Arlington Historical Society & Jason Russell House

Arlington Historical Society & Jason Russell House The AHS is located at the corner of Mass Ave and Jason Street. For more info: http://www.arlingtonhistorical.org/
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Many more people are trying their hand at backyard gardening this year. Might we suggest you skip trying it in the suit ...
05/10/2020

Many more people are trying their hand at backyard gardening this year. Might we suggest you skip trying it in the suit and tie?

William Doane in his backyard garden at 10 Mt. Vernon Street ca. 1915. Doane was a local photographer active in Arlington at the turn of the 20th century, and his work shows an aspect of daily life 100 years ago. More of his work can be found here:
https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/byperson?keyword=Doane%2C+William+James+Oliver

On this date in 1794 the U.S. Post Office is established. For many years Mentomy/West Cambridge had no formal facilities...
05/08/2020

On this date in 1794 the U.S. Post Office is established.
For many years Mentomy/West Cambridge had no formal facilities provided by the U.S. Government. Drivers of passing stages acted voluntarily as letter carriers, with inconsistent results. Letters were often delivered to Thomas Russell's grocery store (shared in a post 2 weeks ago) where they were posted for public view and pick up. Other houses and businesses served a similar purpose in the intervening years (with the business owner serving as Post Master).

Our current main post office location opened at 10 Court Street, Building built in April 1936. It was a project of the Works Project Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. This project hat the goal to put the many unemployed people to work on infrastructure projects. The WPA also included the work of artists, which is shown inside the post office in the original murals that adorn the lobby.

https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=Post+Office

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and in 2020 collective appreciation for nurses is at another high point.  In the 20th ...
05/06/2020

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and in 2020 collective appreciation for nurses is at another high point. In the 20th century, Arlington had two schools that prepared women for registered nursing: the Arlington Training School for Nurses at the Ring Sanatorium and Hospital in Arlington Heights (changing its curriculum in the 1940s for training to become licensed practical nurses), and the Symmes Arlington Hospital Training School. This is the studio group portrait of the eight graduates of the Class of 1924 at Symmes, which granted diplomas to its last class in 1948.

#GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity, is today, 5 May 2020, in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19...
05/05/2020
Donate

#GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity, is today, 5 May 2020, in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

In these uncertain times, one thing we know for sure is that history marches on -- we are even living through it! As a keeper of its enduring lessons, the Society continues our important work. We continue to work to preserve Arlington's unique history.

Please support us during this transitional time and help the Society continue to share the stories that shape us all.

You can support us by visiting our website to make a credit card donation - https://arlingtonhistorical.org/contribute/donate/

Or donate through this post to make a donation through Facebook - in which 100% of your donation is received through a check from Facebook Network for Good.

Every penny counts - thank you!

How to Contribute Your donation is tax deductible! You may contribute your financial support to the Arlington Historical Society and the Jason Russell House in many ways: Personal check. To send u…

As a follow up to the Jonathan Dexter House post of May 3rd, here’s a view from the front on Massachusetts Avenue, after...
05/05/2020

As a follow up to the Jonathan Dexter House post of May 3rd, here’s a view from the front on Massachusetts Avenue, after commercial storefronts had been added at the ground floor. (Photograph from Robbins Library collection.)

Everyone is looking for new recipes to try while under quarantine. Here’s another no-frills classic for you, hand writte...
05/04/2020
2012.6.312 - Card

Everyone is looking for new recipes to try while under quarantine. Here’s another no-frills classic for you, hand written on the back of a reply card for “The Touchdown Club of Arlington Ladies’ Night.” Perhaps this person skipped the event to make doughnuts instead. https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/archive/40012678-00DE-49A1-B85F-650093031213
The Touchdown Club, established in 1843, still exists in Arlington with the mission to promote the physical and social welfare of the youth of Arlington, and to promote good fellowship and sociability among members.

Touchdown Club Ladies Night Back of Invitation Card / Recipe Catalog Number 2012.6.312 Object Name Card Scope & Content Ladies Evening Event at the Arlington Touchdown Club. Invitation to Event Recipe on back of invitation. Size: "5 x 3 3/4" Caption Touchdown Club Ladies Night Title The Touchdown Cl...

