Welcome to Medford, Massachusetts!

History

Mystic River in Medford

The Mystic River & Cradock Bridge (tall ship in the background)

Founded in 1630, Medford is the fourth oldest English settlement in America. Established as a City in 1892, Medford is one of the oldest settlements in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the US.

Medford was a leader in the Clipper Ship building industry and also manufactured brick and tile. In addition, Medford was famous for its “Medford Rum” and “Medford Crackers.” Revolutionary war patriot Sarah Bradlee Fulton lived here. General George Washington visited here during the Revolutionary War, while Paul Revere came through on his famous ride, waking up Medford residents with “the British are coming!” Medford is also the home to abolitionists Prince Hall and Lydia Maria Child, cooking school founder Fannie Farmer, General Samuel Lawrence, who fought at the battle of Bull Run, and former Massachusetts Governor John Brooks. The Christmas Song “Jingle Bells” was written here by James Pierpont.

Medford contains many historic sites, monuments, and houses, some of which date back to the 17th century.

The name Medford is thought to have come from “the ford by the meadow” or “Meadford” thus commemorating the importance of the fordable part of the Mystic River located just west of present-day Medford Square.

The original area of Medford was owned by Mathew Cradock, the first Governor of the Massachusetts colonies. Although Cradock never saw it, he employed men to develop his land into a plantation. After his death, the plantation passed to his heirs and then was sold en masse in 1652 to Edward Collins. The area was designated a “peculiar” which signified that it was private property and not a properly incorporated town. Collins began selling pieces of land to others after 1656. In 1684, Medford was granted the right to raise its own money by the General Court. In 1892, Medford became incorporated as a city.