Windham Life and Times – June 8, 2017


The Head of the Pond

This photograph shows the “Head of the Pond.” The three cottages in the center were constructed very early.  “Methuen Cottage” was built in 1896 and “May’s Cottage” was built in 1898. Searles Castle can be clearly seen on the crest of the hill in the background. At the time of this photograph was taken neither Dunkan Beach or Armstrong Beach are not yet in operation and the land where they would eventually open is still marsh and woodlands

Windham Life and Times – June 2, 2017

Eastern Illustrating Company


Over the summer months, I will be presenting a series of photographs taken by the Eastern Illustrating Company, on Cobbett’s  Pond in the 1920’s and 30’s. You will see the interior of “Club Mirimar,” the notorious speakeasy at Bella Vista and many views taken along the shoreline of the pond.  The first few photographs presented were taken on the hill at the “Head of the Pond,” where Granite Hill is located today.  If you see a view you like, the Penobscot Marine Museum will make fine art print copies for you.


Windham Life and Times – June 11, 2017

Eastern Illustrating Company


According to, At the Edge of Megalopolis, Shadow Lake was a “fair sheet of water hidden among the hills,” when surveyor Theophilus Satchwell discovered it in the 1600’s. It was known as Satchwell Pond while the area was claimed by Haverhill. The lake aquired its native American name of Hitty-Titty Pond when Salem became a town. Douglas Weed in his Images of America Salem says that the name was changed to Shadow Lake in 1913. I am guessing that the change had something to do with the “Shadowland” recreation area which was developed on its shore. Shadow Lake lent itself to better marketing for cottages and a lake resort than did Hitty-Titty, primordial name or not. Shadowland included a store, a beautiful beach and a large dance-hall which hung out over the water on piers. People have been asking me for more history of Shadow Lake and I was so happy to find these beautiful photographs of the pond. Shadow Lake, like Canobie Lake is shared, as is their history, with our good neighbors in Salem.


Windham Life and Times – May 4, 2017

Eastern Illustrating Company


The photograph above was probably taken in the 1930’s. At that time, it was Gurry’s Store with a lunch counter and is also housed the Canobie Lake Post Office. I don’t know why the post office moved from Mason’s Store across the railroad tracks?  This place looked a heck of a lot different when I went there with my father in the 1960’s. It had been modernized with that mid-century modern, 1950’s look. I still remember sitting at the counter with my Dad as he talked with people like George Armstrong and George Merrill; Windham people and the Salem Contractors contingent. Breakfast cooked right in front of you in a compact space. Gurry’s used to be located at the corner of Route 28 and Shadow Lake Road.


Windham Life and Times – April 27, 2017

Eastern Illustrating Company


The Robin’s Nest Tourist Camp was established by Mooney Robinson. It was another tourist operation that opened as a result of automobile travel and the improvements to Route 28 in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It was soon one of the main routes to the lakes and mountains. Later the business was expanded. Rural Oasis states, “A well-known place that should not be forgotten (because it was the watering hole of the local establishment including Maurice Armstrong and George Dinsmore Sr.) was Mooney Robinson’s on Route 28 where the Robin’s Nest Motel is today. Mooney Robinson’s Restaurant and Beer Parlor was the official business name. It opened in 1928, closed in 1944, and was the most colorful places in town. It was a popular rendezvous for local people to discuss politics and other subjects. The restaurant had the first beer license.  As the liquor flowed, so did the stories. From all reports no place came even near to replacing it.” My father tells a story of his father and Maurice Armstrong at Moody

Matchbook from the Robin’s Nest. Maurice Armstrong’s car in front of Mooney Robinson’s

Robinson’s place. After a few drinks an argument broke out over who was the fastest runner. The drinking continued and the argument got more and more heated. Finally, there was no more place for debate, it had to be settled, man to man in the street. The whole establishment including George and Maurice headed outside and an unofficial track was established down Route 28. The two slightly tipsy Windham Olympians then raced up Route 28, shouting at one another as they went. Who won?  I would like to believe that it was my grandfather, George Dinsmore, however, no one has breathed a word since of who was victorious, or even if either one of them  made it back to Mooney’s.  My grandmother was a saint! Hey wait a minute, there’s an idea here, maybe the Dinsmore and Armstrong families should establish the “Mooney Robinson Memorial, Three Sheets to the Wind 1K Race.”  I’m joking, I’m really joking, but that sure would make an interesting race and level the field, wouldn’t it!?

After Robinson sold, a Middle Eastern restaurant operated out of the place for awhile. Later the LaChance family purchased the property and constructed motel rooms. Of course, The Robin’s Nest, is now the Manor Motel.