The House that Welch Built

Among the nearly two hundred 19th century homes in Milton is 205 Union Street, built in 1896 and occupied for many decades by the Welch family. John Baynum Welch operated a drug store there, and his descendants continued to operate it into the 1980’s.

I am very fortunate to have just run across a photograph of the Welch home dating to 1912, the oldest one I have ever seen. Mr. David Partridge, a descendant of Fred Welch and Lora Mustard, has kindly permitted me to use this and several other very old photographs of his family members. I have written extensively about the Welch and Mustard families, and the convergence of these two lines through the marriage of Fred and Lora provides a unique opportunity to view the story of both families through a common descendant.

The J. B. Welch Drug Store and residence ca. 1912. The man standing in the doorway under the J. B. Welch sign is John Baynum Welch himself; his wife Eliza Ann Reynolds is standing in front of the screened porch, wearing an apron. The identity of the two children to the right of Eliza is uncertain; by 1912, all of the Welch’s children were much older than these two, so they might be two of his several grandchildren. The young man could be youngest son Edgar, born in 1895, or Walter, born in 1892. (courtesy David Partridge)

The Welch family home and drug store / watch repair business, ca. 1980. The house looked very much like it did in 1912. Today, the screening is gone from the porch, and flower gardens occupy the space in front of the porch and the side of the house. (MHS Collection)
J. B. and Eliza Reynolds Welch, ca. 1900 (courtesy David Partridge)

18 thoughts on “The House that Welch Built

  • Debra Bradshaw Romano

    John B. Welch is my great grandfather. My grandfather was John B, Welch Jr. I loved see this Blog. Also, my grandmother was Ollie Morris and her sister married into the Mustard family. The pictures of my great grand parents were pictures I remember seeing in my grandparents house.

    • Phil Martin

      Thank you so much, Debra; I will take a closer look at the descendants of patriarch J. B. in the days to follow. I wonder how the photos you remember seeing found there way to the present owner…In any case, David Partridge has been great about letting us use them.

      • Debra Bradshaw Romano

        Maybe there were several copies of the pictures because I remember seeing them at Aunt Lottie’s when we would visit in the summer when we were kids. She was my grandfather’s sister.

  • Conrad Welch

    Phil, what a terrific article on my great grandfather and mother.
    I believe one of the children is my grandfather there youngest of nine children, Edgar Milton Welch .
    Thank you for posting.
    Regards
    Conrad Welch

    • Phil Martin

      I thought you might like this; it was a surprise to me when these photographs turned up out of almost nowhere (especially the house!)

  • Roberta Hagen

    Let me know if you would like to tour the pharmacy. All of the original shelves and counters have been preserved. The residence had to be updated. But I tried very hard to preserve the spirit of the home.

  • Donna Ritter

    As my sister Debra has said it is great seeing this blog about my great grandparents. I actually have the two pictures of my great grandparents. To this day I love passing by the drug store and remember visiting there often when my mother’s cousin, William Welch, was running it.

    • Phil Martin

      The photo portraits of JB and Eliza I was given access to were in exceptionally good condition, and they are really striking. I didn’t have to do any digital restoration on them like I usually do.
      We all need to preserve these old photographs, because nobody really knows how long their chemistry will remain stable. Digitally scanning them is one thing all of us can do to ensure that the images survives.

  • Heidi

    Thanks for your post, Phil, It is amazing how the Welch home looks pretty much the same today as it did in 1912!

  • David Partridge

    Im glad everyone is enjoying the pics. They were passed down to me from my Grandmother Margaret Welch, whom I got my middle name from. The picture of the family drugstore was actually a post card sent by John B to his son Fred Welch (cant read the postmark to date it). “How does the old homestead look with its’ new Coat of Dark pearl, white & green? With concrete pavement. Some class eh? See Mother at the door of their Cage = don’t she look cute. All getting along as usual. when will you be down? From Home”

    • Phil Martin

      What you actually have is called a Realphoto postcard. They were tremendously popular in the first decades of the 20th century, when consumer cameras became affordable and widely available. We have dozens of examples of these in the Milton Historical Society collection. The term refers to the distinction between lithographic or offset printing, which is the way most postcards were printed, and photographic prints made on postcard stock, which is what a Realphoto is.
      If you can, I would love a scan of the back of the postcard. The description of the colors the house was painted with, and identification of Mrs. Welch, is important in the description.

  • William T. Jones

    I remember going to Welch’s drug store in the 1960s and ’70s. Mrs. Welsh was pretty sharp business woman. She used to price some things a little below what most other stores charged.

    For example I used a lot of Polaroid Color Pack film for the school newspaper, “The Clipper Log.” She always had it priced or 10 or 15 cents lower than the other stores. That might not sound like much today, but back then you could buy a candy bar for 5 or 10 cents in the early 1960s.

    • Phil Martin

      …and comic books for 10 or 15 cents, and a paperback for 35 cents, on and on like that…

  • Charles Jones

    In 1907 (before the fire) Mr. Welch walked around town and took pictures with a glass plate negative camera. Some of those pictures, of the harbor area, can be seen in the 1957 Susquacentenial magazine.

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