New Trees for Old

Our historic landscape restoration in the Victorian-era portion of Oak Grove Cemetery is one of the current Community Preservation projects funded by a Preserve Medford grant. This week, we went with an arborist from a local landscaping company to survey dead trees, stumps and the empty spaces where trees once stood, and to make a plan for what could be replaced and when.

March Agenda

Another light agenda for March! With no new demo review cases, we have more time to work on other things: our Preserve Medford projects, our Survey and Planning work and our Site Review comments for large-scale redevelopment in Medford.

In the service of increased transparency, we ask that, starting this month, anyone with items for the agenda contact us on or before the Monday one week prior to our regular meeting. This will allow us to get all business into the published agenda in a timely manner. Our meeting dates are the second Monday of every month, so the deadline for inclusion on the agenda is simply the first Monday of the month.

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Comments on 280 Mystic Ave

The 40B development proposed for Mystic Ave has been getting a lot of attention, and public comments have been extended for two weeks. Please contact the Office of Community Development with yours! To read ours, click below –

Because the project is 40B, Combined Properties can, effectively, bypass the demo review process of the Historical Commission. The MassDOT Sign Shop might not look like much now, but the building is older than 75 years and it’s a solid brick building, where fabrication work – for signs used on our roads state-wide – was done for many years.

Meet Your Commissioners – Doug Carr

The Medford Historical Commission has long relied on the expertise, and commitment of local architect and community activist Doug Carr. And he finally gave us a bio to share!

I am a third-generation Medford resident who grew up in Lawrence Estates and presently lives in West Medford. I have been deeply involved in many different aspects of Medford for the past 25 years.

I am an architect and Principal at CUBE3, which practices architecture, interior design and planning with offices in Boston, Lawrence, MA and Miami, FL. CUBE3 has designed and built 5 multi-family residences in Medford over the past 15 years, including Lumiere, Mill Creek Modera, 150 & 200 Rivers Drive, and the Hanover Mystic River project on Locust Street (under construction).

I have served on the Medford-Brooks Estate Land Trust Board for 25 years. M-BELT’s goal of restoring the Brooks Estate for public benefit – both the historic buildings and 50-acre estate on the National Register of Historic Places – has been an odyssey. My primary role on the M-BELT has been to oversee the restoration of the 1880 Shepherd Brooks Manor, for which I have managed over $1 million in restoration projects over the past two decades. I was also the primary author of the Brooks Estate Master Plan, which documents two decades of projects and planning and lays out the long-term future of the Brooks Estate.

I have also been a strong advocate for the Green Line Extension to Medford, a process which initially started planning in 2005. While the project will be constructed to Tufts University by late 2021, GLX advocates are still fighting to get it extended to its proper terminus at Route 16/Mystic River to serve a larger share of Medford residents.

I presently serve as 2nd Vice President of the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP, a group dedicated to securing the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all people.

Finally, I have served on the Medford Historic Commission since 2013 and have been impressed by the Commission’s record of defending Medford’s strong architectural and historic legacy.

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January Agenda

Our January Agenda is now available – it’s a light month, but check back soon. Our busy season is coming, as developers tend to submit their demo applications in early spring. Last year, we received 6 of our 10 demo applications in February and March.

We’ve also published our meeting dates for 2020 – the Commission will continue to meet on the second Monday of every month (except October, when we meet on the third Mon) at 7 PM in Room 201 of City Hall.

January 13
February 10
March 9
April 13
May 11
June 8
July 13
August 10
September 14
October 19*
November 9
December 14

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History at 970 Fellsway (pt 2)

Harry Posner’s Paper Box Empire 

In the early 20th C the factory buildings of the New England-Anderson Brick Works (which had seen various tenants in the meantime), were taken over by the Worcester Paper Box Company. This company produced paper packaging for a wide range of household products including sugar, tea, coffee, and shoes. Founded in 1914 by Harry Posner, the company had been located in Worcester before its move to Medford. Posner (1881-1962) was born in Mohilev, Russia and emigrated to the United States in 1900, fleeing the pogroms. He first moved to New York, and then to Worcester, where a friend loaned him money to start a company making shoeboxes. After moving his business to Medford in 1927, Posner and his wife Hannah lived at 104 Traincroft Road, off High Street. 

Posner was honored in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt for his “enlightened labor policy.” Posner’s paper box company helped to finance workers’ homes and their children’s educations, among other employee benefits. In the 1940s, Posner founded Medford’s Combined Jewish Appeal, which he chaired for over two decades. In 1953 Posner made international news with a $1 million donation, earmarked for medical education, to Tufts University, one of the largest donations that university had ever received. He explained then that the gift was “part payment of the blessings we enjoy in this land of freedom an opportunity.”  By 1958 his company employed over 300 people at the Medford plant, and later that year Posner bought the buildings of the New England Bedding Company, next door.

The buildings of the New England Bedding Company formerly housed the Glenwood Dye Works, a second turn of the century factory still standing today on the site of the planned 970 Fellsway redevelopment. 

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Tufts President Nils Y. Wessell,displays a model for the Posner Hall dormitory at the Tufts Medical School, for Harry and Hannah Posner, c. 1954

The additional 130,000 square feet of the former Glenwood Dye Works allowed the company to remain in Medford during a period of expansion and transition. In March of 1961 Posner’s company was acquired by the Federal Paper Board Company and once merged, Federal Paper Board called the Medford plant one of their “most efficient and well organized units, serving some of our finest and largest customers.” Federal Paper Board, founded in New Jersey in 1916, had aggressively expanded throughout the twentieth century by buying numerous mills and factories. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1953 and growth continued apace. The Medford facility was one of several purchased in 1961; in addition Federal Paper Board constructed the world’s largest paperboard mill in Sprague, Connecticut that same year. 

The Federal Paper Board Company’s earnings were seriously affected by the 1970s oil embargo. This combined, in 1977, with poor weather conditions and a drop in wood pulp prices. That year the company shuttered two of its carton plants – the Medford, Massachusetts plant and one in Pennsylvania. Around 500 people lost their jobs between the two closures. After Federal Paper Board’s departure, the complex was converted for use by numerous smaller businesses and is still in use today.