Sunday, August 7, 2016

Virginia Aiken, Teenage Dealer of Electric Cars

On Memorial Day in 1912 a parade of 125 electric cars and trucks made its way from Brookline Avenue through the Back Bay to downtown Boston. At the head of the parade, as she had been in a smaller procession the year before, was 17-year old Virginia E. Aiken of Brookline.

Aiken was the niece of Day Baker, the head of the Electric Vehicle Club of Boston, with whom she lived on Winthrop Road. But the former Runkle School student was no mere figurehead. She was New England representative of the Buffalo-based Babcock Electric Carriage Company, responsible for sales throughout the six-state region.

Virginia Aiken promotional postcard
Promotional postcard for Virginia Aiken, Babcock Electrics
(Click image for larger view)
Aiken operated out of the Brandon Garage at 643 Washington Street, where she maintained an office, employed a stenographer and a bookkeeper, and kept several models of Babcock Electrics to demonstrate to prospective buyers.

1912 ad for Virginia Aiken's Babcock Electrics
Ad for Virginia Aiken's Babcock Electric dealership, Boston Post, May 9, 1912
1913 Map showing location of the Brandon Garage
The Brandon Garage at 643 Washington Street was Virginia Aiken's base of operation.
How did a teenage Brookline girl arrive at such an unusual situation for her age and gender more than a century ago?

Virginia Aiken
The Automobile Journal, 1912

Virginia Elise Aiken was born in Philadelphia on April 10, 1895, the daughter of Frank E. and Ada (West) Aiken. Her father was a freight inspector and her mother was a stenographer. Her father's father, Frank Eugene Aiken Sr., was a well-known actor and theater owner active mostly in Chicago, but at other times in Philadelphia and New York.

Aiken spent most of her childhood in Chicago. In 1910 or 1911 she moved to Brookline to live with her father's sister Viola and Viola's husband Day Baker and to take advantage of the better educational opportunities in the Boston area. They lived at 145 Winthrop Road. Virginia enrolled at the Runkle School and later at Miss Haskell's School for Girls on Marlborough Street.

Day Baker was New England agent for an electric truck manufacturer and a prominent advocate for electric vehicles. His efforts brought him into contact with Thomas Edison and he became New England representative of the Edison Storage Battery Company which made batteries for automobiles and trucks. (Edison's 22-year old son Charles was one of the ushers at an 18th birthday dance thrown for Aiken by her aunt and uncle at Brookline's Gardner Hall.)

A lengthy 1912 profile of Aiken in The Automobile Journal told how she obtained a license and drove thousands of miles, most of them in electrics. And as the Boston Globe reported:

For some months she has been seen in her pearl gray Victoria around the congested streets of the city, driving in and out among carriages, wagons, street cars and great trucks, or on the streets and boulevards of the suburbs. People have stopped and wondered at the ease and grace with which she handled her automobile, but she always smilingly disclaims any especial skill and replies "You know, it's no trouble to operate; you don't have to crank it, nor do you have a whole lot of levers about which to think: it is so simple to run—it's electric."

But her interest in cars, reported The Automobile Journal, went beyond driving.

Now, Miss Aiken is practical and she began to study the electric carriage with keen enthusiasm. Instead of merely giving attention to the maintenance and care she went back to rudiments and systematically acquired knowledge concerning the battery and the motor. She studied electrical subjects carefully and mastered each with its particular reference to vehicles. She was fortunate in having her uncle as an adviser and under his direction she was able to apply her knowledge to good advantage.

Constantly using the electric machines she met with all conditions that might be encountered and it was with extreme satisfaction that she solved all problems and successfully met every situation. The girl did not hesitate to work about the cars whenever necessary. She found delight in mechanical work and did it surprisingly well.

When Francis Babcock, founder of the Babcock Electric Carriage Company, visited Boston and met Aiken he suggested she become his New England agent and helped set her up in business. Aiken told the Boston Globe she planned to use the profits from the business to pay for her education.

The budding entrepreneur also understood the value of good marketing. She put half of the profits of her first sale into promotion, including newspaper advertisements and engraved notes. "[T]his, and her energetic work, [reported The Automobile Journal] brought to her other customers."

Electric vehicles were sometimes marketed specifically to women, and Aiken's unusual position as a female agent may have helped. She was interviewed by the Boston Post for a July 1912  article that ran under the headline "Miss Aiken's Advice to Women Motorists."

