Rockland restaurateur renovations uncover hidden history

By George Chappell | Dec 06, 2012
Photo by: George Chappell Brass Compass owner Lynn Archer displays a form used 50 years ago for blocking men's top hats she found while renovating the second story of the Main Street restaurant.

Rockland — Fifty years to the day the room was sealed, restaurant owner Lynn Archer broke through the second story wall of her cafe and found a treasure of local history artifacts among the ruins.

Archer, who owns the Brass Compass Cafe and Archer's by the Pier restaurant, is famous for her cuisine, but now she has taken on the role of local historian and she is so enthusiastic about her find.

Some of her newly-found artifacts were spread out on one of the tables at the Brass Compass Cafe one recent morning while she passed out samples of her food.

As she circulated among her customers, no one seemed to mind her presence, but accepted it in a friendly manner.

A moment later she donned a Peter Pan-style cap with a feather from the early 1940s. She had found the cap while renovating the second story of her restaurant. She also found old toys, including strings of yo-yos, a cigar box that advertised "2 for 15 cents," old insurance policies for the property (in 1934 the building was worth $500), two wooden forms for fitting men's hats, one for a top hat and one for a bowler derby, and Valentines Day cards for sale.

The building was described in the policy as a one and one-half story wooden frame restaurant and dwelling. The property was owned at the time by Stephen Alex, according to the policy. At the time, its address was 311 Main St, which has since been changed to 305 Main St.

Archer likes to tell her tale of coincidences for the renovation.

On Oct. 22, she began cutting a hole through the upper wall of the Brass Compass. The second floor had been sealed off for many years and was walled up after an outside stairway collapsed, and they just boarded it up, she said. A calendar on the kitchen wall facing her was marked Oct. 22, 1962, 50 years to the day that she entered the room.

"I decided to use the second floor, and when Les Murray, the builder, cut through the wall, we took a step back in history 50 years," she said.

Before Archer could cut through the wall, however, she had to have a new outside stairway built, but not in the same location as the old one. The new stairway starts outside the back of the building, turns at a landing and goes to the top floor.

She plans to build a dormer off the second floor that will afford a view of Rockland harbor.

"I am going to make a small office for myself and this is going to be my retirement home," she said of the renovations.

Archer said she was born 55 years ago at the former Knox Hospital in Rockland. After high school, she traveled and worked in New York City, before coming home to start her restaurant, the Cafe. More recently she bought The Boat House Restaurant and Raw Bar and renamed it Archer's on the Pier.

Her family name is Waldron from Spruce Head. Her grandmother was a Brazier from Thomaston.

She wants to have a place to display what she has found.

"It's a wonderful touch of history," she said. "All this should go where other people can enjoy it."

"This is where I came from," she said of her local history. "It's very important to remember where we came from."

At the Rockland Historical Society, member Gil Merriam said he remembers there was a pool hall at the site, but not a haberdashery.

"They used those hat forms for blocking top hats and steam-cleaning them," Merriam said.

"It was known as Phil's Pool Hall owned by Philip Sulides," he said.

Sulides was a booster of local education, he said.

"If any one of us decided to take a day off from school, we would head for the pool hall. Phil would look at us and say, 'What are you doing here?' and send us back to school that same day," Merriam said.

Courier Publications Reporter George Chappell can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at gchappell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

 

Comments (21)
Posted by: john lamb | Dec 08, 2012 19:29

Mary. 301 Main st is the park between the Brass Compass and Park drive which was the location of Lambs Cleaners until the fire in December 1952. In 1953 my grandfather and father opened the cleaners at 311 Main st.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: Mary Perry | Dec 08, 2012 16:59

Over the years due to fire and demolition, the address of Lamb's Cleaners, Alex's pool room (Now the Brass Compass) have been altered as follows: Before Lamb's Cleaners, 311 Main Street was occupied by Mont Trainer who ran Trainer's Lunch. Then Lamb's Cleaners and Alex'a Barber Shop who shared the same address. To make things more interesting, the 1934 City Directory shows Lamb's Cleaners at 301 Main Street where the Brass Compass is now. The 1971 City Directory does not show 301 Main Street even existing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Research reveals the following:  301 Main Street was where Lamb's Cleaners was located ( Now the "Park"). After the fire of '52, Lamb's moved next to Meridith Furniture and shared the same address with Alex's Barber shop 311 Main Street. The Brass Compass now has the 301 address that Lamb's had prior to the fire. The City Directory from 1971 does not show a 301 Main Street, however Alex's pool room was in the same building so the address was probably 301. Prior to Lamb's Cleaners, 311 Main Street was occupied by Mont Trainer who ran Trainer's Lunch. A call to George or Christy Alex would clear up some of the mystery if you care to check it out. I've done all I can until someone comes up with another twist. Ben Perry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Dec 08, 2012 12:06

Mr. Perry, with regards to my initial comment please note that I was challenging Mr. Merriam with respect.  I think John Lamb's comment (back a few) puts this matter to rest.  Once again, I have been proven incorrect but we had fun.  In my travels over the last couple of days I have been verbally assaulted in addition to you  ruffins on this thread.  Now I will reveal the source of my initial comment:

In paragraph six Mr. Chappell writes that the Brass Compass building used to be 311 Main Street.  Fifty Five years ago would be 1957 - well I have a 1962-63 city directory and it says 311 Main St. was Lamb's Cleaners and Alex Barber Shop.  Perhaps Mr. Chappell is mistaken like me?

What say you my friends?

