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March 15, 2008


Frank Bucca

Back before the original High School building-[Latin)- was built, the basic City Hall building where it currently stands [before add-ons, etc.] served as the original High School for the Town of Somerville.

Town offices were moved into the building after the building and opening of the Latin High School in 1872.
Latin High School preceding and eventually replaced by the English High School....and then the High School as we now know it.
Still have my 1946 Western Junior High School graduation class picture.

Ron Newman

Where were the town offices before they moved into the current City Hall?

James Norton

Ron -

The present city hall was formerly "Somerville Free High School" and the building itself was originally erected on the lot of land it sits now, but the structure was moved slightly to its present location and rehabbed in early to mid 1872 to house the city offices, which prior to that, were housed in the hall at the Forster School (Sycamore Street). The first inaugural was held on Jan 1, 1872 at that location (Forster School) and its fairly well documented that the town offices were there for quite some time before then - I can't find conclusive data which lists anything other than the Forster School as functioning as the center of government for Somerville during the time period leading up to incorporation ratification by the legislature in April of 1871 and onto the move to the previous high school building on Highland Avenue.

Ron Newman

Thank you! The next Somerville History bike tour on May 31 will focus on the history of Somerville's schools, and that was very helpful.

Ron Newman

One other question, while we're on this subject: was the Forster School where the Winter Hill Community School is today?

James Norton

Ron -

The short answer is yes. The main building sat where the back door and the top level playground on the WHCS site are now. The longer answer is that the hall of the Forster School was an addition to the original structure which extended from the back of the main building (which had entrances on Sycamore and Evergreen sides) down towards Medford Street. From what I understand, that hall burnt down sometime in the late 1880's and the main building stood basically untouched in the spot I explained at the beginning of this answer.
The spot where the hall was was eventually split - one half went to St. Ann's and the other corner (Medford and Sycamore) was deeded and private homes were built on those lots.
I remember the Forster School as a very large, old building (I went there for Kindergarten and First Grade before it was torn down to build the WHCS) and considering the amount of history those walls held, looking back now it is a shame such a grand old structure was leveled and not somehow reused - although, when built, the WHCS was state of the art in design (I went there for Second, Third and the first day of Fourth Grade before entering St. Ann's).

Hope that helps.



the forster school must have had three buildings. when i was a kid playing stick ball there it was two buildings. the one on the corner of sycamore and evergreen and another between that building with the st. ann convent behind it and the small school yard belonging to st ann beside it. p.s. if you want to know where the flag pole is that was on the sycamore street side of the building,let me know. i'll lead you to it.


The Charlton School was where Kenny Park is now across from Rite-Aid. The Lowe School on Morrison is now condos. The Hodgkins School was across from Hodgkins Spa...or Tony's as it will always be known to me.

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