Mostly Gone But Not Forgotten
ONE OF THE FINEST HOMES IN FAIRHAVEN once stood in one of the most prominent locations in town. Known as the Levasseur or Eldridge house, the Spanish-influence home with it distinctive red tile roof was a showplace for nearly three quarters of a century.
In 1910, it was announced that Miss Caroline Levasseur had purchased the former Miller property at the east end of Huttleston Avenue, which in those days only ran from the bridge to Adams Street. Miss Levasseur was a well known New Bedford merchant in the dry goods trade with her sisters and a brother David. Architect Louis E. Destremps was engaged to design the two-story, fourteen-room home. (Destremps designed St. Anthony’s Church and the Orpheum Theater in New Bedford and the original Fort Phoenix pavilion among other things. He had also worked with his father on Notre Dame Church in Fall River.) It was estimated the house and gardens would cost about $25,000.
Unfortunately, Miss Levasseur died at her Mt. Pleasant Street home in December 1910 before the house was completed.
|The Levasseur house in its original location at the east end of Huttlestone Avenue.|
David Levasseur inherited the house from his sister. A French-Canadian immigrant who began working in a New Bedford mill as a boy, Levasseur had not only started a thriving dry goods business with his sisters, but had invested in a great deal of real estate. His house was moved 200 feet to the south to make way for U.S. Route 6 in 1934. The move cost $10,000.
David Levasseur died without a will in 1938, leaving 60 properties in New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet and Dartmouth besides his home in Fairhaven. Twenty-five heirs, most of whom were from Canada, drew straws to split the properties, but the Levasseur house was sold to a Thomas H. Kearns.
Kearns died shortly thereafter, leaving the house to his “faithful servant” Juliet Marie Lord. She apparently fell behind on mortgage payments and taxes. The bank sold the place at auction in 1941 to William D. Eldridge, a prominent seafood merchant. Eldridge paid $6,900 for the house.
|Part of the remains of the house on Bridge Street in 2003.|
In 1976, the house was owned by former Fairhaven selectman Victor N. Fleurent when it was heavily damaged by fire. The house was renovated with substantial changes making what remains on Bridge Street today hardly identifiable as the old Spanish style house it once was. It is located just east of St. Anne's Credit Union.