October 25, 1852

Ames_machine_shop_1857

Monday Oct 25th We all walked down to the

shops this morning and Mr & Mrs D

left here about ten Oclock and since

Miss Alger & self have had a quiet day

Susan has practiced a good deal but

is rather impatient  We did not

have the washing done

 

Monday morning came around and the Davenports and their child were still in the house. By the time they left, it was too late to start the laundry. So Evelina and the remaining houseguest, Miss M. J. Alger, “had a quiet day.” Quiet except for the sound of Susan Ames practicing her scales on the new piano; she could hardly skip out on practicing when her piano teacher was right there under the same roof. Was this Evelina’s design?

It “was a fair warm day for the season”* wrote Old Oliver in his journal. When Evelina and her company walked across the way to visit the shovel shop, what did they see? Shovels being made, obviously, in the rebuilt section of the factory, down close to the pond. But they also must have stood inside the new Long Shop, where the first-ever steam engine had been installed, ready to be put to use. It may be that a construction crew was still active in the building, putting in the finishing touches. To the visitors – and perhaps to the family, too – the new space must have seemed wondrous: the height of modernity, a model of expansion and a promise of wealth. However much she usually distanced herself from the action at the factory, Evelina must have felt some pride in showing off the progress of the company to her guests.

June 17, 1852

image004

June 17th Thursday  Have cut Susan a mantilla this

morning and basted it ready to make and 

have been mending some.  Mother is at Mr

Torreys to day staid there last night  It

is rather cooler to day and this afternoon

had a fine shower  Catharine Middleton

here but she is not worth much to sew

A new servant, Catharine Middleton, was proving a disappointment to Evelina. Catharine’s sewing skills were “not worth much;” Evelina wanted someone with more ability.  Evelina was hard to satisfy in the sewing arena. She was so very good at it herself that most young women of average ability would have fallen short, unable to survive the scrutiny of a woman famous for her buttonholes.

Outside the busy house, construction ran apace. Men moved stones for the new Long Shop across the street, and even closer to home, “Mr Arnold finishd sleighting the cariage hous to day.”* This new building would soon be ready to house the three or so carriages belonging to Ames family members.

The best news of all was the lowered temperature and arrival of a little rain “towards night when we had a shower of about a quarter of an inch .”* Every drop of water was needed.

June 15, 1852

LongShop

Recent image of Long Shop 

June 15th  Tuesday  Julia here and I have been sewing

some but have not had much time […] I

t’s very hot weather mother spent the

day at Edwins I called there awhile and 

ripped my green gingham dress to have 

it made over.  had quite a heavy shower 

this morning which was needed very much

Everyone agreed that this day was “verry warm” and that rain was needed.* Evelina, looking up from her sewing, reported that they had “quite a heavy shower.” Her father-in-law, however, described the rain as “a small shower in the forenoon about an eighth of an inch.” Her glass was half-full, his was half-empty when it came to considering the benefit bestowed by this particular rainfall.

Such quick rain wouldn’t have been enough to interfere with the building of the new stone shops at the factory. Workers had begun to arrive on Saturday and, surely, some initial construction was already underway.  Old Oliver would have made sure of that. This first building on the new site, which was much closer to where the Ames family lived, was dubbed the Long Shop.

Industrial historian Greg Galer describes the Long Shop as “a simple, narrow, gable-roofed, two story building 525 feet long and 35 feet wide with a 60 by 50 foot ell and an additional 30 by 10 foot engine house. “**  This sturdy, less flammable facility would be up and running by the end of the year, and soon include a 60 hp steam engine.

Residents of North Easton today know the Long Shop as one of several shovel factory buildings repurposed for residential use. Along with others, Mr. Galer was instrumental in the successful effort to preserve the historic character of the Long Shop as the site was developed.

* Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, 2002, p. 150