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.

Pomp’s Wall:

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

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!

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

Thomas Brooks Park Master Plan

The Medford Historical Commission would like to thank all persons who provided feedback on the multi-year master plan for Thomas Brooks Park. The consultant has completed work and we are releasing the final document for visitors to view. We will be undertaking portions of this work over the next several years. We look forward to working with residents over the next several years as we highlight this important Medford historical resource.

Public Comment, Please!

With your input, we want to make the restoration of Thomas Brooks Park and the Old Slave Wall a beautiful and meaningful addition to Medford’s historic landmarks.

MHC is seeking your comments in advance of our upcoming Zoom public meeting, which will be held on June 2, 2020. [Edited to add – this meeting has been held, but we still welcome your comments as the planning process continues!]

Project Overview

The Medford Historical Commission was awarded a generous grant from the Medford Community Preservation Commission to hire a consultant to develop a master plan for Thomas Brooks Park. This six-acre wooded landscape is located in West Medford, on Grove Street, and bordered by the Lowell Branch of the MBTA Commuter Rail tracks. It is currently a passive recreation area, and has a rich history that is greatly obscured. This project seeks to bring to light that history and implement select improvements over multiple years. 

The Brooks Family and The Old Slave Wall

Thomas Brooks Park is one of the few remaining sites associated with the Brooks Family, a lineage which has existed in Medford for more than three centuries. The namesake of the parcel erected his house in the eighteenth century behind a well-crafted brick and sandstone wall. This wall is attributed to a slave named Pompeii, who utilized clay from the grounds to craft the masonry necessary to divide Grove Street from Brooks’ private driveway. The wall is important to preserve as one of two extant period reminders of the lives and work of enslaved people in our community. Maintenance of the wall is, in fact, a condition set by the Brooks’ heirs upon their donation of the parcel to the City, in 1924, for use as a parkland. The family later donated Playstead Park, portions of Oak Grove Cemetery and, finally, their West Medford estates. The Shepherd Brooks manor is likewise a city landmark and is managed in partnership with the Medford-Brooks Estate Land Trust (M-BELT). 

Present Conditions

Currently, the park is hardly noticeable to motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians. Debris, overgrown trees, and brush restrict access to the green space. The fence along the Commuter Rail line is damaged in several places. Visitors desiring to view the Old Slave Wall and its marker must stand in the roadway and risk injury from oncoming traffic. In order to address these issues, the Commission is working to review existing conditions, work with the neighbors and develop a master plan for the parcel in order to restore this important historic landscape. The plan will encompass the entire parcel and focus schematic efforts on the development of access to the wall, its condition, care and maintenance. The Commission intends to seek Community Preservation funds for this work with additional efforts to follow in subsequent years.

Plans and Designs

To date, our consultant has made excellent progress on preliminary designs.

Hedlund Design Group, LLC, a landscape architecture firm from Arlington, MA, was selected for their expertise in municipal parks and culturally sensitive locations. The team includes nationally recognized individuals who provide additional relevant knowledge in the fields of masonry and archaeology. The team has been hard at work, developing a concept for the park. A public meeting was held in November 2019 and they have taken critical feedback and implemented it within the latest proposal.

Documents for Your Review – DRAFTS

We would appreciate all written comments to be sent in no later than June 1, 2020. Comments can be emailed to or via hard copy to the Medford Historical Commission, c/o Denis MacDougal, Room 205, in Medford City Hall.

If you have any questions in regard to this project, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Topic: Medford Historical Commission’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Jun 2, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 935 8955 6215

Brooks Park Presentations

If you missed our November info meeting about the Brooks Park, or if you just want to take in all that information more slowly, we now have the presentation slides available to share!

Here they are, in PDF form – Brooks Park Info Meeting Presentation Slides

brooks house wall.png

Maps, and the history of the property’s ownership and uses, were discussed by landscape architect Peter Hedlund.

Richard Iron, a masonry preservationist gave an analysis of the present condition of the Old Slave Wall (with photos), and some general history of bricks and brickmaking in New England (with bricks!).

Finally, the archeological potential of the site was discussed by Suzanne Cherau, a Senior Archeologist and Principal Investigator from the Public Archeology Laboratory.

The videos of each presentation are coming soon – the audio is helpful to listen to as you flip through the slides.