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Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

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By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 12:54 PM
Post #1 of 54

This just in from the crack BPL Reference Desk (I LOVE the BPL Reference Desk!):


I am responding to your email request of April 6, 2005 regarding Newstead Montegrade, a location you found on MapQuest in the Jamaica Plain area. The location Newstead Montegrade does not exist in the sense that it is not a recognized section of Jamaica Plain nor is it a town or city as other websites suggest. The websites that listed Newstead Montegrade as a city take information from other websites (i.e. data-mined them), such as MapQuest, to create generic pages. Unfortunately, that causes inaccurate websites and leads people to inaccurate information.

The correct name of Montegrade is Monteglade. It was one of the estates that was obtained by the City of Boston from private citizens to create Franklin Park- originally referred to as West Roxbury Park.

Samuel E. Sawyer, in his book, History of the West Roxbury Park: How Obtained, Disregard of Private Rights, Absolute Injustice, Arbitrary Laws, Right of Eminent Domain, 1873-1887, describes his two estates. One estate was Newstead and was 476,360 feet (possibly square feet-not specified in the book) (p. 26.) The second estate was Monteglade and was 1,492,510 square feet. (p. 27.)

The book begins by describing the owners of the land suggested for Franklin Park. Samuel E. Sawyer describes his lots as charming property. He explains how much the property cost when purchased and how much people were getting for other private lots. Unfortunately, the city reduced the valuation of Samuel E. Sawyer's property so the city would not have to pay as much for the land as he had expected. There are many letters between Samuel E. Sawyer and the Park Commissioner, as well as other officials describing their unwillingness to pay the amount of money that Samuel E. Sawyer expected for his land.

One can get a general idea of where those estates were located based on descriptions in his book but not the exact borders of those areas. Newstead was located on the Eastern Side of Walnut Ave while Monteglade was located on the western side of Walnut Ave. The description for Monteglade also included other streets such as Ravenswood Park Circle (now in Franklin Park) and Glen road. Newstead was also referred to as lot number 17.

To get a rough idea of where those sections were, I used three maps: “General Plan of Franklin Park”- 1885, in Frederick Law Olmstead and the Boston Park System by Cynthia Zaitzevsky (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992, p. 69); “Map of Boston” – 1876, by Sampson, Davenport & Co.; and “Metropolitan Boston” – 1999 by Arrow. In 1876, Walnut Street (Avenue) extended through what is now Franklin Park about where the Circuit Road is located today. Ravenswood Park Circle was located in what is now considered the Wilderness of Franklin Park. This street does not exist on any maps today, although looking at the 1885 “General Plan of Franklin Park,” it is possible that it was incorporated as a path in the design of Franklin Park.

I also consulted the book, A Record of the Streets, Alleys, Places, etc. in the City of Boston by Street Laying-out Department (Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1910.) This book helped clarify the history of the streets, such as when they were created, if they were still in existence in 1910 and if the streets were extended or shortened due to the creation of Franklin Park.

To find out the boundaries of the lands owned by Samuel E. Sawyer, and other nearby land owners, you may wish to search the deeds at the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds. The contact information is below:

Suffolk County Registry of Deeds
24 New Chardon Street
P.O. Box 9660
Boston, MA 02114-9660
Telephone: 617-788-8575
Website: http://www.suffolkdeeds.com/default.asp

The Parks Department was in charge of the creation of Franklin Park and they may have some records in regards to the private lots taken for the creation of Franklin Park. You can contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 617-635-4505 to determine where the records are located if they are still available.

If you wish to read the various letters in Samuel E. Sawyer’s book, you may visit the Central Library of the Boston Public Library and request it from the Book Delivery Desk with the call number F73.65.F83S2. The book, Frederick Law Olmstead and the Boston Park System by Cynthia Zaitzevsky, is located in the Social Sciences Department and you request that book at the Social Sciences Reference Desk.

I hope this information will clarify your question regarding the location of Newstead Montegrade (sic.).

Sincerely,
Mary Devine
Reference Librarian
Social Sciences Department
Boston Public Library

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By eeka - Apr 15, 2005, 1:07 PM
Post #2 of 54 [In reply to]

Unsure

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Ron Newman - Apr 15, 2005, 1:18 PM
Post #3 of 54 [In reply to]

Wow.

The only thing the BPL librarian didn't realize is that the ultimate source of the inaccurate name is the US Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System. That's where all of the web sites are mining the data from.

