Lane's Block, Main Street, Vineyard Haven, MA

Lane's Block, Main Street, Vineyard Haven

This building was built by Dr. Charles Lane. The top two stories have since been removed, and the bottom floor now houses Leslie's Drug Store and a few other businesses.

Photo of Lane's Block

Stan Lair on Dr. Lane and Lane's Block:

Dr. [Charles F.] Lane was another one of the old country doctors. He first travelled with a horse and wagon, and then later on a small Model T Ford. He was quite a guy. He was the first Ford dealer on the Island. He got the agency so he could buy his new car - he only bought about two, I guess.

Lane's Block [was] built by Dr. Lane. He built that block himself. I don't know the year, but it originally had three stories - [it] is now only a single story building. With a Chinese laundry; later Bangs' Market was there. There was a clothing store there at one time. And the first A&P store was there, and later it was Labeau's Drug Store. Next is the entrance to the second and third floors, stairway going up, nice wide stairway. And up there was Mabel Johnson's Boarding House. She catered to mostly the working men. A lot of telephone men stayed there. They roomed there and she furnished meals and it was a very popular place. Every one of them liked staying with Mabel Johnson. I think later she moved up to West Tisbury. On the second floor was Dr. Paul Lynch, a dentist, and the Grange was up on the third floor until forced to leave because of no fire escapes. Dr. Lane's office and drug store was next to his telephone company's switchboard. And on Union Street, under his office, was Look and Washburn Grocery Store. There was a series of restaurants there after that.

Ralph Look on Dr. Lane and Lane's Block:

Every morning that I was out there as a boy, he'd get up, come out, and there was a rail there, see? And he'd stand up there, and if it was a sunny he'd look at the sun. And he'd sneeze, and he'd sneeze. Finally he'd say to himself - I heard him more'n once - 'Ten dollars - worth every damn bit of it!'

Well, he had a fire. He was up on the roof trying his best to put it out. And they come up there - the fire department - and he looked at them and he said 'I don't want you here. Just get right out!' 'What do you mean, you don't want us?' 'Well,' he says,'ten firemen, fifty carpenters, I just don't need you!'

Another time he was over Dr. Worth on Circuit Avenue. He had a Model T, and this man was standing on the mud guard there, standing right up with his laurels right on there, you know, kinda lazy like. Dr. Lane had that damn thing wide open, both spark and gas. He turned her over, and when he did she started to roll and jump and knocked him down, see? Dr. Lane looked right at him and he says 'You stand there like a damn hitching post - what do you expect?'

Then they tell the story - I don't know - about him coming off of the boat with his new Model T - it was his first experience with it - and came up the road, and he passed the house. Mrs. Lane was on the porch, Sarah. And she hollered to him, 'Why aren't you stopping?' He said, 'Sarah, I will see you just as soon as I can find the emergency brake.'

From the third floor of that Lane's Block, right to the Union Street - Wharf Street I called it as a kid - he had a runway for all his kitties. Came right from the third floor. Cats! Right down out, right through the petition and out. They all knew how to get out of there. He never had to worry about 'em, see. He did just about as he pleased. Dr. Lane [had] pigs, hens, everything imaginable. Animals of all kinds. The town couldn't do anything about it. Stink? God, don't talk! He could care less. He was gonna have his little farm right side of it. And he was a big taxpayer.

Being a neighbor of Dr. Charles F. Lane, and as a boy I can recall that he had maybe in the vicinity of possibly five or six cats. And he had a runway from the third floor right out to the street, a petition on each floor for the cats to go in and out. And I can see 'em now, going in and out of that building. It started where, well down where this store is now across from the French restaurant, and then went right upstairs to the top floor. And no problem - none whatsoever. He had five or six [cats], as I recall. He was very fond of cats. And not only cats, but I guess I mentioned the other - he had hens, and quite a few things across the street.

He had a good command of Union Street, I'll tell you, he really did. I might add that he did just about as he wanted to, he never asked the authorities for one thing.

He used to empty waste right out in the street... Barrel after barrel, he'd dump them! From the hotel, you know? No one ever said anything. T'wasn't the nicest thing in the world, but then we didn't have any contamination.

I don't think of another thing in regards to Dr. Lane, other than his beaver hat, and whatever. And George Sears always said that he saw Dr. Lane's shadow after he had passed away. And as I remember - I may be wrong in this statement - that he asked for a wooden box. He didn't want anything but just a common burial. He was that type of a man.

He was a man that was looked up to. Not only medicine, but in so many ways. He had a gift, he really did, for electricity, for telephone... He was a man of a lot of knowledge in so many ways.

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