the southern half of Millville Street, it was a
    special place to live.

    In 1821, the families in the Seventh School District decided that it was necessary to build a new
    school.  Each of the town's fourteen districts determined how their neighborhood schools would be
    run.  It was voted to purchase a parcel of land from Simeon Wheelock for one dollar and fifty cents
    ($1.50) and to hire Arnold Taft to construct a new school for one hundred ninety-three dollars
    ($193.00).  It was constructed at 105 Millville Street, and it was partially made of brick.

    By 1845, it was voted to close the school and build a new one at the corner of Millville Street and
    Pleasant Street.  The intersection was known as "Horse Corner".  Land was purchased from Varville
    Taft for twelve dollars and fifty cents ($12.50), and a wooden school was constructed for four hundred
    twenty-five dollars ($425.00).  It served the educational needs of the children of Albeeville through the
    1920's,  though after 1868, it served just grades 1-8.

    Enos and Charles Albee operated a small scale boot shop in their side yard at 116 Millville Street from
    the mid 1800s through the 1880s.  They hired skilled neighborhood boot makers to work there.  It
    seemed unusual to have such a shop in a rural neighborhood, because nearby Milford had boot and
    shoe factories that were mass producing their products  and transporting them away from an adjacent
    railroad depot.  Perhaps it could be speculated that the Albees produced a special style boot or had a
    customer base that wanted only boots that were hand-crafted.

    The Fletcher family bought the 1821 schoolhouse after it closed in 1845 and turned it into a residence.  
    A son, Austin Barclay Fletcher, was born there in 1852.  He went on to become a well-known lawyer,
    university president, and philanthropist.  The Fletcher Fund, associated with Tufts University, is named
    in his honor.  In his will, he created a Fletcher Fund for Mendon's Taft Public Library for the purchase of
    books.  It appears that he remembered his earliest beginnings.

    Today, Albeeville has blended in with the rest of Mendon.  The 1821 school house continues to serve
    as a residence on a gently winding curve.  The 1845 wooden school on Horse Corner was sold,
    dismantled, and rebuilt as a shed behind 112 Millville Street.  The boot shop no longer exists.  The
    home of Enos and Charles Albee is now the residence of Wayne and Ellen Wagner.  A farm once
    owned by the Southwick family is now the home of Southwick's Zoo, operated by Justine Southwick
    Brewer.

    The Tafts, Wheelocks, Staples, Southwicks, and Fletchers are examples of the fine families from
    Albeeville.  It was for them, a special village with its own identity.

    Richard Grady

                                 Austin Barclay Fletcher               The Albeeville School                    Mendon Menu      

Albeeville School

    The 1845 Albeeville  School House as it looks now at 112 Millville
    Street  as a home.  Its previous location was at “Horse Corner,”
    about one hundred yards away.  After the school was closed in the
    1920s, it was sold to Joseph Randor, who dismantled it and used
    the wood to build a small home behind his house.

    "Horse Corner,” the corner of Millville Street and Pleasant
    Street, was the site of the 1845 Albeeville School.

    Historical Commission chairman, Wayne Wagner, and his
    wife, Ellen, reside at 116 Millville Street. Boot shop owners,
    Enos Albee and Charles Albee, lived here in the 1800s.

    Horse Corner, looking from the site of the school
    house to the site of the Albee Boot Shop, at the
    corner of Millville Street and Lovell Street.

    The 1821 Albeeville School House was located
    at 105 Millville Street. It closed in 1845, and it
    was purchased by the Fletcher family.

The site of the Albee Boot Shop in the 1800s

Google Earth view of Albeeville - June 18, 2010.

    The following information on Albeeville was sent by Paul Doucette.

    Most of you probably already know this; the old roads and remains of the shingle mill still exist.  

    Number 1: is Tower Road which is a fire road, except for a short paved section on the Millville end.  
    Patrice and I walked along the fire road which passes the mill site we visited several years ago.  We
    kept going and would have come out onto Asylum Street or near the Zoo, but were finally stopped by
    very heavy brush and plant growth where the fire lane was not cleared.

    Number 2 & 3: are the Pouliot & Armstrong properties.  This road is unimproved.  We live about where
    the red "X" is on the map.  

    Number 4 : Is a fire road which connects to Millville.  It is unpaved, but there are some homes on the
    road towards, or in, Millville.

    Number 5: Is an old road which no longer exists.  There is no evidence of its being here, as far as we
    can see.  It may have run along what is now part of Wood Drive.  When we purchased our property we
    had an easement across part of it, which we had removed at closing.  This could have been for the old
    road.

    Number 6: Is Millville Road

    Number 7: The remains of the shingle mill still exist off the far end of Wood Drive,  We used to walk to
    the site over a log bridge until it became private property when some homes where built fronting on
    Wood Drive.  If I remember correctly, you could still see where the axle for the water wheel was set into
    the rocks and where the water was dammed . We have a brook which runs from across Millville Street
    through the front of our property and on to the mill site.  It isn't indicated on this map, but it must be part
    of, or  it connects to the stream which powered the mill..

    The town or other property owner is selling a house lot a short way down Millville Road from us.  Its
    approximate location is across from the town forest and the "100" (elevation?) indicated on the map..

    Paul

    Justine Southwick Brewer added:

    I believe #4 is Grove Street which extends into Millville and #7 would be Legg Street in Millville. The
    Southwick land extends up and along the Millville line towards Wigwam Hill.

    And here's more from Wayne Wagner:

    From what I remember, the mill  around #5 is what is listed as A Taft's mill. Arnold Taft lived
    in the brick House and at one time owned most of the land around there. Millville road has been
    realigned at least twice. Once in the 30s when it was made a county road and again in the 60s or 70s
    I have a deed on the  taking and could look it up.  There are traces of the old road starting near
    Pouliots and continuing toward Millville. I passed near where the balancing stone is and I think came
    out on grove st. I think it is what you referred to near #5

    The remnants of mill race and dam for the A Taft mill are still there.

    I think #7 is what your are referring to in # 4 It is Grove St in Millville

    Does anyone but me remember a tenement in the vicinity of Meehan's gas station? I think it was
    owned by a Mr Sidney Smith.