History

Leeds and Florence residents petition city for a new roadway in 1878

Hotel Bridge Map BW

The winter freshet of 1878 completely isolated a dozen or so tenement houses on the western side of Main Street from any roadway. The heavy rain and melting snow cut a new channel into the Mill River wiping out the road residents on “Shanty Row” used to get back and forth from the village.

The local school was also located on the road. A petition by taxpayers of Leeds, Florence and Northampton lobbied for a new roadway and bridge to be built. A new roadway and bridge to cross the mill pond was approved in 1879. The “Old Sheperd’s Road Bridge”as the Hotel Bridge was once called was completed in January of 1881.  The new route offered a picturesque passage across the Mill River for factory workers and village residents and travelers. Soon after in 1883 the Leeds Hotel was built on the north western side of the bridge.

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Thirsty, yes! But are there sandwiches?

‘’The Great Sandwich Hearing’’ which ran in three issues of the Gazette, January 5, 15, and 17, 1910.

The headline reads…

The Leeds Sandwich Case Develops the Existence of the Greatest Sandwich Industry of this Section and a Marked Weakness of Memory of Everything Else in Those Who Saw the Sandwiches.

This case packed the courthouse to the doors, with frequent applause and great sympathy shown for the hotel.  Nearly 20 witnesses were called to testify, among them agents of the Anti-saloon league, Arthur Labree who was assulted in Leeds…etc. Most of the witnesses had been in the habit of going to the hotel Sunday’s, all of them testified they had sandwiches with their drinks. Two bartenders were required on Sundays. There was no demand  for a hotel business in Leeds  except on Sundays, and that the sandwiches that were sold were ‘’make-believe’’, and those going to the hotel were not guests in any sense of the word.

This goes on for pages, the topic sections read like a crime novel; The Spotters, Saw No Drunkenness, Saw Drunken Men…this section mentions the bridge…’’W.M. Purrington of Haydenville testified that when riding on the electric cars he had seen men reeling across the bridge, which is near the hotel, and some of them got on the car.’’ Adelard Lavelle testified to ‘’frequently going to the hotel on Sundays to drink beer, but never without having sandwiches, he told Mr. Hammond that they felt the need of something to eat when they had a drink of beer’’. Other memorable highlights include; Had Been Shutoff, The Kaiser Keeps Silent, A Great Sandwich Business Done, Weak Memories Developed.

After three days of interrigations, the prosecutors do get from the bartenders that they do sell as many as 200 drinks a day on Sundays, and then the pressure is upon the prosecutor to determine how they could not make 200 sandwiches for that day as well, which by this  point the public is ridiculing their effort…’’We had supposed that the chief industry in Leeds was silk thread making but after that hotel license hearing we see our mistake;it is making sandwiches for Sunday. They must begin at it on Monday morning and keep at it till Saturday night. Everybody appears to take sandwiches out there on Sunday.’’