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Old 01-15-2009, 11:55 AM
Location: Boston
102 posts, read 389,653 times
Reputation: 167


What community in Massachusetts do you feel still holds onto that "It's a Wonderful Life," Bedford Falls-type feel? Perhaps some criteria would include a 1940s/50s looks with tree-lined streets, old-fashioned values and a historic downtown area with, say, a diner, hardware store, ice cream shop, and an overall traditional, family-oriented feel?

My choice would be Wrentham, as the white steepled church, public schools, town common and Town Hall are located downtown within a network of pleasant streets with sidewalks. Add an old-fashioned hardware store, a diner, ice cream parlor, candy store and the stunning, old Proctor Mansion Inn and you have the makings of a town from yesteryear. Old Colonial and Victorian homes off the downtown, Lake Pearl for swimming, and the Big Apple Farm Stand on the outskirts help round out this .. "Gee, Wally" ... really neat little town (couldn't help but throw in the "Leave it to Beaver" reference)!

Someone on the New Hampshire board posed a similar question, so I thought I'd start this subject matter on the Massachusetts forum!
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Old 01-15-2009, 12:52 PM
1,945 posts, read 4,689,749 times
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Cohasset- town Green area is lovely
Sandwich-downtown with shops, Shawme Pond and grist mill- you can even get spring water
Osterville- quaint
Stockbridge- shot a commercial out there that was set in a previous, idyllic, unspecified time. Felt like we had stepped in a time machine.

All 4 have downtown areas that could and/or have been in a movie set in another era.
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:33 PM
9 posts, read 43,626 times
Reputation: 22
Default Hard to Narrow it Down

I've just posted a similar post, but here is an abbreviated version-- limited to the architectural aspects

Merrimac and Amesbury (old mill/river towns with plenty of brick storefronts and old-fasihioned character)

West Newbury and Wenham (ancient colonial towns with Currier and Ives main streets)

Newburyport (bustling downtown shops, an old cigar store/newsstand, little breakfast joints, a working port)

Williamstown, Stockbridge, and Great Barrington (Norman Rockwell territory)

Watertown, Arlington, Belmont (trolley buses, tidy downtowns, big brick churches, pre-WW II feel)
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:53 PM
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
505 posts, read 1,275,343 times
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Wrentham and Sandwich, to reiterate earlier posts. Additionally, Foxborough and Medfield.
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Old 01-16-2009, 11:44 AM
2,172 posts, read 3,887,241 times
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At the time Wonderful Life was made, Bedford Falls was a pastiche of old-timey cliches rather than a contemporary 1940s town. One of the influences in that pastiche is the ideal New England village, with shops, churches and civic buildings, and houses, a green in the middle, all in walking distance. In New England we have plenty of those towns, although in so many cases the shops are mostly out in auto-land rather than along sociable streets in the town center. Concord seems to fill the bill in most ways, except it's too affluent to be like Bedford Falls. Most of our best models have the same upper class problem--Cohasset, Hingham, Andover, Lexington, Groton, Stockbridge, Lenox; also Litchfield, CT and Woodstock, VT. Ipswich is more balanced class-wise, as I guess are Foxboro and Wrentham. For all its suburban growth, Franklin has a nice center. Central Mass has some classic towns like West Brookfield and Petersham that are not hoity-toity. Amherst and Northampton have all the right ingredients but they're much too hip. What about Plymouth, Taunton, Palmer, Ware, Westfield, and Greenfield?
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Old 01-16-2009, 12:55 PM
Location: East Boston, MA
9,688 posts, read 17,671,110 times
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^Taunton has a great center complete with a great green. It's also go beautiful historic homes surrounding it. There are some socioeconomic problems and crime in problem which take away from the "charm" that Taunton should have. In the near future (especially AFTER the commuter rail is added) I'd expect extreme gentrification of Taunton.

My pick goes to Brewster MA. I know it's a bit smaller than the others mentioned but the picket fences, big white church, and general store in the town center complete with historic, beautiful old houses and old agricultural land make it the prototypical small town in my book.
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Old 01-16-2009, 01:51 PM
Location: Houston, TX
5 posts, read 36,132 times
Reputation: 15
Stockbridge, Lenox and Williamstown without a doubt.

Actually, any town in the Berkshires, they are all pretty beautiful!
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:42 PM
2 posts, read 7,320 times
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Holliston..home to Mudville.... there isn't a better small town in America!
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Old 01-21-2009, 12:50 PM
3 posts, read 15,408 times
Reputation: 10
Im not from Mass. but am looking for a small town to moove to. Are any of these towns near Mansfield??
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:01 PM
84 posts, read 221,315 times
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Try Norfolk, MA. near Mansfield, has commuter rail to Boston, small town feel (because it is), about 10,000 people. Nice neighborhoods, schools....
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