The Commander's Mansion
440 Talcott Ave, Watertown, MA 02472
The Commander's Mansion was built in 1865 under the direction of Major Thomas Rodman as the Commanding Officer's Quarters of the Watertown Arsenal, which was first established during the Civil War and was the U.S. Army's facility for developing and making guns until the 1980s.
Rodman was investigated by Congress for extravagant spending in the construction of the mansion, but no charges were ever brought. The citizens of Watertown supported Rodman and petitioned for his continuance in command highlighting his "integrity and uprightness, his loyalty and devotion to the government, his enthusiasm in the profession he pursues..." In spite of the allegations, he continued his distinguished career in Illinois and was made a Brevet Brigadier General. Thereafter, the Commander's Mansion remained the official residence of all subsequent Commanders of the Watertown Arsenal and the Commanders of its successor, the Army Materials and Research Center, with their families.
The three-story brick Bracketed style mansion, approached by way of the tree-lined Talcott Avenue, overlooks the Charles River. Its hipped roof is crested with a wooden balustrade, and chimneys of paneled brickwork add to the irregular silhouette characteristic of the period. Built by Watertown brick mason Thomas French, the mansion is a particularly fine example of mid-Victorian domestic architecture.
The Commander's Mansion was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places January 30, 1976. Some upgrades, like modern plumbing and heating, were made to the mansion over the years by various Commanding Officers, but the mansion has remained virtually unaltered.