To the many young people who had found a home and happiness at Newell's
boarding house on Pine Street, the recent announcement that Mrs. Edith
Newell was selling her property to the city of Burlington came somewhat as
For over thirty years young people have come and gone from town,
carrying with them pleasant memories of their stay at the big house, where
upon entrance, they had become a part of the family. Boarding house rules
were never a part of life at the Newells, and residents can't remember
when the front door was locked.
This week Edith Newell recalled how, before her marriage as Edith
Brook, she had been asked by two of her young friends if they might live
at her home. These two girls, the first to board in the house, were both
teachers, and since then the majority of the Newell "girls" have been
From that day forward young people from nearby towns and many states
who have come to work in Burlington have shared love, problems, money
worries, and job troubles as well as the happy moments of their lives over
the friendly dining room table.
Because the food was excellent and the companionship splendid, in time,
many young people staying in other homes in the city began to take meals
at Newells, and no matter how large the number, there always seemed to be
room for one or two more at the big, oblong table.
"It was much more fun though, in the beginning," according to Edith
Newell, "when I was the same age as many of the young folks staying here,
but in recent years the place has become more and more crowded, and I
guess I'm just getting on in years."
Since the automobile accident in June in which Mrs. Newell and her
sister, Mrs. Ida Spencer, were seriously injured, the task of keeping up
the big house has become more and more of a strain. So this year plans
were made to abandon the boarding-house business which has brought Edith
Newell a wealth of payment in love and happiness.
But the Newell house and property carries with it a history as colorful
as that of its thirty years as a boarding house.
Maurice Ayers, a prominent farmer and businessman who owned Ayers
Feed Mill, which stood on the site of the present Standard Press
building, and who, with J. I Case and others, founded what became the
Bank of Burlington, once owned the Newell property. In March 1880, Mr.
Ayers gave the property to the Episcopal congregation with the provision
that, if the site were not used for the building of a church, the
property would revert to the ownership of the Ayers family.
Although a cornerstone marked "St. John's" was laid in November 1880,
the church was not completed, and the property reverted to the Ayers
family. After Maurice Ayers' death in June 1884, his son, Frank, and
other family members inherited the property.
Following his wedding to Ada Carpenter in 1886, Frank began
construction of a home on the property for his bride, and the church
cornerstone previously laid was removed to the back of the plot where,
in 1947, it could still be seen. (Note: The cornerstone was later
returned to St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, which was built on
Edward Street in 1893, and erected as a permanent marker near the church.)
Within a year after his wedding, Frank Ayers' wife proved unfaithful to
him, and the house, with only its bare frame completed, was boarded up.
The completely disillusioned Frank Ayers wanted nothing more to do with
On May 3, 1890, banker and businessman Edward Brook, Mrs. Newell's
father, completed negotiations for buying the property and house frame
from the Ayers family. According to the ancient deed, owners were listed
as Frank J. Ayers, Edward Ayers, H. W. Ayers, Stella A. Ayers and Althea
Edward Brook began completing construction of the house immediately
upon transaction of the sale and soon after, with his wife moved into the
house where their four children, Ernest, Elmer, Ida and Edith, all grew
up. Before the house was completed, however, Edward Brook was forced to
fill in a huge gully to the right of the building, the land which is now
covered by State Street.
Since before her marriage to Howard Newell almost thirty years ago,
Edith Brook Newell has been friend and mother to many hundreds of young
people who have found happiness in her home. Everything from turning up
seams at the last minute to planning wedding receptions has been
supervised by kindly Mrs. Newell, and her boarders are very sure another
home such as Newells can just never be found.