32 Beacon Street Then and Now

32 Beacon Street  edit

32 Beacon Street            Then and Now

This blog is a follow-up to my last week’s story on 32 Beacon Street, Marblehead, MA and Aunt Sadie. After posting the blog I received a message from the current owners Pat and Jim inviting me to come see the house as it is now.  Naturally I took them up on the offer and spent a nice afternoon seeing all the improvements and photos of their renovations and I in turn shared some of the history of the families that had lived in the house. This house had been in my family for about 271 years.

Pat and Jim purchased the home in 1994 when Aunt Ruth put it up for sale because she could no longer get along living there alone and it needed major improvements. Unfortunately at the time no one in the family could undertake such extensive repair work.  Thankfully the home found some lovely owners who restored the home beautifully. 

The home was originally built in 1723 for Peter Homan, my 6th great grandfather and is considered a first period home.  Pat and Jim restored it to that time period, of course with some modern conveniences.  When I visited I got to go in through the front door which was a treat, never having done that before.  We turned right into what was the Smith’s sitting room and Pat and Jim have kept as one.  The many layers of linoleum flooring and the old wallpaper were gone as was the parakeet cage.  What was once a boarded up fireplace was uncovered and restored into the beautiful fireplace that it once was, including the beehive ovens. Because the home had no central heat for years it was cold and drafty so the fireplaces were boarded up over the years to help keep out drafts.   The floors had been stripped of layers of linoleum and were refinished with the original wide board wood flooring. They even kept the little cubby hole on the front wall where the telephone was kept. 

We went up the step to the kitchen and they showed me the side door and where the stairs were that had led to the only bathroom in the house when indoor plumbing was installed. Now I know there was plumbing in the house for Aunt Sadie.  The stairs have been removed, but Pat and Jim reused everything that was salvageable in the house to restore the beauty of the period of the home.  Naturally the kitchen had been updated and modernized but still held the old charm.  The small windows that were at earth level still remained. They had to do some major construction on that area and now you can see day light when you look out of them.  When Pat and Jim were removing the flooring and walls they would come across different artifacts hidden away.  One was an invitation from a Miss Elizabeth Endicott inviting someone from 32 Beacon Street to her 12th birthday party at 4 Orne Street.  Now we have to figure out who Miss Endicott was.

We stepped down into the candy shop which was just as small as I remember, but there were no candy cases and no fudge or caramels waiting for us. Pat did remember how delicious the caramels were though, just as I do.  They tried to save the original door leading to the outside but it was beyond repair. This is now a laundry room. Next we went into the front parlor room which had the green carpet removed to show again the beautiful hard wood floors.  There was beautiful wood that had been stripped down to its natural beauty around the fireplace, windows and doors.  They told me it had been painted black which was  customary to do after President  Lincoln died. 

Upstairs they had taken down a wall and made two bedrooms up there, again with fireplaces and the beautiful wood floor. They had moved the bathroom but the original bathtub (although reglazed) was still there.  We ventured up into the attic which had very low ceilings and again it has been all refinished and what views of the water from up there.

I had brought some of the original  old deeds and we looked at the house history that had been done. This home housed at times up to 15 or more adults and children. It was amazing the number of people that had lived together in that one house.   Homan, Standley, Smith, Martin, Lee, Ashton, and Hooper are some of the names mentioned in the deeds. The house was divided into the Southwest portion and the Northeast portion for a period of time with different family members owning the two sides.  In 1892 the house was undivided and was once again a single home owned by William S. Smith, my second great grandfather.

As much as I hated to see the house leave the family after 271 years, I am glad it went to wonderful people who appreciated it for its charm and restored it so we can still drive by and say “that was Aunt Sadie’s house and the Candy Store”.  Thank you Jim and Pat!!

