7-9 Gates Street
7-9 Gates Street
7 & 9 Gates Street’s early history is difficult to tell with great certainty. In the city’s 1879 Atlas the parcel was occupied with a building. City records indicate that the structure still there in 2008 was built in 1920. But, whatever the buildings’ exact origins, its story demonstrates the changes that took place in the Lower Highlands neighborhood over time.
From 1899 to 1901, three families lived at 7 Gates Street. The first was an elderly couple, Edward Felch, age 63 in 1900, and his wife Harriet (Holden), age 58. Edward and his parents were born in Vermont while Harriet and her parents were born in New Hampshire. In 1900, Edward worked manufacturing radios according to the 1900 census report, but the city directory lists him as working “horseradish” for several years around that time.
The two other families were single parent Yankees. One boarded with the Felches: painter Henry Bickford, born in New Hampshire, as were his parents, and his young son Frederick N. Bickford. The second lived in a separate apartment, Della C. Ward (nee Carrie Della Phillips in 1860), a dressmaker, born in Vermont of New Hampshire parents, with her sons, cotton spinner Eugene W. Ward in 1900 and Alvin, a mill worker in 1901.
From 1898 to 1902, George H. and Elizabeth A. (Atwood) Dole lived at 9 Gates Street. George, a shoemaker when he married Elizabeth in 1873 but employed as a day laborer in later years, was born in Massachusetts as were his parents. Elizabeth Dole’s father and mother were born in New Hampshire and Vermont, while she was born in Massachusetts.
The census of 1910 shows 7 Gates Street occupied by George H and Catherine J (McDonald) Leriche, five of their children, and a widowed cousin, Catherine McDonald. George was born in 1863 to French-Canadian parents in St Albans, Vermont, about ten miles from the Quebec border. Margaret was born in Lowell to a Scottish-born father and Irish-born mother. Cousin Catherine was born in Ireland. George lived in Lowell from at least 1880 until he died in 1933. In 1910 he was a bottler for a liquor store, having worked as a driver for the store and a laborer elsewhere. The Lariches probably occupied this address only for part of the year, the City Directory showing them in addresses on Cushing Street in 1909 through 1911.
In 1910, the occupants of a rooming house near here (6 Watson Avenue, about 5 blocks from 7 Gates Street) reflected the changing character of immigration in Lowell. The rooming house was operated by Assa Thompson, who was born in Turkey and came to the U.S. in 1901. Living there were four Turkey-born men who had arrived between 1904 and 1907 and in 1910 were cotton mill laborers.
For 1911 to 1917 Henry J Mailloux, a French-Canadian immigrant lived at 7 and 9 Gates Street (he switched). In the earlier days he was a repairman for the Lowell Gas Company and then worked, as did many during the Great War, in the United States Cartridge Company factory. He continued that occupation when he moved to Dracut in 1919. In 1916 and 1917 Mary Ann Bartlett lived at 7 Gates Street; she and her mother were born in New Hampshire while her father was born in New York. Never married and in her mid-80s at the time, she had spent the previous six years at the Old Ladies Home and died while living on Gates Street in 1917. Prior to that she had lived since 1874 on Methuen Street in a large house that she shared with her sister shortly after their parents died. Together they ran a “fancy goods” shop at 156 Merrimack.
In 1920 two families occupied the multi-family structure. Elizabeth Dole, whose husband George died in 1907, returned to live at 9 Gates Street. Since his death, Elizabeth had lived in at least six locations before returning to this building. In 1910, she was living with two of her daughters, Celena and Eva, and Celena’s husband, Harrington L Morgan at 1071 Middlesex.
In 1920 through 1922, Samuel Mullen, a millwright, and his wife Bridget lived at 7 Gates Street with their children. Samuel and Bridget were born in England in 1874 and 1877, respectively. Samuel’s father and mother were both born in Ireland. In 1910 the Mullens had eight children, ranging in age from 12 to nine months. The oldest two were born in Maine. In 1930 the Mullen family, now six daughters and two sons, lived on Fernald Street. Three daughters worked as stitchers in a dressmaking shop, a fourth daughter worked in a shoe store, and the oldest son worked as a storeroom clerk. A fifth daughter worked as a nurse, and a daughter age 15 and a son aged ten were still in school.
