Historical tour of Union Square
By Maria A. Cortes
One of the several events planned and sponsored by The Historic Preservation Commission this fall, The Union Square walking tour, took place last Sunday, September 23, in Somerville. Led by Edward W. Gordon, New England Chapter President of the Victorian Society of America, the tour explored the history behind Union Square buildings and its architectural features.
Around seventy people gathered by the Somerville City Hall on a beautiful Sunday last week, eager to learn about Somerville’s history. Mostly Somerville residents, but also guests from Cambridge, Malden and Roslindale, were seemingly enjoying Ed Gordon’s comprehensive lecture about the development of the city and its important historical events that found its representation in architecture.
Starting by the City Hall, the tour covered buildings of the Somerville High School and Public Library, as well as several monuments of Central Hill. Moving towards Prospect Hill, Mr. Gordon explained how distinctive architecture of 19th century houses on Walnut, Boston, and Munroe streets, along with Prospect Hill Park and Memorial Observatory, embodied the historical spirit of the development of the Prospect Hill area. Columbus Avenue houses were presented as an example of the Mansard, or Second Empire style. Observing the architecture of the Union Square, Ed Gordon captured everybody’s attention by “revealing” the hidden in the trees St. Thomas Episcopal Church, designed in the Gothic Revival style. It was impossible to guess that an old wooden building at 321 Washington Street, where Washington Street Art Center holds its unique exhibition at the moment, was one of the distribution facilities of famous Fresh Pond Ice Company, back in 1882. History of Lincoln Park with George Wyatt’s brickyards appeared as the reminder of brick industry that was one of the major elements of Somerville’s economy from 1820-1880.
The two and a half-hour tour finished on a pleasant note at the newly opened Café Tango (16 Bow Street in Somerville) that served South American pastries with Argentinean twist for tired but happy walkers. The tour guide, Edward Gordon, together with members of the Historic Preservation Commission, Brandon Wilson and Kristenna Chase, were ready to answer any questions, as well as accept words of appreciation for a well-organized and remarkably informative tour that was free of charge.
For more tours and events planned by the Historic Preservation Commission, check www.somervillema.gov.
– Photos by Maria A. Cortes