Fulton Heights

Medford City, Middlesex County, MA

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Fulton Heights [†] built up rapidly during the early decades of the 20th century, in response to the tremendous growth in population experienced in the city. By 1930 more than half of the neighborhood’s nearly 2000 lots contained houses. The topography and isolation of Fulton Heights did not lend itself to large-scale development of multi-family dwellings as was happening in East Medford and Wellington, and the diminished value of the real estate gave people of lesser means the opportunity to own—even build—their own homes. Local histories contian accounts of hardscrabble urban personalities carving out their homesteads in the rugged terrain. They also have popularized the story of George A. McCormack, who is credited with making it possible for working-class families to own a home in the suburbs. McCormack apparently took over the Highland Park subdivision. The existence of McCormack Avenue south of Winslow Avenue suggests he had something to do with another 220 lot subdivision plan there, which was filed with the Land Court in 1917. Nearly every large tract delineated on the 1900 Medford map was platted by 1930. In 1915 Samuel C. Lawrence’s 55.75-acre parcel between Fulton and Elm streets was laid out with streets named for past Massachusetts governors, such as Russell, Ames, Gaston and Foss. It was originally known as Lawrence Park. The completion of the Fellsway surely had a role in its development. George McCormack is said to have been involved in this development as well (Fig.9). A subdivision plan creating 89 lots on Bailey, Scott & Taft streets was filed in 1911 by transit worker Jim Bartlett, who built houses for himself and his family as well as a nuber for speculation.

Because of the number of available building lots there in 1945, the Fulton Heights neighborhood contains the largest amount of post-World War II development in Medford. And because nearly all of he neighborhood had been previously subdivided and platted, no planned residential community emerged in that period. However, most pre-existing subdivisions now contain the characteristic Cape Cods and Garrisons of that achitectural era, many of them grouped in rows where vacant lots could be assembled in sequence (Figs.13&14). The Garrison house type, with its definitive overhanging second story and three-bay front façade has been found to be have been popular in other city neighborhoods, particularly in the Brooks Estate. The Cape Cods pictured below are distinctive in that they were designed with two-story rear facades to provide more second-story space than the conventional one-story type with dormers. The brick-veneered front façade shown in the Palmer Avenue view reflects the common use of brick exteriors on houses in Samuel C. Lawrence’s earlier development in Lawrence Park in Medford Square. Still, brick—a more expensive material—is not as prominent a feature in Fulton Heights. The Fulton Heights neighborhood came closer to building out by 1965 when the current city zoning map was first printed. At that time the entire neighborhood was in a single-family residential zone. When the map was last revised in 1993 a large area in the center of the neighborhood between McCormack Avenue and the Malden town line was still undeveloped. Why this remained open for so long is unknown, but within the last decade, the entire tract has been platted and filled with houses along Tamar Road and other intersectors. A smaller parcel on the hillside below Fulton Spring Road (very near the site of the spring) is also shown to have been developed since 1993. The only other open space depicted on the map represents James P. Carr Park located east of Fulton Street and north of Winslow Avenue. The construction of I-93 along the western side of the neighborhood did not obliterate historic buildings as happened in neighborhoods farther south. The highway intensified the barrier between Fulton Heights and Medford Square that the Fellsway already had created. As in other places where the dominant exterior material is wood, many houses have been altered with the application of new synthetic sidings, and original wood windows are being systematically replaced with new insulated units following the popular trends of energy conservation and home improvement.

Street Names
Adams Circle • Andrews Street • Baxter Street • Belle Avenue • Clematis Road • Cleveland Street • Evelyn Avenue • Fulton Street • Gaston Avenue • Highland Avenue • Leighton Street • Lila Avenue • Mabell Avenue • Macl;in Road • Mangles Street • McCall Street • McCormack Avenue • Morrison Street • Park Avenue • Sturgess Street • Talbit Street • Tamar Drive • Wason Street • Winslow Avenue • Winslow Avenue

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