by Robert Sloane (editor) of WalkBoston (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Wakefield is an attractive, breezy town overlooking Lake Quannapowitt, a favorite of boaters and sailboarders. On the perimeter of Route 128, the town feels more like a self-sustained commercial center than a typical suburb. Once a prosperous center manufacturing wicker, cane, and rattan products, Wakefield has now arranged its downtown buildings into a civic center of churches, public buildings, and parkland on the banks of the lake. Several ancient restored houses reinforce the fact that Wakefield is in fact a very old community— indeed, it was first settled by Europeans in 1639.
The town was dramatically changed when Cyrus Wakefield moved from Boston in 1851, relocating and enlarging his phenomenally successful Wakefield Rattan Company, which popularized the use of wicker in the United States. His financial success led him into philanthropy. When he offered to build the community a new town hall in 1868, the town renamed itself for him. After he died in 1873 the company remained successful for decades but finally closed its doors in 1930. These days technology industries have replaced manufacturing. This walk explores the community’s ancient center and winds around lovely Lake Quannapowitt to return to its beginning. It is a loop both tranquil and historic.
© Robert Sloane (editor) of WalkBoston/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.