Visiting Historic, Scenic North Easton in Easton MA
Easton Village, Easton, MA (photo by Eric H.)
Travel article review and photo by Eric H., lifelong New England native
North Easton was settled in 1694, incorporated in 1725 and became well-known for the Ames Shovel Company. The Ames Shovel Company provided shovels for the Union Pacific Railroad, which opened the west! The 19th century shovel business prospered so much so that it became the world's largest supplier of shovels, according to Kerri Nichols, program director of the Easton Chamber of Commerce. Oliver Ames the most famous family member -- he served as Massachusetts governor from 1887-1890.
Famed architect H.H. Richardson gave North Easton Village its historical "look," with late 19th century Romanesque-style buildings like the recently renovated Ames Free Library, Oaks Ames Memorial Hall (for meetings), the former 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, as well as Immaculate Conception Church. Frederick Law Olmstead, a landscape architect who designed Central Park and the Emerald Necklace, was commissioned to do the landscaping around Oak Ames Memorial Hall, designed the downtown Rockery (a memorial for North Easton's citizens lost in the American Civil War that was restored a few years back), and helped to landscape many estates in Easton, according to Nichols.
Along with the historic Ames buildings and Olmstead landscaping, the downtown district features an absolutely terrific Children's Museum located in an old fire department building, the old-fashioned Pires Hardware store, a traditional barber shop, the charming Main Street Cafe (soon to be The Farmer's Daughter), the old gas station look of Borgeson's, the scenic Shovelshop Pond, the attractive Frothingham Park for recreational activities, and the 154-acre sheep pasture for quiet walks. On the outskirts of North Easton Village is Stonehill College, a highly regarded Catholic college located on 375 idyllic acres. For the sweet tooth, there's Hilliards House of Candies, featuring made-on-the-premises chocolates, various other candies and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor (served the Friday after Easter through the end of October).
North Easton brings back the small-town neighborhood feeling of yesteryear with an old-fashioned downtown and "Leave it to Beaver"-like tree-lined side streets with pleasantly modest ranches to spectacular old Colonial and Victorian homes. On those side streets, neighbors share friendly conversation outside, families take walks together along the network of neighborhood sidewalks, and residents constantly, and proudly, work on their homes to help maintain the overall classic village look. The fact that North Easton is close to urban Brockton and the very busy Stoughton is astounding, as this neighborhood seems like the type of nice place you'd drive through in the country en route to a vacation destination. Ultimately, North Easton Village is worth a visit as a nice respite from Boston, Providence, or virtually any Boston suburb.
Editor's note: congratulations to Easton for placing 37th in CNN/Money.com's Best Places to Live 2009. With its unique and well-maintained historical buildings, beautiful conservation land, old-fashioned downtown, excellent schools and community spirit, we agree that Easton deserves a spot in any "best place to live" list!
Oakes Ames Memorial Hall (used as a meeting space) and, in the distance to the right, Ames Public Library
Another perspective of Ames Memorial Hall
A closer look at the Ames Free Public Library -- currently being restored and set to reopen in August 2009!
Pires Hardware, an old-fashioned hardware store, located in the former JB King Boot & Shoe Company building from 1860
The Children's Museum of Easton, housed in a former fire station
The Easton Historical Society is located in the former Old Colony Railway Station
The Main Street Cafe (soon to be the Farmer's Daughter) and other businesses are housed in historical buildings, lending a Mayberry RFD-like feeling to North Easton Village
Another perspective of Main St. in North Easton Village
White picket fences and old, historical homes are a North Easton Village staple. The home in the distance is the Ames Estate; it's for sale!
Hilliard's House of Candy, a wonderland of chocolates and other candies (as well as ice cream in season), made-on-the-premises
The beautiful Immaculate Conception Church
The 154-acre Sheep Pasture -- located right off the downtown, -- is perfect for walking, hiking and cross country skiing
Scenic Shovelshop Pond is located next to the Children's Museum of Easton
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