Framingham Town

Middlesex County, Massachusetts

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Framingham City Hall is located at 150 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01702.
Phone: 508-532-5411.


Moses Elias House

Neighborhoods

Beginnings[†]

When the first European settler arrived in the 17th century, the area was known as the Wilderness. Today it is a thriving community in the center of MetroWest and in the southwestern corner of Middlesex County, about equal distance between the two largest cities in Massachusetts, (Boston and Worcester). Framingham is 26.44 square miles in total area. At the railroad crossing in Downtown, the elevation is 128 ft. above sea level and rises to 602 ft. above sea level at the peak of Mt. Nobscot.

The Nipmuc tribe of Native Americans originally inhabited the area we know as Framingham. Nipmuc artifacts have been found in various parts of Framingham, including areas, which are now Saxonville, Mt. Wayte, Nobscot, and South Framingham.

Although lands were granted by the Massachusetts Bay Company beginning in 1640, no Europeans actually settled in Framingham until 1647. The first settler was John Stone. A native of England, he first settled in Watertown, and then moved to Sudbury. Although there was an abundance of water and woodland for fishing and hunting, his farmland in Sudbury was marshy. He began to explore further along the Sudbury River for another location to build a home and settled in the area that is now Saxonville. It was here that Stone built and had in operation a corn mill as early as 1660 and, through his example, others soon followed.

Between 1660 and 1662, pioneers continued to farm and raise families on more than 15,000 acres that were assembled through grants and purchase by Thomas Danforth, west of Stone's land. This property was known first as Danforth's Farms and later Framingham, the name coming from the birthplace of Danforth in England—Framlingham, with the "l" omitted. Danforth was high in the Colonial government and was the first treasurer of Harvard College.

During the 1690's, families persecuted at Salem Village during the frenzy over witchcraft found seclusion and safety in the area west of the Center that is now known as Salem End Road. By 1700, there were 76 families, with 350 men, women and children living here. Based on the settlers' desire to establish a local government, the General Court ordered the territory of Danforth's Farms or Framingham be incorporated as a town, and the first Town Meeting was held on August 5, 1700.

Both geography and transportation routes have been influential in the development of Framingham over the years. Native trails like Old Connecticut Path led the first explorers through the area. Later, the Boston Post Road (now Route 20), a stagecoach road from Boston to New York, was developed a few miles to the north. In 1735, the town purchased the present Centre Common Land from William Pike. A Meeting House and other buildings were constructed at the Centre location. In 1810 a toll road opened, the Worcester Turnpike (now Route 9), to connect Boston and Worcester, and the Village Hall and the Framingham Academy (currently occupied by the Framingham Historical Society and Museum) were added to the Town Centre.

This area served as the center of town until the railroad lines and business growth in South Framingham caused it to diminish in size and importance. As a result of the new rail lines, South Framingham, formerly a crossroad and a tavern, grew into the commercial and industrial center. With the advent of the automobile and the Interstate Highway system, including construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike through Framingham, the commercial and industrial focus once again returned to Route 9. Government functions, secondary retail, and the personal service industry have remained near the rail line, in south Framingham.

Adapted from: Framingham Historical COmmission, Framingham Historic Preservation Plam, 2002, www.framinghamma.gov, accessed June, 2022.

Nearby Towns: Holliston Town • Sherborn Town • Wayland Town •


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