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Exploring Quaint, Historic North Easton, Massachusetts

Oakes Ames Hall in North Easton MA
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.

Oakes Ames Hall in North Easton MA
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.

Shovelshop complex in North Easton, Mass..
Shovelshop Pond.

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.

Pond at the Gov. Oliver Ames estate in North Easton, MA
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 in North Easton MA
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 in North Easton MA
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 North Easton MA
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.

Shovelshop Pond in North Easton MA.
Shovelshop Pond.

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 Center in Easton, MA.
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 village look.

If in the Boston to Brockton area, I hope you get to see this little gem of a community!

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