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Bridgewater Town


Bridgewater Town Hall is located at 66 Central Square, Bridgewater, MA 02324; phone: 508-697-0919.

Bridgewater [1] was the first inland settlement in Massachusetts, established in 1656 by Miles Standish, Samuel Nash and Constant Southworth from Duxbury. They met Chief Ousamequin, Sachem of the County of Poconomket, at a place called Sachems Rock located just north of Sprague Hill in present day East Bridgewater. There they traded seven coats, nine hatchets, eight hoes, ten knives, four moose skins and 10 yards of cotton for a tract of land called Satucket. The deed was dated March 23, 1649 and signed by Ousamequin by a signature in the shape of a hand. The Satucket tract extended seven miles to the north, southeast and west of the Indian Fish Weir located at Sachems Rock.

In future years, through dealings with other Indian chiefs, Old Bridgewater eventually covered an area of 96 square miles. In 1706, Abington broke away from Old Bridgewater, followed years later by what are now East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater and Brockton, which was formerly known as North Bridgewater. Bridgewater continued through the early 19th century to serve as an important agricultural and manufacturing center. Farms as large as several hundred acres were common in the outlying areas of the Town. As early as the eighteenth century, foundries were operating along the Town River where iron forging produced cannons for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

A century later, shoe manufacturing entered this area, due in part to the crossing of what are now Routes 18, 28 and 104 within Central Square. Commercial development within the Square and north along Broad Street soon followed. Today, structures of traditional architectural styles built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries remain clustered around Bridgewater's Central Common. In 1986, Bridgewater created the Historic District containing approximately 96 existing structures that are located in the common area. This district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New development, largely residential in character, has increasingly radiated out from the downtown area especially since the 1960s with the completion of Route 24. The crossing of Route 24 with Interstate 495 during the 1980s on the southwest edge of Bridgewater hastened the construction of new homes in outlying areas. Faced with increasing land values and tax burdens, many whose families managed farms for generations were eventually attracted to or compelled to sell their land for development.

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  1. Town of Bridgewater Massachusetts, Comprehensive Master Plan, 2002, www.ocpcrpa.org, accessed September, 2002.
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