Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fort Washington, Cambridge, Mass.

Fort Washington
95 Waverly St.
Cambridge, Mass.

During the siege of Boston, in November of 1775, General George Washington ordered three "half-moon batteries" to be built on the banks of the Charles River. Built on a narrow part of the Charles these gun batteries were meant to prevent British naval vessels from sailing upriver from Boston Harbor. As far as it is known, they never fired their guns in anger. Fort Washington is the only one of the three still extant.

After the occupation of Boston was lifted in March of 1776, Gen. Washington and the war headed south. The three cannon that had been placed here were removed at that time, but the earthworks remained. Bordering the marshy estuary of the Charles River, in a lightly settled area, the earthworks remained undisturbed. The land passed into the hands of the Dana family, who recognizing it's historical significance, worked to preserve it for posterity.

In 1857 working with City and State officials, a park was created and it was at that time given the name Fort Washington. Funding was provided and an ornate black iron fence, depicting cannon, was built around the site. Three artillery pieces from old Fort Warren were provided by the State (of later vintage than the Revolutionary War) to replace the missing cannon.

But as time passed the park was neglected and during the 1970's a visitor looking for Fort Washington would have had difficulty finding it. At that time the park was in the midst of property owned by a major trucking company. The fence had fallen into disrepair and was missing in several sections.

With the arrival of America's Bicentennial and with the work and contributions of many organizations, over time the fence was repaired and the park spruced up. The trucking company has moved on and a number of R&D companies have moved into the area. The Fort no longer has a view of the river, but it does have a much more airy atmosphere to it than it did at times in the past.

Unfortunately, in the last few years Fort Washington has become a haven for local dog owners. Modern swing gates have been added and "chicken fencing" now covers the lowest portion of the historic fence so that small dogs cannot escape. The earthworks has at times been burrowed into by the dogs and the grass in the park is bare in many spots.

There has been some protest about this and perhaps as a result, as of this date, Fort Washington is closed to the public for the summer and is undergoing "renovations".

1 comment:

alex amarxon said...

I am trying to rest in my recliner during nap time, instead of cleaning, cooking and trying to accomplish all I can before they wake up - I am planning the itinerary. I hope I am up to this!!!! garden fence