165 Lakeview Avenue

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Address History 77 River St
Address History 165 Lakeview Av
Charles Callahan
Anton Czekananski
Blazej Korzeniewski
Adam Korzeniewski
Ramon Korzeniewski
Josef Kosztyla
Ludwik V Kosztyla
John McCluskey
Richard McCluskey
Richard J. McCluskey
Camille Nadeau
Grocery stores in Lower Centralville
Orientation map showing location of Centralville in Lowell and 165 Lakeview Avenue This address in Centralville provided shelter and business success for two Irish families (father and son) and two Polish families (father and son-in-law) but little luck to a French-Canadian printer and a Polish blacksmith. The segregation of Yankees and immigrants, both in business and residence, was almost complete in this neighborhood in the time covered .

Picture of 165 Lakeview Avenue

This three-story, wood-frame building probably replaced an earlier building about 1900. It contained a commercial space on the first floor (left entrance above, 165) and apartments on the upper two floors (right entrance, 161). It has been reconverted to all residential.

The address was originally 77 River Street. The street name was changed and all the houses on the block were renumbered, turning this into 165 Lakeview Avenue (although no lake is in sight).

John McCluskey, Irishman

Did Richard and Margaret McCluskey immigrate to the new world? They came in 1847 when they were about 67 and 58 years old. It's more likely that they were brought along by their children when the children immigrated --  Patrick, Michael, Dennis, Margaret, Ann, and John, ranging in age from 33 to 10.

Richard didn't work after he arrived but most of the children worked in the mills. Even John was working in 1850 when his father told the Census taker that the 13-year-old was a 20-year-old laborer, not at school. John probably wasn't present when the Census taker called so there was no reason to doubt the father. Child labor was common in those days.

John continued in the mills until 1864, when he was 27.  Then he opened a grocery store at 11 River Street, a few doors down from Bridge Street, the main road in Centralville. This area north of the river had been annexed by Lowell from Dracut just recently (1851) and was just starting to grow. There were three grocery stores on Bridge Street within three blocks, all run by Yankees, and one on River Street run by Irishman William Courtney, a block away. The other four stores lasted a while, Courtney's for 30 years, but John's failed quickly. He was back in the mills in 1865.

The area was full of Irish immigrants. The McCluskeys lived at 5 Brown's Court, a private courtyard between two houses on Lakeview. So did Charles Callahan and at least three other Callahan families over the next few years. In 1860, Charles married the girl next door, Ann McCluskey, John's sister. Alas, in a story all too common in those days, Ann died of TB in 1864. The ex-brothers-in-law stayed friends, however. Charles, originally a mill worker, opened a grocery store in 1868. John went to work for him in 1870 at 42 River Street, just a block from his own first store. He stayed until 1880 when he opened his second store at 77 River Street.

Thumbnail map showing grocery locations in Lower Centralville Opening a store only a block from your former employer would be considered unfriendly today but it probably wasn't at the time. Grocery stores must have been different in those days, catering much more to the individual needs of their customers and getting along on low volume. There were four other stores even closer to Callahan than McCluskey. Within three blocks there were 14 stores, one with another Callahan. Look at a larger map to see how close these stores were and which were run by immigrants.

McCluskey married Mary Owens, daughter of James and Margaret, probably another resident of Brown's Court.  Families were close in these days. One of Mary's sisters lived with them for at least ten years before moving into the house next door with another widowed sister for another fifteen. Andrew Owens, likely Mary's nephew, and John's brother, Dennis, both worked in the store and lived with them for a time.

Newspaper picture of Doctor Richard J. McCluskey
Dr.Richard J. McCluskey

John and Mary had three children, Margaret J, James, and Richard J, traditionally named after their grandparents. John's prosperity meant he could see his children educated. Margaret graduated from college and became a teacher at the Lakeview Avenue Primary School, just down the street. She became the principal there for thirty years. James and Richard went to Holy Cross, a Catholic private college in Worcester.

