Prospect Hill Park Rehabilitation
August 28, 2020 Reopening Ceremony
Above: Watch the small, socially-distant ribbon cutting held August 28, 2020 to celebrate the opening of Prospect Hill Park
Prospect Hill Park, located adjacent to the Prospect Hill Memorial Flag Tower and Observatory at the corner of Munroe Street and Prospect Hill Parkway, is an important gem in Somerville’s park network. It was on Prospect Hill that, on January 1, 1776, George Washington ordered the raising of the first true American flag, the Grand Union Flag. The project focuses on improving accessibility, restoring and managing the park's landscape, and preserving and revealing the site’s history.
Rehabilitation of the park began in the fall of 2018. Starting in the spring of 2019, the park was closed to the public. On August 28, 2020, a small ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the re-opening of Prospect Hill Park and Monument.
Project Background and Design
Map Legend: Click to View
The project focuses on improving accessibility in accordance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), restoring and managing the park's landscape, and preserving and revealing the site’s history. Five community meetings and three Historic Preservation Commission meetings resulted in a consensus on the following final design:
Final Design Legend:
- The overlook will continue to have benches and features an interpretive map inlaid in the pavement.
- The tower will be softly up lit. Safety lighting will be added throughout the park.
- On the second layer of the tower, a guardrail will be added for safety.
- A small gathering space/ focal point will be created.
- A loop will be built around the lower level of the tower allowing visitors to enjoy the views and to learn about the important historical significance of the place through a series of plaques mounted on the wall.
- The lawn in the steepest part of the site will be planted with no-mow fescue and a layer of native shrubs. These plants, all native but the fescue, will decrease the maintenance on the steepest part of the site while providing habitat for native pollinators and wildlife.
- The staircases will be realigned and repaired.
- Access to the shed, identified as a safety concern, will be cut off and lighting will be installed.
- In the woodland, dead and dying trees, all invasive species, will be removed and small trees will be added as part of the long-term landscape management strategy. A native understory planting will be seeded in the woodland.
- A number of traffic calming measures, including bump outs, crosswalks, street paint and ADA ramps will be installed to create a better pedestrian environment.
Please find information on the five community meetings held to design the park below. Three additional meetings were held with the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission, which has final approval of the landscape plan. You can learn more about the history of the Prospect Hill Tower and Park in the digital tour below.
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For more information, contact:
Andrew Louw, RLA
Public Space Planner
Prospect Hill Tower - Digital Tour
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Please note: At the last of the 5 community meetings, held on May 23, 2018, it was decided that the staircase to the right of the tower (seen on all of the slides but the second to the last) was a high-cost element that was not favored by a majority of the attendees. The final design does not include this treatment, but like other elements, it appears in these slides because it was a discussion point.
Please use these slides to see the development of the community conversations, but refer to the final plan at the top of this website for the final design.