At our busy December meeting, we voted that the building at 73-75-77 South Street was historically significant. This residence was built – likely as a duplex – circa 1860 and is located on the south bank of the Mystic River, across from Medford Square. Our determination was made based on the age of the house and its association with the South Street resident and shipyard-owner Jotham Stetson.
Stetson’s Medford shipyard was established on this same south bank of the Mystic (near today’s Winthrop Street Bridge) and produced 33 clipper ships that traveled as far as Calcutta, India. Jotham Stetson and his family lived across the street from that shipyard at 102 South Street – a residence that dates to 1822 and still stands today – and he bequeathed to his daughter Almira Stetson the property at 73-75-77 South Street.
Our architectural historians, who have been surveying Medford neighborhood by neighborhood for the past few years, describe this area of the city as “Medford Square South” – the area just south of the River and extending (more or less) to George Street. They describe it this way because it developed early and the homes and businesses that flourished there were part of the life of early Medford; the Cradock Bridge – which connected the two areas – dates back to the early 17th century. But beyond that, the river itself connected the homes and businesses on South Street – like Stetson’s ship yard, and “Grandfather’s House,” the home of shipbuilder Paul Curtis – to life on Medford’s High Street and in Medford Square. Today, we might think of this neighborhood, which has gradually become more residential, as part of South Medford, or Hillside. However, in the first half of the 1800s the Hillside and South Medford were still mostly undeveloped farms and (literally) hillsides, while “Medford Square South” was already bustling with businesses, multi-family residences, and the large homes of prominent residents like the Stetsons.
Form B and other materials from our surveyors, for 73-75-77 South Street are here.
At our December meeting, we also voted that the home at 15 Hadley Place was “historically significant.” This vote was based primarily on the home’s size and architectural merits and its association with the building practices and development history of the residential neighborhood surrounding it – the late-Victorian neighborhood that is now “east” of 93.