|40 Aspinwall Avenue before and after its conversion to the Brookline Teen Center|
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.
|Frank Turner, age 17, is the last of four passengers marked "Stowaways" on this 1883 ship's manifest|
|Listing for Frank Turner in 1899 Boston Directory|
|Nora and Frank Turner in an undated studio photograph|
Photo courtesy of Ronald Turner
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.
|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)|
|Advertisement from the 1913 Brookline Blue Book directory|
|Notice in The American Contractor, February 26, 1916|
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 from Boston Post (left), 1919, and Boston Globe (right) top to bottom 1917, 1917, 1919|
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.
|Brookline Directory ad, 1932|
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.
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.