Our Story (So Far)
For over a decade, historically marginalized community members have called for a museum to meet the need for:
a unified space by, for, and about all the people of Cambridge—a space to share stories of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be
an anchor for Central Square and for the entire network of historical resources in the City, acting as a much-needed wayfinding hub pointing residents and visitors to historical and archival spaces across Cambridge
an accessible, public-facing port, designed to actively welcome residents and visitors in learning about our collective history
an inviting place for all people, from our children to our elders, to tell their story at the center: no one person or entity owns our history—everyone has a role in telling it.
In 2011, Cambridge City Councilor E. Denise Simmons sponsored a policy order calling for the establishment of just such a place. As stated in that policy order: “…Communities like Somerville and Concord have had success in establishing museums promoting their history” which have helped highlight the community histories and have increased traffic to local restaurants and other business, and “…having a ‘Cambridge Historical Museum’ may go a long way toward preserving and promoting” the rich, vibrant history of Cambridge.
After scouting out numerous potential locations for the Cambridge Museum, Councilor Simmons and the Museum Committee have set their focus on 105 Windsor Street. This City-owned building traces its origins to 1868, when it was built as the first brick elementary school in the city.
In 1939, the building was repurposed as a neighborhood recreation center, with a gymnasium and a branch library inside.
In 1973, the building was converted to a family health center and senior center.
In 1984, the building was remodeled again and was leased to the Cambridge Health Alliance, and it was shortly thereafter vacated. It was been dormant and unused since the mid-1980s.
The building at 105 Windsor Street represents the perfect location to serve as a place-maker for the Port Community, serving as an entrance to one of the most vibrant, diverse, and historical locations of Cambridge, and as a metaphorical gateway into its rich, storied past. The next steps in this process include raising awareness about the Museum Committee’s work, working closely with the City Manager in determining how funding for this project will move forward, and beginning to generate ideas for initial exhibits (both in-person and online). More information to come….