EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


June 3, 2014

Woolworth building reflects civil rights fight

Lunch counter, seats sent south for historical display


“We want to educate people about the struggle for civil rights during that period of time,” Stewart added. “People worked together. It wasn’t just black people who fought for civil rights, it was white people too.”

Carbone said the Smith Robertson Museum is paying to remove a section of lunch counter and four stools, as well as the cost of shipping.

“We’ve had some suggestions as to what we can do with the rest, such as separate it into smaller sections and sell it to help generate money to restore the pieces we want to keep,” Carbone said.

Stewart said that during the Civil Rights Movement, sit-ins took place at F.W. Woolworth stores across the south.

“From our readings, they (sit-in participants) thought it would have a big impact to target Woolworths as they were so prominent,” Stewart said.

The F.W. Woolworth store on Merrimack Street in Haverhill opened in 1949 and closed in early 1970. A furniture company operated out of the building for about a year. A photograph of the lunch counter, taken around 1950, is the photo for the month of September in the Friends of the Haverhill Public Library 2014 calendar, which is available at the Friend’s Shop at the library, 99 Main St.

“Most of the soda fountain hardware is gone, but there are still things we may end up taking, or not, like a dishwasher and refrigerator, which are not usable but could be painted and turned into a display,” Carbone said. “That’s if we could get them out. They’re all connected with piping and wiring.”

Demolition of the dilapidated Woolworth building is scheduled for later this summer and will herald the start of major redevelopment of the eastern gateway to downtown.

In its place, a team that includes the Greater Haverhill Foundation and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs plans to develop the first of several mixed-use buildings along the river.

The signature tenant of the seven-story development that is to replace the Woolworth building, to be called Harbor Place, will be a satellite campus for UMass Lowell. The college plans to occupy the second and third floors of the new, glass-enclosed building.

Restaurants and retails shops will occupy the first floor of Harbor Place and there will be office space on upper floors.

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