I'm going to send e-mail to gnis_manager@usgs.gov , pointing him at this thread.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 1:24 PM
Post #4 of 54 [In reply to]

Be interesting to see what he says. Would be cool if we force the federal government to change something :-).

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By eeka - Apr 15, 2005, 1:27 PM
Post #5 of 54 [In reply to]

Oh, I think it would be much cooler if we lead people to book vacations to, uh, a little spot in a park.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Ron Newman - Apr 15, 2005, 1:27 PM
Post #6 of 54 [In reply to]

Might not be that hard. I've already gotten the Library of Congress to fix an error in their American Memory database. They had a WPA poster for a theatre at "Beacon and 8th Streets", which they assumed was in Boston. I told them that we didn't have any such intersection and that the correct location was Los Angeles. They fixed it within a week.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By eeka - Apr 15, 2005, 1:27 PM
Post #7 of 54 [In reply to]

Geek. Smile

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 1:30 PM
Post #8 of 54 [In reply to]

Yes, but this is the US Geological Survey. Do you really think you can get them to move mountains, just like that?

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By eeka - Apr 15, 2005, 1:45 PM
Post #9 of 54 [In reply to]

Yeah really...I think it's just water under the bridge at this point.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth
By rblum - Apr 15, 2005, 1:48 PM
Post #10 of 54 [In reply to]

It might be easy to help the USGS fix a mistake. But wouldn't it be more challenging to get Newstead Montegrade officially recognized as a landmark or feature? Wink

Thanks for digging up the info! I wonder how long the database had this incorrect information.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth
By rblum - Apr 15, 2005, 1:59 PM
Post #11 of 54 [In reply to]


In Reply To
Yeah really...I think it's just water under the bridge at this point.


If we built the bridge and put water under it, would the USGS accept it as the real NM?

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth
By bigdumptruck - Apr 15, 2005, 2:21 PM
Post #12 of 54 [In reply to]

Mary Devine rocks.

I'm still planning my summer vacation in "the grade".Sly

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth
By Phlip - Apr 15, 2005, 2:26 PM
Post #13 of 54 [In reply to]

They'll never take my memories!Tongue


my site

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Ron Newman - Apr 15, 2005, 2:37 PM
Post #14 of 54 [In reply to]

At this moment, Google returns zero search results for "Monteglade".

Let's see how long it takes Google (or Teoma, or Yahoo, or AltaVista, etc.) to find this thread, or the one in Universal Hub.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 2:42 PM
Post #15 of 54 [In reply to]

Well, this one. For some reason I've never been able to figure out, Google hates Universal Hub (do a search on site:universalhub.com and you will get back exactly 44 links, all to pages that do not exist because they were on a test installation I got rid of last year).

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Neal - Apr 15, 2005, 3:19 PM
Post #16 of 54 [In reply to]


In Reply To
Be interesting to see what he says. Would be cool if we force the federal government to change something :-).

A few years ago, after being bugged for years by the misspelling of the Winnmere section of Burlington (they spelled it "Wynnmere", I emailed the USGS and told them the correct spelling. I recieved a response email from a researcher who does just that, researches geographic names for the USGS. She asked some questions about the history, local references of the spelling (such as Winnmere Avenue and references of Winnmere in Town Reports etc) for some numbers to the Historical Commission, Town Hall etc.. I have yet to see whether it has changed, she seemed quite interested in doing the research and was quite responsive.

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Re: Google hates UniversalHub?

By Ron Newman - Apr 15, 2005, 3:23 PM
Post #17 of 54 [In reply to]

Have you complained to Google about this?

A second complaint form, this one from the user's point of view rather than the site owner's.

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Re: Google hates UniversalHub?

By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 3:40 PM
Post #18 of 54 [In reply to]

I have learned that complaining to Google is pretty well useless unless you are a "strategic advertising partner" of theirs. But yeah, I suppose I should fill out the form so they can ignore it.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By adamg - Apr 15, 2005, 4:14 PM
Post #19 of 54 [In reply to]

I’ve been spending a great deal of time in Newstead Montegrade lately, that nested municipality built more from imagination than mortar, and I expect to remain here for the immediate future; internet coverage is spotty at best, often available long enough for only one sentence.

http://onepotmeal.com/article/934/where-im-at

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Spatch - Apr 15, 2005, 8:47 PM
Post #20 of 54 [In reply to]

I smell a conspiracy in the BPL! Quick, to the Sakladsignal! Don will get to the bottom of this!

