Historical Markers: Charlestown

Austin Block - 92 Main St.*

Middlesex Country Sheriff Nathaniel Austin built this commercial block in 1822 using stone from Outer Brewster Island, which he owned. Among the businesses since located here was the "Bunker Hill Aurora," Charlestown's first newspaper. With the Austin Block on the verge of collapse in 1980, Historic Boston Incorporated rehabilitated the structure, harvesting stone from Austin's quarry to restore the first floor.

Bunker Hill Burying Ground

Established in 1810, this is Charlestown's second oldest burying ground, and the site of the left wing of Colonial forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. A monument marks the location of the Rail Fence and Stone Wall fortified by the colonists. In a defensive line that extended to the Mystic River, men from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire repelled superior British forces during the first assault and covered the retreat of American defenders from the redoubt. Some family plots in the burying ground contain cornerstones designed in the shape of the Bunker Hill Monument, the 221-foot obelisk dedicated in 1843.

Charlestown Five Cent Savings Bank - 1 Thompson Square*

When it was constructed in 1876, this bank was the most important commercial building in Charlestown. It was designed by the firm Moffette and Tolman in the High Victorian Gothic Style. The building also housed Charlestown's Masonic Lodge on its top three floors.

Charlestown Heights - Bunker Hill and St. Martin Streets.

Designed in 1891 by the firm of America's foremost park planner and landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, this playground is one of the best surviving examples of the neighborhood parks in Boston's original system. Olmsted divided the park into three sections; the upper park provided shady respite, the central play area featured open lawns, and the overlook offered sweeping views of the Mystic River. Olmsted included his signature meandering pathways, granite stairways and Roxbury "puddingstone" boulders. In 1942, the playground was renamed to honor Ensign John J. Doherty.

Deacon Larkin House - 55 Main St.

This 1790s Georgian residence was built for Deacon John Larkin, a patriot best remembered for his role in Paul Revere's legendary midnight ride. It was Larkin's horse that carried Revere out to Lexington and Concord to warn the Committee of Safety of the approaching British troops. Larkin's original house stood in nearby City Square. Along with the rest of Charlestown, it was destroyed during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. This clapboard-sided house with a low third floor and quoin-embellished corners is a rare survivor from Charlestown's post-Revolutionary era of construction.

Edward Everett House - 16 Harvard St.*

This outstanding example of urban Federal style architecture was constructed in 1814 by Matthew Bridge (1750-1814), a prosperous merchant who was integral to the reconstruction and civic development of post-Revolutionary War Charlestown. It was the home of the distinguished scholar, orator, and statesman Edward Everett (1794-1865) during his congressional and gubernatorial career and later the home of William Carleton, Boston inventor and founder of Carleton College in Minnesota.

John Hurd House - 69-71 Main St.

Constructed in 1792, the Hurd House is in the Georgian style though built during the Federal Period. Serving as the residence of the John Hurd family for its first century, the ground floor became commercial around 1872.

Two salient features marked the house for the better part of the 20th century: the elevated transit line hid its architecture, and the Donovan and Fallon pharmacy thrived on its corner. In 1981 Historic Boston Incorporated purchased the house, reinforced it, restored the exterior, and sold it with preservation restrictions to local businessmen.

Phipps Street Burying Ground

This was Charlestown's first cemetery, established about 1630. Local lore has it that the irregular layout corresponded to a map of the town. Many of the stones feature the art of the "Charlestown carver," an anonymous stonecutter working in the 1660s who developed an important regional style continued by generations of the Lamson family. As the town cemetery, the tombs represent people of every class and situation, from Nathaniel Gorham, president of the Continental Congress (buried in an unmarked grave) to Prince Bradstreet, "an honest man of color."

St. John's Church - 27 Devens Street

St. John's Church was founded in 1840 on the eve of a population boom in Charlestown. Joining diverse Christian denominations, St. John's became the town's only Episcopal congregation. Built in 1841, this early Gothic Revival church, designed by Richard Bond, is notable for its dark ashlar granite facade, quatrefoil windows and square crenellated tower. The adjacent 1870s Carpenter Gothic stick-style chapel, designed by Ware and Van Brunt, was lifted to alow the addition of a brick ground floor, thereby creating the Parish House in 1901.

Warren Tavern - 2 Pleasant Street

This is one of the first buildings erected after the burning of Charlestown by the British on June 17, 1775. It is thought to be the town’s oldest standing structure, having been built before 1780. It was renovated in 1972 by the Charlestown Development Corporation. Since its dedication in 1784, where Paul Revere, a frequenter of the tavern, delivered a speech, this tavern continues the tradition of hospitality. The tavern was named in honor of General Joseph Warren, a leading citizen, patriot, and physician who died in the Revolutionary War, being fatally wounded during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Charlestown Landing No. 1, Terminus of the Middlesex Canal

The Middlesex Canal, constructed between 1793 and 1803, once stretched from this point to Lowell, 27 miles to the northwest. In the early 19th century, when travel over land was more difficult than water travel, the canal served as a highway for passengers, lumber, and other goods between the coast and the interior. The canal played a vital role in the economic growth of the communities through which it passed and helped spark the Industrial Revolution in America. After the introduction of rail travel, the canal was no longer economically viable and by 1853 it had fallen into disuse. Some sections of the canal are still visible today in other cities and towns along the route.

* Indicates Designated Boston Landmark