Skip to content

Calling all artists — design a sign!

Want to design a fun and informative sign for the Common, roughly equivalent to this one at Mary Cummings Park on Blanchard Road?

Mary Cummings Park sign


Here’s some raw material for such a project (below). More could be added or subtracted. The sign does not have to resemble the Mary Cummings sign, nor does it have to follow the numbered format used by Burlington Retro here. The sign could be serious or cartoonish and kid-friendly. You decide.

If you’re a Burlington-based graphic design student, this is a chance to build your portfolio. If you’re a pro, here’s a chance for free publicity. Take the elements below and create an appealing design. The Historical Commission will choose a design and present it to Board of Selectmen for approval. You’ll be credited on the sign as the graphic designer.

By the way, the head shots of Marshall Simonds and James Walker are available as stand-alone images, so they don’t have to be embedded as seen below. Submit designs or questions to, or call 781-718-9872.


Burlington High School 1940 Burlington MA
1. The town’s first high school, at 61 Center Street, opened in 1939 and held its first graduation in 1940. Before the town had a high school, Burlington teens paid tuition to use neighboring towns’ high schools. This building now houses the recreation department and Council On Aging.


Grandview Farm, Burlington, MA
2. Grandview Farm and attached Marion Tavern became a popular stop for stagecoaches. The whole area was cleared for farming back then, so visitors did indeed enjoy a “grand view” of  the Wachusett and Monadnock peaks. The town now uses this building for meetings and functions.


3. The big Union School was built in 1897, ending the era of small neighborhood schools, such as the West School, still standing at the corner of Francis Wyman Road and Bedford Street. The Union School is now Burlington’s police headquarters.


Richard J. Alley's blacksmith shop, 1890s, Burlington MA. Photo credit: town archives
4. Richard J. Alley’s blacksmith shop, 1890s, stood at the junction of Bedford Street and Center Street, near the current post office.


Sears St. trolley stop Burlington MA
5. Sears Street was built as a pedestrian shortcut from the Common to this electric trolley stop on Winn Street (notice the rail at bottom). The street is named after Joshua Montgomery Sears Jr., a trolley company executive.


July 2019. It's still the town pond sometimes.
6. The bandstand area sits in a crater that used to contain the so-called town pond, a place for children to skate in the winter and catch tadpoles in the spring. Teens sometimes pushed police cars into the pond as a Halloween prank. Even after all these years, heavy rains can still turn this area into a pond.
















James Walker, Harvard University president 1853-1860, Burlington MA
7. James Walker, president of Harvard University from 1953 to 1860, was born at 9 Bedford Street in 1794. Burlington was still part of Woburn at the time, so his birthplace is sometimes listed as 9 Bedford Street in Woburn!
















Burlington Public library, built in 1850
8. Burlington Public Library, built in 1850. Now the town museum.


9. The Second Parish Burial Ground, so-named because Burlington was merely a second parish of Woburn when the graveyard was created. Two slaves are buried here: A man named Cuff Trot and a woman named Venus Rowe.
























United Church of Christ, Congregational
10. The church at the head of Lexington Street opened in 1732 to serve folks in this part of Woburn, who found it burdensome to trek five miles to the main parish in Woburn center. This so-called Second Parish matured into a separate town, officially breaking off from Woburn to become Burlington in 1799.


Simonds Park tennis courts, early 1900s, Burlington, MA
11. A Chicago real estate magnate died in 1906 and left a slab of his old Burlington land to his beloved native town, to be used solely as a public park. His name? Marshall Simonds. And so Simonds park was born.
















Bonfire on Simonds Park
12. Every July 4th during the 1930s-1950s, the Civic Club built a tower of railroad ties on the rocky peak of Simonds Park, and then set it aflame. The flickering beacon could be seen all the way from Blue Hill in Milton.












3 thoughts on “Calling all artists — design a sign! Leave a comment

    • No signs are truly “needed” anywhere, besides traffic signs. The idea is to boost the town’s culture. Well-presented history can enhance the relationship between the citizens and the town. Basically the same motive as this website.

  1. Thanks RWF…and to think – all this time – I thought traffic signs were just a suggestion, Thanks for another great article…..dmo

Leave a Reply