Arlington, Massachusetts is a beautiful New England community rich with history. One of its most notable structures is The Jason Russell House which became an official entrant on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974. Built in 1740, The Jason Russell House is part of Revolutionary War folklore.
On April 19, 1775, fighting broke out to begin the American Revolution when British and Colonial forces converged at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. When British troops retreated back toward Boston, heavy fighting occurred along The Battle Road. One of the bloodiest skirmishes of the day took place here on the site of the Jason Russell House. Arlington was then known as Menotomy and Lord Percy gave orders to clear every dwelling along the British route. Hoping to take out snipers, houses were ransacked and set afire by the Redcoats. Men from Beverly, Danvers, Lynn, Salem, Dedham, and Needham joined Jason Russell at his house where he pleaded for help to defend the home he built himself. ”An Englishman’s home is his castle,” he is reported to have said.
At age 59 Russell had a game leg that hindered his fighting ability. Shot down and bayoneted on his own doorstep, he died along with an additional eleven colonials. The Revolutionaries also killed two Redcoats in the altercation. Bullet holes from the battle are still visible in the home’s cellar way stairs, parlor, and guest room. An obelisk was erected at the Old Burying Ground in 1818 in memory of Russell and nine of the colonial dead buried there.
Today, the Jason Russell house in Arlington, MA is home to artifacts and furnishings that belonged to the Russell family, who occupied the house until 1896. Together with the adjoining Smith Museum added in 1980, the two buildings provide a glimpse into the history and life of Arlington and its inhabitants. The Arlington Historical Society displays artifacts, exhibits and Arlington memorabilia here.
Jason Russell’s original construction had two rooms, one over the other, with the chimney and stairs on the north end. He added two more rooms approximately 10 years later to form a typical New England farmhouse with five windows across the front, a door in the center and a large chimney in the middle of a pitched roof. There is evidence that suggests the hall (or kitchen) and its chamber above, as well as the garret, may date as far back as 1680 when Jason’s grandfather originally built upon the land. The hall and parlor of the house have been preserved to be essentially unchanged today, although a vestibule was added to the front door 1814. More extensions were subsequently added to the sides around 1863.
The central part of the house includes four rooms: the kitchen and children’s chamber to the left, and the parlor and parlor chamber to the right. Original whitewash and sponge painting decorative surface treatment can still be seen on the kitchen ceiling. In 1924, the house was restored and wood sheathing was installed outside.
The Jason Russell House and Smith Museum are open for tours from April to October and an online tour can be viewed at the website year round.
7 Jason Street, Arlington, MA 02476-6410