History hidden in plain sight: Capturing the lore behind Boxborough’s street names

By the Local Lore Team

As any long-term resident can attest, Boxborough has grown rapidly, with new roads and neighborhoods developing every year. Embedded in this changing landscape, however, are clues that connect the stories of our past with our present: street signs.

Street signs are easy to overlook, but if you look carefully, a drive through town can take you through different eras of Boxborough’s history in a matter of minutes. Take Hager Lane, for example, which alludes to 19th century historian Lucie Hager, known for her extensive accounts of life in Boxborough in the late 1800s.

A short drive to the east, Chester Road honors a family from nearly a century earlier, Cate and Phineas Chester, a formerly enslaved couple who owned a farm in Boxborough prior to the Revolutionary War. Further ahead lies Baldwin Lane, which commemorates one of the many apple varieties grown during the town’s vibrant agricultural past. Nashoba Drive, a few turns later, derives from nashope, an Algonquin word meaning “between the waters,” which may allude to an indigenous sacred site between Nagog Pond and Fort Pond.

To help capture and share these stories, Local Lore is a crowdsourced online catalogue which records the origins of Boxborough’s street names. Compiled through archival research and conversations with residents, Local Lore contextualizes historical symbols, natural landscapes, and the legacy of many Boxborough figures: people who built dairy farms, fought in the Revolutionary War, and shaped the local government and education system.

Together, these street names offer powerful insight into what has shaped Boxborough. As the town grows, Local Lore is a collaborative work in progress, preserving oral history and inviting community members to think about what they want to memorialize and add to the public record. We hope this research will inspire others to look at their own local histories, to celebrate what’s remembered and explore what was forgotten.

Local Lore is a project under the larger umbrella of The Civic Collective, Inc. Civic Collective is an organization which aims to support civic engagement through education, training, community building efforts, and project facilitation.

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