Dedham, outside Boston

Dedham, Massachusetts

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In Dedham the charm and grace of the early 1800s are still in evidence. The center of Dedham holds the town’s oldest houses and community buildings and still has bustling activity connected with the Norfolk County Courts. It stands distinct and removed from other parts of town, where farms became subdivisions and local industries once produced everything from thread to shovels, boots to cigars. Founded in 1635, Dedham was strategically located on the great highway of foot, horse, and wagon travel that ran from Virginia to New Hampshire. Turnpikes, stagecoaches, and later steam railroads all came through town, bringing prominence and prosperity. Indeed, in its prime Dedham hosted presidents and political leaders, the nation’s first free public school, and notable events such as the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti. The town lost much of its economic primacy before the twentieth century, however, and the automobile hastened its conversion to a suburban community whose boundaries blurred with those of its neighbors. Dedham Square was bypassed by the new Providence Highway (Route 1) in the 1930s. Yet the old center of Dedham still exists, enhanced by the deepened contrast with its surroundings. This walk takes you on a loop around the town’s most intriguing sites—an oasis of history in a modern suburb.
Walk Boston

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Walk Boston

by Robert Sloane (editor) of WalkBoston (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)

In Dedham the charm and grace of the early 1800s are still in evidence. The center of Dedham holds the town’s oldest houses and community buildings and still has bustling activity connected with the Norfolk County Courts. It stands distinct and removed from other parts of town, where farms became subdivisions and local industries once produced everything from thread to shovels, boots to cigars. Founded in 1635, Dedham was strategically located on the great highway of foot, horse, and wagon travel that ran from Virginia to New Hampshire. Turnpikes, stagecoaches, and later steam railroads all came through town, bringing prominence and prosperity. Indeed, in its prime Dedham hosted presidents and political leaders, the nation’s first free public school, and notable events such as the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.

The town lost much of its economic primacy before the twentieth century, however, and the automobile hastened its conversion to a suburban community whose boundaries blurred with those of its neighbors. Dedham Square was bypassed by the new Providence Highway (Route 1) in the 1930s. Yet the old center of Dedham still exists, enhanced by the deepened contrast with its surroundings. This walk takes you on a loop around the town’s most intriguing sites—an oasis of history in a modern suburb.

©  Robert Sloane (editor) of WalkBoston/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Walking
Nearby City: Dedham
Distance: 2.5
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 1.5 hours
Season: Year-round
Accessibility: Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Driving Directions: Directions to Dedham, outside Boston

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Apr 2018