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The Royall towers.

There were two such structures at the Royall house. One, doubtless the older, was a lookout-room upon the roof at its southern end. The exact date of its construction we may not say, but certainly between the years 1739 and 1775, and more probably prior to 1754, and while the location was a part of old Charlestown. Features still in evidence indicate that it was a part of the final construction made by the younger Colonel Royall. This lookout-room was the interior of a ‘cupola,’ as the modern term has it, one side of which was formed by the brick wall between the massive chimneys which overshadowed it. It was doubtless as elaborately finished on its exterior as was the house itself. The views we present are those by Mr. Hooper in ‘The Evolution of the Royall House,’ for the showing of its locality and means of access, and not of architectural detail.

From its four windows the lord of the manor could view his extensive domain, or the overseer the numerous slaves under his eye. Through the one in the brick wall, marked ‘c,’ it is said, Molly Stark looked anxiously on [p. 15]


the eventful day of Bunker hill. This ‘cupola’ must have been removed prior to 1870, as on July 13 of that year a writer in the Boston Transcript tells of climbing ‘the narrow stairs to the roof, where by clinging to the battlement wall for support, a beautiful view may be obtained’ of surrounding towns and ‘even Boston.’


But more lofty in itself, more imposing in appearance, faultless in its architecture and more commodious within was the tower (for such it was) called the summerhouse, [p. 16] which with its one hundred and forty years had the distinction of remaining intact the longest of any in Medford, for whatever purpose built. Drake described it as

A veritable curiosity in its way, placed upon an artificial mound with two terraces, and reached by broad flights of red sandstone steps. It is octagonal in form, with a bell-shaped roof, surmounted by a cupola, on which is a figure of Mercury.

The Transcript writer above quoted was a little astray in his mythology, saying,

It is surmounted by a large carved wooden statue of Mars, at present minus arms and somewhat bent from a dignified and perpendicular position. A trap-door in the floor being opened discloses underneath a spacious cellar, formerly used for the depository of the summer's supply of ice. Here the inmates of the mansion in its palmy days used to come in the hot summer weather to enjoy whatever breeze there was stirring, and perhaps experience an additional coolness from the frigid storeroom below.

He added something about the presence of a huge punchbowl. We are fortunate in being able to present a photographic view of it, taken in the days of its decadence; and photography is truthful. The mound on which it stood may still be seen, and maybe the foundation is still in the ground. A somewhat apocryphal story has been told, that under this tower was a dungeon for the punitive confinement of misbehaving slaves. Of this we say not.

At the time of this tower's demolition some portions of it were preserved, to serve as patterns for future restoration. Only three years since, two of the pilasters and a window were set up near the new memorial wall, only to be ruthlessly disfigured and the window destroyed by the lawless young element that disgraces our city, the forerunners of the Bolsheviki of Medford!

This tower probably antedated that of the third meeting-house by at least twenty years and survived it forty. Its owner left it, never to return, just before the siege of [p. 17] Boston began. Dr. Tufts of Medford took it in charge, and the house became the headquarters of General Stark during those memorable days. Ninety-five years later, when we first saw it, its appearance was impressive. The figure of Mercury (not Mars) still bore the caduceus, and the feet were still winged, and in its hastening attitude the Transcript writer mistook for undignified position, it probably faced the wind. We understand that the remains of this figure of the swift messenger of the gods is still preserved among the curios of the Royall house.

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