 



Posted by: Mary Perry | Dec 07, 2012 17:15

My comments prove you should always proof 'read before clicking send. Sorry about the spelling errors. Ben Perry



Posted by: Mary Perry | Dec 07, 2012 17:11

Will someone out there straighten Mr. Kinney out about the location of certain businesses on Main St. He is correct about Phil's pool room across from the Strant but incorrect about Lambs's Cleaners. The cleaners was where George Alex had his barber shop. Alex's pool room was the Brass Compass is now. Both busunesses blocked hats, shined shoes and had pool tables. Mr. Merriam is someone you should not question when it comes to Rocklanf history. Lambs cleaners did not block hats. Steve Alex and Phil Sulides did, thereby explaining the hat forms found. Ben Perry



Posted by: Ronald E Dyer | Dec 07, 2012 14:50

According to my father Walt Dyer, Steve Alex also shined shoes and blocked hats, so that would explain the hat-blocking equipment.

 



Posted by: Ronald E Dyer | Dec 07, 2012 14:40

I would also add that Kilroys preceeded Alex's poolroom in the Brass Compass building.



Posted by: john lamb | Dec 07, 2012 14:30

I know that Francis is correct. The original Lambs Cleaners was located where the park is beside the Brass Compass until the fire of 1952. The cleaners was burned out and later in 1953 they moved to the other side to Steve Alex other building. Before George Alex opened his barber shop,Mee Mee's Taxi was in their



Posted by: Ronald E Dyer | Dec 07, 2012 14:29

Alex's pool room was where the Brass Compass is now. Lamb's Cleaner's and then George Alex's Barbershop were in the woodent building between the poolroom and what was Meredith's Furniture. They tore the wooden structure down and built the brick building where George later ran his barbershop and there was a leased office space in there as well. Phil Sulides' poolroom was up the street across from the Strand but he had an earlier shop on Park Street as well. Phil blocked hats as well as run the shoeshine parlor/pool room.

 



Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Dec 07, 2012 12:01

Laffin' . . . may a woman check in here?  My Dad, Red Rowling, was a frequent pool player who spent lots of time at Phil's Pool Hall.  Of course we had two pool tables at home also . . one in our basement and the other on the second floor of the old Rowling's Garage . . the one torn down to 'straighten' the wicked curve of Camden and Main Streets.  Dad moved his pool playing to the Elk's Lodge at some point.  I think my two brothers still sometimes shoot a game or two.  I know *I* do - when given opportunity.  Good memories!

 



Posted by: RUTH ROWLING MAXFIELD | Dec 07, 2012 12:00

Laffin' . . . may a woman check in here?  My Dad, Red Rowling, was a frequent pool player who spent lots of time at Phil's Pool Hall.  Of course we had two pool tables at home also . . one in our basement and the other on the second floor of the old Rowling's Garage . . the one torn down to 'straighten' the wicked curve of Camden and Main Streets.  Dad moved his pool playing to the Elk's Lodge at some point.  I think my two brothers still sometimes shoot a game or two.  I know *I* do - when given opportunity.  Good memories!

 



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Dec 07, 2012 09:07

Well with all due respect, I am happy that Lynn will renovate and revitalize once again the area of history and nostalgia we all seem to have. Kudos to Lynn in her upcoming renovations. And let me say Lynn, you are too young to retire!

Mickey McKeever



Posted by: Steve Waterman | Dec 07, 2012 08:42

I remember coming home on leave from the Navy and going to Alex's pool room across from the Strand (my grandmother, Genevieve Gamage, had played the piano for silent movies there years ago). The pool room was nearly empty.  It seems all my friends had gone into various branches of the military.

 

"Keep 'em on the table, boys.  This ain't a bowling alley!"



Posted by: Judith C Feyler | Dec 07, 2012 07:22

I agree with Francis!



Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Dec 06, 2012 16:37

I think Kilroys was in a building (now removed) located in what is now the park and yes Lamb's was in the Compass.  I can remember the Kilroy logo painted on the side of the building and it would of been a higher wall that what the Compass would afford.  Perhaps Mayor Harden is reading this and would confirm one way or the other.

 

 



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Dec 06, 2012 15:07

I remember an Army and Navy store "Kilroys" being in the cafe building and Lamb's Cleaner sitting on the left side and then George Alex's barber shop on the left of that. Phil McClellan had Phil's Take Out beside the Cafe as well, before he moved to Phil's corner.. I don't believe Lamb's was in the Cafe building. Lamb's and George's was razed making way for the brick building. Phil's was beside Hodgkins and Crie's when I was younger.



Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Dec 06, 2012 10:19

Wayne has his memory cap on this mornin - Alex's pocket billiards was within a door or two as I recall and George cut hair there.  Must be where the brick building is now.  What had a pack of Luckies rolled in his t shirt sleeve.  Man he was good looking, almost as good as me.

 



Posted by: wayne curtis | Dec 06, 2012 10:04

I also only remember Phils as being up the street across from the strand.Alex had a pool hall where the compass is I believe.



Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Dec 06, 2012 09:47

Did Phil do hats Charlie?  A great hang out it was.  My optomotrist Dr. David Hodgkins had his office on the second floor. 

 



Posted by: Charles E. St.Clair | Dec 06, 2012 09:32

I agree Sumner! I spent a lot of time at Phil's during high school. I always thought it was a nice set-up with the hat shop and shoe-shine in front of the store and the pool tables to the back. It had a scary restroom done in the dungeon though.

"Rack Phil!"



Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Dec 06, 2012 09:24

I would like to challenge my friend Mr. Merriam's memory.  With ALL due respect of course.  As I recall, and I am sure others will agree Phil's pool hall was across the street and down a block.  The occupant 50 years ago at what is now The Brass Compass was then Lamb's Cleaners thereby explaining the hat forming tools. 

 



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