Archive for the ‘Lost Dedham’ category

It’s been a long time…

October 9, 2014

Too long since my last post. So here’s a short one that’s a little bit of a mystery in keeping with the season. This article appeared in the Globe October 30, 1926:

East dedham Halloween 1926007

This is not the East Dedham that we are all familiar with, but rather south east Dedham at the end of Greenlodge Street. Purgatory Swamp is situated in the Fowl Meadows, that great expanse of wetlands on either side of the Neponset River. You can see the meadows clearly from the Neponset River Parkway near the old Stop and Shop Warehouse in Hyde Park and from the highway as you exit 95 North to get on 128. The major part of Purgatory Swamp is in Westwood, off of Canton Street. I don’t know much about the old stone quarry, but there is a Quarry Rd. in this area off of Vincent Rd.

If you know any more about the quarry or about this Hallowe’en event from 88 years ago…let me know.  More posts to come! Thanks for your interest!

An old Dedham barn…

August 23, 2011

These three shots were taken in 1981 for a photography class I was taking at Bridgewater State College. At the time I took the photos, the brick building that stands on top of the hill was the S.M.A. Fathers’ Queen of Apostle Seminary. The barn once stood on the George Nickerson estate on Common St., on property now owned by Northeastern University. Nickerson was the brother of Albert Nickerson, who built the castle at his “Riverdale” estate, which has been home to Noble and Greenough since 1922.
The barn, which was red, stood behind the seminary. There was also a run-down log cabin in the woods of the Wilson Mountain Reservation.


The grainy quality of this picture was not my attempt at being artsy. The negatives were stored in my basement for years, and this one got stuck to its glassine envelope.


This is the artsy picture. Kind of Stephen King like…

1889 Dedham Directory Part 2

August 16, 2011

Reading through the 1889 Dedham Directory gives you a pretty good picture of life in Shiretown in the late 19th century. The population at the time was 6,641, including those living in West Dedham who would become residents of Westwood in 1897 when that town seceded. Dedham also had about twice the land area that it does now.

For a small town, it offered just about everything you needed for your home, your business, and your social life. All of the following products were produced in town in 1889: boots, cabinets, chocolate, carriages, cigars, dresses, harnesses, slippers, suspenders, soap, tools, watches, and whips. The directory lists 10 blacksmiths, 6 boarding houses, 5 hotels, 2 ice dealers, 17 grocers, 7 physicians and surgeons, 4 lawyers, 17 dressmakers and 1 dentist. Remarkably, this town of under 10,000 residents had 7 post offices! Almost all of these were located inside railroad depots or grocers.
The listing of residents includes occupations as well as addresses. In 1889, a great number of Dedhamites either worked in the mills or for the Old Colony Railroad.


Those are pretty big raisins! Walnut Hill was the name given to the area surrounding the intersection of High St. and Walnut St. in East Dedham.


Penniman Square was the name given to the intersection of Mt. Vernon St.and Auburn St. (Whiting Avenue)

1889 Dedham Directory

August 6, 2011

Here are a few ads from the 1889 Dedham Directory. The directory lists Dedham residents, businesses, town officers, and organizations. It also has a brief history of the town, and pages of these great ads.


Wardle’s is the oldest continuous business in Dedham. It opened in 1858 as B.F. Smith’s Apothecary, and was taken over by Harry L. Wardle in 1882.


Maybe the pianos are played by cows?


Talk about going out in style…


The Walley family still operates a business in Dedham, Walley Insurance on High Street. President Frank Walley III assures me that he doesn’t pay so much attention to interfering and overreaching anymore. At least not in his business.

East Dedham Firehouse Tower…Gone With the Wind!

May 5, 2011

It was Hurricane Carol that took out the 80-foot bell tower, in dramatic and dangerous fashion on August 31, 1954. Lifted by a particularly strong gust, the tower tore loose from the building and sailed across the fire station, crashing into the house next door, where Mrs. Louise Guerrio was feeding her one year old son Joseph at the time. Miraculously, neither Mrs. Guerrio nor her son were hurt. A portion of the tower fell across Bussey St., crushing 3 cars and damaging the house at #219.

The steeple of the Old North Church and a WBZ radio tower were also toppled by the hurricane, which was more powerful and more devastating than the famous 1938 storm.

Here is a picture of the firehouse from the early twentieth century:

This is how I remember the firehouse looking when I was a kid:

Thanks to Firefighter Charlie Boncek for letting me use these images.

