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Old 08-18-2008, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Boston
73 posts, read 212,859 times
Reputation: 118

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I'd be interested in hearing about your favorite downtowns in eastern Massachusetts.

For us, it's hard to find thriving, attractive downtowns these days in eastern Massachusetts. With the tough economy, superstores dominating the market, and, at times, poor community planning, viable downtowns, sadly, just aren't a way of life anymore.

With that said, I feel there are still some decent downtowns left:

Norwood -- Nice town common with gazebo, historic old buildings and homes, and a great variety of shops, entertainment and dining, including an old-fashioned diner, old-school bowling alley, a mom and pop children's clothing store, a ice cream parlor, antique stores, an unfinished wood furniture store, an old but updated theater, several excellent restaurants, and a coffee shop called Perk's that seemed to spark the downtown's Renaissance several years ago. It's sort of like a supersized version of Mayberry RFD.

Newburyport -- Restored brick buildings and walkways lead to a nice variety of diverse stores and restaurants right by the water. Many of the sea captains homes are in their original architectural glory, and add a true coastal flavor to this nicely revitalized center. Some of Newburyport is open at night and in the summer has some nice downtown entertainment. As far as restaurants, the Grog is a great choice, a "local" restaurant with some excellent seafood!

Wrentham -- Looks like something you'd see in Vermont, minus the mountains. Quaint, quiet and traditional, Wrentham has that classic downtown New England look with a beautiful town common (great tree lighting ceremony in the winter and concerts in the summer), a church with a tall white steeple and a handful of colorful-looking shops including Tootsie's ice cream parlor, Marcia's Sweet Pantry, Cataldo's Paint and Hardware that looks like something out of the 1950s, and a new breakfast and lunch place (the name escapes me). Once a near ghost town, downtown Wrentham is open for business and has been restored into a classic small New England downtown with a block of inviting-looking shops -- a charming, although limited alternative to the nearby Wrentham Shopping Outlets.

North Attleboro -- The Downtown Associates of North Attleboro has helped revive a downtown that was hit hard by the opening of the Emerald Square Mall many years ago. Tree-lined with nice sidewalks and hanging flower basket on every pole (in the summer) and a great town common with swimming pools (free of charge, for local residents), a town playing field and grand gazebo, downtown North Attleboro has the look of what you'd expect from a downtown of yesteryear. There's some nice shops and restaurants, including Shirley's Fine Chocolates, Mackie's with its homestyle cooking and an ice cream parlor, a hobby shop, arts and crafts studio, a few antique stores, a health food store and a comedy cafe on the way. Downtown North Attleboro almost feels like small city, but there's still enough of a small town feeling here to please those who prefer smaller communities. Everyone seems to know each other here, which adds to the "hometown" downtown feeling.

What are some of your favorite downtowns in eastern Massachusetts?.
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:55 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
4,213 posts, read 6,164,782 times
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Another traditional downtown that could be added to the above list is Medfield.

Nice downtowns? Wellesley, Needham, Hingham, Concord, Lexington, Marblehead are they ones that I think of immediately.

I agree, Norwood has done a fantastic job with the downtown area.

The breakfast/lunch place in Wrentham is the Looking Glass Cafe. The mansion across from the common is being restored and will be a bed & breakfast.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,069 posts, read 7,904,125 times
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I just wanted to add that in addition to great food, The Grog has great entertainment, and Sunday nights in particular, for the Blues Jam. Check it out, it's a great time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
Newburyport -- Restored brick buildings and walkways lead to a nice variety of diverse stores and restaurants right by the water. Many of the sea captains homes are in their original architectural glory, and add a true coastal flavor to this nicely revitalized center. Some of Newburyport is open at night and in the summer has some nice downtown entertainment. As far as restaurants, the Grog is a great choice, a "local" restaurant with some excellent seafood!
---
What are some of your favorite downtowns in eastern Massachusetts?.
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Tucson, Arizona
4,331 posts, read 6,584,729 times
Reputation: 3827
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric H. View Post
I'd be interested in hearing about your favorite downtowns in eastern Massachusetts.

For us, it's hard to find thriving, attractive downtowns these days in eastern Massachusetts. With the tough economy, superstores dominating the market, and, at times, poor community planning, viable downtowns, sadly, just aren't a way of life anymore.

