Volunteers Wanted for Archaeological Dig!

Channel Your Inner Indiana Jones!

The Medford Historical Commission is seeking 20 volunteers to participate in an archeological dig at Thomas Brooks Park.

Participants must be a minimum of 18 years old and be available during the week of June 6th, with potential spillover into the week of June 13th. Participants will work 1 full day, Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm with a 30 minute lunch break. All volunteers must participate in a 1 hour orientation on the morning of Day 1.

If there are more than 20 volunteers, a lottery drawing will be held and participants will be assigned a day. If you are unable to work your assigned day, another volunteer will be chosen.

Digging will take place during inclement weather. Volunteers do not need to bring any equipment but must wear close-toed boots/shoes with good ankle support. Flip flops are not allowed. Participants are welcome to bring their own gardening gloves and/or knee pads. Volunteers must provide their own lunch and water.

If you are interested, please email the Medford Historical Commission at historicalcommission@medford-ma.gov.

May Meeting Materials

We have a busy month coming up and we want to make sure that information is readily available to the general public so they may submit comments at or in advance of the meeting on May 9. In this post, you will find the MHC forms for the various demolition delays, as well as some updates on projects that we are working on with applicants already under delay. Our agenda has been posted on our website. If there are questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out. Comments always welcome in advance of the meeting and may be submitted via email or regular mail (via City Hall).

Public Hearing – 69 Jerome Street:

69 Jerome Street as seen from the sidewalk. The building was constructed by noted designer and builder Moses W. Mann of West Medford.

The Commission will hold a public hearing to determine if the partial demolition of 69 Jerome Street is detrimental to the resources of the City of Medford. Information for the property can be found below:

Click here for the neighborhood overview for West Medford from the Survey Plan.

Determination of Significance:

The Medford Historical Commission will determine significance of the following properties:

130 Boston Avenue:

52 Allston Street:

232 Fulton Street:

146 Summer Street:

Site Plan Review4054 Mystic Valley Parkway:

The Commission will be receiving and accepting the demolition application for the Bertuccis building at 4054 Mystic Valley Parkway. We have also been invited to comment on the proposed development. The industrial brick building was constructed c. 1945 as a potato factory and has undergone a number of transformations over the years. The Commission will be determining significance at the June meeting. In the meantime, you can read the form below.

The public should be aware that information about the proposed development, which is currently undergoing review by other boards, can be found on the City of Medford’s website.

4068 Mystic Valley Parkway:

4068 Mystic Valley Parkway – the WEEI Radio Transmission Station. Built in 1936, it is one of the oldest radio buildings in the Commonwealth.

We commissioned this form in response to proposed development located at 4054 Mystic Valley Parkway. The WEEI building is an important example of Art Decco architecture. It is still used as a radio broadcast station and has been recommended for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Coming Up for Review:

The Commission will be accepting applications for the demolition of the following properties:
– 20 Otis Street Carriage House
– 76 Sharon Street
– 136 Boston Avenue
– 4054 Mystic Valley Parkway (already mentioned above)
Information and Forms will be posted before the next meeting.

76 Sharon Street, an intricate nineteenth century Victorian building slated to altered beyond recognition and subject to review under the demolition delay ordinance.

Demolition Delay Committee Updates:

78 Cotting Street: The demolition delay subcommittee provided initial comments to the owners of 78 Cotting Street. The owner’s architect has made changes which seek to mitigate the demolition proposed for the building. The Commission invites the public to review the proposed plans and provide feedback, either in advance of, or at the meeting. The latest version is at the bottom of this list.The Commission will then review the next steps, if any, for the project.

February Meeting Materials

We have a number of cases to review this month. In this post, you will find a number of inventory forms and related reports that the Commission uses to make its determinations. We will post our agenda on Wednesday after it is filed.

Neighborhood context reports can be found here: MHC Survey Plans and Neighborhood Overviews

33 Third Street Public Hearing:

The Thompson-Sinclair House was determined significant at our last meeting. The Medford Historical Commission will hold a public hearing to determine if the demolition of the building would be detrimental to the City of Medford. Public participation in the hearing is encouraged.

78 Cotting Street as seen from a recent Zillow view.

78 Cotting Street Application Materials:

This building has a colorful history dating back to the early nineteenth century. The land was once owned by members of the Adams family of Braintree/Quincy. The farm is referenced in several of their correspondence and was constructed before the 1850s. Stylistically, it is a great example of early building efforts in the Hillside neighborhood.

The Cotting Street Area Form provides a bit of information about the streetscape and how the lane got its name. There’s loads of information on all the houses on the street.

