Duck Village is a small neighborhood bound by the Fitchburg Railroad tracks and Dane, Washington, Park, and Beacon Streets. Although most of the houses in the neighborhood date from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, the name “Duck Village” was coined later during the Prohibition Era (1920-1932). According to local oral tradition, people in danger of being arrested for making and distributing illegal alcohol would “duck” into the densely settled neighborhood for protection. Those familiar with the neighborhood used its narrow streets and passageways as a means to escape less local authorities.
Today, Duck Village continues to be a close-knit neighborhood where residents enjoy easy access to nearby restaurants and businesses clustered around Washington and Beacon Streets as well as Union, Inman, and Harvard Squares. Two parks give residents a chance to get outside and meet each other. Palmacci Playground, on the corner of Hanson and Skehan Streets has play equipment and a seating area. Perry Park, on Washington Street, has two separate play areas for older and younger children, a basketball court, a recreation field, and open green space.
Duck Village is also home to several notable homes that illustrate the neighborhood's historic and quirky charms. The home at 38 Hanson Street dates from the late 19th century and has a small army of lawn ornaments including an array of ducks. A hand painted sign on the façade speaks to the origin of the Duck Village name. On Dane Street, multiple pre-Civil War cottages and homes make up one of Somerville's many local historic districts. At 23 Village Street, onlookers can see the work of former MIT architecture dean Adele Naude Santos, who designed the modernist home from an old bronze foundry.
Adapted in part from "Up and Coming Hotspots: Historic Union Square West," a 2011 self-guided walking tour brochure produced by Brandon Wilson, Executive Director, and Kristi Chase, Preservation Planner, Somerville Historic Preservation Commission, in coordination with Edward W. Gordon, President, Victorian Society of America, New England Chapter.
Last Updated: 10/24/14
Image: 38 Hanson Street
Image: Perry Park