Arlington Prepares to Commemorate its place in Revolutionary War History
The American Revolution began on April 19, 1775, with battles in Arlington — then known as Menotomy — Lexington, and Concord. In 2025, Arlington and other local towns will honor the 250th anniversary of that pivotal day and time period with a series of events and
In Arlington, the Semiquincentennial (Arlington 250) Committee is planning the town’s Revolutionary War commemoration, drawing inspiration from local bicentennial celebrations in 1975, which then-President Gerald Ford and other local, national, and international dignitaries attended. The committee is aiming for Arlington’s commemoration to breathe new life into cultural tourism, and to have a positive economic impact on Arlington and the entire region. To that end, the committee is collaborating with neighboring communities to maximize efforts around marketing and public relations, fundraising, event coordination, public safety, and transportation.
As planning began and the committee members commissioned the commemoration’s logo, they faced a dilemma. In 1775, the town of Arlington did not exist; in 1635, settlers called their informal community Menotomy, derived from the Indigenous term for “flowing water.” Revolutionary War-era diaries, logs, and maps refer to Menotomy, not Arlington. The area was formally incorporated as West Cambridge in 1807 along with a section of present-day Belmont. It wasn’t until 1867 that the town’s name became Arlington as a tribute to the armed forces members buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The name Menotomy faded over time, along with many stories and details about the area’s important role in the American Revolution.
One of the committee’s goals is to broaden awareness of Arlington’s role on April 19, 1775, the day of Paul Revere’s iconic ride, when the Colonial militia fought British troops at Lexington Green and Old North Bridge in Concord. As the British retreated toward Boston through Lincoln, Lexington, and Menotomy along what is now called the Battle Road Byway, they were ambushed by a succession of Colonial minutemen. The attacks were relentless and culminated in the fiercest encounters of the day. With more than 70 deaths, the Battles of Menotomy were deadlier than the combined casualties from the battles of Lexington and Concord earlier that day. Battles at Arlington’s Foot of the Rocks and the Jason Russell House saw the most casualties. Many of Menotomy’s fallen soldiers and minutemen now rest in the Old Burying Ground on Pleasant Street in Arlington Center. The graves include an unmarked one holding unknown British soldiers.
The Untold Stories of Menotomy
Considering all this, the theme “The Untold Stories of Menotomy” resonated with the Arlington 250 Committee. It is a fitting tagline to accompany the logo, which was designed by Katie McLaughlin of Locality Studio. The result features a silhouette of the historic Jason Russell House, which is on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Jason Street. Through the anniversary celebrations, the logo and tagline will appear in print and digital media as well as on merchandise and promotional materials.
“The 250th is an important opportunity to inform a new generation of Arlington residents, as well as visitors to the area, about our town’s important place in history,” says Angela Olszewski, Arlington 250 Committee co-chair. “We can always learn about our town’s historical significance but an anniversary like this is a chance to delve into and lift it up in a special way.”
The Arlington 250 Committee includes representatives from Arlington’s select board, school committee, tourism and economic development (A-TED) committee, historical society, chamber of commerce, and commission for arts and culture (Arts Arlington); town meeting; the Arlington delegation to the Battle Road Scenic Byway Committee; the Menotomy Minutemen; and the community at large.
Residents can get involved by joining subcommittees, such as for arts and culture; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and
others. For a list of opportunities and more details visit the Committee’s questionnaire and check this webpage regularly. We will be posting events, volunteer opportunities, and more