Over the years the building went through several numbering changes becoming 7 Gates with apartments 1 and 2, and two distinct addresses, 7 and 9 Gates Street. In 1920 it was 7 and 9, but in 1950 it was simply 7 Gates Street with two apartments and in 1960 it reverted to 7 and 9 Gates Street.
An interesting piece of the 7 and 9 Gates Street story occurs in the 1940s and 1950s. From 1944 to 1959 Isadore I. Wolf, rabbi of the Congregation Sons of Montefiore Synagogue at 132 Howard St, and his wife Esther lived on the second floor of 7 Gates Street. Isidore (originally Wolfowitz) had emigrated to the U.S. in 1914 from Korno, Russia (now Lithuania) and his wife from Minsk, Russia. They met and settled first in New York, where they had two children, before coming to Lowell in the middle 1920s to live at 166 Howard Street. In 1959 the Wolfs moved to 56 Bellevue Avenue, still in the neighborhood.
The Miller family lived on the first floor between 1949 and 1952. Gerson Miller, a machine operator at the Imperial Upholstery Company, lived there with his wife Bertha. Both were second generation Jewish-Russians. When the Miller family moved out in 1952, Mrs. Eva B. Umpleby, born on Prince Edward Island, moved in and stayed from 1953 until 1963. She worked as a manager at the American Auto Seat Cover Company. Also living with her were two other Umplebys, likely her children: Silvia B. worked as a stitcher at Casual Footwear and David W. worked as a presser for Suffolk Knitting Mills. Pressers used industrial irons to smooth cloth, a dangerous job where serious burns were common.
Howard Street, the location of the Congregation Sons of Montefiore Synagogue, and Hale Street formed the boundaries of the Hale-Howard neighborhood. The neighborhood, a first stop for many immigrants, especially Eastern European Jews who arrived in large numbers in the 1880s and 1890s, was within walking distance of the mills and the train station. Lowell’s Jewish community maintained a Yiddish-speaking assistant at the station—someone like a social worker—who greeted new immigrants and helped them to secure housing. By 1900 the Hale-Howard neighborhood was dotted with several kosher markets, Hebrew schools, and four synagogues, and boasted two newspapers, the Star of Bethlehem and Zion’s Banner.
The Montefiore Synagogue became one of the neighborhood’s anchors. In 1917, the first year the Lowell city directory cross-listed people and addresses the leadership of the synagogue was: Chairman David Ziskind; Secretary and Teacher Harry Perlman; and Treasurer Israel Steinberg. Perlman and Steinberg lived with their wives in the Hale/Howard, while Ziskind with his wife Rose (émigrés from Russia) and six children lived at 75 Gates Street, just off Westford Street. One of Ziskind’s sons, Jacob, worked as a superintendent at one of his father’s businesses at 137 Cambridge Street, Ziskind & Cohen barrel makers .
The neighborhood was demolished in the 1970s as part of the city’s massive “urban renewal” plan. The Montefiore Synagogue merged with the Anshe Sfard Synagogue
and moved to Westford Street, in Cupples Square. Today, the Congregation Sons of Montefiore Synagogue and Merrimack Valley Hebrew School are located at 460
An exploration of the surnames on Gates Street from 1950 to 1970 reveals quite diverse demographics. Surnames included probable Greeks (Rodopoulos, Voulgaris), French-Canadians (Lessard, Maille, Mercier), Armenian (Hovnanian), Yankees (Adams, Richard, Roth), and Irish (Gleason, Burns) ethnicities. A few probable Jewish names (Goldman, Burke, Sloan, Leibovitz, Sigman) indicate that Gates Street remained home to Jews who left the Hale/Howard neighborhood post-1970s.
Seven and 9 Gates Street evolved with the Lower Highlands neighborhood. In 2000, two Hispanic families lived at 7 & 9 Gates Street. Edwin Serrano lived at 7 Gates starting in 1996 and Lydia Rodriguez at 9 Gates since 1997. By 2004, the building had been transformed into four dwelling units. Edwin E Serrano remained in apartment 1 and Lydia continued to live with Raphael Rodriguez in apartment 2. New occupants reflected the influx of Southeast Asians to Cupples Square. Hai T. Le, who had purchased the building in 2000, lived at 7 Gates with Kim T. Le and Thuy Tran. Hai T. Le resided at 9 Gates. An assembly worker, Hai was middle aged and probably related to the younger Hai T. Le who lived on the other side of the house.
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