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Taking in the Classic New England Feel of Downtown Wrentham, Massachusetts

Town common in Wrentham, Massachusetts -- surely one of the best in New England.
Town common and the original Congregational Church of Wrentham.

Article and photos by Eric Hurwitz.
Page created on 9/12/17.

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Downtown Wrentham reflects the classic, quintessential, quaint New England look perhaps better than any other small town in eastern Massachusetts.

The downtown features all the earmarks traditional New England featuring a church with tall white steeple, public schools all situated together, a beautiful town common and a limited but appealing row of small, specialty shops (many with colorful flags and benches out front). 

Downtown shops in quaint Wrentham, Massachusetts.
Downtown Wrentham

Here is a place where you can catch the local conversations and some delicious home style breakfast and lunch at the Looking Glass Cafe diner (36 South St.), enjoy lunch or dinner at the cozy Gavel Public House (36 South St.), buy everything from paints to baseball cards at the family-owned Cataldo's Hardware Store (84 South St.), or even stay overnight at the lovely Proctor Mansion Inn with its 1861 French Victorian-style luster overlooking the town common.

Proctor Mansion Inn in Wrentham, Massachusetts
Proctor Mansion Inn

Gavel Public House in downtown Wrentham, Mass.
Gavel Public House

Looking Glass Cafe in downtown Wrentham, Massachusetts
Looking Glass Cafe

Cataldo's Hardware Store in Wrentham, Massachusetts
Cataldo's Hardware.

The most striking sight in downtown Wrentham: the Original Congregational Church of Wrentham—a Greek Revival structure built in 1834 featuring a spectacular four-stage tower (pictured at the top of this story).

Downtown Wrentham does not pretend to be a vacation destination, and that works to the visitor's advantage. It's simply a marvelous place to take a walk, grab a bite to eat, catch a wonderful seasonal event like Arts in the Park in May, a Sunday evening concert on the common in the summer or the tree lighting ceremony on the first Sunday of December.

Gail Huff, best known as a superb reporter at WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston from 1993–2012, lived in Wrentham with husband––former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown––and family for many years. In my
Massachusetts Town Greens book, Huff beautifully describes Wrentham and its town common:

Scott and I raised our children in Wrentham. During the twenty-five years that we lived there, the town’s idyllic common served as a backdrop for so many wonderful times. We attended the Sunday night Concerts in the Common and it was there that our daughter Ayla sang for the first time in public. At seven years old she sang an Elvis song with an oldies band called The Reminisants, and years later she would shoot one of her first music videos in the Common after becoming a finalist on Amer- ican Idol. Scott and the girls spent many days standing out in the Common with campaign signs during his twelve campaigns! We never missed Wrentham Day when the Girl Scouts would be called in to volunteer. Scott was with the Lions Club and they’d put out one of the world’s biggest banana splits for the kids to gobble up! Santa always met the townspeople at the Common on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He rode in on a fire engine and listened to every child’s deepest Christmas wishes before being whisked away to the North Pole. It was one of the few public Commons that still allowed displaying of the Crèche. To the children’s delight, haphazardly strewn Christmas lights sparkled through many a nor’easter on Wrentham’s town common. There were also solemn times, when sharing grief made the pain easier to bear. We cried together in the Common after the attacks of September 11. And we gathered for ceremonies that marked the lives of brave soldiers who never made it back home. We waved American flags and sang the National Anthem in a patriotic show of unity. There is nothing common about the Wrentham Common. Gathered souls at the little white gazebo, we’d share joy and sorrow––often wishing time could just stand still here.

Sometimes, the simple things in life create more joy and meaning than spending a fortune on a vacation with exceedingly high expectations. Downtown Wrentham, in its brief appearance with one traffic light and one block, slows down the pace in a suburban Boston world of fast-paced ways. This is small town, Main Street USA at its best.

Taking a stroll in downtown Wrentham, Massachusetts
A stroll through downtown Wrentham.

Wrentham town green in Wrentham, Massachusetts.
Wrentham town common

What else is there to do in Wrentham outside the downtown district?
Commonwealth BBQ road stand
Wrentham Village Premium Outlets
Monastery in Wrentham makes homemade chocolates
Cook's Valley Farm
Big Apple Farm

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Books by Publisher Eric Hurwitz

Massachusetts Town Greens -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons!

The Best Diners in New England -- If you love classic diners, New England has them! In my book, I write in detail on 50 top local diners.

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