History of Land Development in Waltham, Mass.
For this historical review of the land development of the Charles-Felton Streets area of Waltham, the area has been defined as bordering on Moody Street on the east, South Street on the west, Main Street on the north, and the Charles River down to the Prospect Street bridge and then west over to South Street on the south. The area encompasses the northern half of the John Oldham Grant of 1634 (see map below) and other land grants around today's Waltham Common and Main Street from 1636. It also includes land along the south side of Main and Weston Streets, which were part of the Boston Post Road system, and was the primary route for the transport of cattle and produce to Boston from farms west and northwest of the city during colonial times. Consequently, many homes, shops, and taverns were established along it. Prior to European settlement, Main and Weston Streets had formed part of a primary native American trail going west from Massachusetts Bay.
The Waltham Highlands is considered to be the part of Waltham lying north of the former Massachusetts Central Railroad right of way (just south of Guinan Street), south of the "Lanes" section of the Piety Corner area (just north of Dale Street), west of Bacon Street, and east of Prospect Hill Park. However, some houses on and off Dale Street east of Bacon Street will also be included. The survey is also limited to houses built before around 1900, or shortly thereafter. Before the mid-1800s, most of the western portion of this land was heavily forested, while some the eastern portion near Bacon Street was used for farming, as well as for wood lots and peat bogs. Geographically, Bacon Street marks the approximate dividing line between upland areas to the west and wet meadow lands to the east (merging into the Chester Brook, Beaver Brook, and Charles River plains).
- Fuller and Williams Colonial Farms
- The "Island" and "Cram's Cove" Area
- Forest Grove Area
- Parmenter Road and Derby Street Areas
- Chemistry Village Area – East of Newton Street to Flood Street, and North of High Street to the Charles River
- Calvary Cemetery Area
- Watch Factory (Waltham Improvement Company), Crescent Street Area
- South of the Watch Factory, West of Moody Street, and North of the Island Area
- Boston Manufacturing Company Area (Charles River to Taylor Street/Moody to Newton Streets)
- Newton Chymical (Chemical) Company Area (Lowell to Cedar Streets/Charles River to Fuller Street)
- Central South Side Area (Taylor to High Streets/West of Moody to Lowell Streets; High to Derby Streets/Lowell to Tolman Streets)
- Washington and Wadsworth Avenues Area Just East of Moody Street
- Spruce and Crescent Street Area
Waltham's Antebellum Mill Village Area →
Waltham was initially settled during the 1600s as an outlying part of Watertown and was not incorporated as a separate town until 1738. Consequently, it did not possess a town center recognizable as an architectural entity until as late as the 1830s. In the late 1700s an incipient town center had started to form near where Linden Street meets Main Street. However, after the coming of the Boston Manufacturing Company (BMC) in 1814, the commercial and industrial center of Waltham shifted down Main Street about one mile west to the present "Central Square" around the “Common”. In a sense, the area between Main Street and the river and from Moody Street to Newton Street can be considered Waltham's pre-Civil War mill village.
The Manors, a Gallery of 19th and Early 20th Century Homes →
The Waltham Historical Society’s tour of the historical sites found in the Lyman and Pleasant Streets area of Waltham, the area roughly bounded by Lyman Street in the west, Ellison Park in the east, Beaver Street in the north, and Main Street in the south. This is a self-guided tour to survey the exteriors and surroundings of the many fine historical structures that still exist along the route. Because most of the tour is along major streets, please be very careful when driving or walking. While driving, in general, it is dangerous even to slow down. Parking must be done only where public parking is legally permitted. Finally, please be very respectful of, and do not enter, private property. Arrangements have not been made for touring the interiors of the houses and buildings on the tour.