I am sure the Department of Transportation had reason to recently clear-cut the Western Avenue interchange with Interstate 95. I only wish more people knew exactly what it was they were cutting down (“With eye on safety, Maine DOT clearing trees near I-95 exits,” June 21).

The Western Avenue interchange was created in the mid-1950s when the Maine Turnpike was extended to Augusta. Up until that time, Western Avenue was a residential thoroughfare, lined with elms and one magnificent estate after another.

The Haynes estate became the Augusta Plaza, the W.H. Gannett estate the Capital Plaza. The Western Avenue interchange with the Maine Turnpike (now I-95) was the George Macomber farm.

George Macomber, one of the founders of Macomber, Farr & Whitten, was a leading Augusta resident who acquired great wealth as the United States urbanized in the beginning of the 20th century by financing electric railroad companies (trolley lines) in cities and towns across the country.

The two somewhat-demolished stone pillars now naked in the middle of the Western Avenue interchange are what is left the tree-lined carriage lane to Macomber’s gentleman farm, once a landmark on outer Western Avenue.

When the interchange was built, the on-ramp looped around the entrance and cut through the avenue, this long line of magnificent pine and fir trees still extant on the north side of the on-ramp.


As a child, it was a great adventure my parents loading up the car with us four children for the trip to see relatives in Boston. To keep attention focused, Dad organized a game: The first to see a river or a Howard Johnson got a point. Every time we rounded the Western Avenue interchange my father wouldn’t say, “Look down the row of fir trees — this was entrance to the Macomber Farm, once the most beautiful estates in Maine.”

It was as if peering down that row was the real beginning of any journey from Augusta, kind of like the feeling one gets just as a plane begins its roll down the runway.

I suppose it was all but ruined when the interchange was first built, and that we are lucky that what was there lasted this long.

And in the last 65 years, hundreds of thousands of cars have circled these trees without concern to the place or thought to their history.

I just want to say, as someone who loved growing up in Augusta, that I always did.

Harvey A. Lipman lives in Ashland, Massachusetts.

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