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Somerville history moves into the future

Posted by Kaileigh Higgins  January 6, 2011 10:04 AM

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Somerville kicks off 2011 with just a little bit more history ... or, to be exact, more recognition of its history. Among the last [bit] of business was the approval of four new local historic districts, and the expansion of an existing district. The aldermen approved the changes on Dec. 16.

In all, the city added 37 new properties to the historic district rolls in 2010, including the imposing St. Joseph's Church in Union Square, according to ordinances provided by the city clerk. The changes followed a two-year state- and federal-grant funded survey that identified "the most significant unprotected historic properties in the City," according to the latest newly amended ordinance.

The new districts are all in the central and eastern parts of the city: Flint Street, in East Somerville; a generalized "East Somerville" designation; Union Square; and Hinckley Street in Magoun Square.

Which isn't to say these neighborhoods had gone unnoticed. Several official historic districts already existed in the Union Square environs, including a good portion of Bow Street. There are four districts on Prospect Hill. East Somerville already had historic designations on Franklin, Cross and Mt. Vernon streets.

SomervilleMuseum.pngHowever, one house of history is hurting. The Somerville Museum (left) has until Feb. 14 to raise funds for a $104,500 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facility Fund and MassDevelopment Corporation. The museum has raised $50,000 so far.

The money will go toward significant repairs on the windows and roof. Both date back to the brick building's original construction in 1925 and have never been replaced, according to the campaign website. When it storms, water leaks into the building and slate tiles rain down outside.

Along with hosting periodic art and history exhibits, the museum boasts an 18th-century "flying double" staircase that architect Charles Bulfinch designed for a Charlestown mansion.

To learn more, visit somervillema.gov and somervillemuseumbuildingfund.org.

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