Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

September 3, 2014

Cambridge Discovery Day Historical Tours – Saturday, Sept 20, 2014

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 12:15 pm

Cambridge Discovery Day Historical Tours – Saturday, Sept 20

Enjoy a variety of free historical tours and events on Cambridge Discovery Day Saturday, Sept 20, from 9:30am–7pm. For tour descriptions, view the list below or visit, choose some tours and meet guides at the starting locations. All tours and events will take place rain or shine! For more information, contact Cambridge Historical Commission at 617-349-4683 (weekdays) or Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site at 617-876-4491 (weekends).

Pearl StreetA Pearl of a Street (9:30-11am)
Meet at Pearl Street entrance of Central Square Branch Library, 45 Pearl St., Cambridge
Explore the neighborhood of upper Pearl Street and discover Mr. Valentine’s workers’ cottages, the rowhouses built by Mr. Squires and the site of an old soap factory. Led by Kit Rawlins, Cambridge Historical Commission.  Questions? 617-349-4683 or

Free Tours of The Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters
Longfellow House(10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm)
Meet in the Visitor’s Center, Longfellow House, 105 Brattle St., Cambridge
In the winter of 1775-1776, this was the headquarters of General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. From here, Washington directed the Siege of Boston and began to train and discipline the militias gathered in Cambridge. He entertained notable visitors, including Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold. From 1837-1882, the house was a warm and welcoming place, the home of the poet, scholar and professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. It was a favorite gathering place for philosophers and artists, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, James Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Readings from poems, letters and diaries enliven the tours. Led by National Park Service Rangers. Questions? 617-876-4491

Stories of The Port: Between Kendall and Central (10-11:30am)
Kendall-CentralMeet at Jill Brown-Rhone Park, 900 Main St., junction of Columbia and Main streets and Mass. Ave.
Explore this neighborhood rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, public art and political history through the stories told by lifelong residents, immigrants and activists. See the mural on Portland Street celebrating Area 4; discover Clement Morgan and the park that bears his name; and delve into controversial projects, including urban renewal and the Inner Belt. The tour will end at Toscanini’s for coffee, ice cream and conversation. Led by Sarah Boyer, Oral Historian, Cambridge Historical Commission. Questions? 617-349-6171 or

“Have You Milked The Cows Today?” (11:30am–12:30pm)
Milk CowsMeet on brick apron to right of the Mass. Ave. door of First Parish Unitarian Church, Zero Church St. Look for the bright red rug! For Children Ages 4-12. (Must be accompanied by a responsible adult).
Mistress Elizabeth, an 18th century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck, is the widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher and lives in the summer of 1773. Mistress Elizabeth will teach attendees how to write their name with a quill pen, card and spin wool, and read the abecedarium from a hornbook. Join us in singing songs and dancing country dances, too! Materials will be provided. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

The Longfellow House Presents the Dead Writers Showcase (12-3pm)
Dead WritersMeet in the garden at Longfellow House-Washington’s HQ National Historic Site, 105 Brattle St.
Join this modern literary salon featuring living history performers portraying 19th Century American writers. Drop in at any time to chat informally with the authors, who will offer brief readings from their works throughout the afternoon. You may meet Richard Henry Dana Jr. (Daniel Berger-Jones), Margaret Fuller (Jessa Piaia), Nathaniel Hawthorn (Rob Velella), Julia Ward Howe (Libby Franck), Washington Irving (John Dennis Anderson), Harriet Beecher Stowe (Susan Lenoe) and Henry David Thoreau (Richard Smith). [Writers attending may change.] Questions? Call 617-876-4491

Streets & Squares of Cambridge: A Walk In Mount Auburn Cemetery (1-2:30pm)
Mt. Auburn CemeteryMeet at front gate of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St.
Have you ever wondered for whom the streets and squares of Cambridge are named? This tour will introduce you to the honored namesakes, including Zachariah Porter, Joseph Buckingham, Jared Sparks, Morrill Wyman, John Appleton, the Rindge family and many others. Their ideas and contributions — from the Porterhouse steak to the founding of Mount Auburn Hospital — helped create our culture and our city. Led by Carol Harper, volunteer docent. Questions? 617-607-1980 or or