With that said, I feel there are still some decent downtowns left:

Norwood -- Nice town common with gazebo, historic old buildings and homes, and a great variety of shops, entertainment and dining, including an old-fashioned diner, old-school bowling alley, a mom and pop children's clothing store, a ice cream parlor, antique stores, an unfinished wood furniture store, an old but updated theater, several excellent restaurants, and a coffee shop called Perk's that seemed to spark the downtown's Renaissance several years ago. It's sort of like a supersized version of Mayberry RFD.

Newburyport -- Restored brick buildings and walkways lead to a nice variety of diverse stores and restaurants right by the water. Many of the sea captains homes are in their original architectural glory, and add a true coastal flavor to this nicely revitalized center. Some of Newburyport is open at night and in the summer has some nice downtown entertainment. As far as restaurants, the Grog is a great choice, a "local" restaurant with some excellent seafood!

Wrentham -- Looks like something you'd see in Vermont, minus the mountains. Quaint, quiet and traditional, Wrentham has that classic downtown New England look with a beautiful town common (great tree lighting ceremony in the winter and concerts in the summer), a church with a tall white steeple and a handful of colorful-looking shops including Tootsie's ice cream parlor, Marcia's Sweet Pantry, Cataldo's Paint and Hardware that looks like something out of the 1950s, and a new breakfast and lunch place (the name escapes me). Once a near ghost town, downtown Wrentham is open for business and has been restored into a classic small New England downtown with a block of inviting-looking shops -- a charming, although limited alternative to the nearby Wrentham Shopping Outlets.

North Attleboro -- The Downtown Associates of North Attleboro has helped revive a downtown that was hit hard by the opening of the Emerald Square Mall many years ago. Tree-lined with nice sidewalks and hanging flower basket on every pole (in the summer) and a great town common with swimming pools (free of charge, for local residents), a town playing field and grand gazebo, downtown North Attleboro has the look of what you'd expect from a downtown of yesteryear. There's some nice shops and restaurants, including Shirley's Fine Chocolates, Mackie's with its homestyle cooking and an ice cream parlor, a hobby shop, arts and crafts studio, a few antique stores, a health food store and a comedy cafe on the way. Downtown North Attleboro almost feels like small city, but there's still enough of a small town feeling here to please those who prefer smaller communities. Everyone seems to know each other here, which adds to the "hometown" downtown feeling.

What are some of your favorite downtowns in eastern Massachusetts?.
I agree with your choices, though I am somewhat biased I am originally from one of them. I might add that Franklin also has a nice downtown.
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Old 08-18-2008, 02:57 PM
 
278 posts, read 719,482 times
Reputation: 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaseyB View Post
Another traditional downtown that could be added to the above list is Medfield.

Nice downtowns? Wellesley, Needham, Hingham, Concord, Lexington, Marblehead are they ones that I think of immediately.

I agree, Norwood has done a fantastic job with the downtown area.

The breakfast/lunch place in Wrentham is the Looking Glass Cafe. The mansion across from the common is being restored and will be a bed & breakfast.
I agree with Casey...I love tiny Wrentham's downtown!
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Old 08-21-2008, 12:21 PM
 
257 posts, read 899,762 times
Reputation: 71
Mansfield and Needham also have nice little downtowns.
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:34 PM
 
32 posts, read 90,069 times
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Plymouth has a nice little downtown.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:58 AM
 
2 posts, read 14,751 times
Reputation: 10
Default Downtowns

Eric, your description of downtown Norwood is the best I've ever heard. John Cook, editor and publisher of the Norwood Times Newspaper for over 50 years would have LOVED your last line "....a supersized version of Mayberry RFD." He was a real character and completed the image you describe of his beloved town. One of his former employees was the man who is credited with the creation of, (while at a major advertising firm) the famous line, "please don't squeeze the Charmin"
Thanks for giving us all a memorable description that I'm sure will be used again and again!
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Old 08-22-2008, 02:21 AM
 
2 posts, read 14,751 times
Reputation: 10
Default Downtown Norwood

....and I also have to say that long before Perk's arrived (and we all love Perks...it did become an "anchor draw")....John Cook was carping and harping at the landlords, the selectmen, the business owners to do more with the signage, the frontage, the window displays, the snow removal, the trees, etc. Fortunately, he could do this because he had the forum to do so..but he took a lot of heat and as someone once noted, he wrote his editorial every week and then had to walk out the door of his office and face the very people he had written about. He was self-published and when he was out of favor, it affected his advertising...but he never gave up and he never gave in. He had grown up here and his relentless determination to revitalize the downtown is largely the reason it did turn around. He deserves the credit, largely, for the revitalization of Norwood.
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