Is Franklin, Massachusetts One of the Best Places to Live in the
The beautiful town common in
by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 10/15/17. All photos by Eric
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CNN/Money.com named Franklin, MA, in 2008, as the 10th best
Place to "Live and Launch." In 2007, Family
Circle called Franklin one
of the top ten towns in the country to raise a family. Are these honors
Quite frankly, who knows? These lists are so subjective.
While many of us enjoy "best of" city and town lists, personal
experiences sometimes gives us a different impression. When you get to
some of these towns and cities, you wonder "What the heck were they
talking about?" We genuinely feel, however, that Franklin is a
wonderful Boston suburb and a place you
would be proud to call home.
For starters, Franklin looks very nice with its welcoming "hometown USA
look" and impressive historical preservation -- plus so many people
love living here. That is based on what I have seen as opposed
to a bunch of stats just thrown into a computer.
Franklin, a city
of approximately 31,000 located 35 miles southwest of Boston and 20
miles north of Providence, RI (on the
commuter rail, thankfully), does indeed combine historic charm with a
good modern day mix of mostly appealing residential neighborhoods and a
healthy commercial and industrial base to help keep the town thriving.
It is the home of Garelick Farms (dairy products)!
The best part of Franklin resides around its stunning, expansive
four-acre downtown town common (pictured above), surely of New
England's finest village
greens with its beautiful grounds, brick bandstand and
dedications. The town common still serves as a traditional New England
community meeting place with concerts, festivals and a great Fourth of
July celebration (lasting several days with concerts, a carnival, and a
wonderful parade). The "look" of old Colonial and
Victorian homes with their crisp white paint and draping flags around
the common and the grand 1778 Franklin Public Library (the first
free-standing public lending library in the country) creates a
wonderful quintessential New England entrance from the west, minutes
from Route 495.
The Franklin Public Library in Franklin.
It's fascinating to know that Franklin changed its name from Exeter to
Franklin in 1778, in honor of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin was so
impressed that he lent some books to the Franklin Public Library --
those books are on display today at the library! Editor's note: The
Franklin Public Library recently completed its renovations and reopened
on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017!
The beautiful 100-acre Dean College campus lends further charm to the
downtown-- as well as community involvement -- with its spacious,
tree-lined grounds that include cultural opportunities and a stunning,
large brick building dating back to 1865. The Red Brick School House
might be the oldest, continuously operating one-room schoolhouse in the
country -- dating back to 1792 -- and St. Mary's Catholic church, has
the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese with some 15,000
Dean College in Franklin.
St. Mary's Church, just off the town common, in Franklin.
Dean College leads to the downtown with a mix of restaurants and shops
that provide good
service. It all looks very pleasant, the type of downtown that
you'd like to have in your own community. The bridge over the
commuter rail has been
transformed from an ugly area to a pleasant place with loads of
colorful flowers gracing the bridge.
That hometown feeling: downtown Franklin.
Horace Mann, often regarded as the father of public education, was born
in Franklin, so it's no surprise that the town has prided itself on
public education. Franklin offers a great school system that gets
consistently high marks at GreatSchools.net. People we have talked with
absolutely love the school system, citing excellent teachers, a full
curriculum, 14:1 student teacher ratio, plenty of extra curricular
activities, and the chance for students to go on to great colleges.
People often talk about "lots of money being thrown into the school
system." Apparently, it's being put to good use. While not an
all-inclusive indication of how a school system runs, we recommend you
check out the stats for Franklin MCAS results (state standardized
There's also hiking at Franklin State Forest, and swimming, a
playground, an astro turf and recreational field at Beaver Pond. One of
the town's jewels is the 136-acre Delcarte Recreation and Conservation
Area, just off Pleasant St., with its hiking trails around the pond,
canoe launch, playground and picnic areas. It is a nature's paradise.
Delcarte Recreation and Conservation Area.
Delcarte Recreation and Conservation Area
There's also a highly developed town recreation program that seems to
cover all the bases with its so many activities.
For shoppers and diners who enjoy chains, you'll find Marshall's for
clothing, Stop and Shop and Shaw's for grocery shopping, and Longhorn
Steakhouse, Friday's and Chili's for chain restaurant dining, to name a
few. For those who like interesting local businesses, here are a few
highlights: Spruce Pond Creamery (370 King St.) for organic,
flatbread pizzas and delicious natural homemade ice cream, the
old-school Rome Italian Restaurant (4 East Central St.) that has been
around seemingly forever; Pisini Shoe Store (22 Main St.), one of the
last old-fashioned shoe stores in the Boston area; The Cake Bar bakery
(17 East Central St.) with a great mix of dessert cakes, cookies,
cupcakes and other baked goods; and The Shire Book Store (305 Union
St.) with its endless, somewhat disorganized rows of used books, high
ceilings and overall historical, factory building charm. The Shire a
great place to sit down on one of the sofas, have a cup of tea and
browse some of the fascinating collection of books, all for sale. The
nearby Franklin Mill Store (305 Main St.) offers specialty and designer
fabrics for clothing and quilting.
The people of Franklin seem really friendly, typical of towns in this
region that also include Walpole, Norfolk and Wrentham. It's small town
New England, yet close enough to work in Boston or Providence, RI.
Other areas around Boston aren't quite as relaxed or friendly -- on the
contrary, some towns have a rude, brusque, me-first feeling. Not that
Franklin doesn't have those elements -- this is, after all, the Boston
area -- but, overall, people love living in their town, and contribute
to the community by prioritzing fostering good neighborhoods and
community spirit. It is a family town with around 48 percent of the
households having children.
We live a few towns over and are considering moving to Franklin.
While other towns continue to struggle and make excuses to why their
communities are decaying, Franklin has a true sense of history, and a
look and feel that makes one proud to call it "home." That's becoming
harder and harder to find in this day of economic, political and social
struggle that has hurt so many other communities. Franklin, for the
most part, does just fine and is worth living in, we believe. It's also
much less expensive than some of the tonier Boston suburbs, coming in
at half the price for real estate than what you'd pay in a town with a
fancy bowtie. It's possible to buy a solid home for around 400K,
although $500K and above will increase the chances of purchasing more
of a "move-in condition" larger home.
It's hard to call a community one of the best places to live in the
United States. There are so many great towns and cities in our
country and beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder -- that is,
people embrace or reject their community from a personal perspective.
If however, we had to choose a few communities around Boston, living in
Franklin would definitely be at the top of the list!
towns to raise a family in the Boston area
beautiful, historic town commons in Massachusetts
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