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East Dedham Square: Design Guidelines (2016-2017)

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To recapture the original sense of spirit and vitality in East Dedham Square, the East Dedham Design Guidelines aim to align new investments in the district with the community’s vision for the future of the area. Currently, the prioritization of vehicular circulation has created an environment that lacks continuity and has reduced the safety of walking in the district. The Design Guidelines are intended to guide future projects to be consistent with the community’s cohesive vision to create a more walkable and attractive neighborhood and will be used by both the Planning Board and the Design Review Advisory Board during the review of a project application and approval process.


East Dedham’s origin and history have been shaped by the mill industry and the Mother Brook, which was constructed in 1639 to provide hydropower to large flour, textile, and woodworking mills between the Charles and Neponset Rivers. East Dedham Square emerged from this mill activity to form a vibrant village that included a diverse mix of commercial enterprises, shops with residences above, and residential structures. During Urban Renewal of the 1960s and 1970s, many of the mixed-use buildings that once framed East Dedham Square were replaced with a strip mall, parking lots, and office buildings.

Project area

The East Dedham Square Design Guidelines include properties with frontage on Sawmill Lane, High Street west to the Mother Brook Arts Center, Milton Street south a few properties past River Street, River Street east a few properties past Milton Street, and Bussey Street north to Clisby Avenue and Colonial Drive. The Design Guidelines do not change the Zoning Districts that are part of East Dedham Square, rather they offer further guidance for specific design characteristics beyond that addressed by the Zoning Bylaw, such as what visual characteristics a building should include.


  • Each new investment should reinforce the creation of a place in East Dedham Square with high quality design and construction while reflecting the close-knit community, sense of pride and historic narrative that is at the center of the neighborhood.

  • All investments should enhance the ability to safely and comfortably walk in East Dedham Square.

  • Investments should highlight the historical heritage and connect to narratives about Mother Brook and the mills.

  • All investments should contribute to the vibrancy and attractiveness of the area.

  • Investments should enhance connections to and use of the Mother Brook as a natural feature, amenity, and identity that is central to the district.


This design guidelines project cost $20,205. It was paid for with the remaining balance of $13,757 earmarked for East Dedham Community Development in a special purpose fund. That money had been appropriated from the Mitigation Stabilization Fund and approved by Town Meeting in May 2012. The remaining balance of $6,448 was paid from the Technical Assistance account of the Town's Economic Development Department.


The Town issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the East Dedham Square Design Guidelines project in June 2016. Four firms responded with proposals, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's proposal scored the highest. The East Dedham Revitalization Committee formed a working group, which met in November and December. Public meetings were held in November 2016 and in February and March of 2017. The final document is scheduled to be approved by the Planning Board in June 2017.


For more information, please contact Economic Development Director John Sisson, (781) 751-9175,