Historical Society First Saturday Walking Tour No. 3:
“Washington Square in 1864/65: A Recreation”
On Saturday, September 5th, the third in our annual series of First Saturday Walking Tours, “Washington Square in 1864-65: A Recreation” will begin at 10 am from the Society’s new History Museum at 332 Maine. It will encompass the historic heart of Quincy and the streets surrounding Washington Square.
Established soon after the founding of the village of Quincy in 1825, this central open space – originally called simply “the Square” or briefly “John’s Square” in honor of John Quincy Adams – was originally an untended area of “hazel thicket” surrounded by a mix of small, family owned businesses and simple log cabin homes. To the southwest, on Fourth Street stood “The Lord’s Barn”, Quincy’s first organized church edifice – the sight of early and ardent abolitionist activities. On the east side of the square, mid-way along the block between Maine and Hampshire stood the log court house – Quincy’s first – which was replaced by the neoclassical 2nd courthouse, pictured in the accompanying photograph.
Initially, most of the small businesses as well as homes in the area of the Square were concentrated to the north, along Hampshire, as this was virtually the only relatively flat and unobstructed piece of ground in this section of the growing village. A deep ravine, one of many in the area, ran diagonally across the Square, and a large Native American burial or ceremonial mound called “Mt. Pisgah” abutted the edge of the Square near 4th and Maine. A single unpaved and often muddy wagon path snaked up the bluff from the river bottoms below, entering the “downtown” area from the northwest.
As the city grew in the years leading up to and encompassing the Civil War, many of the leading merchants, bankers and citizens of Quincy, with names like Newcomb, Ricker, Schultheis, Stern and Parkhurst, built fine multi-storied commercial buildings, commercial “blocks,” banks and hotels on the square, a number of which are still standing today.
Your guide for this walking tour will be Lynn Snyder, a member of the Society, an archaeologist, and Society volunteer. Sturdy and comfortable shoes are recommended as well as a bottle of water, a hat and sun protection. The cost of the tour is $6 per person for Historical Society members; $10 for non-members. Group size for the tour is limited, therefore reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling the Historical Society at 217 222-1835..