At Common Trust Federal Credit Union, we believe honoring our communities’ past and present is critical for building and supporting our members’ future success. Our new series “Investing in History” focuses on better understanding the foundations of our beloved communities. First up is Winchester!
Prior to European settlement, the bulk of northern Massachusetts was settled by the Massachuset tribe of Native Americans. In 1633, an area of land known as Wildwood (later Waterfield) was given to the town of Charlestown; it is on this land that Winchester was incorporated in 1850. In the 200+ years between these two dates, the land was shifted between Charlestown and Woburn and eventually incorporated sections of what was then Arlington and Medford.
In the 1800s along the Middlesex Canal, mills began popping up, changing the character of the small village. These mills became factories, and the introduction of the railroad in 1835 helped build business and trade. Blacksmiths, iron shops, and various manufacturers moved in to profit from this transportation access, boosting the town’s cache among local communities. During the Revolutionary War, the town’s Black Horse Tavern served as an important meeting place for soldiers and citizens to discuss and trade news.
The town of Winchester broke away from Woburn and was incorporated in 1850. According to historical record, it was almost named Columbus, but leaders instead chose to name it after Colonel William P. Winchester — a wealthy businessman who donated $3,000 to the incorporation efforts. He died shortly thereafter, having never visited the town bearing his name.
During the late 1800s, two social groups dominated Winchester’s population: the industrial workers and the wealthy elite who worked in Boston and either commuted home to Winchester or owned summer property. This led to intense conflict in town meetings and the eventual transition of the town from an industrial center to a suburban hub. The tanneries in the town center were turned into parks, and new residents quickly moved in. By 1900, the town was no longer a hub of industrial work but rather a thriving residential community.
With this influx, public and medical resources were needed to support the population. In 1917, Winchester Hospital admitted its first patient into what began as a 44-bed facility. This local hospital now features state-of-the-art technology including a leading cancer center, sleep disorder center, and robotic surgery capabilities. It’s the only hospital in Massachusetts to have been thrice designated a Magnet hospital, which is the highest level of recognition possible for excellence in nursing. More than 2,000 babies are born here every year.
Winchester today is a bustling suburb of well-maintained parks, clean waterways, and a culture that highlights the importance of supporting local businesses. From coffee shops to bookstores, volunteer groups to professional businesses, the bright town center is a welcoming space for young adults and families to settle and grow. Known now as a “bedroom” town, Winchester is still a prime commuting location for Boston professionals, earning it recognition as one of the best places to live in Massachusetts.
At Common Trust Credit Union, we are proud to support Winchester’s residents and businesses as part of our community of financial leadership. If you would like more information on how to become a member of CTFCU, contact our local branch today to get started!