Tag Archives: Revolutionary War

Building Styles in Somerville: Federal Georgian

Somerville Museum on Central Street, an example of Federal style.

Considered to be the late phase of Georgian style architecture, the Federal style was popular with wealthy merchants and shipbuilders living along coastal New England from 1790 to 1820. Also referred to as “the Adam”, the architectural fashion is said to be inspired by designs of the Adam brothers, three architects from Scotland who were quite famous in Britain during the mid-1700s for their ancient Roman style designs.

In addition to homes, Federal style was also often used for state and public buildings, the popularity of the design coinciding with a time when American government was being born at the end of the Revolutionary War.

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DAILY TRIVIA: Bow Street was once referred to as “Doctors’ Row”, for the many doctors and dentists that established residences with offices there.

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Murals II

We speak for those who can’t.

This is my favorite local mural. It’s right on the Somerville/Cambridge line and may be technically in Cambridge, but I drive by it nearly every day and have always wanted a reason to pull over and take a picture of it.

Painted by muralist Be Sargent

Though this mural is a “wall of respect for animals” and sponsored by organizations including Massachusetts Network for Animals and Abolish Primate Experiments and Slavery, I like that there is also an infant in the painting. It sends a very powerful message.

Two more murals from around town are below; please click photos to enlarge:

There was once a train that went down Broadway... more about this in an upcoming post!

Union Square; also by Be Sargent.

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DAILY TRIVIA: General Charles H. Taylor, editor and founder of American Homes Magazine, the first 10-cent magazine in this country, lived in Somerville. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prettying Up Union Square

Deriving its name from the Civil War era, Union Square was once a major recruitment center for the Union Army. Today it is a melting pot where the working class of East Somerville intersects with the city’s fashionable western parts, and is one of the oldest and largest commercial areas in town.

There is much to say about bustling Union Square, but for today I wanted to write specifically about one step that was taken a few years ago to better the community through art and the active involvement of its residents, a hallmark of Mayor Curtatone’s legacy.

In 2005 the Somerville Arts Council held a design competition for local artists and craftsmen to design and build street furniture. The competition was based on 4 objectives: to engage local artists/craftsmen in design and fabrication, to recognize the city’s cultural diversity, to celebrate Union Square’s unique character, and to create beautiful and innovative new street furniture designs. The uncommon furniture can be found throughout Union Square.

Glass-top benches: Aaron Binkley; copper benches: Mitch Ryerson; trash barrel covers: Christina Lanzl, Phil Manker; engraved design on glass: Heather Townsend, Jeff Czekaj, Julie Chen, Wes Boyd.

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DAILY TRIVIA: The Queen Anne residential building at 113 College Ave. became a major national focus in 1968 for an alternative Jewish religious movement; it is still the home of the Havurat Shalom community.

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Paul Revere “Park”

Some people call this 0.2 acres patch of grass enclosed by a wrought iron fence and no entrance a park, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. It sits at the corner of Broadway and Main, where Paul Revere rode by toward current day Medford on his famous ride to warn that the British were coming. It also marks the site of the Winter Hill Fort, which was a stronghold during the Revolutionary War and housed some prisoners of war. Click to view the writing on the stone marker:

A second marker in the park serves as a memorial to Anne-Adams Tufts, notable as a Revolutionary War heroine for her nursing services following the Battle of Bunker Hill.

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DAILY TRIVIA: You can tour the Paul Revere House, owned by Paul Revere and his family between 1770-1800, in the North End of Boston.

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The Castle

Prospect Hill, Somerville, MA

The Prospect Hill Monument is  important not only to Somerville’s history but to that of the birth of America. Though the monument itself wasn’t built until 1902, it marks the spot where on January 1, 1776 General George Washington raised the first true American flag at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. A more detailed historical account can be found here.

Prospect Hill Monument

Often referred to locally as “the castle” that overlooks Union Square, Prospect Hill is a familiar destination for families exploring the stone structure or visiting the adjacent park and playground. It’s also a popular spot for folks to congregate on July 4, in an effort to get a glimpse of the Boston fireworks while avoiding the Boston crowds.  I did this on the last fourth of July, and in my opinion it’s not worth the trek. The view’s not too shabby in the winter, but once the leaves grow back on the trees it’s an entirely different story.

View of Boston from Prospect Hill

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DAILY TRIVIA: Somerville used to be referred to as the “City of the Hills”.

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