"Why, yes, [she told the reporter] I know it does you good to ride in an electric—it has done me good—don't I look the model healthy electric young woman? Seriously, I do believe that it gives one good health, a good appetite and good control of one's nerves to operate an electric vehicle.

I have in mind a Newton lady who has one of our cars—she drives it herself, charges it with a mercury arc rectifier in her own little garage and looks after her battery herself. She takes great enjoyment in looking after all these little details herself. The out-of-door air exercise that she gets in caring for her car and the long rides which she takes almost daily keep her in the best of health.

No, you newspaper men cannot too strongly urge the driving of electric automobiles by the ladies of Boston as a health-giving and enjoyable method of regaining and keeping health, but it does not end with the health question. The convenience of making calls, shopping, attending church and social functions are all points that are worthy of mention—but of course good health is always a strong argument.

The 1912 advertisement below for Aiken's display at the Boston Auto Show illustrates how Babcock Electrics were marketed especially to women. ("The Runabout for Misses. The Victoria for Ladies".)
Boston Post ad for Virginia Aiken's dealership
Ad for Virginia Aiken's display at the Boston Auto Show Boston Post, March 3, 1912

Many articles about Aiken were published in 1912, in the Boston newspapers and in trade publications like The Automobile Journal, Motor Age, and Electrical World. But her dealership was apparently short-lived. A later article in The Automobile Journal about her Fall 1912 exhibit at the electrical show at Mechanics Hall in Boston, said

While Miss Aiken will retain an interest in the Buffalo electric, it is her intention, after the electric show, to devote the most of her time to studies and music, believing that the proportions to which she has brought the business warrant placing it in the hands of a large automobile sales establishment. Full details of this move will be announced later.

I have not been able to find any such later announcement but there were no further mentions of her dealership after 1912.

Engagement announcement Boston Post
Boston Post, March 30, 1918
In 1918, Aiken's engagement to a Harvard Medical School graduate named Lawrence Weld Smith was announced in a brief article in the Boston Post. The announcement noted that, in addition to Miss Haskell's School (a college preparatory school for girls in the Back Bay), she had attended the Farmer School of Cookery (founded by Fanny Farmer). By 1918, she was back in Chicago where, the article said, she was active in Red Cross work.

The Aiken-Smith marriage never happened. Instead, on Christmas Eve 1919 in Chicago, Aiken married a Swiss immigrant named Robert (or Roberto) Tranquillo Pellandini. They had a daughter, born in Chicago in 1921, and lived for several years in Mexico where Robert Pellandini's family had business interests. (Virginia Pellandini took Swiss citizenship and had to reapply for U.S. citizenship when they returned in 1925.)

The Pellandinis were frequently on the move. They lived, at various times, in Chicago, Mexico City, Easton, Brockton, and Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Lorain, Ohio, before settling in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Robert had several jobs, as listed in directories and census records, including sales manager for a shovel and tool company and accountant with the Ford Motor Company. No further career information is listed for Virginia.

Robert Pellandini died in 1980. Virginia Aiken Pellandini died, at age 92, in Hot Springs in 1987.
Gravesite of Robert and Virginia (Aiken) Pellandini
Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Hot Springs, Arkansas


Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Long History of Girls Basketball at BHS

I saw a notice in my Facebook feed today that the Brookline High Girls Basketball coaching staff is kicking off its version of Basketball Night—coaching sessions for 3rd through 12th grade girls—at Schluntz Gym tomorrow night. By coincidence, just yesterday I had come across the picture below, showing BHS girls practicing basketball way back in 1902.

BHS Girls Basket Ball 1902
Image credit: Harper's Weekly (Click here for larger view)

The image is from an article on "College Girls and Basket-Ball" in the February 22, 1902 issue of Harper's Weekly. BHS is the only high school pictured, along with images from Wellesley, Smith, Bryn Mawr, and Newcomb College in New Orleans.

The location is uncertain. My best guess is that it's behind the 1893 high school building, the first built on the current site. That would put it approximately where the courtyard and the auditorium wing are today. (The rise in the background would be the beginning of Aspinwall Hill.)

Basketball was "the most popular sport with women across the United States in the first years of the twentieth century," wrote Paul John Hutchinson in a recent doctoral dissertation at Boston University.1 That certainly appears to have been the case at BHS.

An 1898 report from the Committee on Physical Training of the Brookline Education Society reported that

The game of basket ball is at present very popular. It is a game which both sexes may play, but is especially appropriate for the girls. Several outfits for this game have been provided. The committee is not yet ready to report on the benefits of this plan.

