With bars, music venues, restaurants and cafes, Cambridge is among the liveliest of Boston’s surrounding cities. Beneath the city’s modern heartbeat lies a long history, and the best way to find out more about your city is to check out one of the many tours taking place on Saturday, July 13 and Sunday, July 14.
Did we mention that they’re all free?
As part of Cambridge Discovery Days, the Cambridge History Consortium is offering tours and events all day on both Saturday and Sunday. Here are the ones you might find us scouting out:
Women in History: Rachel Revere
159 Brattle St., July 13, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Those looking to learn more about the women of Cambridge can stop by the Cambridge Historical Society lawn on Saturday to hear about the life of Rachel Revere – from the woman herself. As part of Jessa Piaia’s ongoing Women in History program, Piaia will play the role of Paul Revere’s wife to talk about what it was like to be a housewife through the Boston Massacre and Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.
African American Heritage Trail
580 Mount Auburn St., July 13, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
The Mount Auburn Cemetery will offer this free tour to highlight important and accomplished African Americans throughout Boston’s history. The new trail launched in February and revisits the lives of African American politicians, journalists, musicians, entrepreneurs and more from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Tours of the Longfellow House
105 Brattle St., July 13 & 14, tours begin on the hour from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This house’s history lies in not one, but two prominent figures. In the 19th century, the house was home to renowned poet Henry Longfellow, writer of “Paul Revere’s Ride.” If you’re not familiar with Longfellow, you’ve probably heard of the military general who resided there from July 1775 to April 1776, during the Siege of Boston. Does the name George Washington ring any bells?
“Have you milked the cow today?”
First Parish Church, Corner of Mass Ave and Church St., July 13 & 14, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
This event is geared towards children from ages 4 – 12. Join Mistress Elizabeth as she teaches calligraphy and spinning wool. Kids will also get to learn solfege singing, country dancing and play popular childrens’ games of centuries past.
Photo Scanning Days
159 Brattle St., July 13 & 14, 12 – 5 p.m.
Add to Cambridge’s recorded history… and get free ice cream! It’s a win-win situation. Stop by the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House to let the Cambridge Historical Society scan a photo you took in the city and in return, you’ll get a free ice cream from Toscanini’s. We recommend their signature summer flavor: Brown Sugar Brown Butter Brownie.
Cambridge Through the Pages
105 Brattle St., July 13 & 14, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Fiction fans can tag along for Cambridge Through the Pages to learn more about the worlds of their favorite books based in Cambridge. The tour starts at Longfellow House, located at 105 Brattle St., and ends in Harvard Square, taking participants to the real-life locations featured in books like William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Jorge Luis Borges’s Book of Sand.
Revolutionary 19th Century Ideas
105 Brattle St., July 13 & 14, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
If there’s one thing we can say about Kit Rawlins, a member of the Cambridge Historical Commission who organized the weekend’s activities, it’s that she knows her history. Join Kit on a walk through the neighborhood behind the Longfellow House, visiting the lives of figures like dictionary writer Joseph Worcester (who once engaged in a “dictionary war” with the Websters) and slaves’ rights advocate Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
Washington Arrives in Cambridge
105 Brattle St., July 14, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
In the weekend’s most anticipated event, George Washington himself will return to the Longfellow House, his headquarters during the Siege of Boston, to take command of the Continental army. The event will give participants a chance to listen to Washington speak and to talk to members of the army within the encampment at Longfellow Park. Is there a better way to learn about Cambridge’s history than to spend a day living in it?
For a full list of the weekend’s tours, check out the official Cambridge Discovery Days calendar of events here. –Jake Reed