A Day at the “Lake”

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By Michael Perna Jr., Shrewsbury History Columnist 

SHREWSBURY – Around the turn of the 20th century, what we now know as “motorboats” had just come into existence. Canoes and rowboats were the popular way to enjoy local lakes and ponds. 

Lake Quinsigamond was no exception to this and, as related by some local “old timers” many years ago, it was not uncommon on a summer weekend to almost be able to “walk from the Shrewsbury shore to the Worcester shore” because there were so many rowboats and canoes on the “Lake!”

Here we have a view of the A. A. Coburn Boathouse, located on the Worcester shore, just south of what is now the Route 9 bridge. A. A. Coburn was the son of Jesse Johnson (J. J.) Coburn, the person that first started developing the area around Lake Quinsigamond into a pleasure resort.  The boathouse not only rented canoes and rowboats, but built them as well.

A. A. (Alvarado Alonzo) Coburn was active in the Lake area for many years – the current Alvarado Avenue is named after him.

The tall building in the background of the above photo was the theater for Lincoln Park, one of the most popular attractions at the Lake for many years. One of the many steamboats that once cruised Lake Quinsigamond’s waters can also be seen just offshore.  

Today this same area is home to a high-rise condominium and a public housing complex.