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Best Downtown Districts in New England - Dedham, Square

DRIVEN DOWNTOWN: Dedham Square in Dedham, Massachusetts

Downtown Dedham Square in Dedham, Mass., is one of the great examples of a  restored downtown district in New England.
Downtown Dedham Square.

Article and photo by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 12/2/2018.

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Dedham Square in downtown Dedham, Mass., used to be rather dreary, downtrodden and depressing.  Just a few years later, however, Dedham Square has become a rising star, one of the darling downtown districts in New England.

Following the National Trust for Historic Revitalization "Main Street" program as a template to prioritize historic preservation, commercial prosperity and pleasing aesthetics, Dedham Square now combines an appealing mix of dining, shopping and entertainment, as well as an excellent seasonal farmers market. Improved sidewalks and crosswalks have greatly improved the walkability factor, while appealing store signage and spruced-up historic brick exteriors result in a wonderful look.

Within the Route 128 belt, Dedham Square can arguably even hold its own against revered established downtowns like Winchester, Arlington, Melrose, Salem, Concord and Lexington. Kudos to the Dedham Square Circle (DSC), a non-profit organization of residents and Dedham Square business owners, and the Town of Dedham who came together the way communities should (but often don't) to help create the new look and thriving presence of its downtown. Your driven ambitions has thousands a week driving to Dedham Square for all the right reasons!

Specifically, why is Dedham Square so special? First, Dedham Square is one of the few small town central districts in Massachusetts to still have an independent movie theater, the Dedham Square Cinema at 580 High St. It's an authentic, old-time movie theater dating back to 1927. Like Dedham Square the Dedham Community Theater has been wonderfully restored but still holds onto its retro charm. The Theater plays modern movies, so no need to worry that what's played here is not as old as the building. They offer popcorn with real butter (imagine that!) and even beer and wine.

Old-time but restored Dedham Community Theater in Dedham, Massachusetts.
Dedham Community Theater.

The rest of Dedham Square follows the tenets of a classic downtown that not only brings people downtown, but brings them together. The cozy and inviting Big Bear Cafe & Espresso Bar, at 3 Eastern. Ave., packs in the crowds for its excellent coffee, food and hometown vibe. Restaurants saturate the downtown scene with cuisine including traditional and contemporary American, Thai, Chinese, Sushi, seafood, barbecue, Italian, Greek and Mexican. For dessert, Ron's Gourmet Ice Cream, at 559 High St., serves some of the best homemade ice cream in eastern Massachusetts. Book lovers will find an exciting chapter in their quest for indie bookstores at The Blue Bunny Books & Toys, at 577 High St. Owned by mega-talented and super-nice children's book author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, Blue Bunny offers books, toys, art supplies, cards and signed copies of Peter's books, prints, posters and cards. Blue Bunny also features the wonderful Mocha Java Espresso Bar and Cafe for some yummy food, baked goods and coffee. Blue Bunny comes across like a cornerstone business and the face of the new but historic Dedham Square.

Blue Bunny  Books & Toys, Dedham Square, Dedham, Mass.
Blue Bunny Books & Toys.

Several specialty shops, including boutiques, add another layer of downtown divineness -- almost like the type of central district travelers love in a vacation town. Dedham, however, is not a vacation town but rather a nearby residential suburb of Boston. Lucky for Dedham residents that they have this gem of a downtown!

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Dedham Square in Dedham, Massachusetts has been wonderfully revitalized and now features many great locally-owned shops and restaurants, as well as a restored old-time movie theater.

Editor's note:
This page on Dedham Square will remain on VisitingNewEngland as long as it is sponsored for a nominal fee. If interested in sponsoring the Dedham Square page at VisitingNewEngland, please contact Eric at

Editor's Challenge: To nearby Walpole, Canton and Foxborough -- You can do what Dedham Square did, too. Your downtown districts have tremendous upside. Start the ball rolling today to help make your central districts two of the best in Massachusetts. I have talked with many residents in all three towns and this is what they want!

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