prattville TOUR

mappointicon_edited_edited_edited_edited

Prattville’s rich and colorful history begins with the Native American Pawtucket and

Sagamore tribes. Then, in 1695, Thomas Pratt inherited a 390 acre farm that had belonged to the Ireland-Way family. For the next 300 years generations of the Pratt family farmed the land and made their homes here. They fought as Patriots in the American Revolution, hosted George Washington and led the City of Chelsea. The Pratt family made an indelible mark on the Prattville neighborhood, the city of Chelsea and the nation.

This tour was researched and developed by Lee Farrington.  Lee has lived in Prattville for 17 years. Shortly after moving here she became absorbed in learning about Chelsea’s  history. She is a former trustee of the Governor Bellingham Cary House.

Walking Stop #1

Washington Ave at Annese road

VOKE PARK

Voke Park has always been open land, measuring over 3 acres. Today, as a municipal park, residents enjoy sitting areas, a playground, basketball courts, and a baseball diamond.

 

It is named after a long-time, prominent, Chelsea family. Edward Voke was mayor of Chelsea from 1936 to 1941. He lived in Prattville. As a boy he was known for his skill as a baseball pitcher and likely played baseball in this park. Volk family members served as Fire Chief and City Clerk. Richard Voke represented Chelsea as the State Representative for the Second Suffolk District from 1976 to 1996.

Voke Park playground
Voke Park playground

Voke Park gathering area
Voke Park gathering area

Edward Voke, 36th Mayor of Chelsea
Edward Voke, 36th Mayor of Chelsea

Voke Park playground
Voke Park playground

1/6
walking stop #2

Washington Avenue

washington Avenue

Created in 1641 from a native American footpath, Washington Avenue ran from what is now the end of Broadway through Prattville. It was one of the first roads in the colonies and extended beyond Prattville to Salem. When the Prattville School was built in 1897, it was still a narrow dirt road. 

Washington Avenue, Chelsea map
Washington Avenue, Chelsea map

Washington Ave walking route
Washington Ave walking route

Going back to the earliest maps, this path has tied early maps, this is the overland route from the Boston Harbor through the north shore.

Washington Avenue, Chelsea map
Washington Avenue, Chelsea map

1/2
walking stop #3

481 WASHINGTON avenue

IRELAND-WAY-PRATT HOUSE

The Ireland-Way-Pratt House dates from 1660. It was built by the Ireland-Way family as a 2 room, 2 story, saltbox house.

 

Increase Mather, president of Harvard College from 1685 to 1692 and a political activist, took refuge in the house in 1687 as he fled the persecution of Governor Andros who was about to try him for treason. Mather escaped to England and returned a few years later. An historic property in Chelsea, the Ireland-Way-Pratt House was unfortunately torn down in 1954.

Ireland Way Pratt House Prattville postc
Ireland Way Pratt House Prattville postc

Interior of the Ireland Way Pratt House
Interior of the Ireland Way Pratt House

Ireland Way Pratt House Prattville postc
Ireland Way Pratt House Prattville postc

1/2
walking stop #4

466 WASHINGTON AVENUE

EARLY STONE WALL 

This wall is a likely remnant from the long era of farming in Prattville.  Many years after agriculture ended elsewhere in Chelsea, Prattville remained a working farm. It was built without the use of cement and the technique is called a dry stone wall. These kind of walls are made of the field stones cleared when tilling the soil. They are not robust enough to restrain livestock and defined field boundaries.  

Stone wall of original Pratt estate
Stone wall of original Pratt estate

On the upper tier near the house, you'll see a very early stone wall that would have delineated areas in the early estate.

Stone wall of original Pratt estate
Stone wall of original Pratt estate

On the upper tier near the house, you'll see a very early stone wall that would have delineated areas in the early estate.

1/1
walking stop #5

441 washington Avenue

prattville school

Prattville School was constructed in 1897 by the City of Chelsea under Herm0n Pratt as Mayor.  It replaced a small one room schoolhouse on the land built by the Pratt family and other neighbors nearly fifty years before. Hermon Pratt was a strong advocate for education and for the preservation of open land as parks for children’s recreation. Prattville School opened with great fanfare. A time capsule containing coins, newspaper clippings and other small memorabilia was placed in the cornerstone of the school. The school closed in 1997 and in 1999 was converted into loft condominiums that retain a number of the architectural features of the original building.

