Friday, September 12, 2008
The Remarkable Historical Preservation of North Easton Village, MA
Article and photo by Eric H., at VisitingNewEngland.com
In these days of generic-looking suburban communities with faceless shopping centers, chains stores and "McMansions" that look identical to each other, it's refreshing that the southwestern Boston suburb of North Easton Village, MA, has retained such a remarkable sense of history and uniqueness.
As part of Easton, North Easton Village was settled in 1694, incorporated in 1725 and later became famous for the Ames Shovel Company. The Company provided shovels for the Union Pacific Railroad which opened the west! Oliver Ames was perhaps the best-known of the family -- he was the Massachusetts governor from 1887-1890.
But it was famed architect H.H. Richardson who gave North Easton Village Its "look," with late 19th century beautiful Romanesque-style buildings like the Ames Free Library (currently being renovated), Oaks Ames Memorial Hall (for meetings), The Old Colony Railway Station (current home of the Easton Historical Society) and the Ames Gate Lodge (I think it is still owned by the Ames Family). Beautiful churches complement the area including the Gothic revival style of the Ames built Unity Church.
We realize that sometimes looking at a bunch of old buildings is not every one's cup of tea, so please note that North Easton has other features that should please most visitors. The Children's Museum of Easton, features three floors of educational, cultural, and social learning, primarily for children 1-8 (including more than 100 exhibits and programs). The Museum is located in the former Easton fire station, has a fun yellow-colored exterior, and offers entertaining areas like an art room, theater stage, doctor's office, wood shop, a fire pole to climb, an outdoor learning center, a fishing boat, and more. The Children's Museum in Easton might not have the flash of some of the more refined, high-profile urban museums of this genre, but it seems to keep kids' attention and interest just as well! To validate the greatness of this wonderful attraction, the Museum was recently selected as a Nickelodeon's Parents' Pick for Best Kids Museum in Boston and Providence!
There's also a scenic pond right behind the Museum down on Sullivan St. It's a nice place to reflect, or take a stroll.
Many recreational activities take place at Borderland State Park, Frothingham Park, and the sheep pasture. All feature open land to walk or run around, especially Borderland which features "walking and horseback riding on woodland trails, fishing and canoeing in the ponds, or, in winter, ice-skating and sledding," according to the Borderland Web Site. Borderland also features an "English-style stone mansion created in the 1900's by artist and suffragist Blanche Ames and her husband, with 20 rooms surrounded by open meadows." It's really a gem of a state park and is well-aligned with the theme of North Easton as an outdoor example of historical preservation.
The Main Street downtown area might be limited in regards to shopping and dining, but does feature the Main Street Cafe (122 Main St.), a pleasant old-fashioned small, "hometown" restaurant. Primarily a breakfast and lunch place, we especially enjoy the homemade muffins and pancakes, as well as the lamb specials and fresh turkey sandwiches. They also offer some tasty ice cream in big portions!
The downtown also features nice residential side streets with historic homes. We recommend walking or driving Center, Seaver, Park Lincoln and Jenny Lind Streets to see the grand architecture. Also on Center St. is Pires and Sons Hardware Store. It is very old, looks like it is falling apart and has in business for a very long time. We wish there were more hardware stores like this, the old-fashioned neighborhood type. Back on Main St., there's also an insurance agency and barber shop with old signs and friendly-looking people inside that looks like a scene out of the Andy Griffith Show. Just walking by these businesses makes you feel like you've gone back to another era.
North Easton is also home to Stonehill College, a fine denominational learning institution, that not only provides educational and cultural opportunities but also is aligned with North Easton's natural beauty with its beautiful ponds and wooded trails. The esteemed Princetown Review named Stonehill in its 2009 publication, The Best Northeastern Colleges 2009 as one of the best colleges to attend in the northeast.
A less cultural but perhaps more appetizing North Easton destination to round out your visit is Hilliards Confections, a big house featuring "homemade chocolates, truffles, turtles, bark, toffee and brittles, fudge, non-pariels, nuts, and caramel apples."
What a perfect way to end (or perhaps start) a historic and fun day in this underrated, unique community, which, by the way, was featured as number 48 on Money Magazine's list of Best Places to Live!!
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