I moved to Medford in 2015 and quickly fell in love with the city’s historic neighborhoods, access to nature, and wonderful people. I’m an engaged community member who rolls her sleeves up to get involved in many aspects of Medford life. I’ve been working in archives and preservation since 2008, and am a strong advocate for libraries, archives, and preservation programs. I care deeply about Medford’s future, and while I advocate across myriad issues in the city, I wanted to join the Commission because this is an area of resource management that I have relevant professional experience in to make particularly informed recommendations. Joining the Commission has allowed me to bring my records management and library preservation knowledge to Medford, while getting to learn so much more about architectural preservation and our built environment. I think it’s useful to have a renter’s perspective on the Commission and I filled that role in my first year of service. I have since hopped barely over the line to our (ahem) sister (not rival?) city Malden with my husband Joel, and am honored to serve the Commission through the end of my term. No matter the season, you can usually find me birding at the Brooks Estate, the Fells, Mystic Lakes, or along the Mystic River paths.
May Meeting Materials
Our May meeting will have a bit of everything on the agenda. You will find that here:
We will be discussing a bunch of properties and you can find the associated Massachusetts Historical Commission inventory forms below:
We will also be receiving an application for the demolition of 37 Locus Street and reviewing progress at 28 Grove Street.
Toward the end of our meeting, we will conclude with updates on our survey projects, and the work at Thomas Brooks Park.
Hope to see you there!
Join us on June 1 at the Medford Public Library!
Whew! This has been a busy month and we have one more thing to announce:
The Medford Historical Commission is pleased to present:
Keeping the Memories Alive
A presentation by Vernon Chandler
Location: Medford Public Library at 111 High Street
Date & Time: Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 7 PM
This event is free and open to the public. All welcome!
Join us for an evening full of history, near and far. Hamilton resident Vern Chandler will share his extraordinary journey in the footsteps of his relatives that participated in World War II. Among them is Private Kenneth E. Miller of Medford. He gave his life in defense of freedom and he never returned home. He is memorialized overseas and a local family has adopted the grave of this fallen American liberator. Mr. Chandler will share the details of this native son and his two-week tour across Europe to keep the memory of the Greatest Generation.
This presentation is sponsored by:
The Charlotte and William Bloomberg Medford Public Library
City of Medford Veterans Services
Medford Historical Society and Museum
Please feel free to RSVP on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/810648313602465 or just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
Thomas Brooks Park: Update 2.0!
Have you seen all the amazing work happening at Thomas Brooks Park on Grove Street? If you have not been down this historic street in a while, drive by as you’re in for a treat! Progress is moving right along with the restoration of Pomp’s Wall and the Fieldstone Wall. Here is a quick summary of what has happened in the last two weeks.
The lower portion of Pomp’s wall has been restored. The wall is laid in Flemish Bond, a decorative brick pattern that can now be seen clearly. Much of the wall is original 18th century brick and the mason is doing everything he can to preserve the hand made features. The far end, which was ready to topple over, is on its way to being reconstructed. The bricks were stored to document their exact location so the wall will be rebuilt exactly as it was.
Fieldstone Wall Restoration:
The contractors are moving right along with the rebuilding of the granite wall that borders the remainder of the park. We are pleased with the progress to date. They have laid more than one hundred feet of stonework in the past week and that is impressive.
We have received several calls and emails pertaining to access openings in the park. Rest assured that there will be plenty of access points along the length of Grove Street. These have been strategically mapped out with assistance from our landscape architect, the Department of Public Works, City Engineering/Traffic Department and the on-site contractor. Some entrance points are being moved to ensure the safest crossing area and site lines for pedestrians when crossing the street. If your favorite access point has been closed off, it is very likely that there will be a new opening created close by!
Do look for the openings, such as this one opposite Laird Road. We will mark them with signage and crosswalks in the next phase of work. We look forward to your ongoing support for the restoration efforts in Thomas Brooks Park! If you are interested in being on our email list, please do not hesitate to send us an email to sign up at email@example.com.
April Meeting Recap
Here’s a quick recap of the decisions we made at the April meeting –
The Historical Commission found 222 Boston Avenue not preferably preserved, but we expect that the redevelopment of this historically significant site will continue to have public discussion and feedback as plans continue through the Community Development Board and other city offices.
Both 12 George Street and 28 Winter Street were voted NOT historically significant.
The house at 17 Green Road was voted historically significant; the Commission agrees that it is an excellent and well-preserved late 19th century shingle-style home. Shingle-style, though now widespread throughout the country, began as a New England style of architecture influenced by domestic and commercial coastal buildings, and their use of shingle. The influence of New England shingle-style can be seen in many turn-of-the-century homes throughout Medford, but 17 Green Road is an especially good example of the style. Although the actual shingle is covered by a recent application of vinyl siding, the proportions, massing and roofline of a classic shingle-style are still evident. The house was built for a prominant Boston doctor as a summer home. Its large porches and placement on a rocky outcropping at the top of what was then called “Highland Avenue,” preserve a sense of the dramatic natural landscape, and the beginnings of that landscape’s development into residential use. More info is available in the Form B our architectural historians prepared.
