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Historic Homes & Structures of 1800 to 1900

The David Holbrook House

2 Holbrook Street

The David Holbrook HouseAlthough not much is known about this early nineteenth century house the exterior design appears to be in near original condition. Inside there are seven working fireplaces. The deeds on this property have been traced back as far as 1810 when the house was owned by David Holbrook and the lot known as the Holbrook Farm. This David may have been "David the Weaver" mentioned in The History of Norfolk by Bertha Fales. Over the years this house has been owned by many families with surnames indicating close ties to Norfolk's first settlers, as in addition to the Holbrooks we find the Fales family and later the Rockwoods in residence here.

The Richardson Barn

360 Main Street

The barn is all that remains of the former magnificent residence built by Major Richardson in 1819 on the hill next to his factory in the City Mills section of Norfolk. The home was later purchased by William Sweatt but in 1935 over a dispute with the town he had it torn down and he then promptly left the country - only to die a few years later in a bathtub in Italy. There is some speculation that the house was re-raised in Wrentham as The Pond Home on Route 140.

The Fisher House

22 Myrtle Street

The Fisher HouseThis house is one of the best examples of Federal period architecture in Norfolk. It is very well preserved and maintained. The present owner, the Holmes, are in the same family line as the original owners. Joseph Kingsbury and Cornelius Fisher, some of the founding settlers of North Wrentham, are believed to have resided in this immediate area. The house dates circa 1800 to 1820 and has been used by members of the Fisher and Torry families ever since. The Holmes are related to the Torrys, as Walter Holme's mother was a Torry. Walter was very active in the political history of the town of Norfolk, presiding as a selectman, a member of the School Committee and the Town Moderator for many years.

The Union Street Farmhouse

151 Union Street

The Union Street FarmhouseThis farmhouse was constructed in the early 1800s as part of a large homestead consisting of over 500 acres that reached all the way to the shores of Mirror Lake. For many years it was a large dairy farm and even as recently as the 1930s the property encompassed over 150 acres. The farmhouse originally had eight fireplaces and two chimneys although four of the fireplaces and one of the chimneys have been removed during the course of extensive renovations throughout the years. Originally there was also a large barn and silo but the barn, like so many others, was destroyed by The Great Hurricane of 1938. When the ancient chicken coop fell victim to another hurricane in 1957, the owner hand refinished the wide pumpkin pine boards and transformed them into the current kitchen cabinets. Unique to this house are the two half-moon, leaded glass windows in the walk-in attic and the bark and axe marks which grace the timbers in the basement. 

The Federated Church

1 Union Street

The Federated ChurchConstruction of the Federated Church began in the early 1830's. The land was deeded to the Cleveland Religious Society in June of 1833 but construction may have begun the year before. The building was originally constructed as the Second Meetinghouse of the Congregational Church for use by their North Wrentham parishioners. The Rev. Moses Thacher having been dismissed from Wrentham on Oct. 30, 1832 was installed as minister on Feb 20, 1833.

The Henry Kirk Pond House

48 Everett Street

The Henry Kirk Pond HouseAccount books owned by the Pond family and dated 1840, contain records of all the materials used in the construction of this house and dates pertaining to its construction. They also list business records for a boot shop. The barn behind the house was constructed at a later date than the house. This fine example of the English Cottage style of architecture is currently owned by Chauncey Eisner.

The Norfolk County Railroad Archway

City Mills

The Norfolk County Railroad ArchwayThis powerful and picturesque stone archway that guards the entrance to the City Mills pond remains a hidden treasure to most Norfolk residents. It was constructed by the Norfolk County Railroad circa 1848. In 1846 the Walpole Railroad was charted to build a railroad from Dedham to Walpole, a distance of seven miles. In 1847 the Norfolk County Railroad was charted to continue this line to Blackstone, MA passing through Norfolk. A few months later the two companies merged under the name of the Norfolk County Railroad. The line opened for service in the spring of 1849 with stops in Norfolk at Highland Lake, Norfolk Center and City Mills.

During the years 1891 to 1895 one of the truly legendary passenger trains of the Northeast, the New York to Boston - New England Limited, known as "The White Train", proudly ran on this line. In April of 1966 the New Haven Railroad was given permission to discontinue commuter service between Blackstone and Boston. Since the outer towns serviced by this rail line were outside of the MBTA service area, the railroad would only continue to service those towns that would provide local subsidies. Both Blackstone and Bellingham opted against this and the line was truncated with the town of Franklin as the last stop.

