Waitt's Mount continues to be popular with local residents since its recent refurbishment under a City of Malden-financed project. The park was designed by landscape architect, Pam Shadley of Shadley Associates. This public improvement project was administered by the Malden Redevelopment Authority on behalf of the City.
Waitts Mount is one of Malden's most impressive and unique public parks. This major transformation included a significant clean-up effort in the summer of 2012 to remove dead trees, poison ivy, graffiti and glass. Final construction includes highlighting of the park's unique history; completion of a Loop Walk plus a universally accessible walkway to the Tower Ring which allows the park to be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities; and new play and recreation areas gracefully woven into the historic context.
Waitt's Mount is a 10.6 acre site. The granite outcrop at Waitt's Mount is comprised of Lynn Volcanic Complex, which dates from the Proterozoic Era (2.5 billion to 542 million years ago). The summit is 210 feet above sea level; in comparison, Malden Center is 23 feet above sea level. The park's summit with stunning views of the Boston skyline and its granite and forested surrounds, constructed WPA era history and current use as a rock climbing and bird watching site, were protected and enhanced by the park improvements. The park improvements also feature:
Adventure Playground - The Adventure Playground uses natural materials, including boulders, tree stumps and graded banks to create an imaginative, innovative play space. The play elements create opportunities for accessible, age-appropriate play, plus social and learning opportunities that integrate well with the naturalistic look and feel of Waitt's Mount.
Loop Walk - In the 1940s the WPA constructed a park ranger house at the southern end of the site, at the location of the obstacle course. This walkway has now been paved and marked with distance markers for recreational walking.
Tower Ring - just north of the summit there is a large flat area that previously held a large water tower that was constructed in 1889. The granite foundations of the tower are still visible, and now contain a paved area with seats that view north towards a newly opened view. One of the most important achievements of the new park is to create a universally accessible route to this space, which was previously inaccessible and hidden from view.
Interpretive Signs - One of the most important features at Waitt's Mount are the new interpretive signs. These signs describe the site's geological and cultural history and talk about the features of the site. The signs were created with help from the Malden Historical Commission and are important to encourage a full understanding of this special place by visitors.
Waitt's Mount has a long, rich history. European exploration of Waitt's Mount dates to 1629 when, under orders by Governor Endicott, early settlers Ralph, Richard and William Sprague, left Salem to find land for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their party took the Salem Path, a Native American trail, past Waitt's Mount as they wound their way towards Charlestown. The following year, Governor Winthrop led an exploration party that climbed Waitt's Mount to survey the area. In 1638, John Wayte, for whom Waitt's Mount was named, arrived from England and settled on nearby Mountain Avenue. Wayte was the son-in-law of Joseph Hills, who named Malden after his hometown of Mauldon, England. Wayte went on to represent Malden in the General Court, serve in the local militia and serve as town clerk for 35 years.
A number of historical events were witnessed from Waitt's Mount. These include the British retreat from Concord on April 19, 1775; the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775; and the final departure of the British Fleet from Boston on Saint Patrick's Day, 1776. That same year, Malden became the first town in Massachusetts to call for independence (three days before Boston). In the fall of 1778, a guard and beacon were posted on Waitt's Mount to warn Boston and the surrounding area of a British attack. The beacon was never lit.
The town government first voted to purchase the land and make Waitt's Mount a park and recreational site in 1869. The original plans called for the park to stretch from Main Street to Lebanon Street and from Forest Street to Salem Street. The park became a major part of civic life in Malden. In 1875 town selectmen launched a hot air balloon from the summit for the Fourth of July celebration.
In 1889, a standpipe, or water tower, was built on Waitt's Mount. At the time it was the largest water reserve tank in the United States with a capacity of over a million gallons. In the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) undertook a series of improvements including the construction of the loop road around the summit. During the Second World War, the War Department repurposed Waitt's Mount as an anti-aircraft coastal defense site with a battalion of ten gunners.
In the ten years prior to the improvements, the once-stately park began to show its age. In 2005, the landscape architecture firm of Shadley Associates was engaged to develop a master plan vision for a revitalized Waitt's Mount. This vision was refined with Malden city leaders and members of the community to create the plan which would ultimately guide the redevelopment of the park. In 2012, the City Council approved a bond to fund the improvements and design and construction began.