Watertown History

Fowle House Restoration Background

On September 17, 2004, the Historical Society of Watertown was granted a $500,000 award for the Edmund Fowle House, provided by legislation known as House Bill #5076 and signed by Governor Romney. This appropriation was largely due to the efforts of Senator Steven Tolman, a staunch supporter and advocate of historical sites in his districts. The funds were administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

In 2006 another $200,000 was appropriated to aid in finishing the restoration. These funds were administered by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.

We would be remiss if we did not mention the steadfast efforts of former Historical Society Board members Jim Bean, Richard Najarian and Jack Zollo, who met with Senator Tolman on a number of occasions and stated the need to save this important building.

In the spring of 2005, the architectural firm of McGinley Kalsow & Associates LLP was chosen to work this project. A study of historic records and the existing building fabric began in the summer. Architectural Conservators were engaged, including Andy Ladygo, a nationally renowned conservator of early American structures. They looked under floor boards, baseboards, existing woodwork and wallpaper to see what lurked beneath. They analyzed different plasters, lathe characteristics, nails and paint samples to try to unravel the timeline of changes made to this historic structure.

Deconstruction and reconstruction began in October 2005. Students of the North Bennett Street School Preservation Carpentry Dept. were brought in to work on the project, supervised by Director and Instructor Robert Adam.

The Edmund Fowle House was built in 1772 and has been owned by the Historical Society of Watertown since 1922. It is the second oldest remaining house in Watertown (the Browne House is the oldest – c.1698) and the only remaining property with ties to the Revolutionary War.

The most historically significant period of the house was during the first two years of the American Revolution, 1775 – 1776. Meetings of the Executive Council of the Second and Third Provincial Congresses were held on the second floor of the house.

In addition, the Treaty of Watertown was signed in the Council Chamber on the second floor of the Edmund Fowle House on July 19, 1776. This was a treaty of alliance and friendship between the newly formed United States and delegates of the St. John’s and Mi’kmaq Tribes of Nova Scotia – our first international treaty.

The house was originally located on the corner of what is now Marshall and Mt. Auburn Streets. In 1871 it was purchased by renowned architects Charles Brigham and John Hubbard Sturgis. They had the house moved to its present location, and converted to a 2-family house, including an addition with kitchens on the back and a side entrance for one of the apartments.