In February 1898—just seven years after the game was invented by James Naismith in Springfield— an exhibition of BHS girls basketball was the closing event at a Town Hall demonstration of games and gymnastics engaged in by students in the Brookline schools.

By the early 20th century, the Brookline girls basketball team was playing in competition against other local high schools and even occasionally against college teams. 

Brookline - Dedham Girls Basketball 1904, Boston Globe
Boston Globe, February 19, 1904
BHS - Radcliffe Basket Ball Game 1904
Boston Globe, December 14, 1904

Apparently, not everyone was in favor of girls playing basketball. In 1901, Prof.William F. Bradbury of Cambridge Latin School, responding to a favorable report by BHS teacher Arthur W. Roberts, spoke in opposition:

I have had some experience in Cambridge with basket ball [said Bradbury], and I find it makes the girls rough, loud-voiced and bold.

Let's be thankful his view did not prevail, and look forward to more loud-voiced, bold, straight-shooting girls on and off the court.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Civil War Photos of Brookline Soldiers

On April 22, 1861— ten days after the attack on Fort Sumter — the men of Brookline gathered to sign their names on a document promising to "enroll themselves for the purpose of acquiring a knowledge of military drill and discipline, under the orders of the Military Committee of the Town."

When it came time for 24-year old Julius A. Phelps to sign he added, next to his signature, "Ready to go."

Phelps signature

The next man to sign added ditto marks next to his name, and several more townsmen followed Phelps' example, indicating they too were "Ready to go."

Fourteen months later Phelps was dead, one of the first of the Brookline men to give his life in defense of the Union. His name is one of 72 on the Civil War memorial installed in the old Town Hall in 1884 and now on display in the lobby of the current Town Hall.

Phelps memorial

Until recently, I knew of no photos of Phelps. In fact, I had come across photos of only one of the 63 enlisted men whose names are on the Brookline memorial. (The nine officers, from more prosperous and prominent families, were more well documented.)

I was pleased, then, to find Phelps and four other Brookline men in this montage of soldiers from Company A of the 1st Massachusetts Infantry. It's from the collections of the Brookline Library and has been digitized and made available on the Digital Commonwealth website. (Click on the image for a zoomable version.)

Company A, 1st Massachusetts

Who were these men? Here is what I have been able to learn about them.

Julius Phelps
Julius Augustus Phelps was born December 27, 1836 in Leominster, the son of Sumner and Dolly Phelps. His father was a farmer. By 1860, Phelps was living in Brookline with his older brother David and David's wife and young son. Both brothers were carpenters.

Phelps enlisted as a private on May 23, 1861 and was mustered into Company A of the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, organized at Camp Ellsworth in Cambridge. The 1st was engaged at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) and was deployed in the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia in the spring of 1862, seeing action at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Eltham's Landing, and Seven Pines.

Phelps was shot and killed at the Battle of Glendale on June 30th. He was 25 years old. His name is on the family gravesite at Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster although it is not clear if he was buried there or somewhere in Virginia.

Frank Getchell
Lewis Getchell
Brothers John Franklin (Frank) Getchell and Lewis (or Louis) Gould Getchell were born in Hallowell, Maine, sons of Isaiah and Dorcas Getchell. Their father was a stonecutter. John was born December 21, 1838 and Lewis March 24, 1841.

Both brothers were living in Brookline at the outbreak of war, as was an older married brother, Isaiah. Frank, a carpenter, and Lewis, a blacksmith, enlisted together as privates in Company A on the same day as Phelps.

Lewis was shot and killed at the Battle of Seven Pines on June 25, 1862. He was 21. He was buried at the Seven Pines National Cemetery.

Frank survived the Peninsula Campaign and was promoted to corporal in November 1862. He died of disease in Falmouth, Virginia on February 3, 1863. He was 24. He was originally buried at Fitzhugh's Farm and was later reinterred at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

Another older brother, George, an officer with the 1st Maine Infantry, also died in the war. Their brother Isaiah continued to live in Brookline along with his family and his widowed mother. He had a carpentry shop at the corner of Beacon Street and Summit Avenue.

Joseph Turner
Joseph W. Turner was born in Derby, England in 1835, the son of Joseph and Sarah Turner. The family emigrated to the United States in 1842 and settled in Philadelphia. In 1854, they moved to Brookline where the father established a knit goods business. It was one of two manufacturing concerns in the town, according to Harriet Woods' 1874 Historical Sketches of Brookline.

