Melrose Massachusetts, 1890

Melrose is a beautiful suburban town in the eastern part of Middlesex County, seven miles north of Boston on the main line. Western Division, of the Boston and Maine Railroad, whose stations in. the town are the Fells, at the south, Wyoming, Melrose (centre) and Melrose Highlands (Stoneham station).

The boundaries are Wakefield on the north, Saugus on the east, Malden on the south, and Stoneham on the west. The area, excluding highways and water surfaces, is 2,738 acres. A considerable portion, especially at the south, consists of forests of pine, oak and walnut. At the centre is Ell Pond (or Crystal Lake) covering about 50 acres; in the east is Long Pond, and in the southeast. Swain's. A beautiful streamlet from Spot Pond, at the west, dashes down the rocky slopes, and through Wyoming, where it joins the outlet of Ell Pond, which becomes Malden River. Affluents of the Saugus River drain the eastern part of the town. The rock is chiefly sienite, and shows in many ledges. The scenery is varied and picturesque. The principal village lies in a pleasant valley; but the highlands, especially on the east and west, afford admirable views. The soil is mostly a rich loam.

In 1885 the farms numbered 39; and their aggregate product was valued at $59,931. Of this, the greenhouse contributed $20,552. Much attention is given to the cultivation of apples, pears, small fruits and strawberries. The Boston Rubber Shoe Company's factory consists of two large brick buildings, and employs about 1,000 persons in busy times. The Small Brothers' furniture factory employs nearly 100, and produced goods to the value of $20,000. Barrett's shoe factory employs from 30 to 50; and there are four smaller shoe factories; the aggregate value of these articles made in 1885 was $113,072. Some of the other manufactures are watches, leather-board articles, leather, carriages and food preparations. The aggregate value of all goods made was $523,529. The Melrose Savings Bank, at the beginning of the present year, held $284,241 of deposits. The assessed dwellings in 1888 were 1,630. The valuation in that year was $6,001,566, with a tax-rate of $13.60 on $1,000. The population in 1885 was 6,101, which included 1,491 legal voters.

The town is growing rapidly. There were, by the last State census, 22 building establishments, all fully employed. Street railways connect with Woburn, Malden, Chelsea and Boston. The entire central part of the town is supplied by an aqueduct with excellent water from Spot Pond. There are maples and elms along the village streets, of 50 years' growth, and new trees are annually set.

The town-hall is a handsome edifice of brick and stone, built in 1873 at a cost of $65,000. There are also several handsome business blocks, and an Episcopal and a Universalist church edifice recently erected—the first being constructed of granite. The other church edifices belong to the First Congregationalists, the Baptists, Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics; and there is a Second Congregationalist at Melrose Highlands. The public schools consist of primary, grammar and high, occupying 11 buildings, valued at some $60,000. Melrose public library has nearly 8,000 volumes. There are two weekly newspapers published here, the new and newsy "Reporter " and the old "Journal," which still remains a family favorite.

Settlements were made near the centre of this town as early as 1650 by Ensign Thomas Lynde and Ralph Sprague, and descendants of both are still resident in the vicinity. The territory of this town was taken from Malden, and incorporated, May 3, 1850. The name is compounded of the Latin word for honey, and our own name for the loveliest of flowers, — thus, Mel-rose; and, if the place do not belie its name, it should abound in sweetness and beauty.

Many people whose place of business is Boston, make their residence here. Mrs. Mary A. Livermore also is a resident.

pp. 453-454 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

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