Medford’s History Happy Hour

The Medford Historical Society is hosting a History Happy Hour 2.0

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This Friday evening, March 2, at 6:30 PM at the Historical Society on Governors Ave. The event promises to share a brief history of 20th C Medford “in five events – a mural, a map, a highway, a fire and a Bicentennial.” Beverages from the Medford Brewing Co. will be available.

Find details, and RSVP on Facebook.

Image via DigBoston.

Join Medford’s Cemetery Board

Support Medford’s historic cemeteries and serve on the city’s Cemetery Board of Trustees. The mayor is looking for new board members, more info via the Transcript.

Medford’s two remaining cemeteries – the Oak Grove Cemetery and the Salem Street Burying Ground – offer contemporary Medford residents insight into our “civic ancestors,” as local historian and cemetery trustee Dee Morris (pictured below) puts it. Salem Street holds colonial families in the heart of Medford Square, while Oak Grove owes its rugged beauty to the Victorian “garden cemetery” movement that inspired the Mt. Auburn and Forest Hills cemeteries. Both of Medford’s cemeteries provide all of us – families visiting graves, history buffs, genealogists, nature lovers, neighbors, and visitors seeking quiet recreation – with beautiful spaces of contemplation.

Oak Grove

Dee Morris and “Charity,” photo via WBUR.

Tips from a Medford Genealogist

Pamela Cooper, a local genealogist, recently wrote to us with a recommendation for online research that she’d like to share.

I was always very curious about my family tree, particularly my dad’s side of the family, who I really didn’t know. Information like this is often freely available, but you have to go from website to website to accumulate all of that information. I found it a tedious process!

But then I found www.FreeAncestrySearch.org and it was like a dream come true. Suddenly there was one resource that could connect me to all of the various government offices and could help me dig up information about my father’s family. I found it pretty easy to find what I needed and I didn’t have to pay anything. I figured it could help visitors to your site if you added it as a resource.
Just thought I’d share!

It looks like a good tool for family research in the US and we’ve added it to our Links & References page. We’re always interested to know what research tools and tricks you’ve used lately – for researching family, architecture, local history and beyond.

Drop us a line!

Join Us!

(Updated November 2017: This search is closed. We have appointed a new commissioner – welcome Edward Wiest! – and our commission is fully staffed at present. However, we are always looking for alternates. Please be in touch if you’d like learn more about that.)

The Medford Historical Commission seeks letters of interest from qualified individuals within the Medford community to serve on our board. Together with the Medford Historic District Commission, we share the common goals of preserving and protecting the City’s historic character and heritage.

The Medford Historical Commission was established under Section 8d of Chapter 40 of the Massachusetts General Laws and Chapter 48 of the Medford Municipal Ordinances. The Commission is the official City body charged with the identification of properties and sites in the City of historical significance and is 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 75 years or older, or are listed on the National and Massachusetts Registers of Historic Places, in accordance with the City’s demolition delay ordinance.

Applicants should have interest, knowledge and experience in any fields related to historic preservation, law, archaeology, architectural history and/or Medford history. Interested applicants may contact the Commission for further information. Please include your name and contact information, as well as any supporting material. Candidates may be contacted by the commission for an interview. The commission shall then present a list of nominees to the Mayor for final selection and appointment. Those selected to serve on the board generally serve three years.

Please submit letters & materials to:
Ryan D. Hayward
Commission Chairman

Email (preferred): Rhayw12345@aol.com

Regular Mail:
Medford Historical Commission
Ryan D. Hayward, Chairman
c/o Office of Planning and Community Development
Medford City Hall
85 George P. Hassett Drive
Medford, MA 02155

And we’re still looking for a Brooks Estate Rep/Liaison, if that’s where your heart lies . . .

Hot Property – Peter Tufts House

Wicked Local published a statement from John Anderson, the President of the Medford Historical Society & Museum on the sale of the Peter Tufts House by the Medford Historical Society & Museum.

Although it doesn’t come until late in the piece, he assures everyone that

The Peter Tufts House is NOT THREATENED in any way by this decision. When MHSM purchased the property, the deed included a permanent preservation restriction administered by Historic New England. The property cannot be subdivided or demolished. The entire exterior and many of the interior features are protected by the deed restrictions. HNE requires work to be approved in advance and they inspect the house annually for compliance.

The realtor’s listing is here.  The Medford Historical Society & Museum and the Medford Historical Commission are two separate entities; the former is private and funded by membership and donation, the latter is public and part of Medford’s city government.

But we are all involved in the work of sharing, preserving and protecting Medford’s history as best we can.

Hidden Treasures & Historic Hot Spots

The Medford Historical Commission has been asked to participate in a survey for the Freedom’s Way/National Heritage Area to identify local sites that have the potential to become National Historic Landmark or National Register of Historic Places listings.
We would like to hear which sites you would like to see potentially nominated:
1. Candidates for “buildings, structures, or natural features that represent or stand out in Medford’s history”.
2. Suggestions for Medford’s “Hidden Treasures” that could be celebrated in the future.
Contact us with your suggestions. And please feel free to share with interested parties!

Seeking a Representative to the Brooks Estate Board of Directors

Brooks Estate Manor House
Shepherd Brooks Estate in 1880. Image from the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

The Medford Historical Commission seeks letters of interest from qualified individuals within the City of Medford to be appointed to the Medford Brooks Estate Land Trust (M-BELT) Board of Directors, serving as the representative of the Medford Historic Commission.

Owned by the City of Medford since 1942, and managed by the Medford Brooks Estate Land Trust (M-BELT) following permanent protection in 1998, the Brooks Estate is an important local landmark. M-BELT was created as a public-private partnership, with a composite board drawn from M-BELT membership, and representative from the Medford Historical Commission, the Medford Historical Society the Medford City Council and Mayor.

Dating back to 1660, this parcel is the last of extensive landholdings belonging to the Brooks Family of West Medford. From 1880, the grounds were the summer residence of Peter Chardon Brooks III and his brother, Shepherd Brooks. The later hired noted architects Peabody and Stearns to design the elaborate brick Queen Anne manor and carriage house. Following its use by the City as World War II veterans housing a nursing home, and later a group home, the manor building has been undergoing a restoration effort to breathe new life into this important complex.

We seek an energetic candidate that has an interest in the ongoing work of M-BELT and to assist with the collaboration with the Medford Historical Commission. You will be required to attend M-BELT board meetings and report quarterly to the Commission. Applicants should have an interest, knowledge, or experience in the fields related to historic preservation, landscape architecture, architecture, architectural history, and/or Medford history. With over fifty acres of conservation land, two historic buildings and a multitude of tasks at hand, we encourage you to contact the Commission if you have any questions or need further information. The Master Plan for the Brooks Estate can be found on M-BELT’s website at http://www.brooksestate.org.

When sending information, please include your name, contact and supporting materials (such as CV and cover letters). Candidates will be contacted by the Commission for an interview. We will then appoint the nominee. Those selected to serve generally serve for three year terms.

Please submit letters & materials to:

Ryan D. Hayward
Commission Chairman

Email (preferred):
HistoricalCommission@medford-ma.gov

Regular Mail:
Medford Historical Commission
Ryan D. Hayward, Chairman
c/o Office of Planning and Community Development
Medford City Hall
85 George P. Hassett Drive
Medford, MA 02155