The Norfolk County Railroad Cow Tunnel Dry Bridge

124 Main Street

The Norfolk County Railroad Cow Tunnel Dry BridgeThis passageway lies somewhat hidden behind the hustle and bustle of Dunkin Donuts and leads to the Freeman Centennial School athletic field areas. It is speculated that the tunnel may have been constructed to allow passage of cattle or other livestock between the north and south sides of the railroad tracks to pasture for grazing without having to cross the tracks. Ken Cooper formerly with the Norfolk Highway Department recalls that there previously was much more headroom in the tunnel than exists in the crawl space of today. Ken is 6'4" tall and he used to be able to stand fully upright in the tunnel. The debris build up on the floor has obviously not been cleaned/removed in quite some time. The tracks and this tunnel are part of the original Norfolk County Railrod line between Blackstone and Boston built circa 1848 and opened for service in 1849. "Bridges" of this type were typically stone lined tunnels under roads, rail tracks, etc. and because they carried no water and were not drains, they were called dry bridges. 

The Norfolk Grange Hall

28 Rockwood Road

The Norfolk Grange HallThe Grange Hall was originally built as a Baptist Church in 1863 and used for services for 54 years up until 1918. The land was purchased for the church in 1860 for the sum of $100 by Samuel P. Blake and Lewis G. Miller from Stephen and Fanny Campbell of Racine, WS. The land was once part of the old Holbrook farm of James and Samuel Holbrook. As the Baptist population dwindled at the beginning of the century, the building was sold to the Norfolk Grange in 1921. When in 1922 the Norfolk Town Hall burned and was not replaced, many activities that would normally have been held there were conducted at the Grange Hall from 1922 to 1949. The Grange Hall became the town meeting room, the voting place and the hall where school graduations, plays and dances took place. Norfolk's Roman Catholic congregation held services here from 1947 to 1950 and even the town library was housed here, in the rear of the building, from 1922 to 1956. 

The North School / Norfolk Library

139 Main Street

The North School / Norfolk LibraryThis building was built to house the North End School and was previously located at the corner of Cleveland and Fruit Streets. It was decided by a committee in the 1800's to grant $350 to erect a new schoolhouse, twenty-two feet square, on the south side of Cleveland Street. In the summer of 1878 the school was remodeled and updated. When the Center School started to draw students away from the Cleveland Street location the empty building was moved to its present location on the town hill in 1899, for use as a firehouse. It later turned to schoolhouse use again and is now part of the Norfolk Library complex.

The North School / Norfolk Library

139 Main Street

The North School / Norfolk Library (Early Years)An earlier picture of the library - note the full front door enclosure.

The North School / Norfolk Library

139 Main Street

The North School / Norfolk Library (Fire House)An even earlier picture of the library - as a fire house - note the shutters on the upper window, the lack of a lower roof and enclosure at the front door and the then open cupola on the roof showing us that the original shape of the openings were pentagonal unlike the slatted rectangular covers that now hide this space.

The George Thayer House / The Dupee Restaurant

15 Rockwood Road

The George Thayer House / The Dupee RestaurantThis old farmhouse was probably built in the early 1800s but served as the home of George Thayer and later as the Restaurant of Sarah Dupee from 1880-90. Over the years this building, due to it's excellent location at town center and easy access to the railroad, housed a wide variety of businesses including a railroad hotel, a dry-goods store, Post Office, a Boomer Real Estate office and is currently the home and offices of our town moderator Frank Gross.

The George Thayer House / The Dupee Restaurant

15 Rockwood Road

The George Thayer House / The Dupee Restaurant (Early Years)An earlier picture of the George Thayer House / Dupee Restaurant - minus the latter addition to the west side - Also note the early Norfolk Railroad Station and the double set of railroad tracks vs. the single set that runs through town today.

The Levi Mann House

84 Seekonk Street

The Levi Mann House

The home that I live at was built in 1860 I believe. The story is that one of the towns first (of 3) selectmen built it, Levi Mann. It was later owned for some time by the "Columbus Outing Club" from Boston who would bring city kids out to the country. At one time another owner used to train boxers on the second floor of the barn here also - I was told that the great John L. Sullivan did spa here a couple of times. The Hovey family owned it for 50 years before me. Chuck Hovey was the police dispatcher. The green building is the main house and the brown building is the barn that was converted to a 2-family in the 1960's. — per Peter C. Diamond (9/04)

Peter's description of his home (above) ties in with other Norfolk Historical Commission's information regarding the Highland Lake area as follows...

