Popular Topics in Winchester History
New! The Sachems of Winchester
For over six decades, Winchester's athletic teams have been known as Sachems, the name deriving from a centuries-old tradition that the community owes its beginning to friendly relations with the Massachusetts leader, the Squaw Sachem, traditionally described as a noble and gracious queen. Read more about the tradition (PDF), the historic sachems (PDF), and the Sachems team name (PDF) and logo.
This report, originally prepared for the engineers working on the flood-mitigation program and updated through June 2016, provides a detailed history of the river, particularly changes effected by the Town.
The Archival Center has some family files and a variety of resources for researching family history, such as street directories, poll tax lists, blue books, and assessor's lists. The Center has a photograph collection with a number of portrait photographs, school photos, and other group pictures.
During the 1970s, the Winchester Historical Commission surveyed houses built before 1917. Copies are available at the Archival Center and the Public Library. Additional information and photographs may be available at the Archival Center. Blueprints and plans are rare.
All questions regarding historic designations of homes or about historic districts should be directed to the Winchester Historical Commission, care of the Town Planner.
For assessment data on all current properties, see the online database provided by the Board of Assessors.
Names of Places in Winchester
Ever wonder who Manchester Field was named for - or the Ambrose School, Myopia Hill, Wadleigh Field, or any other place in Winchester? Try this guide.
The Winchester Historical Society is the steward of the historic Sanborn House on the Ambrose School campus. Many of their programs take place at the house, which is also available for rental by town organizations and individuals.
The Town of Winchester was named - not for Winchester, England - but for Lt. Colonel William Parsons Winchester (1801-1850), a man who never set foot in the town. The town founders persuaded Col. Winchester, a merchant of Boston and a commander of the First Corps of Cadets, to lend his family name to the new town in expectation of a monetary reward. Receiving the news that the town had been incorporated with his name, Col. Winchester sent a gift of $3,000 but never visited the town. A planned visit was canceled due to torrential rains. Subsequent plans for a visit were abandoned after Col. Winchester died suddenly of typhoid fever that same year.
The Seal of the Town of Winchester was designed by Edmund Garrett and adopted in 1896. According to the gloss accompanying the artist's painting of the seal:
"This device consists of a wreath of lilies and field daisies typifying respectively the water and the fields. The indigenous lily stands for the new world. The daisy, imported from England, marks its settlement by the Puritans. Within the wreath is the name Waterfield and the date of settlement 1638 also the name of Winchester and the date of its adoption 1850 and around the wreath the legend Seal of the Town of Winchester. The whole is encircled by a pearl and bead border."
The blue background represents water. The green in the outer circle represents the fields. The name Waterfield comes from the 1638 Charlestown Book of Possessions which recorded the allotments of land in this area to the colonists. "Waterfield" was a descriptive term designating the area which is now Winchester center.
Winchester's Historic, Commemorative Memorial Signs & Markers
This document was created for the Town of Winchester as an Eagle Scout project by Benjamin Eid in 2013. See his report (PDF).
A number of archival photographs have been published in The Wright-Locke Farm: A History in Pictures, available at the Center, the Winchester Historical Society, and Book Ends for $10. The proceeds from sales of this booklet will assist the Center to fulfill its mission of documenting Winchester's history and making it available to the public. The Wright Locke Farm Conservancy offers a variety of programs that are open the public.
Access the Wright-Locke site resource for more information.
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