By GAIL LOWE
MELROSE—In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Melrose Historical Commission (MHC) has turned beautiful pictures of vintage buildings throughout the city into posters, and they are now on display in store windows for the month of November.
“Stroll through Melrose Center and other business districts to get a glimpse of the city’s rich and varied past,” urged Shane Egan, member of the board of directors.
Sixty years ago—in 1963—the Massachusetts Historical Commission was founded. By the early 1970s, many cities and towns in the Commonwealth were forming their own historic commissions to work alongside the state agency.
A group of the city’s residents founded the Melrose Historical Commission when local author Mary Stetson Clarke petitioned local leaders to create the organization, and it gained support from then Mayor James Milano. The first meeting was held on Oct. 29, 1973.
Melrose is known for its stately Victorian style homes, most of them built between 1870 and 1920, and many are clustered on the hilly streets leading to the shopping district.
The Commission holds biannual “Research Your Home Night” events, provides counsel on issues pertaining to historic preservation and promotes Melrose history through traditional and social media.
The MHC is in the early stages of exploring the feasibility of creating a space to display Melrose related artifacts and photos, as well as to educate people about the city’s history.
Said Egan, “Melrose has always been a desirable location for families to reside due to its proximity and access to Boston, limited amount of commercial areas and beautiful Victorian style homes. This led to the early 20th century nickname “The City of Homes.”
One building worthy of note is the stately Memorial Hall on Main Street. Built in 1912 in honor of Melrose Veterans of the Civil War, Memorial Hall provides an excellent location for large events in the city and is currently raising money for ongoing renovations.
The MHC is also in favor of extending interest to the city’s youth. Toward this end, an internship was formed last year for Melrose High School seniors who are interested in supporting a Melrose Historical Project.
“We plan to have another high school senior internship project for 2024,” said Egan.
A brief history of Melrose
- English settlers explored the area around the 1620s.
- Originally known as Ponde Fielde and/or Mystic Side
- The city became part of Charlestown in 1633
- Malden broke off from Charlestown in 1649 and the current Melrose area became known as North Malden.
- The area remained largely agrarian for 200 years
- In 1845, the Boston & Maine Railroad built tracks through the area, providing easy train access to Boston.
- In 1850, the town of Melrose broke off from Malden.
- In the late 1800s, many Victorian style homes were built in Melrose, considered a nice suburb of Boston
• In 1900, the government changed Melrose to a city and elected its first mayor. Melrose would become known as the City of Homes, as there was little commercial area.