32 Beacon now




Sarah Jane Roundy Smith 1889 – 1986

Aunt Sadie 1968 edit 3

Happy Birthday Aunt Sadie!   She was Aunt Sadie or the fudge lady to most children in the Barnegat area of Marblehead.  Born Sarah Jane Roundy Smith on March 25, 1889 at 32 Beacon Street, Marblehead, MA and died at 32 Beacon Street, Marblehead, MA on March 22, 1986.  Not many people can say they were born and died in the same house. She spent almost 97 years in that house never venturing very far.  Aunt Sadie attended the Marblehead Public Schools and was a forelady at the Shribman Shoe Factory on Green Street for four years until  the firm moved.  She also took in laundry for people in town as a way to earn money. Sadie never married and lived with her sister, Ruth and her brother Stewart and his wife in the family home.

32 Beacon Street  edit

 It was an interesting home for me to visit as a child. I obviously knew where the candy store was; on the left side of the house as you faced it.  There was a front door, and I am not sure it that was ever used.  On the right side was a path and a door that you entered to get to the kitchen.  I remember it was always warm and smelled of home cooked food or candy in there.  I can see the kitchen table and a stove but never remember a refrigerator; I think it may have been in a room off the candy store.  I know the frozen chocolate candy ice cubes wrapped in gold foil were kept  in there.   From the kitchen you stepped down into a sitting room with a few chairs, a parakeet cage and a bowl with homemade caramels in them.  The caramels were my favorites, buttery vanilla caramels wrapped in a white wax paper wrapper. This is the room Aunt Sadie would sit in and you could see her in the window as you drove by. What a view from that room over to Brown’s Island and beyond.    Across the hall there was the formal living area, which I think I was in once.  It was only opened for special occasions and probably funerals. The Christmas tree may have been in there also.  My Uncle Stewart and his wife lived upstairs, and I guess Sadie and Ruth’s bedrooms were up there. I was never allowed up there.   To this day I always wonder where the indoor plumbing was!!

In the early 1930’s she started making ice cream and opened the store in her home. The ice cream was in my mother’s time, I don’t remember it.  She then began to make fudge, caramels, vinegar and molasses kisses and puffed rice squares.  Unfortunately you won’t find the recipes in this blog because no one has them that we know of, except for Aunt Sadie.  My mother, (Sadie’s niece) and another niece would go to Aunt Sadie’s, pick up some fudge and ride their bikes around town selling it.  There were three squares of fudge wrapped in white waxed paper.

A day at Grace Oliver’s Beach or Brown’s Island was not complete without a visit to Sadie’s candy store. As a relative I would be entitled to a bag of “fudge scraps”.  These were the pieces that were left on the paddle or in the bowl and clumped together to make a hunk of fudge, the best!  She also sold all kinds of penny candy, but I had to pay for that.  We would run up Beacon Street from Gracie’s  in our bathing suits and probably barefoot with our nickel or dime and get a bag of candy.  Sometimes, if it wasn’t a beach day and we just had a nickel we would get a bag and sit on “Old Mrs. Jacques” wall across the street, until she shooed us away. Does anyone remember, could we turn in our tonic bottles there for money for candy, I can’t remember?

Aunt Sadie retired in about 1970 but she will always be remembered as Aunt Sadie or The Fudge Lady and is still talked about today.

Aunt Sadie’s was the second child born to Charles Henry Smith (1860 – 1939) and Ruth Ann Standley (1866 – 1956).

  1. Howard Standley Smith     September 13, 1887 – January 5, 1962. He married Bessie G. (Elizabeth) Whitmore in 1915.
  2. Sarah Jane Roundy Smith    March 25, 1889 – March 22, 1986. Single
  3. Henry Nelson Smith     January 16, 1891 – April 14, 1942. He married Helen Reynolds Trefry in 1920.
  4. Elsie May Smith   July 31, 1892 – September 21, 1928. She married William B. Ball in 1920
  5. Stewart Smith      December 7, 1895 – June 6, 1985. He married Helen Williams Merrill in 1924.
  6. Charles Emery Smith   September 29, 1900 – August 6, 1942. He married Emma Woodfin Foss in 1923. These were my grandparents
  7. Ruth Blaney Smith    March 7, 1909 – June 30, 2002. She remained single and worked at Stowaway Sweets.

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