17 Edwards Street Application Materials:

17 Edwards Street is part of a collection of Victorian end houses that were constructed by the same developer at the end of the nineteenth century. The building has been stripped of its asbestos siding, revealing original detail and character from its original construction. The Commission will be determining significance at its next meeting.

This building has a striking resemblance to another end house we reviewed years ago. 6 Rockwell (since demolished) was the subject of a six-month demolition delay. Efforts to find a mover to relocate the building failed so it was extensively documented before demolition. The information gleaned can help us learn more about Edwards Street and other properties of similar vintage.

64 Court Street Application Materials:

Up for consideration is this small nineteenth-century building which will be altered beyond recognition. The building has many articulations in its complex massing which give it a fair degree of character. The Commission will determine significance at the next meeting.

St. Clements School at 595 Boston Avenue:

The Community Preservation Committee has requested the Commission determine if the St. Clements Elementary School at 595 Boston Avenue is significant. The Commission will make the determination based on the area form which was prepared for the church campus.

We encourage everyone to write in comments to us about these proposed projects. We take them into consideration when making our determinations. Please email us using the contact form on our website. If you just want to listen in, most of our meetings are live-streamed on the community channel and available after the fact on their website.

December Applications

At our December meeting the MHC voted to accept three applications for demolition review – this simply means that we have reviewed the application and found it to be complete and sufficient to begin the demolition review process. When we accept applications, this DOES NOT mean that demolition permits will be granted.

Now, the case can advance to the next stage, which is demolition review. After an application is accepted, a Form B, prepared by our contracted architectural historians, will be prepared for the property in question. The commissioners will review the form and, at the meeting of the following month, decide whether or not the property is historically significant.

If it is historically significant, the property will be reviewed at a third meeting, to determine if the property is preferably preserved.

This month, applications were accepted for demolition review for properties at –

93 Wason Street, where the application was submitted by East Coast Buyers LLC of West Babylon NY;

28 Chester Avenue, where the application was submitted by Moacir Fihlo and Quinn Bushe of Medford, MA; and

33 Third Street, where the application was submitted by owner/occupant Chung Lee.

For further news of these cases, look for them to appear on the agenda next month, when we will vote on historical significance.

October 2021 Agenda

We will be making a number of demolition decisions this month: first on the agenda, the Historical Commission will be determining whether the home at 75 Clewley Road is preferably preserved. We will also be voting on whether properties at 29 Summer Street, 209 Park Street and 290 Salem Street are historically significant. And we will be reviewing applications for demolition for properties at Third Street and Manning Street.

July Agenda

We will be determining the historical significance of properties whose applications for demolition were submitted last month – including properties in Hillside and Haines Square. Zoom details in the agenda.

109 Forest Street Application Materials:

109 Forest Street as seen looking toward the northeast in 2019 prior to the construction of the new houses in the rear and right yards.

The Medford Historical Commission has received an application for a partial demolition of the building located at 109 Forest Street on the corner of Webster Street. The Commission has previously reviewed this building which has since been sold. The proposal calls for the demolition of a porch and new construction on one side, therefore burying one facade. The building is subject to review under the demolition delay ordinance. A determination of significance has already been made for this property and as a result, it has moved directly to a public hearing to determine of demolition of the building will be detrimental to the City of Medford.

7 Vine Street Application Materials:

The Medford Historical Commission has received an application for the partial demolition of 7-9 Vine Street in East Medford. An 18th century building, the structure is one of a handful which maintains a true period gambrel roof. The building has been heavily altered and is slated to be altered beyond recognition which has prompted a demolition delay review for this property.

MHC Form A for Washington Square Area which includes information on 7-9 Vine among others

Click here for the neighborhood overview for East Medford from the Survey Plan.

33 Vine Street Application Materials:

Like the above property, 33 Vine is a building slated to be altered beyond recognition. The building is a nineteenth century parlor bypass structure. The form was developed in the Boston area and employed extensively in the refined homes of Medford.

30 Dearborn Street Application Materials:

This house is a great example of a classic American Bungalow. It represents a growing community in the early 20th century.

Spoiler Alert!

Medford’s current Demo Review process is not likely to be a surprise or an exceptional burden for homeowners or developers. 

Most Massachusetts communities, from Boston to Woburn and beyond have a demo review process similar to that in the City of Medford. A property owner would be hard pressed to “leave Medford” and buy a property nearby that does not need to follow this, or a similar process, before being demolished. Similarly, a developer – someone whose business it is to redevelop properties – would not likely buy in Medford, Arlington, Woburn, etc and not know that older buildings will be subject to a demo review process by the town or city. 

On our website, we describe the demolition review process in our city, and at the bottom of that page you can review the demolition policies of our neighboring towns and cities.