Did you know – Arlington was the site of the first free children’s library in the nation? It was established in this hou...
05/03/2020

Did you know – Arlington was the site of the first free children’s library in the nation? It was established in this house, the Jonathan Marsh Dexter House, in 1837. The “West Cambridge Juvenile Library” was made possible by an 1835 bequest of Dr. Ebenezer Learned, of Hopkinton, N.H. Learned left $100 as to the town where he had spent a few years teaching while also attending Harvard College. The bequest made it possible to buy the first collection of children’s books, which the new librarian Mr. Dexter carted to his own house in a wheelbarrow. Dexter later gave up the position and moved to New York City, where he died in 1861. The next librarian was Sarah Estabrook and the library was transferred to her home in the “old Adams house” at the corner of what would be today’s Massachusetts Avenue and Mystic Street. It evolved into Arlington’s public library for all ages that is today’s Robbins Library.

Despite protests by preservation activists, the Dexter House was demolished in 1974 to expand parking and build the drive through window lane for the bank next to it (Arlington Five Cents Savings Bank; taken over after its failure in 1991 by Cambridge Savings). The photograph was taken by Edith Whittemore, likely in the 1920s (note that the date of 1836 given at the bottom is a reference to the library date, not the date of photograph). Miss Whittemore spent her career at Robbins Library.
https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/photo/FF1EAAEF-E28A-4CC0-ABB9-307029313462

If self-dial telephone service in Arlington were a person, it would just now be eligible for Medicare.  Today is the 65t...
05/01/2020

If self-dial telephone service in Arlington were a person, it would just now be eligible for Medicare. Today is the 65th anniversary of dial technology coming to the homes and businesses of the town. This automation coincided with the loss of the readily identifiable ARlington 5 telephone exchange name (otherwise known as the “prefix”). It was replaced with MIssion 3 and Mission 8 (the numerical equivalents of 643 and 648, which are still in use).

Read more about Arlington's telephone history in a new blog post by Richard A. Duffy here: https://arlingtonhistorical.org/may-1-1955-dial-telephones-debut-in-arlington/

(Photo illustration of a detail from the cover of the Special Telephone Directory issued to Arlington telephone subscribers.)

We have shared this photograph before, but what can we say -- it's a favorite. As warmer weather comes, those of you luc...
04/27/2020

We have shared this photograph before, but what can we say -- it's a favorite.

As warmer weather comes, those of you lucky enough to have a front porch might find yourselves spending more time on it watching the world go by in a socially distant manner. Brings back times when people would make more regular use of their porch as entertainment and way to keep cool. We would love it if you could share pics of your family enjoying their porch in the comments.

In this photo the Chase family enjoys some semi-outdoor leisure on their porch (in the era, often referred to as the "piazza") of the family home at 743 Massachusetts Ave. The building in the background was the first Universalist Church (later St. Athanasius Greek Orthodox Church, now Highrock Church).

On April 19. 1775 this home became famous as the Stephen Cutter House, where the British soldiers went after the battle at the Jason Russell House, stole a year's supply of candles, and set fire in one of the closets. Fortunately, after they continued their violent retreat back to Boston, the fire was able to be extinguished. Unfortunately, Fred Chase had the house razed to build the Colonial Garage, later Colonial Oldsmobile and Time Oldsmobile. There is a historic marker on the site, which is a multi-family residential townhouse complex today.

https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/photo/04B5DF7B-6A73-4D06-AA4C-264838245376

Thanks to Richard Duffy for providing the identifying details about the location of this photograph.

Roy D. Young's residence and hospital formerly standing at 788 Massachusetts Avenue (near the Jason Russell House). It w...
04/26/2020

Roy D. Young's residence and hospital formerly standing at 788 Massachusetts Avenue (near the Jason Russell House). It was built in 1901 as Arlington’s first purpose-built hospital—long before Symmes Hospital opened its doors in 1912. Originally a medical and surgical private hospital for Dr. Young’s own patients, it admitted cases from other physicians by 1909. Dr. Young’s wife, Georgia, was a registered nurse and superintendent of the hospital. After closing as a hospital in the late 1920s, a ground floor commercial addition was built across it, which was Wanzer’s “White Store” convenient grocery and variety store. The building was torn down in 1960 to open up the view of the Jason Russell House and to more properly impart the scene of the "battleground" of 1775.

https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/photo/26E971C3-5D11-49A4-AE41-532776007168

"The Sunday Herald: Official Songs To Be Sung by Everybody April 25th, the day of the Parade of the 26th Division"
04/25/2020

"The Sunday Herald: Official Songs To Be Sung by Everybody April 25th, the day of the Parade of the 26th Division"

From Richard Duffy.April 24 is Arbor Day in the United States this year.  As most of us are simply admiring Arlington's ...
04/24/2020

From Richard Duffy.