 

1897 saw a surge of development in Prattville. The Whidden Hospital opened in a building that was originally constructed as a house by Caleb Pratt, and later donated for a hospital. Sagamore Avenue and Garfield Avenue were laid out. The restoration of Washington Park was completed. 

Prattville School
Prattville School

441 Washington Avenue
441 Washington Avenue

entryway of Prattville School
entryway of Prattville School

The entryway displays over a fireplace a plaque detailing the dedication of the school.

Prattville School
Prattville School

1/3
walking stop #6

near 428 washington avenue

Thomas pratt mansion (Washington Pratt House, Old Pratt House)

The home of Thomas Pratt was once on the land across the street from the Prattville School. It was built on the Ireland-Way Farm in 1675 and was enlarged over the years by the Pratt family. The structure was demolished in 1855.

 

General Washington stayed at the Washington Pratt house many times during the early years of the American Revolution. His troops were quartered on the land where the school now sits, and also in what is now Washington Park. The Pratt family took pride in this notoriety. A few of their children carried the first or middle name of Washington. During this period, Sagamore Hill, on which the Whidden Hospital sits, was renamed Mount Washington.

Within the stone wall of the Nichols Street side of Washington Park you’ll find an artifact of the building. The inscription reads:  “This stone once the doorstep of the Old Pratt Mansion visited by Washington during the siege of Boston, stands opposite the barrack grounds of Colonel Gerrish’s Regiment 1775-76.”

Before the Thomas Pratt Mansion was demolished other parts of the interior were saved. For example, the wood paneling and other Interior architectural features were reused in the Herman Pratt House.  

Washington - Pratt Mansion image
Washington - Pratt Mansion image

Doorstep of the Richard Pratt Mansion
Doorstep of the Richard Pratt Mansion

the stone at the entrance of the Richard Pratt Mansion was inscribed and incorporated into the wall of Washington Park. It can be seen from the sidewalk on Nichols Street.

Washington - Pratt Mansion image
Washington - Pratt Mansion image

1/2
walking stop #7

10-12 freemont avenue 

Bowles House or Robert Pratt House

Historic documentation notes a previous address of 30 Harvard Street for the Bowles House, so the structure may have been moved from that location. The house was probably built in the 19th century.

 

Two elderly Pratt sisters lived in the house for many years. It was torn down a few years after their deaths in 2005. The sisters were the last members of the Pratt family to reside in Prattville. This means that the Pratt family lived in Prattville for approximately 300 years. 

Bowles House
Bowles House

This building was demolished in the early 21st century.

Bowles House
Bowles House

This building was demolished in the early 21st century.

1/1
walking stop #8

corner of franklin and nichols streets 

Caleb Pratt the 4th House

This house was originally built by Caleb Pratt in 1847. The property included a woodshed with grape trellises, fruit trees, lilac bushes, a barn, and a large carpenter shop. Caleb was a prominent builder of homes in Charlestown, Chelsea, and Malden and was responsible for piping water to Prattville from Charlestown beginning in 1668.  Caleb planted many elm and maple trees as he laid out the streets we know today as Franklin, Freemont, Harvard, Lash, and Eustice. 

 

The house was moved to the back of the lot in 1897 to make room for a new house Caleb built for his son, Hermon Washington Pratt. Hermon's house was likely built on the old foundation and Hermon's house still stands today.


The original house was demolished. The building on the site today is a more recent construction with no connection Caleb Pratt. 

Caleb Pratt the 4th House
Caleb Pratt the 4th House

Caleb Pratt 4th House, another view
Caleb Pratt 4th House, another view

Caleb Pratt House in recent decades
Caleb Pratt House in recent decades

Over the years the renovations to the property have altered it beyond recognition.

Caleb Pratt the 4th House
Caleb Pratt the 4th House

1/4
walking stop #9

35 Nichols Street

Hermon Washington Pratt House

Built in 1897 by Caleb Pratt the 4th for his son, the Hermon Washington Pratt House looks very much the same as the original structure on the rear and the Nichols Street sides. The stonework are easily identifiable.

 

The interior contains parts of the Old Pratt House that was once near 428 Washington Avenue. The wood paneling and other Interior architectural features of the Thomas Pratt House (where General Washington stayed during the American Revolution) were rescued before it was demolished in 1855. These elements found their way into this home but their existence and condition today is unknown

In the 1950s, Our Lady of Grace Church purchased the house and converted it into a convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph. In recent years, it was a respite house for developmentally disabled people run by the Sisters of Mary of the Divine Providence.  An addition on the front of the building adapted the building for these institutional uses.   

