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Historic Wall in Front of Robbins Library, Town Hall to be Restored

Work will get underway this coming week and then conclude in the spring.

The following is from the Town of Arlington.

Civic Block Wall at Robbins Library to be Restored

Repairs and restoration will begin the week of October 29 on the historic garden wall lining the Town’s civic block in Arlington center. Work will continue until early December, then resume and conclude in the spring.

In 1939, the famous design firm of Olmsted Brothers designed the wall and garden that we see today in the Winfield-Robbins Memorial Garden.

In 1995, when the library addition was constructed, the landscaping behind the wall along the Mass Ave end of the library was re-designed, and soil and plantings were banked up behind the wall, pressing against what is essentially a sandstone and limestone fence, not a retaining wall. In the years since, the wall in this location has bowed noticeably, and likely shifted off its footing. 

“Preserving historic resources is not only responsible stewardship of Town assets, it’s well-established that historic preservation is at the heart of economic development, including heritage tourism and downtown revitalization,” said Director of Planning & Community Development Carol Kowalski.  “When commercial landlords see the Town investing in our infrastructure, they have more faith to make investments in their own real estate.”

Many stones are chipped, mortar is missing, and flashing is damaged. Community Development Block Grant funds and Town capital funds will be used  to repair the footing, re-assemble the wall with the existing stones, and to restore and repair the rest of the wall to its end on Academy Street.

The landscaping will be brought back closer to the Olmsted Brothers design. Trees and matures shrubs that were added in 1995 will be removed, the area will be re-graded to the base of the wall, rather than the top of the wall, as seen in the photo, and landscape plants will be added at the new, footing-level grade next year. The plantings will be more in keeping with the original Olmsted design, and pressure on the wall will be relieved.

The Winfield-Robbins Memorial Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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