Agents of Change: Polity & Politics in Cambridge Churches (1-2:30pm)
Agents of ChangeMeet at the information kiosk, Harvard Square.
Diversity of religious and political affiliations have been issues in Cambridge since Harvard’s first president became a Baptist and was asked to resign. Visit historic church sites; learn about the impact on New England of England’s Civil War of 1640 (the other civil war: Roundheads vs Royalists); and discuss how issues between Cambridge and Boston clergy foreshadowed and influenced events leading up to the Revolution. Sing a tune from the Bay Psalm Book at the site where it was published, join in a rousing political song or two at the Blue Anchor Tavern site, and listen to poetry by colonial writers. Handout included. Your guide, Mistress Elizabeth, is an 18th Century living history character from Charlestown-Beyond-the-Neck. The widow of Captain Elias de la Rue and a sometime schoolteacher, Mistress Elizabeth lives in the summer of 1773, just six months before the Boston Tea Party and a little less than two years before events at Lexington and Concord. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

Fresh Pond Places: A History Walkabout (1-3pm)
Fresh PondMeet at Ranger Station (door under the clock tower facing pond), 250 Fresh Pond Parkway
A walk from the Water Treatment Plant to Black’s Nook passes through thousands of years of history, from Fresh Pond’s glacial past, through the days of private land ownership, to the booming international ice trade of the 19th century. Learn about the role of the railroad, view areas where ice houses stood, and discover the origins of place names. Program will be inside it it’s raining. Registration REQUIRED by Sept. 13. Wear comfy shoes! Led by Chief Ranger Jean Rogers Black’s Nook. Questions?

The Old Burying Ground: Epitaphs, Elegies & Encomiums (3-4:15pm)
Old Burying GroundMeet at the Old Burying Ground gate next to Christ Church, Zero Garden St.
Examine the work of early colonial carvers; discuss the stones and the information they convey about important figures in the Cambridge community; and study how institutionalized colonial slavery affected burial sites, stones and commemorative texts in the years just prior to the American Revolution. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. No touching or rubbing of stones is permitted in the grounds; photography and drawing are fine! Handout included. Led by Mistress Elizabeth. Questions? 781-646-3013 or

The Women of Tory Row (3-4:30pm)
Women of Tory RowMeet at the Tory Row marker, corner of Brattle and Mason streets
In the 1760s, the estates along the King’s Highway to Watertown formed Cambridge’s richest and most elegant neighborhood. The American Revolution turned that world upside-down. This tour explores the lives of the women who managed households along modern Brattle Street, from the tumult in 1774 that drove away the neighborhood’s leading families, through the early republic. The women to be discussed include widows both wealthy and impoverished, wives who went into exile both happily and reluctantly, a formerly enslaved housekeeper and a German noblewoman captured with her husband at Saratoga. Led by J. L. Bell, historian. Questions?

The Writers of Cambridge Cemetery (5:30-7pm)
WritersMeet at Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., outside the cemetery office.
Not all of our famous writers are interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Join this twilight stroll through Cambridge Cemetery and visit the final resting places of some of the 19th Century’s most important literary figures, including William Dean Howells and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Led by Rob Velella, literary historian. The cemetery is a short walk from the 71/73 bus stop at Mount Auburn St. and Coolidge Ave. Parking is available at the cemetery. Questions?

Cambridge Discovery Day is sponsored by the Historic Cambridge Collaborative:
Cambridge Historical Commission – 617-349-4683 or
Cambridge Historical Society – 617-547-4252  or
Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery – 617-547-7105 or
Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site – 617-876-4491 or
Cambridge Public Library/Archives & Special Collections –

This program was funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


  1. I know that it is past the deadline for registering for the Fresh Pond Tour but I would like to know if there is still space available. If so I would like to reserve space for 4 people. My husband and I live across the street from the Fresh Pond tennis courts and spend a lot of time there. I would love to know more about our backyard.
    Thank you,
    Sharon Herman

    Comment by Sharon Herman — September 18, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

  2. I would suggest contacting Ranger Jean Rogers using the email link in the “Fresh Pond Places: A History Walkabout (1-3pm)” description. Even if the registration deadline has passed, there’s always a chance that one or more people will fail to show up. In any case, Jean can probably do the tour on the fly at a future date as part of her regular patrols around Fresh Pond. Heck, if enough people are interested we could probably organize a second tour.

    Comment by Robert Winters — September 18, 2014 @ 10:55 pm

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