Joseph and his younger brother Fergus both worked in the family business, Joseph Turner & Sons. The two brothers enlisted on May 23, 1861. Joseph died at Fair Oaks, Virginia of typhoid fever on June 21, 1862. His body was returned to Brookline and he was buried in the Old Burying Ground on Walnut Street.

Fergus Turner survived the war and continued to live in Brookline until his death in 1909.

William Trowbridge
William H. Trowbridge was born March 5, 1842 in Newton. He was the son of William W. and Sarah Trowbridge (sometimes spelled Trobridge.) His father was a soap and candle maker.

Trowbridge worked as an expressman. (Express companies delivered packages, by horse-drawn vehicles and later by rail.) He enlisted in Company A on the same day as the other men here.

He was on picket duty on July 1, 1862 after the battle of Malvern Hill when he fell dead. Death was attributed to "disease of the heart" (possibly a heart attack). He was 20 years old. His burial place is unknown.

For stories of other Brookline men listed on the Civil War memorial in Town Hall, see my earlier post Remembering Brookline's Civil War Dead.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Candy Made in Brookline

Christmas shoppers in Brookline a century ago could pick up "a box of solid goodness and pleasure",  chocolates and other candies made right in Coolidge Corner by the Farquharson Candy Company.

Advertisement, Boston Globe, December 22, 1922

 The Farquharson company opened for business in 1914 in a brand new building (still standing) at the northwest corner of Beacon and Centre Streets.  William J. Farquharson had worked as a confectioner for more than 20 years at Page & Shaw and later at Bailey's, both on West Street in Boston. His factory and store took up about half of the building. Farquharson leased space at first and purchased the building in 1919.

The Farquharson Building at the corner of Beacon and Centre Streets
(Image via Google Street View)

The retail operation took up the corner spot, #1366 Beacon Street, now occupied by the Yasu Korean & Japanese restaurant. Additional stores were opened in Allston, Brighton, and Dorchester, with all of the candies made at the Brookline headquarters.

Advertisement, Boston Post, December 17, 1920
Classified ad, Boston Globe, October 2, 1919

A January 1924 fire that started in the basement destroyed the candy factory and the store and damaged three other stores in the building. Ammonia fumes from a cooling system inside Farquharson's added to the difficulties firefighters faced in extinguishing the fire. The contents of the store as they burned made for a spectacular scene, as described the next day in the Boston Globe.

The breaking through of the flames in the candy store presented a remarkable effect. It appeared as though the lighting system had been suddenly turned on. The artistic displays, the gay colored candy boxes and glass jars, trays of candy, little jazz dolls and other bright decorations stood out in bold relief as the flames whipped about them.

After the fire, the store presented an entirely different picture. The chocolates and other softer molds of candy were a melted mass, the firmer brands of candy alone withstanding the tremendous heat.

Farquharson's rebuilt after the fire, expanding the second floor of the building and adding about 50% more floor space to the store. Candy manufacturing was moved to Brighton although ice cream continued to be made on site. The Brookline Chronicle described the new interior after its reopening in July 1924:

The inside finish, including that of the booths, which are a new feature in this concern's stores, is of gumwood, and the walls are of cream-colored plaster of Georgian design. A most unusual and attractive tile floor has been laid, and the soda fountain has been doubled in size, providing plenty of room for the employees to carefully handle the wants of the customers. Leaded glass sliding windows protect the window displays, and most pleasing and restful prism chandeliers furnish the lighting effect. The ceiling is beamed and prism-effect mirrors are built into the walls behind the fountain.

The Brookline store was sold in 1929 to the St. Clair's chain of candy stores/soda fountains. Farquharson Candy continued to operate at its other locations for a few more years.

St. Clair's, which had had a store on Temple Place in Boston since the late 19th century, remained at 1366 Beacon Street until the late 1950s. Like Farquharson's, St. Clair's advertised its candies as an ideal gift at Christmas, as seen in the 1933 ad below.

Advertisement, Boston Globe, December 21, 1933

The Farquharson company continued to own the building, leasing space to St. Clair's and others, until 1951. William Farquharson died in 1955 at the age of 80.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ralph Waldo Emerson in Brookline

Ralph Waldo Emerson is most famously associated with Concord and Boston. But did you know that this leading figure in the Transcendentalist movement lived in Brookline for a brief time early in his career?