We also received an application to begin the demo review process at 142 Mystic Avenue.
Finally, we approved our annual report for 2022.
April Meeting Materials
The April meeting is going to be busy with a hearing and three determinations of significance. The Commission will then conclude with ongoing business. Be sure to check out our agenda that comes out on the Wednesday before the meeting.
222 Boston Avenue Public Hearing
Last month, the Historical Commission determined the building at 222 Boston Avenue historically significant. The multi-story factory building was constructed for the G.L. Erving Company. This business specifically catered to the larger American Woolen Company complex next door at 200 Boston Avenue. The entire American Woolen Company complex is an important reminder of our industrial history. There were only a handful of large mills, the type you might see in Lawrence or Lowell, and they were constructed along the adjacent rail corridor.
You can read all about the complex in the Massachusetts Historical Commission Area Form from Medford and there’s a bit more context about the site in the form for Somerville.
Determination of Significance:
The Commission has received three applications this month for the demolition, in whole or in part, at the following locations:
12 George Street
The Benjamin and Effie L. Richmond House on George Street is among the first development carried out around the Royall House. The property is slated to be altered beyond recognition and the Commission is reviewing the building for significance. An MHC inventory form was prepared for the property and is included for review.
17 Green Road
Prominently located on a lot along Green Road, the Dr. Charles M. and Helen L. Green House is being proposed for substantial renovation that will alter the building. It is an excellent example of shingle style architecture and relates to the early development of Medford Square. The first commuter class homes were constructed just behind the line of houses fronting the main arteries. In this case, the Green House is located just up the street from High Street. It is not difficult to imagine why its owners placed it here. The quiet neighborhood is a world away from the bustle of the busy commercial and municipal heart of Medford. You can read more about the building in the MHC inventory form below.
28 Winter Street
Last but not least is the Randall – Bailey House. This building is slated to be renovated beyond recognition. It is a nineteenth century end house that is typical of the time period. You can read more about it’s owners and the architecture below.
The Commission will determine significance at the next meeting. We do not take public comments at the meeting as there is a public hearing process if the building is significant. If you would like to submit comments in writing, we are happy to enter those into the record as part of our deliberations. Please do not hesitate to send us an email.
At the end of these demolition delay items, the Commission will carry on with it’s normal business. Be sure to check out our blog posts for more information about the happenings around Medford. We have work happening on Thomas Brooks Park, and the survey of historic properties is ongoing.
The Medford Historical Commission recently was contacted by Vernon Chandler who wanted to share a bit of Medford history with the residents of Medford. He wrote a wonderful little blog post which we are sharing with our audience to raise awareness of our rich and diverse heritage.
Remembering Pvt. Kenneth E. Miller of Medford
My name is Vernon E. Chandler Ill of 34 Prospect St. in Hamilton, MA. My dad (Vernon E. Chandler Jr) and my mom (Joan E. (Gosse) Chandler) were long-time Medford, MA residents, as were their parents Vernon E. Chandler Sr. and Marjorie E. (Morton) Chandler and Charles W. Gosse and Alice (Colby) Gosse. I was born in Medford, MA and lived there with my family until 1957. We then moved to Reading, MA where we lived until I got married in 1977. I then moved to Hamilton, MA where I still live today.
I contacted the Historical Commission because my son (Brian Chandler) and I have been researching my second cousin, Pvt. Kenneth E. Miller of Medford, MA who was killed in Germany in WWII on October 18, 1944. He was the son of John B. Miller and Annie G. Miller (Alice Gosse’s sister) who lived at 19 Liberty Ave. in Medford, MA. We uncovered so much historical information on Kenneth and his unit, the 743rd Tank Battalion and with a lot of research we were able to locate the place the tank-on-tank battle occurred which took his life in Wurselen, Germany. He was only 19 years old. His remains were never recovered and returned home despite the best efforts of his mom, Annie Miller. We are continuing her search through the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. This agency has classified the search for Kenneth’s remains as an “Active Pursuit”.
My son and I have been so deeply moved by Kenneth’s and his mom Annie’s WWII story, as well as the stories of all who served in World War II, that we planned and took a two-week World War II, 1800-mile driving tour of Europe this past September. Our tour included visits to 6 ABMC cemeteries and many historic WWII sites from Paris, France to Normandy, France to Belgium to The Netherlands to Luxembourg to Germany and finally to Austria. It was an unbelievable experience. We have many pictures and stories we’d like to share with the citizens of Medford, MA. This includes a visit to Pvt. Kenneth E. Miller’s memorial on the Wall of the Missing in Margraten, The Netherlands and, with our German guide, a visit to the actual open corn field location in Wurselen, Germany where the tank-on-tank battle took place and Kenneth’s tank was destroyed and he was killed.