April 24 is Arbor Day in the United States this year. As most of us are simply admiring Arlington's trees out our windows on this drizzly day, it's a good time to enjoy this circa 1880 historic view of Arlington's emblematic "gateway elms" that stood on Massachusetts Avenue, just our side of the Cambridge line, near Henderson and Teel streets. These elms had vanished by the early 20th century but their images endure on the official seal of the Town of Arlington. To honor Arbor Day, I have created a blog post at the Arlington Historical Society about the many streets of Arlington that are named after trees. https://arlingtonhistorical.org/arbor-day-2020-special/

By Richard A. DuffyThis 1920s color-enhanced postcard is presented to celebrate today as the 50th anniversary of Earth D...
04/22/2020

By Richard A. Duffy

This 1920s color-enhanced postcard is presented to celebrate today as the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Many of us remember when the MWRA would open the tower as a special event on this day, and we could climb the five flights of stairs to the viewing gallery. Now we tend to experience the scenery via drone, but it’s just not the same. Next year the water tower will be 100 years old, replacing one that was built in 1894 when parts of Arlington were getting their drinking water from wells drilled into Arlington’s Great Meadows in Lexington (a source discontinued in 1899, when Arlington joined the “Metropolitan System” and was then supplied by the Sudbury River watershed; this was many years before Quabbin Reservoir came on line). The tower was first filled to capacity with 1,995,000 gallons of water in July 1922. In 1924 the utilitarian standpipe was enclosed by the 80-foot high ornamental “Greek temple” that became an instant icon in Arlington. It was designed by Arlington architect Frederic F. Low. The open colonnade of 24 Doric monoliths is where the 282-foot balcony promenade encircles the tower, 425 feet above sea level. The water tower is not in current use for water distribution (it’s in reserve status). On Earth Day 2020 may it nonetheless be a reminder to us of Arlington’s great privilege to enjoy some of the finest drinking water anywhere.

Thomas Russell (son of Jason Russell) kept a store nearby on Massachusetts Avenue on the corner of Water Street The stor...
04/21/2020

Thomas Russell (son of Jason Russell) kept a store nearby on Massachusetts Avenue on the corner of Water Street The store was yet another site which suffered some damage on April 19, 1775. It was also here that townsfolk gathered after the event to discuss losses of both life and property.

Thomas established the store in 1773, but the site was likely built as a store operated by another owner starting in the 1750s. It was said at one point to be the oldest grocery store in Massachusetts and also served as an informal post office and community center with its second floor hall.

Building was torn down in 1906.

https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/photo/1DB104EF-5286-4EBC-A189-003055281255

Not a Patriots' Day re-enactment, but a re-enactment from a day long ago for another celebration -- the 1913 Pageant. Th...
04/20/2020
2012.6.855 - Print, Photographic

Not a Patriots' Day re-enactment, but a re-enactment from a day long ago for another celebration -- the 1913 Pageant.

This photo shows a group portraying the men who captured a British supply wagon on April 19, 1775, a group often called the "Old Men of Menotomy."

The photo was likely taken by Arlington photographer William Doane, and was donated by WIlliam Mahoney who sourced it from an estate in Maine.

1913 re-enactment of the capture of a British supply wagon Catalog Number 2012.6.855 Object Name Print, Photographic Description This photo shows the group of men who took part in 1913 pageant and who re-enacted the capture of the British supply wagon, April 19th, 1775. The man in black face portray...

