Did you know that there is a house in Somerville that was built before the Revolutionary War? The “Oliver Tufts House” sometimes referred to as the “Peter and Oliver Tufts House” is believed to have been built on a parcel of farmland back in 1714. According to a June 26, 1935 Somerville Journal article by William Preble Jones, the house “formerly occupied the small knoll at the corner of Sycamore and Pembroke streets, midway between Medford street and the Lowell railroad bridge.”
Back when the house was built, Sycamore Street was the private driveway for the house and the street was located off of Bayberry Lane, now Highland Avenue. As Somerville continued to grow and expand, the Oliver Tufts House had to be moved, “a few rods to the north, and set some distance back from the street,” in order to make room for the widening and connection of city streets. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 18, 1989.
Here’s a fun fact for you! If you’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, you might have heard the name of one of the house’s former residents. In the song "Stay Alive", a General Charles Lee is referenced as being the man who George Washington promoted to second in command. Charles Lee had used the Oliver Tufts House as his headquarters during the Siege of Boston from 1775-1776. It is also believed that George Washington might have visited the house as well: “Local and family tradition indicates that during the early part of the Revolution General Washington was an occasional visitor of the Tufts house.” So next time you’re jamming out to the musical, you can think of your hometown!
Source: Jones, William Preble. “General Lee’s Headquarters: John Tufts, Who Occupied the House During the Revolution, Helped His Father Celebrate His Silver Wedding by Fighting the British April 19, 1775” Somerville Journal. 26 June 1935.