Providence To Boston
( Originally Published 1919 )
R. 2 § 3. Providence to Boston. 45.0 m. Via PAWTUCKET, NORTH ATTLEBORO, WALPOLE, and DEDHAM.
This route, following State Roads, marked in blue from the Massachusetts line, just outside Pawtucket, goes by way of North Attleboro, a prosperous jewelry town, and continues through farming country to Walpole and Norwood, a book-making town; thence through historic and residential Dedham, and by the parkways to Boston. An optional route leads through Mansfield and Sharon (p 202).
The direct route from Providence to Pawtucket via North Main St. and Pawtucket Ave. is rendered disagreeable by the cobblestones, car tracks, and heavy traffic. The following, via the Blackstone Boulevard, is but little further and will be found much more attractive.
From Exchange Place pass between the Federal Building and Central Fire Station, crossing Post Office Square, and continue directly ahead through Waterman St., going up the hill and passing Brown University on the right, to the intersection of Butler Ave. Turn to the left on Butler Ave. and continue past Blackstone Park into Blackstone Boulevard. Pass Butler Hospital grounds and the Swan Point Cemetery on the right, enter East Ave. and follow it over the long steep •hill to Main St., in the center of Pawtucket.
4.5 PAWTUCKET. Pop 51,600 (1910), 55,335 (1915); one third foreign-born. Providence Co. Settled 1670. Indian name, "at the little falls." Mfg. thread, cotton and woolen goods, textile and other machinery, tennis rackets, paper, spools, soap, celluloid, and clocks; bleaching and dyeing.
Pawtucket, a thriving city of diversified manufacturing interests, is on the Blackstone river, which below the falls here is known as the Pawtucket, or Seekonk. J. & P. Coats, Inc., thread plant is the largest concern in the city, employing about 2000 hands. The Lorraine Manufacturing Company, the Jenckes Spinning Company, the Royal Weaving Company, the Hope Webbing Company, the United States Finishing Company, and the Goff braid mills are textile manufacturers or dyers. Fales & Jenks and Potter & Johnston manufacture textile machinery. The Phillips Insulated Wire Company and the Slater mills are also large plants. The Narragansett Machine Company was the pioneer in this country in the manufacture of gymnasium apparatus.
Under the Main Street stone bridge are the falls which gave the city its name. President Dwight said at the beginning of the last century: "Directly under the bridge commences a romantic fall which, extending obliquely down the river, furnishes a number of excellent mill-seats. Of this advantage the inhabitants have availed themselves. There is probably no spot in New England, of the same extent, in which the same quantity or variety of manufacturing business is carried on."
The most interesting old landmark in Pawtucket is the stone Slater Mill where in 1793 Samuel Slater established the cotton industry of America. Slater Memorial Park, two miles east of Main Street bridge, is an attractive pleasure ground containing the historic Daggett mansion. Central Falls, ad-joining Pawtucket on the north and to all appearances a part of it, is a congested little city of 23,708 people, and Valley Falls with 5000 to 6000 more is just beyond.
The first settler of Pawtucket is said to have been Joseph Jenks, an iron manufacturer. Six years later the little hamlet was the scene of an Indian raid in which Captain Pierce and his seventy men were killed. The town was set off from Rehoboth in 1812.
Samuel Slater, "the father of cotton manufacture in America," came to Pawtucket in 1790, and with the help of David Wilkinson and Sylvanus Brown constructed in the Slater Mill, still standing on the Blackstone, the first successful cotton-spinning machinery made in America. In 1814 John Thorpe, a Pawtucket mechanic, invented the power loom. Stephen Jenks made arms for the Continental troops during the Revolution and in 1811 took a contract from the government to make 10,000 muskets. President Madison at his second inauguration on March 4, 1813, wore a suit of woolen cloth made in a Pawtucket factory. It was the first time that a high public official had worn a suit of American-made goods, and the news was spread broadcast to boom Pawtucket industries.
Continue down Main St. through the heart of the business section of Pawtucket. As we cross the bridge we have a good view of the falls and gain a striking impression of the industrial activity of the place from the huge mills which line both sides of the river. The sole fatality of Dorr's Rebellion of 1842 occurred during a riot on the Main Street bridge. The Slater mill is conspicuous, upstream on the left.
