LOWELL — The Jerathmell Bowers House is reputed to have had a trapdoor that provided access to the attic where family members hid during Indian raids.
The house at 150 Wood St., formerly part of Chelmsford and named after a man who was a captain in the local militia, was designated a garrison house that could provide protection to neighbors in case of an Indian attack. It was also once part of a more than 100-acre farm.
Built in 1673, the home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest building in Lowell.
But the future of the white, 1 1/2-story structure, which has had several additions over the years, has been a topic of debate before two city boards in recent weeks.
The historic home has come into the spotlight in the midst of Kazanjian Enterprise Inc.’s proposal to build two new commercial buildings at 150 Wood St., including a Lowell Five branch with a drive-through window.
It’s comforting to know that the advent of civilized Lowell required having to hide from unruly neighbors, and here we are 340 years later still observing the same practice. I wonder what Jerathmell Bowers would think of Lowell today? Who was tougher, the Latin Kings or a couple of Chief Passaconaway’s braves?