Magoun Square, Somerville, MA
Magoun Square is a neighborhood centered on the intersection of Broadway and Medford Streets on the border of Medford and Somerville. Magoun Square was named after the family of John Calvin Magoun (1797 – 1882) of the Adams-Magoun House. Magoun was the local Assessor for twenty-eight years and was Captain in the militia when visited by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1826.
In the mid 1800’s, real estate developers were building grand houses in East Somerville on top of Winter Hill, marketing the area to affluent Bostonians as a leafy and genteel suburb. In the 1890s, the West End Street Railway built an electric trolley running from the beginning of Highland Avenue, along Medford Street, and ending at the Square.
Between 1882 and 1900, the national economy went through four recessions. The market for Somerville’s elegant manses disappeared. Scrambling to stay profitable, developers bought up agricultural land and subdivided into tiny lots, with modest houses. Their market was immigrants, whose first great wave had been Irish, fleeing the 1845-52 potato famine. The tide slowed somewhat during the Civil War, and then resumed afterward, with Canadians joining the Irish. Many immigrants worked in Somerville’s burgeoning industries, while the trolley enabled others to commute to Boston and work in service occupations. Developers were making a killing. So much so that they began buying up the Winter Hill manses, razing them, and building brick apartment buildings. The 1910s marked a high point of Italian immigration to the U.S., and it continued into the 1930s. By 1920, Magoun Square was a thriving commercial center, serving a neighborhood dominated by Irish, Canadians, and Italians, with pockets of Eastern European Jews and Portuguese.
Today, Magoun Square is riding on the coattails of Somerville’s economic prosperity. Many of the two, three and four family houses are now being sold and converted into well priced condominiums. The small, but thriving, Magoun Square eateries and bars occupy the square and, as existing businesses move on, a nod to gentrification opens, solidifying the influx of new, former urban residents into the area.
For eats, try Olde Magoun’s Saloon, Daddy Jones, a new edition to the neighborhood, Pennypacker’s Sandwiches, On the Hill Tavern , Wang’s Chinese for take-out and, when the sweet tooth gets you, Panificadora Modelo, a casual bakery/cafe turning out traditional American breakfasts & Brazilian meals, pastries & cakes. My taste buds say ‘Thanks’ to all of these great places to eat in Magoun Square!
Magoun Square is another of Somerville’s great neighborhoods to invest in now. The square is being filled with wonderful places to eat or meet friends for a drink. The services include banking, a CVS and the important Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s easily accessible by MBTA bus service to the Orange and Red Lines and the soon to be added MBTA stop on the Green Line light body train expansion. Mostly peppered with multi-family homes and close to churches and schools, this family neighborhood is a must see if you are considering Somerville. I’d truly enjoy showing you all available properties in this neighborhood on the move.