High on the Hill

Dixon, Linda J.
1979

MORE PERSPECTIVES FROM THE MEMORIAL STEPS

MORE PERSPECTIVES FROM THE MEMORIAL STEPS

 

As we stand here at the top of the Memorial Steps, remember that not only do we see Boston and the surrounding communities, but they see us. Oliver Wendell Holmes, at his house on Beacon Hill, once said he thought when he got to heaven and looked out of the window, he would see Tufts College.

There is a great deal of New England's heritage right on our doorstep. At the foot of College Avenue is Powderhouse Square and Powderhouse Park, named for the building which in 1775 was used by the Revolutionaries to store powder for their guns and cannon as they besieged Boston. The park also contains a field house familiar to many Tufts students who were drafted or who enlisted in the military service during World War II.

The home of George Luther Stearns, one of Medford's prominent citizens, stood on the land beyond Cousens Gym. Stearns, an ardent abolitionist, made his home a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. He recruited thousands of freed slaves to fight in the Union Army.

Following World War II, emergency housing needs of returning veterans were met by erecting on the old Stearns Estate 12 two-story temporary structures containing apartments for 80 couples (undergraduates, graduates and instructors). Known as "Stearns Village," its inhabitants established the first postwar nursery school in 1949. Nursery School Training at Tufts began in 1940, was suspended during World War II, and since then has developed markedly over the years into the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study now housed in the Child Study Center at the edge of the Stearns Estate.

Just out of sight at 15 George Street is the Royall House, one of the grandest country seats in colonial America, the home of the Isaac Royall family (1832-1875). During the revolutionary war it was used by General John Stark and his New Hampshire troops, and for councils of war by Generals Washington, Lee, Sullivan and Stark.