Boston – The battles of Lexington and Concord. These events should ring a bell or two with most people. However, when it comes to the Battle of Menotomy, notably the bloodiest battle that took place on April 19, 1775, the first day of the American Revolution, the number of questioning looks and blanks stares is sure to skyrocket. This could be, for the most part, because not many residents are left who recognize that while 18th century Menotomy no longer exists, it has far from disappeared. In actuality, it has simply grown and changed into what is now the modern-day town of Arlington, Mass.
Before the time of the battle, Menotomy was a village within the boundaries of Cambridge, Mass. It separated from Cambridge, in 1807, to become West Cambridge. Then, in 1867, it finally transformed into Arlington, with the name being chosen in commemoration of those buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Although just as historically rich as neighboring Lexington, Arlington’s town history, including the Battle of Menotomy is only covered in Arlington school curriculums and only lifelong locals recognize the significance of the yellow, colonial Jason Russell House sitting at the corner of Jason Street in the center of town as the central location for where the Battle took place.
According to lifelong resident Robert Radochia, in an article from the Arlington Advocate, the gradual transformation and name change is what has led to the town’s history being left by the wayside. With the loss of the name, Menotomy, came the loss of the town’s historical reference and identity. Arlington’s location closer to Boston has also led to its quicker urbanization and the erasure of key historical structures in the pursuit of progress.
Radochia proposed, at a recent meeting of the Arlington Committee on Tourism and Economic Development (A-TED), that they bring the name, “Menotomy Village”, back to Arlington’s center. In the opinion of Selectman and A-TED member Clarissa Rowe, Arlington has not received the recognition it deserves for its role in the American Revolution. This method of rebranding the town could then help to bring more tourists to the area and boost the town’s economy.
Historic preservation laws have prevented the further destruction of historic landmarks in and around the Arlington area. Could it be time to bring back the identity and pride lifelong residents like Robert Radochia feel should be represented by their hometown?
Radochia adds, “There are many Arlingtons. There’s only one Menotomy.”
The Jason Russell House Battle Reenactment occurs every year as part of the Patriots’ Day reenactments in and around Boston. For more information, please visit the Boston Discovery Guide’s Schedule of Events page.
Photo by Daderot, Wikipedia.