Travel Back In Time — Waltham Through The Years
Travel Back in Time with the Wednesday Patch Passport, to discover the history and roots of Waltham.
Vestiges of the city's rich history still dot the community today, evoking recollections of eras past when the city was filled with old railroads, a watch factory and even a famous writer.
Let Patch Passport be your guide to discovering some historic sites in the city. But first, some back history on the city's beginnings.
Waltham was founded in 1738 after succeeding from Watertown. The city was finally incorporated in 1884. The first settlers arrived during the 17th century and laid their roots in the Chester and Beaver Brook areas.
Years later in the 19th century, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson started spending his summers in the city, where he displayed his first thoughts of transcendentalism during sermons at the First Parish Church.
- SOUTH JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
For a more recent trip back in Waltham’s history, take a ride over to the former South Junior High School, to evoke memories of the city’s South Side neighborhood where the homes were luxurious and surrounded by trees.
“I remember our neighborhood being real safe,” she said. “We could play in the street and no one bothered you,” Mary Gardiner, who grew up in the South Side neighborhood, told Patch earlier this year.
Even more interesting — there are different schools of thought on the boundaries of the South Side Neighborhood in fact are. To some, the South Side starts with anything south of the Charles River. Others, however, claim the neighborhood is the areas nearby St. Charles Catholic Church and the former junior high school. City Councillor Robert Logan, however, disagreed.
“The South Side is that part of the city that is South of the Charles River and only that part South of the River. The land in Waltham South of the Charles River was originally part of Newton. It was purchased from the City of Newton for $1,000 in 1849 and annexed to Waltham,” Logan told Patch earlier this year. “That has been the ‘South Side’ ever since.”
- GROVER CRONIN’S LANDING
While the store is gone, the building that previously housed the city’s classy department store, known as Grover Cronin’s, is a great place to visit to invoke history. Patch history columnist recently recalled her time visiting it as a kid.
“Although the store is long gone, its Art Deco front still sits on Moody Street, reminding us of Waltham's main and most important store. Condos and apartments now sit behind the facade, but every time I pass images of those old wooden clothing-filled bins that filled the bargain-style basement still pop into my mind,” Dube wrote.
She continued, “While the store was still open, shoppers with more spending money stayed on the first floor or traveled to the top where items were pricier and far more breakable. Visits to the third floor were rare and usually just to use the escalator to back to the first floor and the candy counter that waited at the bottom.”
Sources: Prior Watch City History columns.