Needham Historical Society

Needham at the Turn of the 20th Century

- Around Needham Center -

In the 1700s and for most of the 1800s, Needham Center was located at the intersection of Central Avenue and Nehoiden Street. The First Parish Church was located there, as was the Parsonage, the cemetery, the meeting hall and a school. Shops and the tavern were a block away, where Central Avenue met Great Plain Avenue.

In the 1850s, train service came to Needham. Denied permission to cross the ministerial lands in the town center, the tracks diverted southeastward toward Great Plain Village. The presence of the railroad drew toward itself businesses and workshops. The rising professional class, taking advantage of the convenience of travel to Boston, began to build townhouses along the roads that surrounded the station. By the late 1870s, Great Plain Village had become the de facto center of Needham. In 1879 it became the official center, as the First Parish Church was raised from its foundations on Nehoiden Street, and conveyed on rollers to its present site on the corner of Dedham and Great Plain Avenues.

Needham Center Image Gallery

The Moseley-May-Bourne Building
Interior of Woodruff's General Store
The Fowler Block
The Kingsbury Block
Two Views of Needham Common
The Ingols Block
Two Views of Great Plain Avenue
Needham Center Station

Copyright 2003, Needham Historical Society