previous next

Neighborhood Sketch no. 2.

The Winter Hill Road in 1842.

by Aaron Sargent.
The thoroughfare extending from Charlestown, through Somerville to Arlington, and now known as Broadway, was formerly the Winter Hill Road, and the name should never have been changed.

In 1842 the buildings on this highway were few, and, with four or five exceptions, far between.

Commencing on the right-hand side at the Charlestown line was the Bradbury house, owned and occupied by Charles Bradbury,—a three-story wooden structure. Next came a brick house; then a brick house with wooden addition. Who occupied these two houses is not remembered. The three houses are still standing. The Stearns house, still standing, but in a dilapidated condition, came next. I think it was occupied by a member of the family, Miss Sally Stearns, familiarly known as ‘Aunt Sally.’ ‘The Yellow House,’ as it was called because of its color, was the next in order, but was some distance back from the road, and on the summit of the hill. It was a part of the Austin estate, and was occupied by several families.

The convent ruins came next, and beyond was the Torrey house,—a small building owned and occupied by Mrs. Mary P. Torrey. The last three long since disappeared. The three-story brick house which came next, land which is still standing, was owned and occupied by Edward Cutter. I do not remember any house between the Cutter house and the house at the top of the hill, at the fork of the Winter Hill Road, and what is now Main street. Previous to this time it had been occupied by Hon. Edward Everett. In 1842, or about that time, the house was [20] owned and occupied by John S. Edgerly. The late Hon. George 0. Brastow, one of the best-known citizens of Somerville, used to call Mr. Edgerly the ‘Winter Hill Eagle.’ The house is still standing.

The next was a house owned and occupied by Thomas S. Woodbury, and was afterwards burnt. I think the next was one owned and occupied by John David Bolles. I do not remember that there was any house on the westerly slope of the hill. There was a three-story wooden house about opposite the Powder House, but I do not know who owned it or who lived in it at this time. It had been occupied previously by John C. Magoun.

The one-story Walnut Hill schoolhouse came next. It has ceased to be used for school purposes, but whether it is still on its old site I do not know. Beyond this was the Russell property. There was an old house on it; further than that I know nothing. This brings us to the then West Cambridge, now Arlington. line at Alewife brook.

Commencing on the left-hand side at the Charlestown line, pasture land of the heirs of Major Timothy Walker had a frontage on Broadway to the land and house of Ebenezer F. Cutter. Near to it and beyond was the house of Fitch Cutter. These two houses were long ago replaced by more modern structures. On what is now Franklin street, then a rangeway, stood a small, one-story schoolhouse, which was afterwards removed to Winter Hill, and is still standing.

At the corners of Cross street, then a rangeway, and called Three-Pole lane, stood two small wooden houses owned and occupied by members of the Tufts family. The houses were taken down long ago. Beyond this there was no building till Walnut street,—another rangeway,—was crossed. On the upper corner was a blacksmith shop, not now standing. Then dame two houses owned, and one of them occupied at about this time, by Albert Kenneson; They are still standing. The next was the homestead of Joseph Adams, now owned and occupied by myself. [21] It was to this house that the Superior, the nuns, and the scholars of the Ursuline convent fled for protection on the night that the building was destroyed by a mob,—August 11, 1834. The rioters came to the house twice in search of the Superior, against whom their vengeance was especially directed, because of some incautious remarks said to have been made by her. A little deception was used by Mr. Adams, and the mob went further in pursuit of their intended victim.

The next house was the house owned and occupied by the Mitchells, and is still standing. A house owned and occupied by Gardner Ring stood on the corner of Marshall street. It was removed to make room for the Odd Fellows' building. A house owned and occupied by Asa Tufts, on the first corner of still another rangeway—now School street—came next.

Farther up the hill, and near, if not on, the site of the house of Mr. Whitcomb, stood the Chester Adams house. It had been occupied by him, but at this time (1842) was owned and occupied by William Tufts, a farmer. Chester Adams was the father of the late Hon. James Adams, a prominent and much-respected citizen of Charlestown. Wyzeman Marshall, a well-known actor in his day, lived with Mr. Tufts in this house. The house is now located in the rear of Dr. Willis' residence, on the opposite side of Broadway. A house, new at that time, came next, owned and occupied by J. P. Staniels. Four years later it was owned and occupied by Charles Forster,—as saintly a person as ever walked the earth. His religion was a reality, and not a pretense or a cover. He lived in Charlestown before he came to Somerville. It was related of him at the time by a Charlestown baker that his bill against Mr. Forster in one year for bread was over four hundred dollars, not one loaf of which went to his own house. Of late years his house has been owned and occupied by Mrs. E. R. Sawyer, but has now been removed to the rear.

One rangeway more, now Central street. On the first corner stood a house owned and occupied by Edmund Tufts,—the [22] first treasurer of Somerville,—and his sister, Abby Tufts. The house is now a thing of the past. The next house was owned and occupied by John C. Magoun, for many years an assessor of the town and city of Somerville. The house is still standing, and is occupied by one of his daughters. Next came the unfinished brick house of Samuel Welch, about which so many romantic stories have been told. The next was the Powder House, with perhaps a house in front of it. I am not sure. Beyond this to Alewife brook I have no recollection. I may have made an omission of a house or two, but cannot say where.

The name of ‘Winter Hill Road’ is passed and gone, and in its place only Broadway. It is to be hoped that sometime the present name will be abandoned, and the original and more desirable name of Winter Hill Road be restored.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Broadway (Virginia, United States) (3)
Winter Hill (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
Alewife Brook (Massachusetts, United States) (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1842 AD (4)
August 11th, 1834 AD (1)
1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: