Woburn Massachusetts, 1890

WOBURN is a very pleasant and prosperous city in the easterly part of Middlesex County, 10 miles from Boston. The Boston and Lowell Railroad runs through the eastern section of the town, following the valley of a tributary of the Mystic River, having a branch to Woburn centre, and another to Stoneham in the opposite direction. Woburn (centre), Montvale, North Woburn and Cummingsville are the post-offices. The other villages are Central Square, Durensville, Highlands, Horn Pond, Thompsonville, East Woburn and Woburn Watering Place.

The form of the territory is that of one angle and the adjacent sides of a hollow square, with the angle southeastward. On the northwest are Burlington and Wilmington; on. the east are Reading and Stoneham; on the southeast is Winchester; on the southwest, Lexington; and on the west, Burlington. The assessed area is 7,653 acres; of which 1,457 acres are forests of oak, maple and pine. The lots, lawns and streets of the central village contain so many shade and ornamental trees that it has been termed "The City of Trees." They are elm, maple and horse-chestnut; and some are said to be 200 years old. Apple and other fruit-trees abound. The underlying rock is sienite; a huge mass of which, called "Rag Rock," lifts its head near the central village. The surface of the town is finely varied by hill and valley; and three bold eminences — Whispering Hill, Zion's Hill and Horn Pond Mountain— mark the landscape. The last eminence, by its numerous springs, supplies the Woburn Water-works,— which have an ample reserve source in Horn Pond, near this hill on the northeast This beautiful sheet of water has an area of 103 acres and an average depth of 20 feet. Richardson's Pond, in the northeast section, covers about 90 acres.

The city is remarkable for the number and extent of its tanneries, of which in 1885 there were 27, and now a larger number. In that year, according to the recent census report, the number of their employees was 1,488; and the value of the leather prepared for market by these and finishing establishments was $5,455,117. There were 21 boot and shoe factories, employing 519 persons, and making goods to the amount of $631,869. Chemicals, glue, shoe-stock, artisans' tools, machinery and other iron goods, tin-ware, cordage and twine, harnesses, carriages, furniture, and many other articles, are produced in large or small quantities. The value of the entire manufactures was $7,105,897. The aggregate product of the 107 farms amounted to $132,075.

The First National Bank has a capital of $300,000; and the savings bank, at the close of last year, carried $970,050 in deposits. The valuation in 1888 was $8,575,523,— with a tax-rate of $19.70 on $1,000. The number of assessed dwelling-houses was 2,085. The population in 1885 was 11,750; including 2,905 legal voters. There has been a large increase from these figures; and a population of about 15,000 is now claimed. There have been large accessions of Swedish people, as well as of native stock. The 13 public school-houses were valued at $180,000.

There is a very handsome library building of red sandstone and light trimmings, in the Romanesque style, and having a tower midway of the front. It was built at a cost of $100,000, from a bequest of $140,000 for this purpose of the late Charles Bowers Winn, a native and a citizen. The library is free to all inhabitants of the city; and now contains about 25,000 volumes. The rooms are adorned by a large number of paintings, formerly belonging to Mr. Winn's father, who had purchased them mostly in Europe. A fine cabinet of minerals, presented by Hon. John Cummings, adds to the attractions of the edifice. Other structures of which the citizens are proud are the water-works, the savings-bank building, the Dow block, the opera-house, Lyceum Hall, the central railroad station, and several others, old and new, whose designations are not at hand. Fine residences are numerous in the entire city. There are two or more very handsome churches, — of which the city, in 1885, possessed eight. The Congregationalists and the Roman Catholics had two each; and the Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Unitarians each had one; and one has recently been erected by the colored people. The "Advertiser" and the "Journal," of this city, are wide-awake and useful weeklies.

Woburn was originally known as "Charlestown Village," having been settled under the auspices of people of the late town of Charlestown. It was incorporated May 18, 1642; and adopted its present name from regard for Woburn in the county of Bedford, England. The first church was organized August 14, 1642; and the Rev. Thomas Crane was ordained minister by the laying on him the hands of two members of the church,— in the truly Congregational way. The number of soldiers furnished to uphold the Union cause in the late war was 775; and in honor of the 82 who were lost there has been erected, at a cost of $10,000, a beautiful monument, whose summit is the figure of a soldier in bronze, designed by Milmore.

Woburn is the birthplace of the following eminent men: Samuel Blodget (1724-1807), an enterprising inventor; Gen. James Reed (1724-1807), a gallant officer, present at the battle of Bunker Hill; Samuel Locke, D.D. (1732-1788), president of Harvard University from 1770 to 1773; Jeduthan Baldwin (1732-1788), an able engineer; Col. Loammi Baldwin (1745-1807), an able surveyor and officer; Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) (1753-1814), a very distinguished statesman and physicist; and Roger Minot Sherman, LL.D. (1773-1844), an able jurist.

pp. 710-712 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890