Since its initial settlement in 1636, Dedham has had a long, varied, and rich history. The town has not only many older homes, but also civic buildings, mill structures, stone walls, cemeteries, stone bridges, and scenic roads, all of which contribute to the town’s historic character and sense of place. Notable historic resources include, among many others, the following:
- The Fairbanks House on Eastern Avenue, built in 1637, is the oldest known wooden structure still standing in North America. The house was constructed for Jonathan and Grace Fairbanks and their six children and was lived in by eight generations of the Fairbanks family. Still owned by an association of their descendents, it is now a house museum and is open seasonally. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Old Town Burial Ground, also known as The Burial Ground, located near the corner of Court Street and Village Avenue, was established in 1638 and contains over 1,000 gravestones ranging from 1678 to modern times.
- The oldest man-made canal in North America, Mother Brook Canal was dug in 1639 to connect the Charles and Neponset Rivers. As the heart of Dedham’s industrial heritage it was the site of five mills, or “privileges,” including the surviving 1835 Old Stone Mill, now condominiums.
- The Powder House was constructed in 1766 by the Town of Dedham when it was decided that the town’s munitions could no longer be stored in the rafters of the meetinghouse. The square brick structure with its concave hipped slate roof still stands on Town land but is owned but the Dedham Historical Society. When its function was deemed unnecessary in the 1840s its use was discontinued.
- In 1793 Dedham was designated as the Norfolk County Seat. The granite, Greek Revival style Norfolk County Court House on High Street was designed by Boston architect Solomon Willard and completed in 1827. The Court House was enlarged with wings and an imposing dome in the 19th century by Wait & Cutter and G. F. Gridley Bryant, who also designed the nearby Norfolk County Jail, now condominiums. The court house was the site of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial in 1927 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Dedham Historical Society and Museum, located in Dedham Square, is housed in an 1888 Romanesque Revival building designed by architect Edwin J. Lewis. The Museum contains a lecture/display hall on the first floor with a collection of artifacts related to the town’s history, such as the 1652 Metcalf great chair (the oldest dated chair made in the American colonies) and an extensive collection of Dedham and Chelsea pottery. The Archive in the basement level comprises genealogical records, town records, family histories, maps, photographs, and other archival material
- The Endicott Estate occupies an 18-acre site fronting on East Street. The large Colonial Revival house was designed in 1904 by the Boston architect Henry Bailey Alden for Henry Bradford Endicott, a Dedham native who made his fortune in shoe manufacturing. The grand house, with its sweeping lawns, carriage house, greenhouses and other out buildings remains intact from the era when wealthy industrialists built large estates in the suburbs. In 1969 the Endicott Estate was donated to the town and is currently used for community functions. The Estate is on the National Register and is overseen by the Endicott Estate Commission.