After crossing the bridge, fork left with trolley and follow Broadway across R.R. and Massachusetts State Line, where blue markers indicate the route to
12.5 NORTH ATTLEBORO. Alt 195 ft. Pop (twp) 9562 (1910), 9398 (1915). Bristol Co. Settled 1640. Mfg. jewelry, paper boxes, and machinery.
In the midst of a pleasant rolling country North Attleboro, in spite of its numerous factories, is a pleasant little town steadily planning for progress in attractiveness as well as in business. With Attleboro (p 202) it forms a part of the largest jewelry center of the United States, with over sixty firms engaged in this industry.
The Richards Memorial Library is a cozy, ivy-covered building; the Oldtown Congregational Church, and the Baptist Church on the Common, are of the simple, dignified meeting house style. On Main St. diagonally opposite the old burial ground is the site of the Woodcock Garrison, where John Woodcock, the first white settler, built his home in 1669. About 1770 the Woodcock Garrison was purchased by Israel Hatch and kept open for many years as a public house. Here stopped Washington, President Monroe, and Lafayette. A signboard used on the Hatch House, and many family relics, are still carefully preserved.
This is one of the oldest towns in the Commonwealth, having been settled in 1640, and was known originally as the Rehoboth North Purchase (1643), which included Attleboro and Cumberland and Pawtucket. The first Attleboro burial ground, where the earliest settlers were buried, and the region of the bloody Pierce's Fight in King Philipes War (1676) are both in North Attleboro.
There are many Attleboros, due to the development of centers of population and industry around waterpowers. The old Foxboro poet and peddler Daddy Martin, narrating the growth of the town, recognized this feature:
"The shoddy mill is running still,
Washington Street is the old Post Road which followed the course of the Indian trail. It has been the chief route of travel north and south from Massachusetts to Narragansett Bay for hundreds of years.
When in 1802 the Turnpike was built, the curious rock formation of Red Rock Hill was uncovered. It attracted the attention of Professor Hitchcock of Amherst and finally led to the geological survey of the whole State. This was the first government survey of an entire State ever made.
Following the blue markers through Plainville (14.0) the route turns right at the four corners into
19.0 WRENTHAM. Alt 240 ft. Pop (twp) 1743 (1910), 2414 (1915).
Norfolk Co. Settled 1673. Mfg. straw hats and tools.
Wrentham is a quiet village with a lovely Green in the midst of a lake-studded region. The beautiful ponds in the vicinity were once the favorite resort of the Indians of Massasoit and King Philip. The best known are King Philip's Pond and Wollomonapoag.
For many years Helen Keller and Mr. and Mrs. John Macy (Miss Sullivan) have made their home here in a simple village house. Miss Keller, deaf and blind since babyhood, under the tutelage of her wonderful teacher, now Mrs. Macy, and further inspired by Mr. Macy, has become through her writings and lectures a figure of national interest.
Wrentham and the neighboring town of Franklin originated from an offshoot of the settlement at Dedham. An early settlement at Wollomonapoag was incorporated in 1673 and called Wrentham because some of the families came from the English town of that name.
The industry of straw weaving was started here more than a century ago. In 1798 one Mrs. Naomi Whipple with characteristic New England enterprise unbraided some European hats and learned the secret of making straw braid. From this beginning Wrentham bonnets soon acquired a wide reputation, partly because they were exploited by the young ladies of Day's Academy, a `female academye here, which at this time had an extensive patronage.
The route now passes through a hilly and rather fertile country, though much overgrown with underbrush. In the Pondville district we pass the large duck farm of the Weber brothers, extending for many acres on both sides of the road. There are often as many as 20,000 ducks here.
5.7 WALPOLE. Alt 177 ft. Pop (twp) 4892. Norfolk Co. Settled 1647. Mfg. leather, rubber goods, machinery, paper products, and hospital supplies.
The pretty tree-shaded village Green with a bandstand and fountain lies between the old Unitarian meeting house, on the left, and the Methodist, on the right, of later date. The Public Library, given by Andrew Carnegie, F. W. Bird, and Mary Bird, is a handsome little building nearby.