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By triquetra - Apr 16, 2005, 10:04 AM
Post #21 of 54 [In reply to]

I think we should stage a Newstead Montegrade sit-in.

I'm guessing it's only big enough for one person to sit in at once, so we (and by "we", I mean "y'all") can take turns.

*paints NEWSTEAD MONTEGRADE FOREVER sign*
*puts on tinfoil hat*
*sits*
*~*~*~*
Luceo non uro

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Ron Newman - Jun 7, 2005, 10:48 PM
Post #22 of 54 [In reply to]


In Reply To
I'm going to send e-mail to gnis_manager@usgs.gov , pointing him at this thread.


Which I did, that same day.

On April 26, I received this cryptic reply:


Quote
We have researched the matter further, and someone from our office will be forwarding an additional explanation.


I got nothing more from them over the following five weeks, so I wrote back to them a few days ago to ask what had happened. That elicited this response:


Quote
We have unraveled this issue, and will make the appropriate adjustments soon. The delay has been because for a period of eight weeks no action was taken in the database whilst we implemented a new version, which is now operational, and we are clearing the backlog of updates. We should do this one in the very near future, and apologize for the delay.

Manager GNIS
703.648.4544


I replied:


Quote
That's great - but Adam and I would still like to learn about whatever information you found (such as how this name got into your database in the first place).


and Mr. GNIS replied once again:


Quote
The information cannot be completely verified as it existed in the files of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, and was apparently compiled sometime during the 1930's - 1950's? Much of the corroborating information from that period is either lost or never existed.

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Re: Newstead Montegrade: The bitter truth

By Spatch - Jun 8, 2005, 3:10 PM
Post #23 of 54 [In reply to]


Quote
The information cannot be completely verified as it existed in the files of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, and was apparently compiled sometime during the 1930's - 1950's? Much of the corroborating information from that period is either lost or never existed.


Wait, they're saying the corroborating information never existed in the first place?

Newstead Montegrade: It's a state of mind.

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Newstead Montegrade is dead; long live Newstead Monteglade

By adamg - Jun 8, 2005, 5:38 PM
Post #24 of 54 [In reply to]

Ron and I got a more detailed message today:

-------------------------

Our apologies for not getting back to you sooner. As Mr. Payne indicates, we have researched the origin of this name, which is listed as an official entry in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), the nation's official geographic names repository (<http://geonames.usgs.gov>). The name "Newstead Montegrade" was added to GNIS during routine compilation of Massachusetts geographic names, as a result of its having been published in The Topographic Atlas of Massachusetts (Walling & Gray, 1871; Plates 41, 49 and 55). Although we cannot pinpoint the exact date when the name was added to GNIS, it was likely during the period 1978-1982, when "Phase I" of data compilation took place. The name does not appear on any available Federal maps.

Based on the information uncovered recently by the Boston Public Library, and the citation in Samuel Sawyer's book, we shall revise the entry in GNIS to "Newstead Monteglade" (that is, with an "l" rather than an "r"), and retain "Newstead Montegrade" as a variant name (that is, any name other than the official name, even a typographic error). We shall also add the notation "historical" to the name to indicate the feature is no longer recognized as an existing geographic entity. Although our definition of "populated place" as a Feature Type is intended to refer broadly to any area where people live (or lived), we shall in this case change the Type to "locale," which suggests an area where human activity occurs (or occurred) but where there are not necessarily any permanent residents. Finally, we shall add a note in the History Field of the GNIS entry to indicate that the name was very likely derived from that of two estates which once existed at that location.

We are currently undergoing an extensive redesign of GNIS, so unfortunately we cannot make any of these corrections at the moment. However, we shall retain this information until the database is available again (in the next two weeks, we understand). Once the redesign is complete, the corrected entry will appear at the GNIS website.

We appreciate everyone's interest and assistance in this case, and we thank you for your efforts to make GNIS a more detailed and accurate source of geographic names information. If you have any questions or if we can assist in the future, please let us know.

Sincerely yours,

Jennifer Runyon, research staff
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
USGS Geographic Names Office Reston, VA 20192-0523
(703) 648-4550
jrunyon@usgs.gov
http://geonames.usgs.gov

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Re: Newstead Montegrade is dead; long live Newstead Montegla

By Sarcastic Sam - Jun 8, 2005, 5:42 PM
Post #25 of 54 [In reply to]

WOW! You made a difference!
-------------------------
Life is....a Simpsons episode

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