The city of Revere was situated within the ancestral lands of the Native American families and tribes allied in the Pawtucket Confederation. The Mystic (Missituk) river systems and salt marshes were important for organizing the areas of settlement and patterns of movement of these largely agrarian tribes.
The lands were known as Winnisimmet (where thee salt waters flow), including the lands around the Mystic River and the salt marshes along the coastline running north of Boston.
Rumney Marsh Burial Ground
Nestled in the middle of a quiet neighborhood in Revere, Massachusetts is the Rumney Marsh Burial Ground.
Its first recorded burial was in 1693, and over the years it became the final resting place for generations of the area’s earliest families, with links to what is now Chelsea, Winthrop, and East Boston as well as Revere. Veterans of the Colonial Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War lie here, as do a number of slaves who are buried along the boundary of the cemetery. Notable historical figures buried here include Deane Winthrop, a son of Governor John Winthrop, and Revolutionary War heroes such as Captain Samuel Sprague and “The Fighting Pastor” Phillips Payson.
The final burial took place in 1929, but Rumney Marsh Burial Ground (hereafter referred to as RMBG) remained a part of Revere’s community. The cemetery is cared for by a dedicated committee, and as such is a remarkably well-kept piece of New England history.
To learn more, visit: http://rmbgrc.org/
Battle of Chelsea Creek
Few residents or visitors to Revere are aware that one of the most significant battles of the American Revolution took place within walking distance of our homes.
Overshadowed by the iconic battles at Concord/Lexington, Bunker Hill, and the British evacuation of Boston and Charlestown, the Battle of Chelsea Creek is overlooked as a critical turning point in the siege of Boston. This battle, also known as the Battle of Noddle’s Island, Battle of Hog Island and the battle of the Chelsea Estuary was the second military engagement of the American Revolution.
On May 27-28, 1775, colonial forces raided British forage and supplies on the northern shore of Boston Harbor in present day Revere, Chelsea, and East Boston. A day-long engagement with over 400 British marines and armed vessels ensued and ended with the rebels successfully confiscating critical supplies for the British army, as well as dozens of much needed cannon.
The colonial victory supplied the colonial army with a victory and much needed cannon that would be used at Bunker Hill just a few weeks later. The loss of control of surrounding farms meant Governor-General Thomas Gage would be forced to depend upon longer supply lines from Nova Scotia, and, ultimately, back to England. This supply vulnerability was a critical blow to British operations in the area and a major victory for the rebellion against King George III.
*Visit the Battle of Chelsea Creek Memorial in person! Address is 870 Revere Beach Parkway and it’s located just outside the Cronin Ice Arena
Close by the site of the Battle of Chelsea Creek sits historic Slade’s Mill. The nation’s oldest tidal mill was first established here over 275 years ago. Though the original building was destroyed by fire, the current 1885 structure continued the traditional techniques first used here in the early 1700’s for grinding flour, snuff, and spices for domestic use and export.
North Chelsea becomes Revere
The use of Revere Beach as a pleasure resort began in 1834 when the first small tavern was built in the Point of Pines area for the enjoyment of athletes. The population of the area remained small, between four hundred and eight hundred residents, until after the completion of the Eastern Railroad in 1838 (later to become the Boston and Maine Railroad).
The resulting growth precipitated Revere’s founding in 1846 as a separate town of around nine hundred residents named North Chelsea.
The town changed its name to “Revere” in 1871 after the patriot, Paul Revere. The salt marshes that gave Revere its original name of Rumney Marsh constrained historic neighborhood development and promoted healthy land and ocean ecosystems.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the building currently houses apartments, but the first floor features a museum that is open by appointment.
To learn more, visit: https://www.tidemillinstitute.org/slades-spice-mill/
Completion of the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad (the Narrow Gauge) in 1875 signaled the beginning of rapid population growth for the town and the development of the Beach as a summer resort, given the increased accessibility the railroads provided.
By 1881, a group of prominent Massachusetts men formed a company and purchased 200 acres of land in the Point of Pines. They invested $500,000 in a complete summer resort, hotels, bandstand, racetrack, amusements, piers, and bathhouses.
Using gas jets and special globes, they provided gaslight illumination through beautiful arches above the walks and driveways.
Over 2,000 people were present at opening ceremonies for the Pines Hotel, considered the largest on the Atlantic Coast at the time. The Great Ocean Pier was constructed in 1881, along with the opening of the Pines Hotel. By this time, the beach had become a lively and heavily used resort area, but given that the railroad tracks and several beach structures were close to the water at high tide, the pier was not safe.
America’s First Public Beach
By the mid 1890’s the impact of the railroad lines and Revere Beach on the physical layout and structure of Revere was apparent. Heavy rail and streetcar networks connected Revere’s neighborhoods and commercial centers to East Boston, Chelsea, and Lynn. Three trolley lines connected Revere Beach to Maverick Square, and another connected the beach to Broadway. Development largely concentrated along the railroad lines, adjacent to Revere Beach.
In 1895 the Massachusetts legislature ordered the taking of nearly three miles of private seacoast land on what is now Revere Beach Reservation. Charles Eliot, a little known landscape designer, was chosen by the Park Commission, to design Revere Beach Reservation for the best use by the public.
After it’s opening the beach saw a series of transformations as a cultural destination. And although Wonderland Amusement Park closed in 1910, a series of beachfront rides and arcades, roller coasters, bingo halls and food stands, bars and restaurants, hotels and pavilions, and music/dance halls and ballrooms continued to line the waterfront and extended onto piers into Broad Sound for decades to come.
By the 1920s, it was a major entertainment and recreation destination with restaurants, ballrooms, dance halls, and amusement parks featuring well-known roller coasters, including the Cyclone, the Lighting, and the Derby Racer.
The beach lost popularity in the 50’s and experienced a series of business failures, fires, and natural disasters that ended the amusements and attractions along the boulevard.
What’s Next for Revere Beach?
New development opportunities are presently shaping another period of transformation at Revere Beach. A vision of the development along the beach as a creative district is helping to revive the significance of the beach and its adjacent properties as a site of arts, culture, and entertainment. The crowning achievement of this development is Waterfront Square which includes a hotel, three restaurants, and a parking garage above the MBTA’s Blue Line Wonderland station.
The blizzard of 1978 destroyed or badly damaged the beach and adjacent structures. Recovery after the storm didn’t begin immediately and it wasn’t until 1992 was the beach officially re-opened.
Revere Beach is home to a number of annual events, but none more popular than it’s signature event, the International Sand Sculpting Festival. Hosted by the Revere Beach Partnership, this free event is open to the public and draws crowds from all around the world. It’s New England’s largest free event and we invite you to experience it when making your Next Stop Revere!
To learn more about the history of Revere or Revere Beach please visit https://reverebeach.com/ or https://www.revere.org/mayors-office/revere-society-for-cultural-and-historical-preservation