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A Revolutionary War re-enactment

History of Lexington

From 1642 to Today

Originally known as Cambridge Farms, Lexington was first settled in 1642 by farmers attracted by the availability of hay fields, farming acreage, and the possibilities of land speculation. Early settlers formed their own parish in 1691 to avoid traveling into Cambridge, and Lexington was incorporated in 1713.

As relations with Britain worsened in the 1760s and 1770s, opposition and demonstrations in Colonial Massachusetts grew. The events of April, 1775, inscribed Lexington forever in the pages of American history. Heralded by the midnight ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes, the Lexington Minute Men confronted the British Regulars in the early morning hours on what is now known as the Battle Green. The annual Patriots Day celebration and preserved historic sites pay tribute to that fateful time.

Lexington remained a quiet farming community until 1846 when the extension of a railroad line from Boston made commuting possible. East Lexington in the mid-19th century had been the scene of debates on such issues as abolition and temperance. After the Civil War, professionals settled into newly built large Victorian homes on Merriam and Munroe Hills. Railroad access allowed Lexington to flourish as a summer resort providing a healthy and invigorating atmosphere. Supported by a growing immigrant population, farming would continue to play an important role in the local economy well into the 20th century.

Following World War II and the construction of Route 128, Lexington’s population and residential building increased dramatically. Academicians and hi-tech associates became neighbors of descendants of the early settlers. Colonial structures and Victorian mansions were joined by award-winning contemporary architecture. Concerned about maintaining the residential quality of the Town while providing services, Lexington citizens established one of the country's first planning boards and zoning regulations. The Town was the first in the state to establish a Historic Districts Commission to preserve the historic landscape. Today, Lexington proudly preserves its history, while continuing to support its reputation for progressive action and independent spirits.

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