Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tying Up Loose Ends

106-108 Chestnut avenue, from Forbes street. May, 2008.

Richards, L.J. 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection

In an earlier entry, I posted an advertisement from the Cundy-Bettoney musical instrument company. The company manufactured flutes and clarinets and other instruments, and listed an address of 106 Chestnut avenue. I waited for some good weather to drive down to Chestnut avenue and poke around, looking for any evidence of the factory. I parked at the other end of Chestnut avenue and walked north looking for number 106. What I found was the building in the photo above. Number 106 is on the left, connected to 108 by a brick separating wall. The building certainly doesn't look like a standard home in the district, and I was pretty well convinced that I had found the old C-B factory.

When I got home with the photo, I took a look at some old maps of the area, including the one shown above. It turned out that 106 Chestnut avenue was right in the middle of the old Massachusetts Infant Asylum, which I've posted about before. Comparing the photo of the current building and the footprint of the Asylum building, they look very similar but not quite the same. The Asylum building is longer, and the front doesn't quite match up, but the general position is much the same. If you cut off the north wing of the Asylum - the top in the map - the look very close. If you look at this 1924 map, (upper right) you'll see that the Asylum building seems to have been added on to, and now looks very similar to the building in the photo.

So the take-home message is that I believe the Massachusetts Infant Asylum was purchased by Cundy-Bettoney for their musical instrument factory. In the maps, the building seems further away from the street than the current building, but the match is too good to let that impression sway me. So, in one fell swoop, I've figured out what happened to both the Asylum and Cundy-Bettoney - they survive to this day as housing. Not bad for a spring day's work.

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