Events

Annual Members Meeting with Election of Board Members and May Public Program

The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War
A slideshow lecture by J. L. Bell

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
7:00 PM Annual Members Meeting
7:15 PM May Public Program
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

In early 1775, Watertown was armed with cannon.  The town also received a visit from spies for royal governor Thomas Gage.  The British general had sent those men on a search for artillery, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let four brass cannon vanish from militia armories under redcoat guard.  Eventually the spies located those guns in Concord.  Gage drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory.  The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general.  There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all kept the stolen cannon as secret as possible.

J. L Bell is a writer who specializes in the start of the American Revolution in New England and is the proprietor of the popular Boston 1775 website.  A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and Colonial Society of Massachusetts, he is also author of a National Park Service study of George Washington’s work in Cambridge.  He has written many articles, delivered papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society and appeared on a panel of the Organization of American Historians.  Some of his lectures have been broadcast on the C-Span Networks and he has spoken at many historic sites around greater Boston and beyond.  Copies of Mr. Bell's book The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War will be available for sale following his presentation.

This event is funded by Historical Society members/volunteers Lynne A. O'Connell and R. Lynn Rardin.

This meeting and program are free and open to the public.
For more information, call Joyce at 781-899-7239.

March Public Program

Watertown Square Through Time
A game show style presentation by author Cara Marcus

Thursday, March 21, 2019
7:00 PM
Community Room
Watertown Police Department Headquarters
552 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

This game show style presentation will be based on the book Watertown Square Through Time (Arcadia, 2018) by Cara Marcus.  It will give Historical Society members and other Watertown history aficionados a chance to test their knowledge of the Square's streets and buildings, as well as events and people associated with the Square, through the area's nearly 300 years of history in a fast-paced, fun and novel way.  Some of the answers may come as a surprise!  Images from Ms. Marcus's then-and-now format book will be shown throughout the event, as she shares facts and lore about the Square.  The winner of the game will be given a copy of Watertown Square Through Time, and copies of the book will also be available for sale following the presentation.

In addition to authoring Watertown Square Through Time, which the Watertown Historical Commission named a Historical Resources Preservation Award winner, HSW member Cara Marcus has contributed to the documentation of local history in a number of other ways.  Ms. Marcus writes two ongoing monthly columns that appear in the Watertown TAB: "This Month in Watertown History" and "Invented in Watertown."  She is also the author of Images of America: Faulkner Hospital (Arcadia, 2010) and Preserving the History of Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital (Watermark, 2015).  Cara is the Resource Center Manager for National Rural Transit Assistance Program, where she oversees library operations and edits the organization's extensive array of publications.  She also serves on the Board of the Eastern Transportation Knowledge Network.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Science in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

November Public Program

Gangland Boston: A Tour Through the Deadly Streets of Organized Crime
A slideshow lecture by author Emily Sweeney

Thursday, November 8, 2018
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Gangsters have played a shady role in shaping Greater Boston’s history.  While lurking in local restaurants or just around the corner inside that inconspicuous building, countless criminals have quietly made their mark on the city and surrounding communities.  Emily Sweeney's book Gangland Boston: A Tour Through the Deadly Streets of Organized Crime (2017) reveals the hidden history of these places, bringing readers back to a time when the North End was wrought with gun violence, Hanover Street was known as a "shooting gallery," and guys named King Solomon, Beano Breen and Mickey the Wiseguy ruled the underworld.  
Drawing upon years of research and an extensive collection of rare photographs, Gangland Boston sheds light on how gang violence unfolded during Prohibition, the Italian mafia rose to power and the Gustin Gang came to be.  From South Boston to Somerville, Chinatown to Charlestown and every neighborhood in between, Ms. Sweeney's lecture will offer listeners a guided tour of Boston's underworld, revealing the places where the deals were made, people were killed and bodies were buried.


Emily Sweeney is an award-winning journalist who researched and wrote “Greatest Hits: A Mob Tour of Boston” for the Boston Globe in 2003.  She is featured as a guest commentator in Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed, a documentary about organized crime in South Boston.  Sweeney is from Dorchester, MA, and her knowledge of Boston and its history runs deep.  She has been a staff writer at the Boston Globe since 2001.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

September Public Program

Exploring Greater Boston's Historic House Museums: Bringing the Past Into the Future
A slideshow lecture by author Elizabeth S. Levy Merrick

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Regarding her book Be There Then: Exploring Greater Boston’s Historic House Museums (2014), author Elizabeth S. Levy Merrick writes: "One of the pleasures of visiting or living in Boston, with its wealth of historical resources, is to be able to experience the past through the historic houses left to us by earlier inhabitants.  This guide, including colorful profiles of more than forty historic houses open to the public in and around Boston, is an indispensable handbook to help you discover hidden historical gems as well as some better-known portals to the past.  From colonial to Victorian, from modest to upper-crust, there are houses for every interest.  Be There Then aims to convey not only the basics of each house but also the overall visitor experience, going beyond a listing of facts and allowing you to plan your visits carefully.  Houses of the distant (and not-so-distant) past serve to bring history alive, helping us know what it was like to live then and there. In these historic house museums, you can step over the threshold and start your journey back in time."  Elizabeth will present topics from her book in this lecture.  She is a lifelong aficionado of historic houses and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Treaty Day: a Commemoration of the Declaration of Independence and Treaty of Watertown

Saturday, July 14, 2018
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Edmund Fowle House
28 Marshall Street
Watertown, MA 02472

This annual event marks the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of Watertown on July 18, 1776.  The signing of the first treaty negotiated by the new nation with a foreign power, namely the St. John's (aka Maliseet) and Mi'kmaq Tribes of Nova Scotia, at the Edmund Fowle House on July 19, 1776, will also be celebrated. Special presentations by invited guests will shed light on the continued importance of the Treaty of Watertown.

The Nugumij (Grandmother) Drum from the United Native American Cultural Center in Devens, MA, will be present and drummers and singers will perform several songs to mark the occasion.  Center members and guests, dressed in their native regalia, and colonial reenactors will be present to share their stories.

The Edmund Fowle House will be open for free tours.

A basket for donations of non-perishable food items to the Watertown Food Pantry will be available.

This event is partially funded by the Watertown Community Foundation and the Watertown Cultural Council.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, call Audrey Jones Childs at 617-926-2577.