It is known that a Mike Deveney ran a training center near the lake, known in later years as the Columbus Outing Club. Many well-known sports figures, mostly boxers and prize fighters trained at the camp. The great John L. Sullivan also visited the camp. During the summer months, at Mr. Deveney's expense, or as he preferred to put it, "at my pleasure", large groups of children from the "slum districts" of Boston were brought out to the lake for a day of fun, games, good food and ice cream in the fresh country air. For further information regarding the history of Highland Lake and other Norfolk's villages - see the "Norfolk Village Histories" section - back at the contents table on the first page of the Historical Commission's website. - Bill Domineau

The Blake House/Blacksmith Shop

118 Main Street

The Blake House / Blacksmith ShopThe blacksmith shop attached to this house was built in 1865 by the town blacksmith, Levi Blake. Levi died in 1890 and the house was later owned by George F. Campbell who served the town as a selectman and fireman. He also served as the town clerk for many years and based on a picture dated 1910, he also used the shop for blacksmithing purposes. 

The Elizabeth Daniels Robinson House

111 Main Street

The Elizabeth Daniels Robinson HouseBuilt in the summer of 1877, this home was first owned by Elizabeth Daniels Robinson. Elizabeth and her husband Joel H. Robinson had farmed together the land later known as the Cook Farm, living in the main house, which is still standing at 260 Main Street (see description of The Robert Ware House/Cook Farmhouse). After Joel's death, Elizabeth sold the farm and moved to this new cottage style house with her daughter Adaline and granddaughter Ella. Soon thereafter, Ella married a black man, John Moulton, who'd been born in slave-holding Virginia in the 1850's. After Elizabeth and Adaline passed away in the 1890's, John, Ella, and their children took up residence here. Over the years this home has provided shelter to a series of modest families with intriguing stories.

The City Mills School House

46 Myrtle Street

The City Mills School HouseThis is the only old Norfolk School House still standing in its original location. It was constructed in 1885 and architecturally the exterior is in nearly its original condition. The school was established to provide for the education of students from grades 1 through 7. The building was later used as the home of The American Legion Post 335.

The Tramp House

Town Hill

The Tramp HouseThe Norfolk "lock up" or jail was built in 1886 at a cost of $450.51 on the Town Hill. In the late 1800s many a wandering tramp spent the night in this building. In earlier years tramps were taken in by private citizens who were then reimbursed by the town. Later in its history it was used as an additional classroom for the Norfolk Center School which was located nearby on Union Street, next to the current Federated Church. Students learned sloyds, carpentry and home economics in the old lock up. 

Old Colony Railroad Bridge Abutments

Route 115 at Everett St.

Both bulwarks were demolished around 2009, although the soil bankments still exist

Old Colony Railroad Bridge AbutmentsThe two massive stone block bulwarks on Route 115 are remnants on the once proud Wrentham Branch Line of The Old Colony RR Company. This single-track line opened to passenger service on December 1, 1890. It ran from Walpole Junction - now Cedar Junction - to North Attleboro via Wrentham. This branch reached the 4-mile line from North Attleboro to Attleboro, which was opened in January 1871, thus connecting with the Boston and Providence main line at Attleboro. On Feb. 15, 1892, The Old Colony extended the line north 5.7 miles Walpole Junction via Common St., East Walpole to Norwood Central Junction. On June 27, 1903 the Old Colony opened another extension of the Wrentham Branch 4.66 miles from North Attleboro to Adamsdale Junction. A train could run from South Station, Boston to Providence via Norwood Central, Norwood Junction, East Walpole, Wrentham, North Attleboro and Pawtucket. There were two commuter trains from Providence to Boston each morning and two came from Boston in the late afternoon. There was also a "Paper" train from Providence each morning at 5:30 AM, bringing papers to Boston. It stopped at Pondville Hospital each day to pick up milk. Pondville and Cedar Stations were flag stops. The driveway to the Gould's estate at 46 Everett St. was the original roadway up to the Pondville Railroad Station, which stood on the east side of the track. The Gould's house was moved from Foxboro when Route 95 was being constructed. A road from Hill Street led to the freight station on the west side of the track. The freight station is now a private residence on Hill Street. Passenger service, on the Wrentham Branch Line, was discontinued circa 1938/39. Freight services continued for some time longer though, up into the 1960s. The tracks were removed and the roadbed abandoned in the 1970s. Jay Easton the Walpole Post Master, selectman and former Station Master and Freight Agent at the South Walpole railroad station was able to buy the Pondville Station (as well as the Cedar Station) when passenger service no longer ran on the line and moved it to a site on Route 1 where it became the "Headd Inn Diner" (The Headd family had previously owned "Mike's Truck Stop" on Route One in Wrentham.) and it still stands today as part of a Chinese restaurant on Route 1.