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Neighborhood Sketch no. 7. Winter Hill

By Harriet A. Adams.
commencing with Joseph Adams, farmer, on the righthand side, facing down at the top of Winter Hill, was the old Adams house, sometimes called the Magoun house. In 1840, and for many years afterwards, the nearest house was that of Abby and Edmund Tufts, on the lower corner of Broadway and Central street. Mr. Tufts was a printer, and got out the first directory of Somerville.

The next house, that of Chester Adams, was afterward moved to the foot of Winter Hill. Mr. Adams drove down to the bank in Charlestown every morning. There was no regular public conveyance to the city, but a stage ran from Charlestown to Medford, sometimes on Medford Turnpike, and sometimes on Main street (Broadway), which would occasionally pick up a passenger on the highway. The next house was on the lower corner of Main and School streets, owned and occupied by Asa Tufts, a farmer, whose family consisted of a wife and four children.

Later Mr. Ring built a house below this of Mr. Tufts, and there was also a double house, occupied by the families of Luther and Nathaniel Mitchell, brickmakers. At this time there were brickyards on Main street, and the dangerous clay-pits remained long after the business was abandoned. The next house was the Adams house, built for the son of Joseph Adams, of Winter Hill. This house is more than a hundred years old, and to it the Lady Superior and thirty scholars fled for protection on the night of the burning of the Ursuline Convent, August, 1834.

On the same side of the street and next below lived the family of Mr. Griffin. He was a brickmaker, and in the next house was a family by the name of Torrey. From Main street the boats running on the old Middlesex canal could be plainly seen passing to and fro in summer, while in winter the canal was the resort of skaters from quite a distance.

What stagnation in business must have ensued when navigation was suspended on that great highway of commerce! There were no houses in 1840 between Walnut and Cross streets. [23]


[24] These crossways were not then called streets, but were styled lanes. Thus Cross street was known as Three Pole Lane. There was a very old house with a sloping roof on the corner of Main street and Three Pole Lane, occupied by a family of Tufts, and afterwards by a Fillebrown family. On the opposite corner lived Mrs. Cutter, the mother of Edward and Fitch Cutter, also a widow by the name of Tufts. There was no other house on that side of Main street until you came to the little district schoolhouse on the corner of what is now Franklin street. There was a ‘pound’ close by, where the school children had famous times with their games. Fitch Cutter, teamster, lived in the next house, and between his house and the schoolhouse there was but a cart track, where now is Franklin street. There were no sidewalks on Main street, and the mud at some seasons was deep indeed. Vehicles would drive close to the grass, and the walking was fearful. A great amount of teaming was done on this road, and the ruts were so deep that, once in them, it was dangerous to try to get out, and many a wrecked wagon strewed the highway.

The next house below Fitch Cutter's was that of Daniel Tufts, occupied afterwards by a family named Cutter. On the left-hand side coming from the top of Winter Hill was the Everett house, where Governor Everett resided for a while; this house is on the corner of Main street and the road to Medford. At the foot of the hill a rangeway led out from Main street to the left, across the Medford Turnpike, to the house of Colonel Jaques, who carried on a stock farm.

Later than the time of which we are writing a house was built halfway down the hill, and occupied by a family named Houghton.

The next house was opposite Three Pole Lane, owned and occupied by Edward Cutter, teamster. In a small house next to him lived Mr. Thorning, with two sons and a daughter. Mrs. Torrey lived there afterwards. There were no more houses before you came to the entrance of the convent grounds; beyond that there was a house occupied by different families. Next to this was the residence of William Stearns and family. This very old house is still standing.

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