Settlers came to the neighborhood from Dedham in 1647, and for many years Walpole was a part of the older town. It was incorporated in 1724 and named in honor of Sir Robert Walpole, then at the height of his fame as a statesman in England.
Note. At East Walpole, three miles east, is the plant of Bird & Son, important makers of the wellknown Neponset building papers, shingles, and roofing materials, established in 1795. The Bird family has always been prominent in the town and has done much to promote its welfare. Charles Sumner Bird, the present head of the firm, one of the leaders of the Progressive Party, has long been a prominent figure in the public life of the State. Other concerns at East Walpole are the American Glue Company, and Hollingsworth & Vose Company, manufacturers of paper.
At the foot of the hill (28.5), just before entering Norwood, is Hawes Brook and an ancient mill pond. At the top of a rather steep hill, on the corner of Chestnut St., is the home of Herbert Plimpton, of the Plimpton Press. The view here, to the southeast, is bounded by the Sharon hills, five or six miles away. In the valley are the marshes of the Neponset river with the ink mills of Geo. Morrill & Co., one of a chain of plants from Boston to the Pacific Coast.
Just beyond is Berwick Park, presented to the town by James Berwick. A club house and athletic grounds are especially for the use of the employees of the Norwood Press, in which Mr. Berwick has a large interest. Opposite the park is Mr. Berwick's estate with some rich flower gardens and a long, low house with a French roof. Beyond Berwick Park, to the southeast, are the brick buildings of the Norwood Press, easily recognized by the clock tower. Just before reaching Main St. we pass the George Morrill Library.
30.0 NORWOOD. Alt 149 ft. Pop (twp) 8014 (1910), 10,977 (1915).
Settled 1730. Mfg. ink, leather, iron products; book-making. Norwood has been for many years a book-making center.
Here are located the Norwood and the. Plimpton Presses, two of the largest in the country, and the activities of the town are centered about these establishments. The Norwood Press, on Main St., makes a specialty of scientific and text books, using twelve tons of paper a day in the manufacture of 700,000 books a year, and employing over 600 people. The Plimpton Press, opposite the railway station, established by Herbert M. Plimpton of Norwood, also does complete book work of almost every description. The other industries of the town, ink factories and tanneries, are related to book-making. The tannery of the Smith Company is one of the largest in the world. These industries call for a good deal of highly skilled labor, reflected in the generally prosperous aspect of the place and the number of well-to-do homes. Norwood has made a number of striking innovations in town government and `hires' a Town Manager to look after its affairs. He is required to be a technical engineer, and is the purchasing agent.
A mile out of Norwood we reach a stretch of new road from which there is a splendid view of Purgatory Swamp, Ponkapog, and the Blue Hills, with Great Blue Hill to the left. The new country home of Cameron Forbes, former Governor-general of the Philippines, has been recently built on the hillside among the cedars and birches.
34.0 DEDHAM. Alt 119 ft. Pop (twp) 9284 (1910), 11,043 (1915). County-seat of Norfolk Co. Settled 1636. Indian name Tist. Mfg. woolens, carpets, and pottery.
Dedham is one of the pleasant residential and historic towns in Boston's vicinity. The beauty of the environs has attracted prominent Boston families ever since its "twenty-two proprietors from Watertown and Roxbury" took possession in 1636.
Along High St., leading westward from Dedham Square through the center of the village, are most of the interesting buildings. On the corner of Church St. to the left, the low brick structure with arched portal is the home of the Dedham Historical Society, one of the oldest and best in the vicinity of Boston, with a large library and collection. A few rods to the west, and opposite, is the Dr. Nathaniel Ames house, built in 1772. Just off High St., in Ames St., is the site of the Woodward Tavern, where the Suffolk Convention of Sept. 6, 1774, was held. Three days later, the famous Suffolk Re-solves, partly drawn up here, were adopted at an adjourned meeting in the Vose house at Milton (R. 30).
Ames Street leads across the river to the right. A most interesting landmark, the old `Powder House,' stands on a high ledge, just back of the Boat House, across the Charles, close to the street. It was built by the town in 1766 "on a Great Rock in Aaron- Fuller's Land." Here is the four-arch bridge; by the Pumping Station, further up, is the three-arch Cart Bridge, and almost in Needham, the one-arch bridge.
