Arlington is bursting with a rich history and is home to several museums and historical sites. Arlington is recognized as the birthplace of Uncle Sam and the main street, Massachusetts Avenue, is quite literally the route of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride!

A good place to start your historic tour of Arlington is within the Arlington Cultural District. You’ll find the historic Jason Russell House & Smith Museum, the Old Burying Ground, Uncle Sam Plaza, and the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum among other sites. The Arlington Cultural District will launch an audio tour in Fall 2021.

The Cyrus Dallin Art Museum gives you a unique look at history through the work of this celebrated sculptor, educator, and Indigenous rights advocate who lived in Arlington for over 40 years. Visitors experience over 90 of Dallin’s stunning sculptures spanning his 60-year career including portrayals of Indigenous peoples, figures in Euro-American history, and his family and friends.

While in the area, you’ll want to investigate the Battle Road Byway. The Battle Road follows the approximate path taken by British soldiers during the start of the American Revolution. This byway, which runs about 15 miles through several area towns, is the literal road that led to the birth of our nation. It leads to the famous battleground where the “shot heard round the world” was fired and the Revolutionary War began. There are several museums and visitor centers in the neighboring towns of Lexington & Concord that explain the historical significance of not only this road but of this region in the formation of our country.

Get a real feel for what it was like to live during the Revolutionary War by walking into the Jason Russell House. This house, originally built in 1738 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1947, was the site of the bloodiest battle on the first day of the Revolutionary War and still has the visible bullet holes to prove it. Visitors can explore the home, which also contains furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries that once belonged to the Russell family, as well as other Arlington Historical Society artifacts and exhibits in the adjacent Smith Museum. The recently renovated museum is available to rent for special events.

Old Schwamb Mill is another Arlington site that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest continually running mill site in the U.S. Visitors to the mill will get a chance to see Civil-War era machine demonstrations and examples of finished wooden frames still produced by hand on this equipment. There are also art and historical exhibits regularly on display here.

Another spot to consider visiting while you’re in Arlington is the Robbins Library. While this is an operating public library branch, it’s also a gem of a historic building with a spectacular reading room that is available to rent for special events.

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