Minute Man National Historical Park
04/20/2020

Minute Man National Historical Park

Revolution in Real Time, 5:00 p.m. Bitter fighting in Menotomy (Arlington) and the Jason Russell House

The fighting along the Battle Road grew more and more grim as the column entered more thickly settled areas. One British officer described it as "one continuous village." The fighting was house to house. The home of Jason Russell in particular became a scene of horror as Mr. Russell, 58 years old and lame, refused to be driven from his home. Other men from Danvers and Needham may have also barricaded themselves in his orchard, only to then suffer several killed and wounded by British flankers who came in behind their position. Jason Russell himself was also killed and bayoneted multiple times. Other men, including some from Beverly, managed to make it into the cellar of the home and were able to defend themselves. Mrs. Russell later discovered the body of her husband and 11 others in one room of the house with the blood ankle deep.

The scars of that brutal episode can still be seen throughout the house. The house is owned and operated by Arlington Historical Society & Jason Russell House
Photos courtesy of Joel Bohy

#VirtualPatriotsDay
#MinuteManNHP
#FindYourPark

This beautiful Italianate house was built in 1855 at 308Mystic Street in Arlington. It was long known as the "Spurr Esta...
04/20/2020

This beautiful Italianate house was built in 1855 at 308Mystic Street in Arlington. It was long known as the "Spurr Estate" as it was bought in the late 19th century by Arlington Merchant Howard W. Spurr. The family gathered on the lawn is likely the Spurrs -- of whom there were 7 born.
The house is no longer standing; replaced by a series of smaller, newer homes.
https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/bysearchterm?keyword=College+Avenue

Post created by Richard Duffy:Happy Easter to our Greek Orthodox friends today. This is a c. 1952 postcard view of what ...
04/19/2020

Post created by Richard Duffy:
Happy Easter to our Greek Orthodox friends today. This is a c. 1952 postcard view of what is present-day St. Athanasius Church. It orginally was St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. Notice the original Gothic-style front façade and arched windows in the upper story. The architects were two St. James parishioners, William Colleary and Austin O’Malley. The parish was established in 1914 for “West Arlington” (the only instance where I have seen that specific geographic designation used; the “West” ran from Grove Street to the Lexington line). Construction on this building began in 1929. (Colleary also designed St. James School in 1949.) Unforeseen expenses (the site needed ledge removal), the economic crisis of the Great Depression, and the shortage of building resources in World War II meant that the proposed upper sanctuary was unfinished for 30 years (Mass was said downstairs). By that time the cast stone elements of the windows and front façade were crumbling, the mortar was failing, and it was acknowledged that the original straight flight of 34 steps from sidewalk to the main entrance was impractical. So another parishioner architect, James D’Orsi (who earlier had designed the St. James convent, later rectory, in 1955), redesigned much of the church and landscaping to the current look in 1959. In 2004, St. James Parish was suppressed by the Archdiocese (part of a wave of consolidations that also saw St. Jerome on Lake Street close, as well as Immaculate Conception on Alewife Brook Parkway—a Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington parish—bringing the number of parishes serving Arlington down from six to three). St. Athanasius moved from its home of 40 years (former Universalist Church, today’s Highrock Church) to the St. James campus. Tours of the church interior (modified to reflect Greek Orthodox worship traditions) are regularly offered during St. Athanasius’s well-known “Grecian Festivals.” 🇬🇷

All Patriots' Day events have been cancelled - and we're sorry that we can not commemorate the events of April 19, 1775....
04/19/2020

All Patriots' Day events have been cancelled - and we're sorry that we can not commemorate the events of April 19, 1775.

Parades and reenactments have long been a part of how we observe this important holiday. Our collection includes many images of past celebrations, such as this small assemblage of four photographs depicting the 1899 parade. The photographer was local electrical supply store owner Reuben LeBaron.

https://arlingtonhistorical.pastperfectonline.com/photo/BECD6508-20AA-4AF2-A704-243947317326

Patriots' Day as Massachusetts public holiday was only just proclaimed a few years earlier (in 1894).

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7 Jason St
Arlington, MA
02476

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Tuesday 13:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 13:00 - 17:00
Thursday 13:00 - 17:00

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(781) 648-4300

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model made for the peabody historical society 2019
Model of the russell house 1775
Please call us, we are trying to reserve Jason Russell house for April 29 Sunday from 10-3 for our HCA Walk\ our number is 781-859-5164