In 1840, rebel church members broke away from the Woburn Congregational Church to form a new congregational society, the South Woburn Congregational Church. The drive for a new Town started with this action.  A simple wood church was built in 1840.   The church was the site of newly created Winchester’s very first Town Meeting in April, 1850.

Other influences on citizens of parts of Medford, Arlington, Woburn to form a new community were:

  • New railroad  intersected the old natural center of settlement and brought in new influential resident of wealth with no ties to Woburn
  • The politics of Woburn were more liberal (Democratic) than those of the more conservative South Woburn (Whig)

A simple wood church was built in 1840.   The church was the site of newly created Winchester’s very first Town Meeting in April, 1850. Town population in 1850 was1350.  The current church built in 1854. Remodeled in 1884 and 1926.



This area was the corn field for the  original Converse farm that occupied much of today’s downtown Winchester in the 1640’s.  This land was bought by the town in 1867 for $7,000.  It was considered an exorbitant price by some. After heated discussions, the town vote was 88 vs 62 in favor.

WinchesterCommon 2TownCommon Postcard



The original Boston to Lowell Railroad was built in 1830, for transporting raw cotton from Boston to Lowell, and  manufactured cloth back to Boston

  • NOTE:  There was only 23 miles of railway in entire US in 1830
  • First passenger train stopped in South Woburn station (Winchester Center) on May 1835
  • Continual discussions from the beginning of the railroad to elevate street over tracks but never happened: instead gates were installed. Constant dispute among town, railroad and state over solution.
  • Current overpass, the first overpass, completed in Oct.1956.  This was triggered when in Jan 1944, a poultry dealer with chickens and eggs, and a  salesman were both on tracks when a Boston and Lowell steam locomotive with 14 passenger cars roared through at full speed and smashed both cars, killing the poultry dealer.
  • Today, 33 MBTA trains per day go through Winchester; Amtrak Down-easter has 11 trains per day.



Originally the basement had shops; first floor had 2 stores and a dividable hall; second floor included the Main hall and 4 offices; third floor had offices and another hall.  Third floor was removed after 1950 fire.



Built 1935; originally had 24 shops, 12 offices, 4 studio apartments.   Brigham’s was one of its first tenants.  In 1945, Filene’s in Winchester advertised it had expanded its Winchester store to be 4 times as large as when it opened in 1940.  First Post-War expansion of Filene’s branch shops.  The Burlington Mall opened in 1968 and Filene’s was an anchor store. There was an attempt to build a building with a movie theater here in 1934 met with overwhelming community opposition.



Edward Converse’s Farm covered all of today’s Town Center.  The Common was his corn field.  The Town Hall was his sheep pasture.  The Lincoln School was his orchard.



The Savings Bank was the first bank chartered in Winchester. Today, it has its main building on 661 Main Street.



Winchester Laundry was established in 1898 in a small building on Converse Place.  It was then replaced in 1912 by a brick and concrete building (now the Mill Pond Building).  The business acquired branches in other communities and became, in 1926, New England Laundries, Inc.  In 1974, the building was altered to today’s appearance.



Built 1887, the need for Town Hall debated since 1852.  The building of Lyceum Hall with a public hall large enough for town meeting slowed the discussions.  $3000 William P Winchester gift for Town Hall was diverted to purchase original 10 acres of land for Wildwood Cemetery;  repaid to Town Hall fund as lots sold.  By 1885 ,public opinion had swung to support a Town Hall:

  •             Town offices were inefficiently scattered in different building throughout the center
  •             Lyceum hall could now hold only one-third of qualified voters
  •             Increasing rental expenses for town boards and officers

The original Town Hall contained the Town Library which remained there for 44 years.

Winter - Town Hall

Organizations Supporting the Sanborn House and Winchester Historical Society Programs


Featured Publication

Wright-Locke Farm: A History in Pictures
by Ellen Knight

Look into the history of the Wright-Locke farm in a new 16-page booklet titled Wright-Locke Farm: A History in Pictures. Read More.

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