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Historical address

John F. Ayer
In the Somerville of to-day there is little to remind one of the town of fifty years ago. Being in 1854 but twelve years of age, it still retained, to a great extent, its baby looks. Many of its inhabitants were then engaged in agricultural or kindred pursuits, although there was a sprinkling of men doing business in Boston at the time we are considering.

For a moment let us recall some of the features that characterized the topography of the town. Union square, with its half-dozen houses, two stores, and yawning sand-pit, posed as the ‘middle of the town.’ The Middlesex canal was in operation. Tolls were being collected on the Medford turnpike. Scattering farmhouses dotted the south side of Prospect, Central, and Spring Hills.

Winter Hill was as sparsely settled, while the summit of Walnut Hill was crowned by a single building, and Tufts College was under the management of Hosea Ballou, 2nd. The Trumpet, the organ of Universalism, was edited by Thomas Whittemore, who, as he himself declared, was the homeliest man in the denomination.

Occasional trains over the railroads were run, stopping at stations in the town, while the only other public conveyance was a single ‘hourly’ that left Winter Hill on the even hours, and Boston on the odd hours; fare, twenty-five cents the round trip. Highland avenue was hardly more than Barberry lane, and the Unitarian Church stood out in its solitude as a landmark for miles around. Along the way leading to this location quite a number of the original parishioners passed the ‘Hearse House’ and the ‘Pound.’

Somerville was a territory with few streets, no sidewalks nor street lights, no drainage nor water supply. A single hand engine was the only protection against

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