Online Encyclopedia

MEDFORD

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 20 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MEDFORD, a city, including several villages, of Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., on the Mystic river and Lakes, 5 in. N. by W. of Boston. Pop. (Iwo), 18,244, of whom 4327 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 23,150. The city is served by the Southern Division and a branch of the Western Division of the Boston & Maine railroad, and is connected with Boston and neighbouring cities by electric railways. The Mystic River, a tidewater stream, is navigable for small craft as far as the centre of the city. There are manufactures of considerable importance, including bricks and tiles, woollen goods, carriages and wagons, food products, iron and steel building materials and machinery. The city covers a land area of about 8 sq. in., along the Mystic river, and extending to the hills. The western portion borders the Upper and Lower Mystic Lakes, which are centres for boating. In the north-west portion of Medford is a part of the Middlesex Fells, a heavily wooded reserve belonging to the extensive Metropolitan Park System maintained by the state. The broad parkways of this system also skirt the Mystic Lakes, and here is the greater part (1907, 267 out of 291 acres) of the Mystic River Reservation of the Metropolitan System. Among the city parks are Hastings, Brooks, Logan, Tufts and Magoun. Within the city limits are some of the oldest and most interesting examples of colonial domestic architecture in America, including the so-called " Cradock House " (actually the Peter Tufts house, built in 1677-1680), the " Wellington House," built in 1657, and the " Royall House." The last was built originally by Governor John Winthrop for the tenants of his Ten Hills Farm, and was subsequently enlarged and occupied by Lieut.-Governor John Usher, and by Isaac Royall' (c. 1720-1781) and his son, Isaac Royall, Jun. Medford has a public library of about 35,200 volumes, housed in the colonial residence (reconstructed) of Thatcher Magoun. The city has also a city hall, a high school and manual training school, an opera house, and one of the handsomest armory buildings in the country (the home of the Lawrence Light Guard), presented by General Samuel C. Lawrence (b. 1832), a liberal benefactor of Medford institutions and the first mayor of the city (1892-1894). The Salem St. Burying Ground, dating froth 1689, is one of the oldest burial places in America. The Medford Historical Society maintains a library and museum in the birthplace of Lydia Maria Child. Medford is the seat of Tufts College, planned and founded as a Universalist institution in 1852 by Hosea Ballou, its first president, and others, and named in honour of Charles Tufts (1781-1876), a successful manufacturer, who gave the land on which it stands. The college, which had 1120 students and 217 instructors in 19o9, comprises a college of letters, a divinity school, and a school of engineering (all in Medford), and medical and dental schools in Boston; it is now undenominational. Among the twenty college buildings, the Barnum Museum of Natural History (x885) founded by Phineas T. Barnum, and the" Eaton Memorial Library (1907), presented by Mrs Andrew Carnegie in memory of her pastor, are noteworthy. The college endowment amounted in 1908 to $2,300,000. Medford was first settled in 163o. A considerable portion of its area formed the plantation of Matthew Cradock (d. 1641), first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company, who in 163o A prominent Loyalist, whose estate was seized during the War of Independence, but was restored to his heirs about 1800. He endowed the first professorship of law in America—at Harvard College. sent out agents to settle his lands. John Winthrop's " Ten Hills Farm," partly within the present limits of Medford, was settled soon afterwards. One of the earliest industries was ship-building, John Winthrop's " Blessing of the Bay," built on the Mystic in 1631-1632, being one of the first keels laid on the continent. In 1802 Thatcher Magoun began building sea-going vessels, and many of the famous privateers of the War of '812 were constructed here. By 1845 Medford employed fully a quarter of all the shipwrights of the state. The industry gradually lost its importance after the introduction of steamships, and the last keel was laid in 1873. Another early industry was the distilling of rum; this was carried on for two centuries, especially by the Hall family and, after about '830, by the Lawrence family, but was discontinued in 1905. The manufacture of brick and tile was an important industry in the 17th century. The Cradock bridge, the first toll-bridge in New England, was built across the Mystic in 1638; over it for 150 years ran the principal thoroughfare, from Boston to Maine and New Hampshire. The course of Paul Revere's ride lay through Medford Square and High Street, and.within a half-hour of his passage the Medford minute men were on their way to Lexington and Concord, where they took part in the engagements with the British. After the Battle of Saratoga many of Burgoyne's officers were quartered here for the winter. The Middlesex Canal was opened through Medford in 1803, and the Boston & Lowell railroad (now the southern division of the Boston & Maine) in '831. Medford was chartered as a city in 1892. See Charles Brooks, History of the Town of Medford (Boston, 1855 enlarged by J. M. Usher, Boston, '886); Historical Register of the Medford Historical Society (1898 et seq.); Proceedings of the 275th Anniversary of the Settlement of Medford (Medford, 1905) ; S. A. Drake, History of Middlesex County (2 vols., Boston, '880) and Helen Tilden Wild, Medford in the Revolution (Medford, 1903).
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