Dedham has a rich and fascinating history. Settled in 1635 after the General Court issued orders for the establishment of two inland towns to relieve population pressures within existing settlements, Dedham was incorporated in 1636.
The Town’s first mill was built in 1642 where townspeople would grind their own corn with power generated from the Charles River. During the next hundred years other mills were built, including one for leather and one used to manufacture paper. Eventually there were industrial mills for manufacturing cotton, wool, wire, carpets, cloth, nails, and stamped coins. These industries sparked a housing boom for mill workers along with churches, shops, and other businesses that residents demanded. Dedham became the county seat of Norfolk County in 1793. Throughout the following two centuries, Dedham continued to grow and prosper. Today, there are hundreds of businesses located in Dedham, employing more than 15,000 workers.
With oversight from the Historic Districs Commission, Dedham has recognized three districts in Town for their historic and architectural significance: Franklin Square-Court Street District, also known as the Dedham Village Historic District; Connecticut Corner District; and Federal Hill District. (View the Historic Districts GIS Map)
Dedham is home to the Fairbanks House, which is the oldest standing timber-frame house in the United States. Dating back to 1637, it is now a historic house museum and on the National Register of Historic Places (Visit the Fairbanks House Website). In 1643, Dedham unanimously voted to authorize the first taxpayer-funded public school, setting the stage for its continuing strong support of public education.
The Dedham Historical Society is a charitable, educational institution, organized under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a town department and receives no funds from local, state or federal
government. It is completely supported through membership and private donations.