Frontenac taken for taxes; Green Mill demolished  
Friday, May 4, 2012

Town Administrator John F. McAuliffe's ongoing campaign to rid Webster of abandoned properties brought municipal control to a long-vacant bar and apartment building at 141 N. Main St. recently.

Long known as The Frontenac, the property has been condemned since Jan. 21, 2009, according to Chief Assessor Marc Becker. The taking will be basically for taxes due and others that may become due, according to a quit claim allowed by trustees for a packaged Bank of New York investment group. The building is described as being in ¡§bad condition.¡¨

A pouring license for the bar was issued for a location on Main Street at Chase Avenue with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Rights were subsequently purchased by the Jean Cyr family and moved to the North Main Street address probably 60 years ago. It housed one of three town markets once operated by brothers Edward and Charles Phoenix, according to an advertisement in a 1914 business circular.

The original owners of the bar took note of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's anti-Prohibition stance, placing a large photograph of the president over the bar the day it opened. The photo remained there after the business was moved and through all of the time the Cyr family ran the pouring place. There were four apartments to the second and third floors in the building.

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If you drove down Route 16 in Webster on April 13, chances are you got a look at demolition work on the original Green Mill, built in Oxford a couple of hundred years ago by Samuel Slater.

This, of course was before Oxford and Dudley were partitioned in 1832 to form the town of Webster. The factory was established pretty much about the time of the War of 1812, according to ¡§Samuel Slater,¡¨ a book by E.H. Cameron. The textile facility was one of the earliest of its kind.

Slater's associates later redeveloped the mill for use as a cotton printing plant. It lasted under the S. Slater & Sons name until 1936, when the facility was purchased by Cranston Print Works Co. of Rhode Island.

CPW ran a successful business there for more than 70 years, but foreign competition forced them to close the plant, ending production.

Located off Interstate 395, the property was purchased by Galaxy Development of Auburn with the intent to develop a commercial shopping center. Demolition of several properties started last month. The so-called Green Mill was absorbed into the factory as the Slater facility grew.

It was on a main gate to the plant, continuing as a single-story section and abutting a two-story facility along Route 12. The plant was all but gone by 2 p.m. April 21. The big chimney to the center of the complex came tumbling down April 24, and it probably attracted the largest crowd as at any time in the process. It was certainly a well-photographed demolition.

Unlike most Friday the 13th claims, demolition work on the date might be seen as progress and a way of stimulating retail growth in town. The word is ¡§good luck¡¨ to Galaxy's Mike O'Brien, developer for Webster's first shopping center.

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Keith Paquin, barber at the lead chair in the Clippin' Tymes Barber Shop in downtown Webster, got to talking about clown stuff on a recent morning.

¡§There's this local guy known as ¡¥Bugs the Clown,'ƒ|¡¨ said Keith, reading from a business card. ¡§Downtown on the first Saturday of the month from 11 am to 1 p.m. He comes with his elephant,¡¨ Keith continued.

¡§Wow,¡¨ I said. ¡§A full-grown elephant?¡¨

¡§Naw, it's a baby one,¡¨ Keith responded, trying to contain laughter. Turning serious, he reported: ¡§The guy's got a nice clown wagon with a big papier mache elephant head on it. Big ears, too.¡¨

There's a helium system in the wagon to blow up balloons. It's attached to the elephant's trunk. He pulls the thing along and blows up balloons at the same time.

Keith had a cover on ¡§Bugs the Clown,¡¨ but a couple of his associates wore ¡§we-know¡¨ smiles. Keith added to story time by reporting that a radio station in Alaska interviewed a police officer because he observed a middle-of-the-night phenomenon at Webster Lake. A sea monster broke through the surface of the water, soared high into the heavens and disappeared.

My take is Keith balances news objectives with a bit of the absurb, and ¡§Bugs the Clown¡¨ gives the kids real balloons.

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Webster dedicated a first-class animal shelter April 21, built by the Marilyn T. and Gerald Fels Foundation. It reportedly cost $100,000.

It had the pattern of other Fels family contributions. Benefits accrue to a particular program, animal care and protection in this case, but also the town in general.

It wasn't as expensive as some of the other Fels gifts, such as their major commitment to absorb half the upcoming costs to build a new police station downtown and rehabilitate the existing police and fire facility on Thompson Road for fire use, but $100,000 is nothing to trifle about. And what a shelter it bought.

Money isn't what made it a bit different. Its was the bond between the Fels' and Ms. Marilyn's love of pets and her commitment to the town's pet population. They were in a converted garage that was once part of the town's poor farm, meaning anything but ideal. So, Marilyn did something special. With her foundation partner, Gerald Fels, she gave the town an animal shelter for the decades.

It's why friends of the couple, people who share their respect for pets and believe that they endow humankind with love and inspiration, and others attended the dedication.

The facility ranks as another valued gesture by a couple whose philanthropies reach into everything from education, health, public safety, facilities and programs that improve municipal life.

Gerald Fels stood with his wife and foundation partner, Marilyn T. Fels, during the ceremony and Ms. Marilyn smiled a bit when flowers were tendered to her. Kelly & Kelly Contractors were in charge of the project. Owner Richard Kelly satisfied his company's standards and those of his sister, Marilyn Fels.

The facility is on the back side of Memorial Beach.

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Political service and baseball rank probably among the top interests in former state Rep. Paul Kujawski's life. He played and coached baseball at most levels, gaining Collegiate All American honors at North Adams State College. Fair to say, he's an unabashed Red Sox fan. So it would have taken something between heck and high water to keep him from the 100th anniversary observance at Fenway Park April 20. It was the most ¡§emotional and wonderful thing I've ever attended.¡¨ he says. Son Timothy flew in from Arizona to accompany him.
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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