Hermon Pratt House
Hermon Pratt House

Hermon Pratt House, another view
Hermon Pratt House, another view

Hermon Pratt, former Mayor of Chelsea
Hermon Pratt, former Mayor of Chelsea

Hermon Pratt House
Hermon Pratt House

1/3
Walking stop #10

bounded by Washington Avenue and Nichols, Franklin, and Hancock Streets

washington park

In 1792, a farmhouse and garden plots for the needy were established at the corner of Eustis and Nichols Streets. The area that is now this park was divided into garden plots for the use of the people living in that house. The land remained a communal garden for 50 years, but the upkeep declined over time. Records eventually refer to the area as a dump.

In 1857, Caleb Pratt 4th began to advocate turning the 1.7 acre parcel into a park. His efforts failed due to a lack of funding, followed by the upheaval of the Civil War. 

 

In 1873, Caleb’s son, Hermon Pratt, also made unsuccessful attempts to have the land designated as a park. In 1885, Hermon solicited subscriptions (donations) from neighbors to develop the park. Step-by-step as the subscriptions increased improvements were made. A wall was built to extended to surround the park. This is the same wall that remains in place today. Trees were planted and pathways created. 

 

The Park was dedicated to George Washington on July 4, 1887. On Nichols Street, incorporated into the wall, is the door step from the entrance to the original Pratt House. The stone is engraved commemorating George Washington’s connection to the Park.  Washington Park was completed in 1897.

Washington Park
Washington Park

Washington Park
Washington Park

Old Prattt Mansion doorstep
Old Prattt Mansion doorstep

The door step of the "Old Pratt Mansion" or the Thomas Pratt Mansion was inscribed and is placed within the walls of Washington Park.

Washington Park
Washington Park

1/5
walking stop #11

3 nichols street

Ladies' Relief Society Building

The Ladies' Relief Society Building was more affectionately called the Old Ladies' Home. It was built by the City of Chelsea in either 1885 or 1897 to house ten impoverished and elderly women. The project was in keeping with a wave of social advocacy for the poor sweeping the nation in this era. In previous decades, poverty in the US was considered a personal moral failing. A reform movement, mostly led by women, worked to change this perception and to assist those in need.

 

In poor, immigrant neighborhoods, new programs were introduced for the welfare of residents, and sought to alleviate and prevent poverty. Poverty among older women was high - widows were particularly vulnerable.  Paid work meant long hours for low wages and often dangerous, repetitive tasks. Laws of the time limited women’s financial independence (for instance, a woman could not legally open a bank account in her own name). Efforts such as the home for the elderly on Washington Avenue provided a place of dignity for those in need.

Old Ladies Home, Prattville
Old Ladies Home, Prattville

historic postcard

3 Nichols Street
3 Nichols Street

The site of the Ladies' Relief Society Building is little changed today.

Old Ladies Home, Prattville
Old Ladies Home, Prattville

historic postcard

1/2
walking stop #12

revere beach parkway

revere beach parkway

This is an historic parkway, built to provide access to Revere Beach (which included a large amusement park). It begins at Wellington Circle in Medford and ends at Eliot Circle in Revere Beach. In between, the parkway passes through Everett and Chelsea. 

The project began in 1896 with the purchase of the land. The Olmsted Brothers, a renown landscape architectural company run by sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, consulted on the parkway design. They suggested that the width of the road be tailored to the cost required to purchase the many parcels of land required to build it. The result was that the right-of-way along the parkway was wider in those areas where the land was less expensive, and narrower where the land was more costly.

 

The first element constructed was a bridge across the railroad tracks of the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad, now the MBTA Blue Line right-of-way. This original 1899 northern bridge abutment survives. 

The construction was completed by 1904. It has undergone two major periods of reconstruction, in the 1930s and again in the 1950s, to accommodate additional vehicle traffic flow.
 

Revere Beach Parkway
Revere Beach Parkway

Highlighted map showing the roadway across municipalities to the shore.

Revere Beach Parkway along the waterfront
Revere Beach Parkway along the waterfront

Washington Ave Grand Junction Bridge
Washington Ave Grand Junction Bridge

The bridge was a key piece of construction to facilitate the roadways and rail through the region. It dates to 1913.

Revere Beach Parkway
Revere Beach Parkway

Highlighted map showing the roadway across municipalities to the shore.

1/4