At the Church Green on High St. is a tablet which marks the site of the first free public school to be maintained by general taxation of which there is a record, established by a vote in town meeting assembled, Jan. 1, 1644-45. A stone nearby bears the following inscription:
"The Pillar of Liberty Erected by the Sons of Liberty in this Vicinity. Laus Deo Regi et Imunitatm
Autoribusq, maxime Patrono
This monument is the only one extant which was erected by that early patriotic association, the Sons of Liberty; the inscription was incised July 11 or 12, 1766. A wooden bust, on a wooden column ten or twelve feet high, of the `Great Commoner,' Pitt, formerly surmounted this stone. On the Green stands the meeting house of the First Church. This is the third building, somewhat remodeled, on the site of the original edifice (1638). In this house all the civil and religious meetings of the town were held until the building of the first town house nearby in 1828. At this point, just beyond Ames St. on the right, is the handsome Samuel Haven house, built in 1795. The beautiful elms, brought from England, were set out by Judge Haven in 1789. Opposite these houses and the Church Green is the modern granite Court House, the second since Dedham became the shire town of the county (1793). The Registry Building opposite was completed in 1905 at a cost of $350,000. The Ames homestead, where Fisher Ames was born and died, formerly on this site, has been moved back to the banks of the Charles river and remodeled. It is now called Three Rivers and is the summer home of F. J. Stimson, `J. S. of Dale,' ambassador to the Argentine Republic.
On the right of High St., beyond the Orthodox Church, is the fine old Dexter house, built about 1762 by Samuel Dexter. This is one of the finest examples of Colonial architecture in the vicinity of Boston, a third story has been added. General Washington spent the night of April 4, 1776, here on his way to New York after the evacuation of Boston.
Continuing westward toward Needham we pass the pumping station, also the house where Arthur Foote, the composer, lived before moving to Brookline. A little to the left on Chestnut St. is the home of George Fred Williams, the `Sage of Dedham,' the original Bryanite of Massachusetts, who recently achieved further distinction as the `Albanian Byron' while Minister to Greece and Montenegro.
On High St., west of Chestnut St., is the Dowse house, better known as the Quincy house, from its occupancy by Edmund Quincy. It was built about 1800 by Edward Dowse, a Boston merchant who amassed a fortune in the China trade. James Russell Lowell, who often visited Quincy here, christened the place Bankside, and wrote:
"You are still lovely in your new-leaved green;
Further on we pass the polo grounds at Karlstein, also some fine old houses. One across the Charles, occupied by the late Albert W. Nickerson, on Motley's Pond, is easily the finest and largest house in Dedham. It is nearly on the site of John Lothrop Motley's boyhood home. Village Avenue is a fine residential street. At Court and Church Sts. stood the house in which Horace Mann had his law offices (1828-35).
In East Dedham, which lies to the northeast of the Square, a mile off the main route, is the site of the first mill built for the waterpower furnished by Mother Brook, produced by the pioneer canal of the continent (1639). This first instance of the utilization of waterpower in New England is worth consideration. East Brook flows through East Dedham into the Neponset river, which lies about sixty feet below the drainage basin of the Charles river at Dedham. The connection of the Charles river and East Brook by this canal furnished a head of power that has been profitably used ever since. The original mudsill at the entrance still remains. In all, between Dedham and Hyde Park there are three mill privileges depending on the water of Mother Brook, as the canal is called.
The Dedham Pottery, formerly the Chelsea Pottery, is a brick building back from High St., west of Boyden Square, East Dedham. It is operated by a son of the inventor, William A. Robertson. The process is a secret one, producing a rather heavy blue and white ware with a decided crackle, the only successful imitation of the old Chinese crackle ware.
To the right of Dedham Square, at the junction of Eastern Ave. and East St., is the Fairbanks house, the oldest in Dedham, a part of which is said to have been built soon after Jonathan Fairbanks came to Dedham in 1637. Years ago an Indian arrow projected from the roof, and whence it came no one knows. One day it was pulled out in re-shingling and disappeared. By some this is thought to be the oldest frame homestead in America. It has ever since been in the family, except during 1896-1903, and is now its `historic home.' On East St. is the famous Avery Oak, older than the town. The trunk of the huge tree is over sixteen feet in circumference. The builders of the frigate "Constitution" tried to buy this oak and offered seventy dollars, a very large sum for that time, but the owner would not sell. It is now the property of the Dedham Historical Society.