Red Sox Home Opener 2011

April 8, 2011

In honor of today’s game, I present an excerpt from my book Dedham: Historic and Heroic Tales from Shiretown describing a little known episode in the history of baseball. Go Sox!

Dedham or Cooperstown?
Imagine you are in the bleachers at Fenway Park watching a playoff game between the Red Sox and their longtime rivals, the New York Yankees. It’s a close game, with Boston leading 59–55 and nobody out. The Sox have a man on second base. The New York twelve are spread out on the rectangle, waiting for the home team striker to take his knocks. Here’s the pitch—it’s a long fly ball, caught by the Yankee outfielder; he catches it and hurls it toward home, plugging the Sox runner square in the back. “You’re out!” hollers the referee, and the Yankees run off the field to take their knocks.

Had a group of local baseball club presidents meeting in Dedham in 1858 gotten their way, scenes such as this one would be played out on ball fields around the country each summer, and Dedham would be known today as the birthplace of modern baseball. On May 13, 1858, the Phoenix House hosted a convention of the Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players, which came to the High Street hotel to draft a set of rules and regulations for the “Massachusetts” version of the popular sport.


The Phoenix stood on the corner of Washington and High Streets, where the K. of C. building is today. It burned down in 1880.

Representatives from ten local ball clubs, including three from Boston and one from Dedham, worked all morning on drafting a constitution before breaking for a bountiful lunch supplied by Phoenix landlord J.D. Howe. According to Article I of the constitution adopted that day, the purpose of the association was to “improve and foster the Massachusetts game of baseball and the cultivation of kindly feelings among the different members of Base Ball Clubs in this state.” While B.F. Gould of Boston’s Tri-Mountain Club demonstrated “kindly feelings” as he addressed his fellow presidents that day, he made it clear that his club would be withdrawing from the association in order to play the game under the rival “New York” rules.

The seventeen rules adopted by the association that day describe a game more like English rounders. The field of play was rectangular, unlike the diamond shape of modern baseball. Each team was allowed only one out per at-bat. Runners did not have to be tagged in order to be called out—a fielder could strike or “plug” the runner with the ball in order to make an out. The game ended when one team scored one hundred runs.
The New York game, introduced by the Knickerbocker club in the 1840s, was much closer to modern baseball. There was a great rivalry between proponents of the two versions of the game, and for a while after the convention the Massachusetts game was becoming more popular than the New York game. But the New York rules were easier to follow and made for a more exciting game, and as the city itself emerged as the center of trade and industry in America, the New York game became the standard. The Civil War helped to spread the popularity of the New York game, and in 1871, the establishment of the first professional league, operating under New York rules, signaled the end of the Massachusetts game. The only rules from the Dedham Convention that exist in modern baseball are the overhand pitch and the called strike.
After their long day’s schedule of meetings, the gentlemen who had gathered at the Phoenix naturally celebrated their hard work with a ballgame, which was well attended by townspeople.

Dedham Town Forest Part 3

March 27, 2011

WARNING! If you go into the Town Forest, do a very thorough TICK CHECK when you come out. I found one of the little buggers clinging to my stomach the day after my adventure. I went to the doctor and I’m taking all the precautions one should to prevent Lyme disease, but what an annoying ending to an otherwise enjoyable day.
So here are some of the interesting features of the Town Forest:

Stone Walls
Plenty of meandering stone walls, indicating that this land was once farmed, perhaps as far back as the 1700’s. More research into who once owned the land to come.

An Access Road

This gravel access road runs from the northbound lanes of 128 to the southbound lanes. It is gated, but the gates were open, so I suppose some foolhardy motorist could actually pull in here from the fast lane of 128.

Large Rock formations

These rock formations explain why the area is referred to on old maps as “Ye Rockes.” It also explains why 128 had to be routed around the area, creating this large forested island in the middle of the highway.

A weird stage/altar/picnic table/foundation thing

Your guess is as good as mine. Any theories?

The remains of an exercise trail
In 1977, fellow DHS senior John MacDonald set up an exercise course in the forest for his Eagle Scout project. Several of the signs can still be found nailed to trees; a little rusty, some with bullet holes, others bent to interesting angles.

Despite its unusual location, I think the Dedham Town Forest is a great place for people to hike and explore. Perhaps another prospective Eagle Scout could take it on as a project- establishing trails, promoting its existence, and, if possible, wiping out the tick population!