John ran the store until 1898, at which time he turned it over to his son, Richard, recently graduated from Holy Cross. Richard McCluskey was as successful as his father in the business, gaining the respect of many as witnessed by his election to the city's board of aldermen in 1901 and 1902. However, he was an ambitious college graduate and wanted more. In 1903, the McCluskeys moved out of the store to a more stately home half mile north on Methuen Street. (See a map showing grocery stores at this time.) Richard closed the store and went to medical school at Columbia, staying in New York for his internship. He returned in 1910 and set up private practice. He became a staff member of St. John's hospital and met a young nurse, Mary Lee. They married in 1922 when she was 29 and he was 49 and quickly had three children.

Two years after getting married, Richard took his wife, his infant daughter, and his sister to Europe. He indulged his religious enthusiasm by visiting the shrine at Lourdes and gave stereopticon lectures on it upon returning home. The family visited Ireland, land of his forebears, no doubt meeting many relatives before returning from Cobh, the port of city Cork.

The store at 77 River Street, now 165 Lakeview Avenue, led to successful careers for the McCluskeys, father, son, daughter and many family members.

Interim businesses: French-Canadian Nadeau and Polish Czekanski

After the McCluskeys moved away in 1903, the building lay unused except for boarders in the rooms upstairs until a young French-Canadian restarted the grocery store. Camille Nadeau's father had come to Lowell in the 1880s, residing in Centralville in the 1890s and working as a baker. In 1898 Camille was 22 years old and working for a printer. In 1901 he started a grocery store in the heart of "Little Canada." He must have been reasonably successful, staying  there for five years before moving back to Centralville to 165 Lakeview in 1906. It's likely he was just hanging on, however, because he lasted just two more years as a grocer and by 1908 was back working as a printer.

The building was empty again for a year. Anton Czekanski had arrived in Lowell from Poland in 1902 and worked as a blacksmith for several years. He tried his own business exactly one year, 1909, reopening the grocery at 165 Lakeview. In 1910 he was back smithing and didn't try again through 1922, after which we've lost track of him.

Adam Korzeniewski Grocery and Leo Costello Drug Store

Ad from 1909 Lowell City Directory Czekanski's timing was bad. Another Polish immigrant, Adam Korzeniewski had started a grocery store specializing in meat at 169 Lakeview, right next door. After Czekanski failed, Adam bought the 161-165 Lakeview building and ran a grocery store there for 21 years. Korzeniewski was born in 1876 and had immigrated in 1903. His wife, Amelia (Berlach), had four children from a previous marriage and one of them, Oswald Weiser, worked in the grocery store until he left for Detroit. Adam and Amelia had two children of their own, Sofia, and Roman, both of whom clerked in the store when they were old enough.

The area was rapidly changing from Irish to Polish and Adam was an active change agent. He served as president for twenty years of the Lowell Chapter of the Polish National Home Association (Dom Polska). Its meeting hall was just two  buildings down, on the corner of Coburn. By 1932 there was also the Polish-American Citizens Club at 63-73 Lakeview, the Polish Falcon Club at 133 Lakeview, the Polish National Citizens Club at 196 Lakeview, and St Kazmierz Polish National Catholic Church at 250 Lakeview.

Adam's father, Blazej, immigrated in 1911 and lived with Adam in the twenties. He was a source of pride in that Polish neighborhood, having taken part in the Polish Insurrection of 1863, an uprising against Tsarist rule. Adam's sister, Franciszka, arrived in 1913 and settled two blocks away, on the corner of Coburn and West L Street.

Adam's daughter Sophie (as she became known), married Ludwik V Kosztyla, later known as Leo Costello. Leo was born in this country one year after his parents, Josef and Marya, arrived from Poland in 1898. Josef worked in the mills all his life, but Leo started an apprenticeship in a local drug store in 1916. He married Sophie in 1920 and they lived above the store with Adam, Amelia, Ramon, three step-children, and a boarder who made sausage for the store. In 1928 Leo started his own drug store a mile away at 245 Gorham Street, taking it over from a second generation French-Canadian.

