Norfolk's Top Six

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This page is under construction - it will consist of a list and related information to the Top Six Historical Facts, Issues, Tales or Legends regarding Norfolk and our environs. This list is arbitrary and will represent the current opinion of the Historical Commission. Hopefully we can have some fun with it and at the same time convey some information you will find interesting, useful or amusing - stay tuned !

Here's some candidates in no special order that we'll provide information:

  1. The Great Town Hill Fire
  2. Discovery of Gold in Norfolk
  3. The Great Train Wreck
  4. Health Benefits of Life in Norfolk
  5. The Warelands - World's Most Modern Dairy
  6. Stills and the Explosion of Sweetland Farms

(1) The Great Town Hill Fire

Details to come describing the destruction of the old Town Hall on Town Hill by a tremendous fire in 1922. The main structure was destroyed but the stone steps, flagpole and lock-up, i.e. The Tramp house remain on site.

(2) Discovery of Gold in Norfolk

Gold was porported to have been discovered in several places in Norfolk during it's history. The area known as The Bush supposedly had a small goldmine at one time. The most obvious location - well how about Gold Street? The Street was named Gold after what was a large find of the mineral in the area. Certainly enough attention was brought to the area to have it remain in the thoughts of the townfolk who later named the Street Gold after it.

So should you immediaely rush out and stake a claim thinking that you might have some more sophisticated equipment than our pioneering settlers did? In this case that would not be a good bet for a far better name for this street might be Salt Street - as it was later determined that the gold had been planted or "salted" at this site, either as a practical joke or just maybe to throw the unsuspecting off the trail of the real gold in Norfolk.

(3) The Great Train Wreck

The was a train wreck near Norfolk center in the early 1900s - details to come describing this event.

(4) Health Benefits of Life in Norfolk

The general altitude and dry and invigorating air promote the healthfulness of Norfolk and give its residents freedom from the troubles so apt to afflict dwellers in lower-lying places. The hills moreover attaining considerable additional elevation afford wide and pleasing outlooks while many good roads well maintained make driving a pleasure.

Highland Lake to the east, Populatic Lake, Kingsbury Pond and other lakes and ponds add diversity and their charm to the landscape. Several large home estates have been established at various points and while these are not only important additions to the town, they may be regarded as an unmistakable indication of one phase of the inevitable development of this attractive and picturesque country.

Sites quite favored as those which have been so improved are available and indeed there are plenty of opportunities throughout the town for the creation of homes either large with spacious grounds or small, and whether intended for summer use or for all the year occupancy.

NORFOLK - Copyright 1909 by The Edison Electric Illuminating Company of Boston

(5) The World's Most Modern Dairy

The Warelands on 103 Boardman Street was recognized as "The World's Most Modern Dairy" at the turn of the 19th century.

Robert Ware, one of the first settlers of the Norfolk area, built his first house on this same site in 1661 but it was later burned by the Indians. In the 1690s Ebenezer Ware, Robert's grandson, built a dwelling, that no longer stands, here as well. The current Warelands was built in 1733 by Ebenezer and is known as The Elisha Ware House, in honor of one of his seven children. The property remained proudly in the Ware family for many generations. Form 1905-1913, society woman Charlotte Barrel Ware, "well known in social circles", shocked many of her contemporary proper Bostonians by operating a unique and internationally famous commercial enterprise on this site, The Warelands Dairy and breeding farm. This was the finest dairy barn and dairy bottling house of its day.

The Warelands Dairy produced the highest quality certified milk in the entire United States. In 1909 Charlotte expanded her operations and opened the unique Warelands Dairy School with forty of the top professors in public health in the country on her staff. At a time when hundreds of thousands of children and adults were dying annually of diarrheal and tubercular milk disease, Charlotte Ware's scientific, educational and social-humanitarian impact was immeasurable. She became recognized, internationally, for dramatically influencing agricultural dairy practices, the milk industry and the commercial transport and sale of milk, worldwide.

The Warelands, since November 10, 1977 has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This listing is granted to buildings, structures, objects and sites that have received local, state or national designation based on their historical or archaeological significance. These structures and grounds provide one of the few direct links with the group of hearty pioneers who first settled the Norfolk area and that the value to the Town of Norfolk of these remaining as unaltered as possible is of significant historical and archaeological importance.

"I lived at the Warelands for a few years and can appreciate the significance of the structures. The house itself is raised wood panels and horsehair plaster. It has a center built chimney with five fireplaces with two honeycomb fireplaces. All the floors are wide pine boards with the exception of the addition of the kitchen in the 70s I believe. The wood in the house is first generation cut. Some panels measuring 18-24" across the grain, single cut. Post and beam structure with original glass panels in the windows. It is the oldest standing structure in the town and was the first farm to produce pasteurized milk. It was burnt down in the Indian wars and rebuilt. Oh, one other thing, it has a ghost, my ex-wife saw it; it is believed to be Elizer Ware. The Ware family used to own all the land up to the railroad station. The trees on the land are over two hundred years old. It is the heritage of the town of Norfolk and should not be let go to development at any cost. The cottage and the barn are also original. It's a 27 acre farm." – SP

(6) Stills and the Explosion of Sweetland Farms

There were many stills, especially during the Prohibition times of the 1920s throughout Norfolk. One still's entrance near Park Street was disguised as an outhouse to avoid detection from the authorities. The Cook Farm had at least one still. The Cook Farm, one of the largest agricultural enterprises in Norfolk's historry, supplied all of the beef, dairy products and vegetables for the well known Cook Restaurant in Boston. The huge barn that supported these operations was located across the Main Street in the present day Sweetland Farms area where there was easy access to the railroad, as the farm even had their own siding used to transport the farm goods to Boston. During Prohibition the barn went out with a bang when allegedly (cause undetermined), an illegal still exploded and the resulting fire destroyed this massive, magnificent structure. Some versions of the story even attribute a second still to the property.