Note. This eastward road, Route 21, goes to Ponkapog, a very beautiful lane through the woods of Green Lodge and arches of thickly set willows.
Dedham dates from September, 1635, the same day that Concord was incorporated. It was settled by twenty proprietors, who moved here from Watertown and Roxbury.
They gave their new home the quaint name of Contentment, only to change it to that of the English town of Dedham, Essex, in 1636.
Major Lusher, due of these pioneers, was a representative to the General Court, whose influence is summed up by a local bard: " When Lusher was in office, all things went well;
But how they go since it shames us to tell."
The first white man who fell in King Philipes War was shot in Dedham woods, though the village was never attacked. Fisher Ames, a statesman of the Revolution, was born here in 1758.
The highway over which we have been traveling between Providence and Boston formed a part of the Post Road from Portsmouth, N.H., to the Virginias, over which the Dedham authorities claim that mail service was never suspended from May 1, 1693, when the first letters were carried through, until the railroad took over the service.
From Dedham the direct route to Boston follows Washington St. to Forest Hills (39.0), turning left under the Elevated and R.R. viaducts, and along the Arborway (R. 21), Jamaicaway, Riverway, and Fenway to Commonwealth Ave. and Copley or Park Squares. An alternate route, almost as direct, turns right from High St. on Ames St., crossing the Charles river, and continuing on Spring St. and Center St., to Jamaica Pond, where it joins Jamaicaway and the above route. 45.0 BOSTON (R. 20).
Note. From Pawtucket an alternative route leads via Cottage St. to Mansfield, Sharon, and Boston (53.5). This route is devious and the roads are not especially good.
12.0 ATTLEBORO. Alt 137 ft. Pop (twp) 16,215 (1910), 18,480 (1915). Bristol Co. Settled 1694. Mfg. jewelry, clocks, buttons, and cotton goods.
The Attleboros, with Providence, constitute the largest jewelry center in the United States, the jewelry district of New Jersey and New York ranking second. The Attleboros have about one hundred jewelry factories and ten silversmith establishments, employing 5000 men. In 1905 the total factory products were worth $5,544,285, more than half jewelry.
Attleboro was named for the English Attleboro, whence some of the early settlers had come, and a small stream here is called Bungay after a river in the English town. The first manufacturer of jewelry was a Frenchman who had a small shop here late in the eighteenth century. In 1810 Colonel Obed Robinson made jewelry at Robinsonville, a suburb, and later this became the firm of Daniel Evans and Son, manufacturers of gilt buttons, etc. About 1845 plated jewelry became important, and this was the foundation of its present varied and artistic output of gold, silver, and enamel.
At Mansfield (23.0), on Route 23, turn left at the Tavern and cross R.R., following trolley to Foxboro (26.5), and there turn right at the Green to
32.0 SHARON. Alt 234 ft. Pop (twp) 2310 (1910), 2468 (1915).
Norfolk Co. Settled 1637. Mfg. cutlery and trowels.
Sharon is a quiet village in the pine woods on a hilly plateau. Its bracing air has made it popular as a health resort, and a summer residence for Boston and Providence business men. Lake Massapoag, a pretty pond, is at Sharon Heights. Cobb's Tavern on Bay St. is a hostelry of stage coach days, where Daniel Webster often stopped to relax.
The road follows the trolley through the woodland to
35.8 CANTON. Alt 113 ft. Pop (twp) 4797 (1910), 5623 (1915).
Norfolk Co. Inc. 1797. Mfg. cotton and woolen goods, jackets, patent leather, carriage cloth, stove polish, fire hose, fish lines, shovels, and iron goods.
This pleasant manufacturing village is the older part of the town of Stoughton, divided in 1797, though strangely enough it then took a new name. Paul Revere, the hero of Lexington, here set up the first copper rolling mill in the country (1801), and a foundry for casting bells, many of which still hang today in the old meeting houses.
Beyond Canton the road passes through Ponkapog (38.8), joining Route 32, leading to BOSTON (53.5) by way of Great Blue Hill and Mattapan.