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    Husband-wife team lead historical tours of Harvard Square

    Husband-wife team lead historical tours of Harvard Square
    By Jessica Smith/ Correspondent
    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    The familiar, grandfatherly voice of Timothy Sawyer that guides you through the Hall of Presidents at the Smithsonian Museum also wants to tell you historical tales of Cambridge.

    At the urging of his wife, Joan Sawyer, an award-winning writer and producer who loves history, Timothy was persuaded to be part of "Tales of Olde Cambridge, A Historic Guided Walking Tour of Harvard Square."

    The couple, who have lived west of Harvard Square for 25 years, bring 300 years of Cambridge history to life through Joan's carefully researched script and Timothy's 90-minute performance.

    Tour participants cover a quarter-mile on foot while learning stories about witches, patriots, traitors, spies, murderers, heroes, heretics, rebels and liberals who have resided in Cambridge.

    "[It's] a work in progress that's constantly changing. We try to make it fun and flexible and can vary the content depending on the audience," Joan Sawyer said.

    During a tour last Sunday, an intimate group of seven learned fun facts while asking Sawyer questions about Cambridge. Many didn't know that the area by the Kennedy School of Government was once covered by water. And that in Harvard Yard, "current professors may keep one cow," according to Timothy Sawyer.

    Also revealed by Sawyer was the truth about Harvard's popular "statue of three lies." The three lies involve whether the bronzed figure is really John Harvard, whether Harvard was truly a founder of the school and what year the university was founded.

    Concluding a quarter-mile loop, the tour's final stop is the Cambridge Cemetery. After the Sawyers distributed coupons for local businesses, which they try to promote, a visiting teacher and historian from Florida summarized her experience, "The tour was outstanding and excellent. Extremely accurate."

    The latest tour information is available at or by calling 617-354-3344. Tours are scheduled for July 17, 24, and 31 and Aug. 7, 21,and 29 with additional dates being added through October.