16 Pine Street

Neighborhood: Lower Highlands
Southeast Asian
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Photograph of 16 Pine Street

16 Pine Street

The current red-brick building is located on the southerly side of Pine Street. It is a major block of businesses in the commercial center at the intersection of Pine and Westford Streets. The building’s early history is difficult to determine with great certainty. Public records do provide some useful clues to trace the corner’s transformations from residence to businesses and help reveal some of the changes that took place in the Cupples Square neighborhood over time.


Massachusetts-native George F. Penniman was likely the lot’s first owner in the early 1890s. Penniman arrived in Lowell in the 1840s and worked in the parcel delivery business. He later partnered with H. T. Morril to head Penniman & Company’s Express in the 1870s and the 1880s. Packages were delivered via the Boston & Lowell Railroad as far as Lawrence, MA and Nashua, NH. Eventually Penniman got out of the delivery business and entered the real estate business. By the 1890s he “became widely known through his efforts in building residences in the Highlands”. He and his wife Mary had a son and a daughter.


In June 1919, fifteen years after George F. Penniman’s death, his son George A. sold the property to Sarah E. Vincent, an English immigrant who resided there with her husband Albert. Albert Vincent, also from England, worked as a machinist and later as a gardener. Vincent was active in religious activities as sexton at the Calvary Baptist Church, was a member of the Loyal Integrity Lodge, a participant in the Men’s Fellowship class and member of the Church Boy Scout troop. The Vincents had two sons, Albert H. and William J., and two daughters, M. Emma and Edith, who were born in England before the family arrived in the U.S. in 1904.


Two aspects about the Vincent family are noteworthy. First, it was unusual 90 years ago for a married woman to be listed as home owner while her husband was alive, but Sarah remained 16 Pine Street’s owner until she died in June 1945. In July 1945 her heirs Albert H., William J. and Edith A. granted the property to their father Albert and their sister M. Emma. One cannot help but wonder why M. Emma was not one of the heirs as her siblings were and how interesting this ownership arrangement was carried out. In November 1947 Albert and M. Emma sold the property to New England Land Company, a Boston, Massachusetts corporation. One year later, First National Stores, Inc., a chain of retail grocers with eight locations already in Lowell took over operation of 16 Pine St. into the 1960s.


Since the 1970s 16 Pine Street reflects the Lower Highlands demographic changes. Like other buildings in the neighborhood it was converted into an office building and quickly filled up with a number of service providers in part targeted to the burgeoning Southeast Asian population. In 1979, medical, legal and real estate services were provided through Dr. James F. Kiely, the Lowell Orthopedic Association, dentists Vernon R. French and William R. French, and lawyers George B. Leahey, and Malcom F. Fryer, Jr. In 1990 the building housed Mortgage Financial Service, Hill Group Inc. and seven medical offices: Physical Therapy Clinic of Lowell, dentists Kenneth McPartland and Elizabeth L. Burns, physicians James F. Kiely and Howard D. Harrison, and Lowell Medical Ride Inc. which provided ambulance service.


Over time medical and legal services predominated in the building. For example, in 2004, the most recent year a Lowell City Directory is available, tenants included: a psychologist, a dentist’s office, a chiropractics and physical therapy & rehabilitation office, and the law offices of attorney George B. Leahey, and attorney Louis S Haskell, likely a relative of Sasikarn T. Haskell, trustee of 16 Pine Street Realty Trust. Sixteen Pine Street also housed a computer service and repair store, Mom’s Therapy & Herbal Center, Kreative Sound Recording Studio, the Reliable Recruitment Services employment agency, and Technical Cable Services, an electrical wiring firm. Why so many medical and legal services office in the building? It may be related to the fact that the neighborhood’s large Southeast Asians population dealt with significant health documentation and legal status questions.


References for this story (in PDF) are available by selecting the "Print Story" button above.
There is no "Address History" for this building.