Exploring Quaint, Historic North Easton, Massachusetts
Amazing architecture: Oakes Ames Memorial Hall.
by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 9/8/2021
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Many historic suburban downtown districts in the Boston, Mass. area have recently became "history" as massive residential and commercial developments impede classic New England village-like appearances.
Not so with North Easton in Easton, Mass. a south-of-Boston suburb. This town center retains a remarkable sense of historical preservation as well as a commitment to scenic open spaces. How refreshing to see in an age of where conventional thought is to build until every bit of space is taken.
Downtown North Easton.
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. Oliver Ames, the
most famous family member, served as Massachusetts governor from
1887-1890. Today, the complex serves as a most unique, repurposed residential community that, fortunately, doesn't stray from the authentic, innate look of the town center.
Ames' first property is open to the public as a Trustees of Reservation-owned park at 35 Oliver St. Just a block from Main St., this beautiful 36-acre space features beautiful farmland, a stone stable, big old trees, a brook and ponds -- hard to believe this peaceful oasis is within a suburban downtown district. While the original mansion was razed, the scenic beauty still remains every step of the way.
Scenic Pond at the Gov. Oliver Ames estate.
The park feels like one is millions of miles away from the hustle and bustle while strolling the property. Be sure not to miss this relaxing respite from suburbia!
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,
Ames Free Library.
Oakes 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) further lend North Easton its one-of-a-kind architectural grandeur.
Easton Historical Society.
Beautiful churches complement the area
including the Gothic revival style of the Ames-built Unity Church, as
well as Immaculate Conception Church.. Frederick Law Olmsted, a famous
landscape architect who designed Central Park and the Emerald Necklace,
was commissioned to do the landscaping around Oakes 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.
Children's Museum in Easton.
Along with the historic Ames buildings and Olmstead landscaping, the
downtown district features the absolutely terrific Children's
Museum in Easton located in an old fire department building, a
traditional barber shop, the phenomenal The Farmer's Daughter
farm-to-table restaurant for breakfast and lunch and La Cucina for Northern Italian and Mediterranean fare, 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).
Another perspective of the town center.
North Easton ultimately brings back the small-town neighborhood feeling of
yesteryear with its 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
If in the Boston to Brockton area, I hope you get to see this little gem of a community!
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