- Written by Tony Kelso
- Published: 03 February 2008
As you spin around the Hall’s Corner flagpole, if you dare to take your eyes off the oncoming traffic take a look at the building known as 1 Bay Road.
It is the venerable “girl” of Hall’s Corner and for 130 years it has stood at the crossroads and seen the traffic change from horse and buggy to monster tractor-trailer trucks that barely squeeze around the intersection.
The building was built in 1874 by James and Caroline Myrick. James Myrick was a young tinsmith who came from Cambridge. He and his wife bought a small lot at the intersection of Standish and Bay Road and built 1 Bay Road as a combination shop and house for their young family. The lower front rooms were James’ tin and plumbing shop, and the upper floors were the family’s living quarters. In the earlier picture you can see the building originally had no front porch and faced diagonally east to Standish and Washington Streets. After a time, Mrs. Myrick bought an old slaughterhouse and had it moved so her husband could put his growing business into that building.(More about that building next time.)
Hall’s Corner of 1874 was a different place. The intersection itself was smaller with no flagpole and the five roads joined together at sharper angles. A watering trough stood between Bay Road and Chestnut Street and an orchard flourished where what is now asphalt and the brick business block. Harvey Soule had the only store, a general store and post office. The Cushing family had a stable and livery service that served mainly the summer population of Standish Shore. The Hall tavern still stood at the corner of Depot and Washington street, not operating any longer but lived in by old Caroline Hall, the last of the family. The Myrick tinsmith shop continued until 1902 when James Myrick was “found dead” in his shop at age 65. Mrs. Myrick had died two years earlier from a “long and painful” illness of liver cancer.
There were three Myrick children. Longtime Duxbury residents will remember them all as characters. James W.H. Myrick, the son, went to Duxbury schools including Partridge Academy. He left to work in Boston and started the New England Air Conditioning Company; his obituary claimed that in 1912 he was the first to coin the phrase “air conditioning.” He was a lieutenant colonel during World War 1 and spent many years after that in civilian national guard groups. He and his wife Iona came back to Duxbury after World War II and he died at his family’s home in 1950.
His twin sisters Gertrude and Grace, always known as the “Myrick girls,” also left Duxbury for a time and were “career girls” in Boston. Gertrude was a secretary for many years at the Carter Ink Company owned by a Standish Shore family. Grace was a telephone operator at the Parker House in Boston.
Between 1928 and 1932, Hall’s Corner assumed its present shape and configuration; land was taken, the roads and flagpole were realigned, and the 1 Bay Road building was moved and swung back to face the intersection. There was even a thought to paint “Slow Rotary” on the newly tarred roads before the intersection, but I can’t find anyone who remembers that that was actually done.
The Myricks leased the bottom of their building in 1932 to Leo Borghesani for a barber and beauty shop, as the old postcard view shows. Leo died in 1949 and Louis Galerani took over the barbershop and Evelyn Sutton the beauty shop. Since that time many businesses have come and gone from that location. Judi Johnson’s “Critter Corner” is my sentimental favorite, since it was my first teenage employment. At the present, American Eagle appraisers and Anne Antonellis’ mortgage company occupy the former tinsmith quarters.
The Myrick girls returned to Duxbury in 1945 and from then until their deaths they became beloved eccentrics of Hall’s Corner. My first memories of the town parades as a child was not of the parades, but of being mesmerized by the 80-year-old Myrick girls in their old fashioned polka dotted dresses furiously waving flags and talking a mile a minute to all passersby, even a four-year-old.
Grace and Gertrude Myrick, sadly, passed away within a few months of each other in 1965 at the age of 85. I like to think the Myrick girls’ spirits still inhabit the front porch of 1 Bay Road, always ready to chat and comment on the parade of life at Hall’s Corner.