The stretch of Brattle Street from Brattle Square to Fresh Pond is one of the most well-preserved and historic strips of Cambridge. The name Tory Row was given to this stretch around the time of the Revolution because of the lavish mansions built and occupied by Tory Loyalists.
These rich merchants made most of their money trading slaves and running sugarcane and cotton plantations in Jamaica and the West Indies. They liked the system the way it was because it kept them rich. However, as pressure mounted on anyone loyal to the Crown in the 1770′s, many of these families began to sell off their mansions and move on. The ones who chose to stay were eventually driven out with threat of real violence during the 1774 Powder Alarm. Many moved to Boston as a last hope, but decided to leave for Nova Scotia with the British retreat, rather than risk death at the hands of the triumphant Continental army.
The mansions today include the Hooper Lee-Nichols House, housing Cambridge Historical Society, the William Brattle house, housing the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, the Henry Vassal House (now some lucky guy’s house), and the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House.