NASHUA LANDMARKS - 1914
This article was in the NASHUA REPORTER & WEEKLY NASHUA POST- CENTENNIAL EDITION, 1855-1955.
(EDITORS NOTE: The following article was taken from the Nashua Reporter of Thursday, June 4, 1914, and was captioned, "Some Old Landmarks As Remembered by a Former Nashuaite."
Do you remember the "Old Castle?" We doubt if you do, but perchance you have heard of it. Sure it was an imposing structure as it stood on the hill by the rivers bank. From the Cupola the view was very fine.
The Castle was two stories high in the rear and three stories in the front, it being located on the side hill and there was an imposing tower or lookout, on the top. They tell me, that after a lapse of nearly half a century the ground is now part of the City (Cannon) Park. In those days, it was the center of travel and we can imagine the commotion there was when the stage drove up. It housed and refreshed many a weary traveler. But change is ever the order of the day, and when the railroad came, the old Montgomery House was more popular, as it was nearer the business center. In the early 1870s, it was decided to move the "Castle" down to Main Street so as to be nearer the "new" depot.
The building was moved west one block, then south on St. Lawrence Street to the corner by the old Catholic church, then east on Madison Avenue (or Depot Street) on Main Street, to the corner now occupied by Laird & Son. Upon its arrival, it was raised to three stories and put in first class shape for those times. It certainly was an ideal location for a hotel. It served the people for better or worse for several years, until on one quiet night in the fall of 1875, it was discovered to be on fire. The fire started near a chimney on the second floor, but before it could be reached, it was beyond control, and the efforts of the many volunteers were given to saving furniture and the adjoining building. The wells in that vicinity furnished some water and the old sprinkler made many trips to the river. Rev. L. D. Boynton occupied the lookout room and many a willing hand helped to save a part of his furniture. Some of the more enthusiastic took great pains to carry down the feather beds and flat irons, and to throw down the looking glasses and dishes. It was a hot time in the old town that night!
The building was originally a solid frame one and after a while all of it burned, save the solid timber of the frame. The whole population of Nashua was out in force, sadly witnessing the passing of the Castle.
For some reason the hotel was never rebuilt and for many years the best corner in town was vacant.
In the early day of the town, the livery stable was an important institution. The old Mandville barn was near the Castle and when that moved, the livery barn sought new quarters near the hotel, but after some years it, too, went up in smoke.
Another old landmark was the old wooden covered bridge. It was a reminder of eastern days and ways. It served its time and finally was torn down and the present bridge erected.
The old mill stood near the bridge. I can remember it well, but the saw mill is only a faint memory with me, although there were visible remains of it for many a year. The flouring mill was a profitable industry in those days and was known all over northern Iowa.
The young miller was Uncle "Johnny" Harrison, and for maybe 40 years he worked there in some capacity, ever ready to serve and retaining the good will of all the patrons. The Greeley mill is now a memory, its owner has passed over the river, but the old miller, now old and gray, can look to the old site and recall the active days of work at the old mill.
The mill was a source of reverence to "us kids." Flour was then retailed in paper bags and if they were returned in good order, we could get a nickel a piece for them. We watched the sacks and were always ready to empty the flour.
"Uncle Johnny" would let us boys roam about the mill, but if we got into mischief he sure got after us. It was in the 1890s that the old mill went up in smoke.
In 1877, the Mayor and council decided to put on airs and so, built the "old" council room, jail and ladder house. It was the show place of the town for some time, just as the present new city hall is the pride of the up-to-date citizen. It certainly was a much needed improvement.
Before then, the council met at any old place at any old time. But when the new building was done, the new bell called the "city dads" together, and every one knew where they were and what they were doing. For many years it was the central meeting point for public meetings, caucuses, etc. The courts of justice were also held there. A law suit in those days was some windy affair. That was in the days of oratory and the orator who could talk the loudest and the fastest, was sure of a good audience, even if he did not always convince the "jedge." When we saw Fairborn, Weller, Kellogg or Phil Knapp with an armful of books bound in sheep we knew there was going to be a "session" and it would be worth your time to go and hear them. Sometimes in the heat of a debate, you could hear them for over a block.
The modern court in its quiet way, is a tame affair in comparison with the noisy court of those days. "Squire" Butterfield was one of the most popular of the judges in those days.
Sometimes the prisoner would be behind the bars, and on being awakened from his slumbers, would entertain the court, often making side remarks to the lawyers. The city "fathers" often got plenty of free advice from the jail tenants. The first city jail, was a small building just south of the Old Red Shops and here the marshal took many a noisy victim. In those days, there were some chronic cases, and about every so often, they would donate to the city treasury. When the Council room was built, the old jail was used as a tool house. Only recently, the old Jail and the old Council room have been removed to make room for other improvements. They served the people well for many years, but the demand was for something up-to-date.
The E. P. Greeley new residence of the 1870s, considered a mansion, but it has long since faded away, and the public library and two residences now occupy the same ground. The "old" depot, is in the same old place and those who left in the 1870s can be sure of one old landmark. It is a monument, which time has not erased, and the Illinois Central Railroad has not replaced, and so,on it will celebrate its semi-centennial.
We wish that some one might be able to reproduce some picture of the old castle or of the old depot as it was in the early 1870s. It would be an interesting exhibit.