In May 1830, Emerson, then a young pastor at the Second Church in Boston, moved with his wife Ellen and his mother Ruth to the old Aspinwall House. (The house stood where the Billy Ward Playground, on Aspinwall Avenue opposite St. Paul’s Church, is today.)

Emerson described the lodgings in a letter to his brother William:

“I expect mother in town Thursday or Friday & she will go to Brookline & take possession of our lodgings at Mrs. Perry’s — (in old Aspinwall House where Uncle Ralph lived one summer long ago) where we have a parlor & 3 chambers one for mother one for wife & one for you when you will come & welcome. “ 

It was hoped that the new home would help Ellen recover from tuberculosis, with Emerson’s mother there to keep house. Emerson, however, found it inconvenient “traveling four miles out & home daily” to and from his position at the church. In September, after only four months in Brookline, they moved into Boston. (Ellen would die of tuberculosis in February at the age of 19.)

The old Aspinwall House on Aspinwall Avenue, shown more than half a century after Ralph Waldo Emerson, his wife, and his mother occupied four rooms there in the spring and summer of 1830.
(Brookline Historical Society photo)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mini Golf in Brookline: Past & Present

Did you know that Brookline once had an indoor miniature golf course designed by perhaps the most famous golf course architect of all time?

Littlputt Links, designed by Donald J. Ross, opened in 1930 on the second floor of the building at 308-312 Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner. That’s the space now occupied by Michael’s Salon, above Magic Beans and the Regal Beagle restaurant.

Chronicle Ad
Brookline Chronicle, 11/27/1930
Ross, according to the World Golf Hall of Fame, “was, and still is, considered the Michelangelo of golf.” He was the first architect (and one of only five to date) inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Among the best known of the more than 400 courses he designed over a half-century career are Pinehurst #2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Seminole in Juno Beach, Florida, Oak Hill in Pittsford, New York, and Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Ross was also a successful golfer, playing in seven U.S. Opens and finishing as high as fifth (in 1903).

Ross designed what was to be a second 18-hole course for The Country Club in Brookline in 1921 but it was never built. He was also invited to submit a design for the municipal course that eventually became the Robert T. Lynch Golf Club at Putterham Meadows, but he declined. (He reportedly was opposed to entering design competitions.)

Boston Globe, 10/26/1930
But despite these setbacks, Brookline did have its Donald Ross-designed course, if only in miniature and only for a short time. In October of 1930, Ross took out a lease on the second floor of the commercial building next to the Coolidge Corner Arcade. Littlputt Links announced its November 15th opening with an ad in the Brookline Chronicle promising “features that appeal to the experienced golfer as well as the miniature golf fan.”

Chronicle Ad
Brookline Chronicle, 11/13/1930
 The course does not appear to have lasted long; the last ad for Littlput ran in the Chronicle less than three weeks after the opening and it was not listed in the town directory the following year. Later occupants of the second floor included the Oriental Restaurant (with a band and dancing) and, as seen in the photo below, 20th Century Billiards.

Photo of building with billiard parlor on second floor
Photo from Town of Brookline Preservation Office
I contacted the Donald Ross Archives in North Carolina to learn more about Ross’ design for the Brookline mini-course. But despite extensive collections of plans and other documentation of Ross’ work, they had no record of Lillputt Links. It remains an oddity and a bit of a mystery from Brookline’s past.

There may no longer be a Donald Ross-designed miniature golf course in Brookline, but mini-golf fans can have fun, test their skills, and help support the Public Library of Brookline at the main library on Washington Street this Saturday, June 20th. See Tee Off @ the Library for details.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Blacksmith Shop to Auto Garage to Teen Center

New Life and an Old Story at 40 Aspinwall Avenue
40 Aspinwall Avenue before and after
40 Aspinwall Avenue before and after its conversion to the Brookline Teen Center
Brookline’s 2014 Preservation Awards ceremony took place last November at the Brookline Teen Center on Aspinwall Avenue. The Teen Center itself was one of the recipients, recognized for its adaptive reuse of a nearly century old garage. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a gem, inside and out, a tribute to all who worked on it: founders Paul and Saskia Epstein and their community supporters; the architects and builders; the staff; and the Brookline teens who helped design it.

Their efforts have given new life to an old garage built in 1916 for Frank Turner, a blacksmith and horseshoer who may himself have arrived in Boston as a teenager, a stowaway from Northern Ireland on a British cargo ship in 1883.

