7 Adams Street
  (now 63 Fletcher St)

Business Types
More data
Address History
   McDonald Brothers Grocery
   Lavery Boots and Shoes
   Bergeron Shoe Repair
   Edward J Lavery vitals
   Steph H Doyle vitals
   Edward Beshara vitals
   Leon J Bergeron vitals
   Bergeron Surname vitals

Liberty Square

..is a part of the Acre where several streets intersect, among them Adams Street and Fletcher Street. In 1896, it looked something like the map at the right. The triangle is Liberty Square (did he say the triangle is a square?) and the "X" marks the building at "7 Adams Street."

The store at 7 Adams looked out over the middle of the square and had to have been a good commercial location. It had grocers for the first few years we know about. After that, it had either a barber shop or a shoe shop for about sixty years, switching back and forth as if it couldn't make up its mind.

This map shows the area of Liberty Square. It is a triangle with long edge on the east and apex pointing to the west. Seven streets enter the square: Fletcher Street from the northwest and southeast, Suffolk Street from northeast and southwest, Adams Street from the north, Heyden Street from the east and Rock Street from the west-northwest. Worthen Street enters Fletcher Street about fifty feet south of the square and so adds to the confusion. The building is on Adams Street at the east side of the triangle, between Heyden and Fletcher.


Picture of a man in a grocery store The three buildings on the square with Adams addresses held small businesses at least as early as 1870 when it had competing Irish grocers John Lynch and T.F. Doyle. (There were Lynches in the grocery business at a half dozen locations in the Acre for the next forty years.) 

There appear to have been competing grocers across the square and again in the same block for quite a few years. One of them, a Canadian immigrant Samuel Hebert married to an Irish woman, did well enough to put ads in the city directory in the 80s. Hebert lived upstairs at 7 Adams in 1880 and ran a grocery store at 11 Adams. McDonald Grocery, run by a pair of Irish brothers, was downstairs at 9 Adams about the same time. The morning conversations must have been interesting. In addition to these two, there were two other grocers on the square and at least four more on Adams in the block north of the square.

The Ryans and the Ryan Block

In 1891, a pair of Irish brothers, John and Patrick Ryan, purchased the land holding several buildings at the intersection of Adams and Worthen, including 7 Adams. They had already been running a junk dealership at the corner for ten years and simply became their own landlord, continuing the junk dealership and running the small buildings as before. Soon after, they also established the Union Brass Company a short way down Worthen.

The Ryan Block is a four story brick building with shops on the first floor.In 1904, the Ryans tore down their buildings on Adams Street and put up a single large brick building with stores on the ground floor and three floors of apartments above. The building became known as The Ryan Block and Elizabeth Ryan, a sister of the brothers, lived in one of the apartments for many years. The Ryan brothers and the Ryan Block itself is of interest, in addition to the stories of the people in it. You can learn more about the Ryans.

Shoe Repair, Irish Lavery and French Canadian Bergeron

The building had two shoe repair businesses. Edward C. Lavery, born in Ireland, started in the shoe repair business in Lowell in 1887. In 1894, he started Lavery Shoe and Boots at 7 Adams Street, just one block away from his new home on Rock Street. Married to Eliza, with five children, he operated his shop until his death in 1907.

Leon Bergeron and Mary Flora Pepin were both from Quebec. The senior Leon worked as a miller, then a bobbinmaker. Their son, Leon J., was born in Massachusetts.

The Bergerons moved to the Liberty Square area about 1897. We don't know for sure if sixteen year-old Leon J. Bergeron was acquainted with Edward Lavery or not, but unless kids have changed, he did. Living only a block from Liberty Square on Franklin Street, young Leon and his friends were certain to know everything going on in the neighborhood, especially when the shoemaker himself lived only a block away. What we do know is that three years later (1900) Leon was working in a shoe factory and by 1903 described himself as a shoemaker. He married Mary Lyons, born in Maine of English-Canadian immigrants, and the 1910 census found them both working in a shoe shop, him in the packing room and her as a polisher. From 1915 to 1917 he was a foreman at the George Snow shoe factory. When it came time to open his own "Bergeron Shoe Repair" in 1919, Leon did it at the old place, 7 Adams Street. He ran his shoe repair shop there and lived just a block away, practically next to his boyhood home with his wife, his widowed mother, and his sister Flora. After fifteen years, he moved his shop to Middlesex Street but lived on Franklin until the mid 1960's (almost forty years) when he and his wife moved to a retirement apartment not going far, to 145 Gorham Street, about 8-10 blocks away. When he died in 1965, his obituary described him as a "well-known foot and arch supporter."


The building had barbers. The 1889 city atlas said 7 Adams Street had a barber shop. Edward Lavery had his shoe and boot store at that address from 1894 until 1907. Stephen Doyle, who had been running a barber shop at 11 Adams since 1905, moved to 7 Adams from 1907 to 1912 (establishing a barber there for the second time). In 1914, Doyle moved to another corner of Liberty Square, leaving the storefront vacant for a few years. We then saw that Leon J. Bergeron ran the (second) shoe repair store after that from 1919 to 1935. After Bergeron moved his shoe shop, Edward Beshara (likely a Syrian immigrant) converted 7 Adams back to a barber shop (for a third time) and ran it until the early 1950s. In 1964, it was still a barbershop but by 1975 it wasn't. After eighty years, the alternating regimes came to an end, so the shoes and scissors were finally at peace. The store at 7 Adams Street was occupied briefly by many business for another thirty years (variety store, real estate, home to the Coalition for a Better Acre, an auto parts shop) until now, as it is being renovated for modern apartments.

Moving Streets?

The Ryan Block is no longer at "7 Adams Street". Did it move? And does it really have a triangle now? The story is interesting.


Picture of a person at a confusing intersection.