Around Town: The Exeter Ledger

The paper is still downtown, an old building that stretches back to the block behind it. The Stoneburner family started the paper back in the late 1800s, publishing twice a week. The Exeter Ledger was one of three papers in the town at the time, and soon ended up as the only one. The paper moved to this building in 1903, with a special two-story room in the back of the first floor for the printing press operation. The paper does Scout troop tours several times a year, and the printing press is always one of the highlights.

The troops come in at night, when Continue reading

Around Town: Exeter Train Station

At mid-day, the Exeter train station is quiet, the small depot shut up. The low-roofed building peaks in the center at the station’s heart, before flattening to a slope just barely steep enough to allow snow to run off of it during the winter.

The bricks are faded from time, the original clay red softened to a brownish orange. The original slate roof has patches of different colors where repairs have been made over the years. A white MBTA board with purple strips top and bottom shows the Worcester to Boston line that runs through here; a small plastic container bolted to the map has a few schedules inside, the purple ink faded from exposure to the sun.

Morning and evening, the station bustles with people headed one way or the other to work, choosing the train to avoid traffic or gain some extra time to read, work or study. Most of the trains on this line stop at Framingham, but enough run all the way to Worcester to make commuting possible.

The first train leaves about 5 a.m., and by six, most of the riders who work in Boston have left. The ones headed to Worcester are more likely to drive, but a few students line up to catch the 8 and 10 a.m. trains, messenger bags slung over one shoulder. More students get off, coming from Framingham or further east to take classes at Exeter State.

In the evening, Continue reading

Around Town: Becca Stone’s House

The Victorian Painted Lady house pops, even on a street full of them, thanks to a colorful paint job. Bold blue, accented with green and vivid yellow, is bright enough to attract attention, but not so much that it attracts snickers and stares. The landscaping, too, is colorful no matter what time of year you walk by. Forsythia and croci in shades of purple give way to pink and yellow tulips before the daylilies and rhododendrons start blooming.

The ancient VW Bug parked in front of the house has a similarly Continue reading

Around Town: Exeter Town Common

Snow coats the leafless branches of the maples and oaks scattered throughout the open space near Exeter Town Center as the sun rises, a rosy glow reflecting across the unbroken expanse of white. Town plows rumble by periodically, their blades pushing gray chunks of snow onto the sidewalk that rings the Common. As the sun climbs in the sky, a handful of cars go by. More common are people walking to the train station downtown, opting to catch the commuter rail trains that run between Boston and Worcester. They trudge through the snow in boots and jeans, carrying small duffel bags or backpacks in addition to briefcases and purses.

Fewer than normal are heading to work this morning, the rest Continue reading

Around Town: Downtown Exeter

Another in a series of pieces focusing on the places in Exeter: 

Katie Reilly stepped out of Town Hall, notepad and camera in hand. If she could get this streetscape grant for Exeter, the town might be able to make some other improvements that didn’t make it into the budget this year.

She turned and snapped a photo of Town Hall itself, the clapboard building sprawling out from additions over the years as the town grew. The white columns at the entrance were peeling, but she knew structurally they were sound. She turned her back on the building and took a second shot, this one capturing the entire area. She paused to record the information, as if she wouldn’t know just by looking at the photos.

The Town Common was front and center, the grassy area that had once served as grazing space for town resident to stake out their animals. Now Continue reading

Around Town: The Reilly House

Welcome to this week’s Around Town, a series of posts looking at places in Exeter that show up in the series — if not in Thrown Out, then in a future book. This week’s is a little long as we see the Reilly house change through the years as Kevin and Eileen’s family grows, then moves along.

1978

The Victorian is large for the family of four, but Kevin and Eileen hope to fill all the bedrooms before too many more years, and Eileen’s uncle was offering too good a deal for the young couple to refuse. They moved in from the apartment above Kevin’s parents in the triple-decker on the south side of town a few months ago, after Kevin finished the worst of the remodeling. They had hoped to be in before Danny was born, but replacing all the wiring and sealing over the old lead paint took longer than Kevin planned because his contracting business was starting to pick up as Reilly Construction’s reputation for quality, affordable work spread.

Danny has the small bedroom next to Kevin and Eileen’s room on the second floor, the one they knew from the beginning would be the baby room. Continue reading

Around Town: O’Leary’s Market

Welcome to the first in a series of Around Town pieces focusing on places in Exeter. Watch for a new one every Thursday!

O’Leary’s Market

Headed out of downtown Exeter, out toward some of the subdivisions, O’Leary’s Market is a small store on the north side of the street. The single-story brick building has a wooden addition out back where F.X. O’Leary expanded the store once the state changed the laws to allow beer and wine sales by businesses other than package stores, but otherwise, it’s the same shop his grandfather started when he emigrated to Exeter.

Walk inside, Continue reading