Events

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017
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.

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

Monuments of Mount Auburn Cemetery
A slideshow lecture by David J. Russo

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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

The task of every town's historical commission is to determine what historic resources exist in the community, advocate for those resources and make them more accessible to the public.  In 2013, David Russo, Chairperson of the Watertown Historical Commission, was contacted by the Massachusetts Historical Commission to follow up on an old Mount Auburn Cemetery inventory made in the mid-1970s.  David soon realized that a complete inventory would be necessary to do justice to Mount Auburn's large number of significant resources. He will describe this project and detail the process he used to identify and document 225 individual resources, including monuments, mausoleums, landscapes, buildings and even a bridge, located in this important Watertown cemetery.

In addition to his role as Chairperson of the Watertown Historical Commission, Mr. Russo currently volunteers for the Historical Society.  He also served as an HSW Council Member and Recording Secretary from 2010-2012.

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

March Public Program

Dining Out in Boston:  A Culinary History
A slideshow lecture by author James C. O'Connell

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

The book Dining Out in Boston:  A Culinary History (2016) is a comprehensive historical overview of the development of Boston's restaurants.  Boston has been one of America's leading laboratories of urban culture, including restaurants, and its history provides valuable insights into American food ways.  Dining Out in Boston explains how the city was a pioneer in elaborate hotel dining, oyster houses, French cuisine, ostentatious banquets, ice cream parlors, ethnic cooking, the colonial revival of traditional New England dishes, the "gourmet" revolution, student hangouts and contemporary locavore and trendy foodie culture.

Dr. O'Connell will talk about the food served at some of the historic restaurants covered in the book, including Julien's Restorator (the city's first restaurant), the Parker House, Durgin-Park, Union Oyster House, Locke-Ober, Café Marliave, Jacob Wirth, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Anthony's Pier 4, Dini's Sea Grill, Maison Robert, Bailey's Ice Cream Shop, Longfellow's Wayside Inn and many long-forgotten eateries.

Jim O'Connell is a planner for the Boston Regional Office of the National Park Service.  He earned a Ph.D. in Urban History from the University of Chicago.  He has written six books and many articles on planning and New England history.  Jim worked on planning and community development at the Cape Cod Commission and in Springfield, MA, and currently serves as an adjunct professor in Boston University's City Planning & Urban Affairs program.

Books will be available for purchase.

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..

Special Event:  Bring Family Photos Home for the Holidays

Saturday, November 12, 2016
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Edmund Fowle House
28 Marshall Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Drtad and Harry Boyajian of Oxford Studios in Cambridge preserved the history of many Watertown families in classic style studio portraiture in the 1940s and 50s.  When the bothers left the business, the proofs were given to the Boyajian family.  Harry's son, David, has donated photos of Watertown residents to the Historical Society of Watertown.

The HSW invites you to peruse listings sorted by surname and by street address of these family portrait proofs, then visit the Fowle House during a Bring Family Photos Home event to pick up photos of family, friends or neighbors at no charge so you can get them to those who will appreciate them most.  Enlarged, framed prints of the photos would make very memorable holiday gifts.

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

 

November Public Program

Massachusetts and the 19th Century China Trade
A slideshow lecture by Doug Stewart

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Two hundred years ago, greater Boston was the richest corner of the nation, thanks to the tea, spices, porcelain, silk and other luxury goods that daring local shipmasters brought back from East Asia.  The early nineteenth-century China trade merchants of Massachusetts included the new nation's first millionaires.  Many Boston area institutions, from McLean Hospital and the Museum of Fine Arts to Theodore Lyman's Waltham estate, were built in part with wealth derived from the China trade.

Between the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Salem was the heart of the China trade.  That is why its municipal seal depicts not a Puritan or a witch on a broomstick, but a Sumatran gentleman in a silk robe and slippers with a volcano in the background.  In 1807, well before the first income tax law was enacted, import duties paid at the Salem customs house alone accounted for 5% of all federal revenue.

Learn about the impact and influence of the China trade in Massachusetts through this lecture.  The involvement of Watertown residents Edmund Fowle Jr. and John Perkins Cushing (known in China as "Ku-Shing") will be discussed.

Ipswich resident Doug Stewart is a freelance magazine writer whose stories have frequently appeared in Smithsonian, as well as Time, Discover and American Heritage.  He is also the author of The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly.

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

Special Event:  Book Sale, Historical Banner Walks, Discounted Memberships

Faire on the Square 2016

Saturday, September 24, 2016
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saltonstall Park
149 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Visit the Historical Society of Watertown table at Faire on the Square to peruse new book offerings, including Watertown Records Volume 5-6, Watertown Records Volume 8, selected Watertown High School yearbooks and Coolidge/Crawford family histories.  Copies of Crossroads on the Charles and discounted copies of Watertown Echoes - A Look Back at Life in a Massachusetts Town and Images of America - Watertown will also be available for purchase.

Free walking tours highlighting Watertown's new historical lamp pole banners will depart from the Civil War Soldiers' Monument located in Saltonstall Park at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.  The banners depict eleven prominent men and women who made historic contributions in Watertown and beyond and were made possible through the generosity of the Watertown Savings Bank.

Historical Society memberships will be discounted by 50% during Faire on the Square.  There is no better time to join!

 

September Public Program

Harriet Hosmer - Watertown Sculptor
A lecture by Father Joseph Curran

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
7:00 PM
Local History Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Join Father Joseph Curran in the library's beautifully-restored Local History Room for a lecture on the art and colorful life of Watertown sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908). Reverend Curran, former pastor of the Sacred Heart Church in Watertown's East End and the foremost authority on Hosmer, will trace her rise from obscurity to the courts of Europe and the most distinguished circles in her native America.  Following the presentation, Father Curran will lead attendees on a tour of the Watertown Free Public Library's unparalleled holdings of the sculptor's work.

Ms. Hosmer is widely considered to be the most distinguished female American sculptor of the 19th century.  Her work is on view in museums throughout the country, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum.

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

 

Special Event:  Ringing of the Bells

Boston Charter Day

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
4:30 PM
Church of the Good Shepherd
Redeemer Fellowship Church
Watertown, MA 02472

The Partnership of the Historic Bostons' celebration of Charter Day each year begins with a joyous ringing of church bells in the three towns that received their present names on September 7, 1630:  Boston, Dorchester and Watertown.  Church of the Good Shepherd and Redeemer Fellowship Church in Watertown will ring their bells on Wednesday, September 7, at 4:30 PM (16:30 in 24-hour notation), the same time that bells will ring in Boston and Dorchester to commemorate the occasion.

Charter Day 2016's theme is Passionate Puritans: Marriage, Love and Sex in 17th Century Massachusetts.  Find out if Puritans were as fun-hating and dour as we're lead to believe they were.  Long-standing myths about the Puritans will be debunked.  Visit the PHB web site for a full list of Boston Charter Day events, which run though October 26.  All events are free, but registration may be required.