Demolition Site on Winthrop Street

For information on the homes demolished on Winthrop Street site above, and the famous folks who had lived there, read more here!!

This is the fourth post in a series of Clarifications & Corrections. See also:

“Pro-Active Preservation,” about our ongoing survey and inventory research.

“Kissing Cousins”, which explains the different roles of the Historical Commission, the Historical Society and the Historic District Commission.

And “Are We Anti-Development?” about the big picture directive of the Medford Historical Commission.

Are we “anti-development?”

The Historical Commission’s goal is NOT to fully restore houses to their historic state – we are not here to recreate Sturbridge Village or Plimoth Plantation in the heart of Medford. Nor are we, personally or professionally anti-development – the commission includes historians, archivists and homeowners, as well as architects, folks in real estate, and building preservationists. You can read our bios here.

US! off-duty at Salvatore’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we’re not planning to turn Medford into a history theme park, what are we up to?

NOT US! a photo of a Plimoth Plantation wedding, via Boston Globe

The Medford Historical Commission, like most Historical Commissions in towns and cities across Massachusetts, is part of city government. Our procedures were put in place to allow the community to bring their preservation concerns to our public meetings, with developers present. During these discussions, we increase public knowledge about the historic uses of our buildings, neighborhoods and residences, about the city’s past residents, and about the past design and construction of the buildings in our city. And, finally, for buildings deemed both “historically significant” AND “preferably preserved” – a multi-step, public process – we discourage demolition in favor of designs that preserve the historic character.

Monthly Meetings – Our meetings are the second Monday of the month, and they were traditionally held in Room 201 in City Hall; like most of Medford’s city boards and commissions, we’ve been holding Zoom meetings since May 2020. The public is always welcome to listen in or speak up!!

Agendas & Minutes – Our agendas are posted in City Hall, and in the Transcript, and we try to post them on Facebook and here on the website.

This is the third post in a series of Clarifications & Corrections. The first post in the series was “Pro-Active Preservation,” about our ongoing survey and inventory research. The second was “Kissing Cousins” and it explained the different roles of the Historical Commission, the Historical Society and the Historic District Commission.

Kissing Cousins

Based on some recent conversations, there appear to be a few popular misconceptions regarding MedHC and its role. Here, we’ll try to address the (very) common confusion between the Medford Historical Commission and the Medford Historical Society and Museum.

(1) The Medford Historical Society and Museum is a private archive and museum supported by member donations. They describe their mission as “to collect and preserve the history of this historic city, to correct the myths that had grown up over the years, to build a historical library, to collect the artifacts of local history, and to celebrate historical anniversaries. In 2013, [they] added “Museum” to [their] name to mark [their] organization as a keeper of the city’s material and historical archives and artifacts.”

(2) As for, us, the Medford Historical Commission, we are a board of 7 Medford residents, each appointed by the Mayor and, together, we are one of Medford’s many Boards & Commissions. We are “the official city body charged with the identification of properties and sites in the city of historical significance, and the principal advisor to the city on matters relating to historic preservation. The Commission is further charged with reviewing all requests for demolition of buildings constructed more than 75 years ago or that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Massachusetts Register of Historic Places.” The Historical Commission was established under Section 8d of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances.

Most of our neighboring towns and cities have a Historical Commission, or similar board, for demolition review and related oversight.

But wait, there’s more!! (3) The city of Medford also has a Historic District Commission. Like the Historical Commission, the District Commission is an official City Board.

The Medford Historic District Commission was established in 1985 under Section 4 of Chapter 40C of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances. This commission is the official city body charged with administration of the city-designated Historic Districts. This Commission’s role is to ensure that any visible changes to properties within the Historic Districts enhances, rather than detracts from, the area’s historic character. The Commission can issue certificates of appropriateness, certificates of non-applicability, and certificates of hardship with respect to construction or alteration of buildings and structures within the historic districts. By preserving the historic character of the Historic Districts and Medford in general, the goal of the Commission is to sustain and improve the significance of Medford’s place in American history and to increase the cultural and monetary wealth of Medford residents. Carefully managing the appearance of historic neighborhoods has benefits for all property owners.” (As explained by the Historical Society and Museum (!!) in their effort to clarify our differences, now posted on their News page.)

Still confused? Fair enough – we are all involved in the work of sharing, preserving and protecting Medford’s history as best we can.

This is the second post in a series of Clarifications & Corrections. The first post in the series was “Pro-Active Preservation,” about our ongoing survey and inventory research; in that post we wanted to address the misconception that the HC *only* identifies historic properties when they are about to demolished.