Turner was born Francis Turner in Drumnavaddy, near Belfast, in 1866, the son of a weaver and his wife.  It can't be said for certain when he arrived in Boston, but the only immigration record matching his name, age, and birthplace was that of a Frank Turner, 17, one of four stowaways on the S.S. Illyria arriving from Liverpool in October 1883.
Turner ship's manifest
Frank Turner, age 17, is the last of four passengers marked "Stowaways" on this 1883 ship's manifest
By 1892 he was living in Boston’s South End and working as a blacksmith near Castle Square.  He was the co-owner of the Turner & Lyons blacksmith shop on Ferdinand Street (now the southern part of Arlington Street).

Listing for Frank Turner in 1899 Boston Directory
Listing for Frank Turner in 1899 Boston Directory
He married another Irish immigrant, Nora Cronin, a dressmaker, in 1901 and became a U.S. citizen in 1902.

Nora and Frank Turner
Nora and Frank Turner in an undated studio photograph
Photo courtesy of Ronald Turner
The Turners had moved to Roxbury by 1906. That year, Turner’s partner, Joseph H. Lyons, died and Turner came to Brookline to work in the blacksmith and horseshoeing shop of P.J. Burns in Brookline Village.

P.J. Burns blacksmith shopAd for P.J. Burns blacksmith shop

The Burns shop stood at 152 Washington Street next to the firehouse at the foot of High Street. It moved down the street to 87 Washington when the current firehouse was built on the site in 1908.

Four years later, Turner was in business for himself again, and he and his wife and their son Harold became Brookline residents. In January 1912 they purchased the 42 Aspinwall Avenue home of blacksmith T. W. Burlingame and the wood frame blacksmith shop behind it.

Turner home with sign in alley
Frank and Nora Turner’s home at 42 Aspinwall Avenue (right) with the alley leading to the wood frame blacksmith shop at #40. The sign says “Frank Turner. Scientific Horseshoeing. Carriage and Wagon Repairing.” (Photo courtesy of Ronald Turner)

1913 Frank Turner, Horseshoer ad
Advertisement from the 1913 Brookline Blue Book directory
Construction notice for 40 Aspinwall Avenue garage
Notice in The American Contractor, February 26, 1916
By this time the automobile was rapidly replacing horse-drawn wagons and carriages. In 1916 Turner replaced the wood frame shop with the brick auto garage that houses the Teen Center today. The architect was George Nelson Meserve, a prolific designer of commercial and residential buildings in Boston, Brookline, and elsewhere.

The garage, known variously as Turner’s Garage and the Aspinwall Garage, offered automobile storage and repairs and sold Socony (Standard Oil Co. of NY) gasoline.  Manufacturers and private owners also offered vehicles for sale and lease through the garage, as seen in the ads below.
Ads for Turner's Garage
Ads from Boston Post (left), 1919, and Boston Globe (right) top to bottom 1917, 1917, 1919
Frank and Nora Turner sold the house and garage in 1924 and moved to 29 Auburn Street. Frank then worked as an auto mechanic at the Hinchcliffe Motor Car Co. (900 Commonwealth Avenue in Brookline), New England distributor for Jordan automobiles.

Nora died of pneumonia in 1926. The following year, Frank moved to California with his two sons. He owned an oil well in southern California with his son Harold for a time. Frank Turner died in 1944 at the age of 78.

Dexter Garage ad, 1932
Brookline Directory ad, 1932
The garage passed through two owners in five years after Turner before being purchased by Frank S. Dexter in 1928. He would own it for a decade and a half. Dexter was also the first proprietor of the garage who did not live in the house in front of it at 42 Aspinwall.
Later businesses in the garage building included the B&B Corrugated Box Co. after World War II; the Hayes & Shea auto service company in the 1960s (they tore down the house in front of the garage); and International Tire in the 1980s. Brookline Auto Body and Kenmore Auto Sales were the most recent occupants before the conversion to the Teen Center.

Ads from businesses at 40 Aspinwall Avenue

Frank Turner and his successors may be long gone, but the Teen Center renovation has retained several links to the building’s past in place (below), including an “Auto Body Repairs” sign on one wall, an original steel beam (hanging over the “Auto Body Café”) with the inscription “From the A.L. Smith Iron Works, Chelsea”, and yellow parking space lines on the floor by the pool table.

Auto repair sign in Teen Center
Steel beam in Teen Center

Parking spot lines on Teen Center floor
(A version of this article appeared earlier in the Brookline Historical Society members newsletter)