Chestnut Street then and now

Most of the photographs of Chestnut Street taken by Dr. William Douglas were located around the Goshen Cemetery area near Mill Street. On one occasion, Dr. Douglas ventured further south on Chestnut to the intersection with Wharton Street, which is where he took the photograph featured in this post. The two buildings nearest the foreground – one on the northwest corner and the other on the northeast – are still standing and can be identified if one looks closely.

Intersection of Chestnut and Wharton Streets, 1907 or earlier (Douglas Family Collection, Milton Historical Society)

On the left, the building with the scrolled brackets along the cornice, aproned woman next to the balustrade and two people under the front porch roof is 314 Chestnut Street. The owner is given as M. B. Walls in both the 1868 Beers Atlas and the 1887 Hazzard Survey; the construction date is assumed to be prior to 1868, but I can’t determine it more precisely with the sources I have at hand. The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1911 shows the southeastern two bays of the structure (the part of the building the aproned woman is standing in front of) as being a vacant store. We can surmise that at the time this photograph was taken, the store was doing business. The total absence of utility poles and wires as well as the presence of a gas street lamp in front of number 314 helps make the case that this scene is earlier than 1907.

Directly across the street from the Walls property is number 315 Chestnut Street – the home of the Improved Order of Odd Fellows. The Milton chapter, Golden Rule Lodge No. 17, was chartered in 1853, and the building at 315 Chestnut was erected by 1855; the Lodge is still active in charity work and other civic activities. The downstairs part of the building served as the Milton town library from 1920 to 1980.

Intersection of Chestnut and Wharton Streets, 2022 (photo by Phil Martin)

In the current day photograph, we can see that number 314 has lost the awning and the ornamental detail at the southeast corner, as well as all the shutters. Number 312 still stands to its north, but number 310 is gone. Number 315 retains much of its original exterior appearance except for the loss of the wrap-around awning on its south and west elevations.