At Margraten, we met the Dutch adopter of Kenneth’s name on the Wall of the Missing. Yes, Dutch adopter! Most Americans do not know that every grave and every memorial at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten has been adopted and cared for by a Dutch citizen since 1945. They truly appreciate and remember the sacrifices made by their “liberator soldiers” for their freedom. Freedom that they once lost and was then given back to them by American soldiers, kids. To this day they do not forget! They regularly visit and place flowers at the graves/memorials. They even undertook a program called “The Faces of Margraten” where the worked to put a face with every grave and every name on the Wall of the Missing. They even published a book by the same name. Check out the Netherlands American Cemetery online at: https://www.abmc.gov/Netherlands and the Adoption Program on line at: https://www.adoptiegraven–margraten.nl. Click on the flag ofthe USA in the upper right ofthe home page to see the English version of the adoption site.
With all of this in mind, I am looking forward to making a multimedia presentation to the Medford Historical Commission, Veterans Association, and interested citizens of Medford, MA to share these experiences with as many as possible and to possibly reach whomever from the Miller family may still live in or near Medford, MA. We believe our once in a lifetime experiences are only meaningful if we share them with others. I am working now to prepare this multimedia presentation to include pictures and video. I plan to make similar presentations in Reading, MA and my current hometown Hamilton, MA in the April timeframe.
Most especially, we want to make sure the words on the sign we put at the Wall of the Missing in Margraten are true, namely: “The people of Medford, MA USA … Know You Are Here!! …
Remember Your Sacrifice!! … And Eternally Thank You!!”
Be sure to be on the lookout for information regarding this presentation very soon!
Thomas Brooks Park: An Update!
If you drive down Grove Street, you may have noticed that work is underway at Thomas Brooks Park. There are two separate projects that are being completed by two different preservation professionals. Work is entirely funded by the City of Medford’s Community Preservation Committee and we thank them for their support.
Pomp’s Wall Restoration:
Masonry expert Richard McGrath of Lunenburg recently removed the capstones of the eighteenth century brick wall. This is the first step for conservation work. It revealed what we expected – extensive deterioration to the inside of the wall structure that must be repaired. This element is of special importance to Medford. It is one of two extant reminders of slavery. The bricks were assembled by Pompeii, a slave owned by Thomas Brooks. Pompeii and several other African Americans lived on the land that is now Thomas Brooks Park. The site was a gift to the City from the Brooks family with the stipulation that we forever care for wall then known as “The Old Slave Wall.”
Field Stone Wall Restoration:
Mark Neves of M. Neves, Inc. is responsible for the restoration of the granite field stone wall along the remainder of Grove Street. The wall was constructed in two different phases. The northern end is an eighteenth century feature, while the southern end is nineteenth century. The wall will be repaired to its historic height, and new openings placed at regular intervals opposite intersections. The intent is to make the park safer by directing users to locations where crosswalks would be found (for example, at street intersections). To facilitate work, a team of tree care specialists came through to remove dead or invasive vegetation within five feet of the backside of the wall. This has exposed many of the historic trees, that will remain. By removing some of the invasive, it will encourage the existing mature trees to grow. We are the stewards of these century old landmarks and we want nothing more than for them to thrive.
Work will continue over the next several months so stay tuned for additional updates!
A quick run down of the votes and decisions this month, and what to look for at next month’s meeting –
Both 28 Grove Street and the carriage house at 91 Winchester Street were voted historically significant. Both are in fairly visible locations – take a stroll by and see the classical proportions and Craftsman aesthetic, in the natraul stone porch foundation, and the Tuscan columns, at 28 Grove Street. At 91 Winchester Street the carriage house was historically used as a carpentry shop, and the Form B – available here – describes the lively neighbhorhood adjacent to the old railroad station, of which this business was part. At our March meeting the Historical Commission will determine whether these properties are preferably preserved.
Next month the Historical Commission will also be determining historical significance for 3 properties at the corner of North Street and Boston Avenue – 236 Boston Avenue, 222 Boston Avenue/55 North Street, and 67 North Street, most recently Rudy’s Upholstery. The history of the American Woolen Company and the associated businesses that grew nearby in the early 20th century can be read in the area form (below) that our architectural historians wrote when the Commission surveyed the Hillside neighborhood of Medford.
The Historical Commission has declined to review demo permits for both 86 Suffolk Street and 230 Boston Avenue; at Suffolk Street, the renovations do not amount to demolition and at 230 Boston Avenue the building is not old enough to fall under the commission’s purview.
February Meeting Materials
Enclosed in this post are the two Massachusetts Historical Commission inventory forms for buildings that will be discussed this evening.
The Historical Commission uses this information in order to determine if a building is significant. There are many different ways a building can be significant. The reasons sometime include architectural importance, relationship to notable persons or events, or part of the broad patterns of history that define the neighborhood, city or Commonwealth. We encourage folks to write in if they have opinions on the matter in advance of the meeting.
Also in the news, tree work did in fact start today at Thomas Brooks Park! We are clearing scrub, dead, and invasive trees within 5′ of the wall in order to facilitate its restoration. The tree warden and city departments are aware this work is taking place. While doing a walk through, we noted a memorial mid-way in the park that is in the way of construction. We will be taking this down for safe keeping and will find a suitable place to return it to at the end of construction. If you are or know the person who put this up and would like to hold onto it, please reach out to us!