Soon after, Roman changed his name to Raymond Adams, possibly at the instigation of his wife Vera (Gerry), whose Yankee credentials were sullied only by an Irish grandfather. It's not certain what the family dynamic was in 1931, but Raymond moved out and Leo took over the store space. Did Leo gain favored status because he was successful with the drug store so he was given the 165 Lakeview storefront, prompting Raymond to move away and start his own? Or did they all agree to let Leo take the store instead of traveling to Gorham Street every day (only a mile) and have Raymond carry on the family grocery nearby? Whatever the case, Ray moved in with his in-laws on Hampshire Street a few blocks north and started his own grocery store in 1931. This store was at 247 Lakeview, a block down from his father’s store and the site of a grocery for at least fifty years (Irish, then Scottish, then Irish), which means it had been a competitor of his father’s since the beginning.

There were only 11 private owners of grocery stores the last year of Adam's ownership, compared to 19 in 1903. (See map) An indicator of future change was the appearance of corporate chain stores, one on Coburn and five on Bridge Street. Chain stores were not owned by the people who managed them. Chains and the Depression reduced grocery stores radically in this part of Centralville, whether owned by immigrants or Yankees. There were only eight stores left by 1938: three immigrant, one Yankee, and four chain.

Picture of Bridge Street at Lakeview Avenue 1931.
Bridge at Lakeview, 1931 (bigger picture available)
Courtesy Center for Lowell History

Apparently Vera died in 1936 because Ray alone moved back to the upper floors of his father’s building in 1937. At about the same time, he moved his grocery store to a prime location just off the bridge, 329 Bridge, site of a long time Yankee grocery, and renamed it Adams Market. After two years living back home, Raymond disappeared from Lowell between 1939 and 1943. One is tempted to think of World War II service in Poland, inspired by his grandfather. Adam came out of retirement and ran Adams Market from 1939-1949.

In 1942 Leo Costello closed up his drugstore at 165 Lakeview and purchased another in a prime location, Noonan’s Drug Store at 305 Bridge, keeping Noonan’s name. This address was two buildings down from Adams Market, on the corner of Bridge and First Streets, the first intersection coming off the bridge over the river.

Raymond came back to Lowell in 1944 with a new wife, Rita B, and started working as a meat cutter in the Acre while living on Worthen Street. A year later, Ray and Rita moved back to live on Lakeview with Adam and the Costellos moved out, first to  Methuen Street, still in Centralville, and later to southeast Lowell. Leo kept the Noonan Drugstore until he died in 1954. Adam retired a second time in 1950 at age 76 and Raymond became proprietor of Adam’s Market again. Adam, even though retired, was clearly the heart of the enterprise. Raymond kept it going only one year after Adam’s death in 1954. Ray and Rita moved to Rea Street, on the far southeast part of town only three blocks away from his widowed sister, Sophie, and took wage-paying jobs.
Ethnic Separation

(see maps showing separation)

It is interesting to look at the micro-neighborhood bounded by Lakeview Avenue, Coburn Street, Bridge Street, and West Third Street over the years.

In the 4 years that marked the transitions mentioned above (1864, 1880, 1903, 1930), counting just the local owners, there were 32 grocery stores west of Bridge Street (on Lakeview and Coburn). None were owned by Yankees; all were owned by immigrants or sons. There were 18 stores on Bridge street, 13 Yankees and 5 immigrants.

Clip art showing wall with immigrant on the west side of Bridge Street and Yankees on the right.

The homes of the store owners showed the same separation. Only one Yankee owner ever lived west of Bridge Street; 12 lived on or east of Bridge. Of the 34 immigrant owners, 29 lived west of Bridge; only 5 east.

In this micro-neighborhood and at this time, Yankees just didn’t mix with immigrants.