Events

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

Saturday, July 20, 2019
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.

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

Special Event:  Exhibit Opening Reception

The Art of Franklin Jones

Sunday, June 30, 2019
1:00 - 4:00 PM
Edmund Fowle House
28 Marshall Street
Watertown, MA 02472

On view in the Fowle House's North Parlor will be a new exhibit highlighting the life and career of artist, illustrator, photographer, teacher and author Franklin Reed Jones (1921-2007).  A graduate of Watertown High School, Jones was taught and mentored by art teacher Harold Moody in the public school system during the Great Depression.  Jones began his professional career fresh out of high school while working in the Van Keuren factory by drawing a series of political cartoons, "As Jones Sees It," for the Watertown Sun newspaper.  He persevered with continuous learning to make a career as an artist and instructor, rising from an admirer of Norman Rockwell's work to Rockwell colleague.

Works on display from the HSW collection and provided by the Jones family include an original painting and an original linoleum print, as well as printed examples of his sketches, illustrations and additional paintings.

During the reception, HSW Vice President Audrey Jones Childs will demonstrate 18th century painting using period appropriate watercolor paints and brushes.

Light refreshments will be served.

See our exhibits page for info on additional times when the exhibit will be available for viewing.

This exhibit is free and open to the public.

 

Special Event

Bring Old Family Photos Home

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
10:00 - 11:30 AM
Watertown Senior Center
31 Marshall Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Proofs of family portraits of Watertown residents taken by Oxford Studios of Cambridge during the 1940s and 50s were donated recently to The Historical Society of Watertown.  The HSW has made an effort to return the proofs to the appropriate families at no charge, but many have gone unclaimed.  The Watertown Senior Center is partnering with the HSW to make these proofs available for viewing, along with lists of the proofs by surname and by street address.  Maybe you will recognize family, friends or neighbors and can assist in getting these photos to the people who will appreciate them the most.  Enlarged, framed prints of the photos would make very memorable gifts!  Light refreshments will be served.

This program is free and open to the public, but pre-registration by calling 617-972-6490 is required.
For more information, call Joyce 781-899-7239.

 

Special Public Program

John Weiss: Watertown's Flame of Fire
A slideshow lecture by Rev. Mark W. Harris

Sponsored by:
The Historical Society of Watertown
Watertown Free Public Library

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Called a “flame of fire” for his dramatic and prophetic style, the Rev. John Weiss was a controversial figure in 19th century Watertown.  As a young minister, he was an outspoken advocate for the abolition of slavery and resigned from Watertown’s First Parish Church because of his views.  After a ministry in New Bedford, Weiss returned to Watertown and developed new religious philosophy of scientific naturalism.  His beliefs caused a firestorm of religious and political radicalism.  Always a supporter of Watertown’s schools and library,  Weiss was the first chairman of Watertown Free Public Library's Board of Trustees.

In celebration of WFPL's 150th anniversary, Rev. Mark Harris will give a special talk on the legacy of John Weiss.  Rev. Harris is retiring as minister at First Parish after 23 years.  An author and historian of Unitarian Universalism, he has also served as Director of Information for the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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

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..