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Mother Brook Corridor Study

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Purpose

In recognition of the recent 375th anniversary of the construction of the Mother Brook Canal, Town Meeting allocated funding for survey and documentation of the canal and related buildings and structures in East Dedham, and to identify districts, properties and sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Mother Brook Corridor Study

Updated on 08/15/2019 10:48 am

History

 The Town of Dedham’s Mother Brook corridor includes a significant collection of surviving historic mill buildings, industrial infrastructure, residences (including company-built housing), municipal properties, and commercial buildings that form the core of the East Dedham neighborhood. The opportunity for water-powered mill sites here was recognized exceptionally early and put into motion by the excavation of a canal in 1639-40 that connected the Charles River to the headwaters of the then-named East Brook (later Mill Creek), and created the initial flow of water to support mills as the modified waterway descended from the Charles to its confluence with the Neponset River in what is now the Readville neighborhood of Boston. The first mill went into operation ca. 1641 near the present-day Bussey Street, and in all, four mill privileges were developed in Dedham as one of the nation’s earliest industrial corridors attracted manufacturing activities through the early 20th century, driving the growth and development of East Dedham. In the hope of receiving National Register recognition for this area, the Mother Brook community Group of East Dedham sought funding from the Town to undertake the survey and documentation phase foundational to the National Register process.

Project area

The project area includes significant properties, buildings, structures, and areas surrounding the waterway from the canal entrance on the Charles River to the town line with Readville in Boston.

 

Goals

The purpose of this project will be to undertake an intensive-level survey of cultural and architectural resources along the Mother Brook Corridor in the East Dedham neighborhood of the Town of Dedham. This project will be structured to provide professional cultural and architectural resource survey expertise to the community. Specific project goals are as follows:

  1. To conduct a neighborhood survey to assess and document approximately 65-70 selected cultural and architectural resources, following Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) survey standards and methodology.
  2. To identify contexts for National Register evaluation and to apply the National Register criteria to all resources identified in the survey;
  3. To submit a list of individual properties and/or districts that are recommended for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Funding

The project was funded at $15,000, which was approved by a vote of Town Meeting in May 2017.

Process

The Dedham Historical Commission established a Steering Committee in early 2018 to include the following representatives:

  • Historical Commission, Judy Neiswander (chair)
  • Historical Commission, Stanton Lyman
  • Mother Brook Community Group, Dan Hart
  • Dedham Historical Society & Museum, Johanna McBrien

The Town Economic Development Director and Town Planner are working with the Committee.

In September, 2018, the Town hired Stacey Vairo and Lucas Karmazinas of Heritage Consultants, Newington, Connecticut, to conduct the survey project. Completion is expected by the fall of 2019. When the survey and documentation phase is complete, the Massachusetts Historical Commission will determine if the recommended National Register District is eligible for listing. Phase Two, preparation of the National Register nomination, will require multiple public meetings.

Community Meetings

heritageconsultant

 January 21, 2020 - Findings of the survey of historical assets were shared with an audience of nearly 200 residents at the Mother Brook Arts & Community Center.

April 10, 2019 - An update on the project was given at the annual meeting of the Mother Brook Community Group. 

Contact

For more information, please contact Economic Development Director John Sisson, (781) 751-9175, jsisson@dedham-ma.gov.