A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
On March 16, 2011, the much awaited revision of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 188 (The Homestead Law) takes effect. Perhaps the most noteworthy element of this new law is that it creates an automatic homestead exemption of $125,000 for every homeowner without the need to file any document. The law also preserves the current $500,000 exemption, but that must be specifically declared by filing a written declaration of homestead at the registry of deeds. The law also addresses many ambiguities in the old law including who may file (anyone with an ownership interest), the effect of refinancing (there is no need to record a new homestead), whether a homestead may be declared on property held in trust (yes, it can), and many other things.
It’s also important to understand that if you already have a homestead recorded, you don’t need to do anything to comply with this new law: your existing homestead is “grandfathered-in.”
The full text of the new statute and new forms for the homestead for individuals and for properties held in trust are now available on the registry of deeds website.
Earlier tonight I presented a report to the city council housing subcommittee on foreclosures in Lowell from 2007 to 2010. The full report is available on the registry of deeds website HERE. The report scrutinized foreclosures conducted in 2008 and 2009 and calculated the time that passed between the various events in the foreclosure process and the reduction in value of foreclosed properties.
There are four steps in a typical foreclosure: (1) the Order of Notice is recorded; (2) the auction is conducted; (3) the foreclosure deed is recorded; and (4) the property is sold to a third party (this last step is because at the vast majority of foreclosure auctions, the property is purchased by the foreclosing lender). For “neighborhood stability” purposes, the two important events are the auction and the sale to the third party. It is at the auction that the original owner is most likely to move out and it is not until the sale to the third party that a new full-time resident occupies the home. In 2008, the average gap between the auction and the subsequent sale was 268 days; in 2009, it dropped to 187. The price drop was significant, as well. When the FY08 city of Lowell assessed value was compared to the subsequent sale to a third party of the 2008 foreclosures, the average price drop was 44%. The average drop for 2009 foreclosures was 45%.
The report contains many other details about the impact of foreclosures. Hopefully, it will be of some assistance in understanding what happened during the collapse of the city’s housing market.
Tony Sampas provides some close-ups of the Ouellette Bridge, named for Joseph Ouellette who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. The bridge runs from Lelacheur Park on the south side of the river to Top Donut on the north. It’s also known as the Aiken Street Bridge
In this week when we celebrate St. Patrick and all things Irish, it’s natural to think back on the history of the Irish in Massachusetts - the firsts, the lasting contributions and then the prejudice. In his Boston Globe column today, Kevin Cullen tells the story of Barney McGinniskin – “the first Irish cop, not just in Boston, but the whole country, which, when he joined the force in 1851, consisted of31 states.” While it seemed to make sense to some to have an Irish policeman on patrol - a hue and cry went up among the Brahmin and Yankee population. Ed Forry writes in his account for MassCops:
“The very notion of an Irish policeman enraged Brahmin and Yankee tradesmen alike in the Boston of 1851,” Stevens wrote. “Of the city’s population of nearly 140,000, 53,923 hailed from Ireland but on Boston’s eight-man Board of Aldermen, no Irishman represented the immigrants, and only one, Edward Hennessey of the West End, served on the 48-man Carmen Council. Alderman Able B. Monroe summed up the sentiments of many native-born Americans with his contention that appointing any Irishman to the police force would create “a dangerous precedent” because, in his opinion. “Irishmen commit most of the city’s crime and would receive special consideration from any of their own wearing the blue.”
With the anti-Irish sentiment further fanned by the harsh ignorance of the Know-Nothings – Barney lasted less than three years on the job. The man from Galway died in 1868 and is buried in an unremarkable grave in a Dorcester Avenue cemetery. There’s a stong movement afoot to restore the gravesite and place a new momument befitting to the role Barney McGinniskin played in Boston’s history.
Read the full Cullen Globe column here and the Ed Forry account here. Note:
Thanks to regular commenter John Quealey for the lead to his story. I wonder in relation to Dick’s post on “Mr. Cummiskey, a constable, who was laudably engaged in endeavoring to quell the disturbances…” – that took place in 1833 – what was the difference if any between a constable in Lowell and “cop” in Boston. Comments and/or research welcome!
The Huffington Post today has an interesting feature about authors who have had success with books they have published themselves. There’s a long tradition of this type of entrepreneurship. Blogging, websites, e-books, and other innovations have taken self-publishing to a whole new and higher orbit. The means of production are now accessible to the creators of the original material. See the slide-show of people who are successful examples of this approach to publishing.
Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just 4 percent among the human walkers. . . human walkers often complained about the heat and talked each other out of exercise, but that people who were paired with dogs didn’t make those excuses.
Several studies reported in today’s New York Times suggest that people who own dogs tend to get more exercise than people who don’t. I concur.
Read the NYTimes report on last night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame annual induction ceremony. The class of 2011 is an eclectic bunch and the presenters and performers on the program made it even more so. When you read about these events or watch them on TV, you plug into the sense of community in the music world. Back in high school, if they even finished high school, most of these people were hanging around the music room, singing in the student play, or off to the side fiddling with a guitar.
MassMoments advises us today that on this day – March 15, 1820 – Massachusetts lost the over 30,000 square of the ”province” of Maine. The relationship between Massachusetts and Maine was always rocky from the 1650s to the separation – with Maine feeling discontented by the political control, the great distance from the Massachusetts General Court, the taxes and the apparant lack of concern for Maine’s safety especially in the War of 1812. Ironically the abolition-leading Maine got caught up in the slavery issue being admitted as a “free state” to balance the admission of Missouri as a “slave state” though the controversial “Missouri Compromise.”
…in 1820, Massachusetts lost over 30,000 square miles of land as its former province of Maine gained statehood. Mainers had begun campaigning for statehood in the years following the Revolution. The Massachusetts legislature finally consented in 1819. What no one in either Massachusetts or Maine foresaw, however, was that Maine’s quest for statehood would become entangled in the most divisive issue in American history — slavery. Most Mainers supported abolition. They were dismayed that their admission to the Union was linked to the admission of Missouri as a slave state. This controversial “Missouri Compromise” preserved — for a few more decades — the delicate balance between pro- and anti-slavery forces in the U.S. Congress.