Thomas Johnson: Pelham parcel has rich history

Thursday, September 02, 2021

I was pleased to see that the town of Pelham has taken an important step in addressing the dearth of affordable housing in the area, “Town approves affordable rental housing project” (Aug. 27).

The article by Sophia Gardner and Scott Merzbach notes the planned development will require the razing of the farmhouse at 20 Amherst Road, but also notes the 34-unit development would occupy the adjoining property at 22 Amherst Road.

This parcel is the site the Pelham Mill dating back to 1825, which in 1860 became the site of the first fishing rod factory in America, established by Horace Gray & Son. Ownership transferred to Eugene P. Bartlett in 1874, who resided at 24 Amherst Road. His brother, Leander, established with others the Montague City Rod Company in 1886.

Between 1890 and 1925 this company was the largest rod manufacturer in the world, with mass production in Montague City and hand-crafted rods produced at the Pelham Mills until 1931 by Eugene, then his son-in-law and finally his sons (the Aldrich clan lived on Harkness Road). A marker noting this Pelham history is located adjacent to the mill building and should not be lost in any new development.

Thomas Johnson