Building 19

Building 19 was a chain of unique warehouse style New England discount stores that offered “good stuff cheap” for over 50 years before being forced into bankruptcy in 2013.

The store sold a wide variety of items obtained in fire sales, closeouts, bankruptcies, overstocks and customs seizures. They also sold items with small defects, “seconds” at large discounts.

The first store opened in 1965 in the Hingham Shipyard, where the warehouse buildings were numbered. Too cheap to replace the “Building 19” sign, owner Jerry Ellis instead used the building number as the business name and it stuck.

After opening a second store, Building 19 1/2 in Burlington, Ellis opened the Norwood store located in a 65,000 square foot building at 1450 Providence Highway and designated it Building 19 3/4.

Ellis used humor in signs inside the store as well as in sale circulars. The circulars had a comic book quality to them thanks to the artwork of Scituate cartoonist Mat Brown.


Signs both in and outside the store poked fun at the company, their products and sometimes even the customers.

Ellis proudly called Building 19 “America’s Laziest and Messiest Department Store.”

Part of the stores appeal was that you never knew what new thing you’d find on the shelves.


For husbands who were impatiently waiting for their wives, there was the “official husbands bench”.

The company gave away free coffee in cups that warned customers not to make fun of the taste because “someday you’ll be old and weak yourself!”.

WalMart, Target and other big retailers as well as online shopping led to a decline in sales and after a decade of struggling, the company closed all the Building 19 stores in 2013.

In 2014, the Norwood and the Burlington stores were the final two locations to close after a short period of time as rug wholesalers.

The Norwood location was purchased in 2016 by GRE Norwood LLC and turned into Extra Space Storage.

Owner Jerry Ellis died on November 11, 2017. His daughter has written a paperback all about him and the company called Good Stuff Cheap!: The Story of Jerry Ellis and Building #19, Inc”.



Raytheon Data Systems

In 1971 the Raytheon Data Systems division was created by merging the company’s information processing and display units divisions. Raytheon tried to integrate the Data Systems division with their word processing subsidiary, Lexitron, but it was unsuccessful.

In 1983, Raytheon Data Systems lost approximately $24.3 million and the division lost $6.2 million during the first four months of 1984.

Having experienced increasing difficulties in profitability, manufacturing and marketing commercial data systems, Raytheon no longer saw a profit opportunity to continue to serve the commercial data and word processing equipment markets and sold the division was sold to Telex in 1984.

1981 Raytheon Data Systems Ad

Of the 3,625 people worldwide employed by Raytheon Data Systems, approximately 1,500 worked in Norwood and 650 of them lost their jobs. At the time, Raytheon was the state’s largest employer, with 20,000 workers.

Today, Stop & Shop, Home Depot and a Chipotle sit on the former Raytheon site at 1415 Providence Highway / Route 1.

Norwood Fire Station OCC Then and Now

This beautiful brick building stands at 171 Nahatan st on the corner of Market st, between the Norwood Town Hall and the Norwood Civic Center. Built in 1906-07, it was Norwood’s main fire house for over 50 years. The fire brigade used horses to pull the engines until at least WWI, and continued to use them well in to the automobile age.

In 1964, the fire house was closed when a new Fire and Police Station was built further down on Nahatan st. This is the building as it looked in 1983 when it was being used for storage.

At some point in the 1980’s the building was renovated into an upscale restaurant complete with a function room. Since 1999 it’s been the home of the Olde Colonial Cafe, formerly located on Savin Ave.

Norwood Armory Then And Now

The State Armory was built in 1929 and designed to be similar in style to the Town Hall, built one block over to the West one year earlier. Norwood resident and then Governor Frank Allen spent five years trying to get the project off the ground and was instrumental in getting it completed. Governor Allen  presided over it’s groundbreaking and dedication in 1930. The building housed Massachusetts National Guard units for many years. The town of Norwood also put the building to use during elections as a polling location and used the auditorium for public events.


In 1984 the State of Massachusetts sold the building to the town for $1. Since then the town has used the building as the Civic Center. In the 1980’s the RMV had an office in the building and after major flooding to the Public Safety Building in 1998, a branch of the Norwood Police Department was temporarily housed there.

The Civic Center in 1983

The Norwood Recreation Department runs dozens of programs from the Civic Center today, from sports to arts and crafts to programs for the community. The facility also has a gym, mean and women’s locker room (both contain a sauna with showers), multipurpose workout rooms for classes, meeting rooms and office space. The facility has a full kitchen and a full arts and crafts room, and the gym is available for special events. Norwood is truly fortunate to have such a great facility with such a dedicated staff.