Church on split. This church was built in 1900 and was the original home of the Methodist Episcopal Church. I t became the First Church of Christ Scientists in 1934 after the Methodists merged with the Universalists Congregation to form the United Church Congregation.
Library block. The Cragin House was built in the mid 1800’s on the site of the Balch Parsonage. The Balch Parsonage was the home in the 1736’s to Rev. Thomas Balch first minister of the Congregational Church of South Dedham. This was the beginning of South Dedham moving away from Dedham and becoming its own independent town. Before this, residents of South Dedham had to travel to Dedham to attend services. Dr. Francis Cragin built the house in the 1800’s and lived and practiced homeopathic medicine from here. In 1908 Dr Cragin was under suspicion of selling liquor illegally out of his house. Chief Sackett did not arrest him because of his age and standing in the community. The chief told the doctor to leave town. Dr. Cragin got on the trolley, rode to Dedham, and then came back, having complied with the directive to, “ leave town”. A year later he was arrested on the same charges and large quantities of liquor and wine were found in his house. He posted bail and was not charged. He died in 1911 sitting in his office chair of natural causes at 78.
The Beacon School, Norwood’s first High School was located behind it to the left. When it served as Norwood’s fist high school it was not called the Beacon School. It became the Beacon school in 1920 after the first Jr/Sr high school was built on the corner of Washington and Bond St. It became an lower grade school and was demolished in 1942. (my dad went to the Beacon School)
Library: The land that the library stands on was in 1736 the site of one of the first meeting houses when the petition to have their own separate from Dedham was granted. Rev. Thomas Balch of Salem was the first pastor of the Congregational Church. Across the road was the homestead of farmer Aaron Guild, who was born in 1728, married three times and had ten children. Aaron Guild was a lifelong resident of South Dedham and was called to the military in 1758. He served during the French and Indian war. He answered the call to fight the British in 1775 at Lexington and arrived in time to send off a volley of shots at the retreating Red Coats, hence his commemorative stone.
Church services and schooling were two of the main issues that were the impetus for South Dedham to break off from Dedham. As members of the First Meeting House of Dedham all parishioners were required to travel to Dedham for services, the same for schooling. When in 1736 the petition was granted for the first South Dedham parish to be established it was the start of the community establishing their independence status and finally becoming the town of Norwood in 1872.
In 1898, after the death of their daughter Sarah Bond Morrill at the age of 23 of typhoid fever, Louise (George’s second wife) and George H. Morrill of Morrill Ink Works gave the library to the town in her memory. The Morrill’s were wealthy Norwoodites, having one of Norwood’s largest and most famous industries, the Morrill ink works. George’s eldest daughter, Emma married Edmund Shattuck and Edmund went to work at the ink mill. And it was Edmund Shattuck business sense that propelled the ink works to its worldwide prosperity. Their daughter Maude who attended Dana Hall, and then Smith College, became a long running trustee of Morrill Memorial Library. It was during her time as Chairman of the trustees that the Communist Librarian in the South Norwood branch of the library came to be a national issue for Norwood. Mary Knowles was a well-qualified and much-loved librarian at the South Norwood Branch. When the “Red Scare” and McCarthy Communist trials consumed the country in the 1950s, Herbert Philbrick, a spy for the FBI brought forth Mary’s name as having once been the secretary at the Samuel Adams School in Boston. This school was a known communist organization. The Jenner Committee called Mary Knowles to testify before them and to give names of known communist who met and worked at the school. Mary refused to answer and pleaded the 5th amendment 52 times. The trustees on concern from the citizens of Norwood wanted Mrs. Knowles fired right away. Maude felt that was too hasty and besides Mary Knowles was outstanding at her job and a part of the South Norwood community. She suspended the librarian for 3 months without pay. When certain elements in town started a campaign against the librarian, they forced Maude’s hand to have a vote on her employment. Maude remained a steadfast defender of Mary Knowles but the trustees voted to fire the librarian. She was fired 1953. Maude Shattuck retired in 1956 due to illness. She remained at the Shattuck estate until her death in 1962 at which time the house was raised, and the land bought by the Congregational church. The original carriage house still stands and is used by the Baptist Church as a church hall.
The Congregational Church’s Rev. Pingree who would take the congregation’s children on outings in the summer lost his life when he tried to rescue two of his young parishioners at Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, He saved one young girl, a Miss Marstons, and he and the other girl, Miss Perkins, drowned. Rev. Pingree was pastor at the Congregational Church and had a property at Pigeon Cove in Gloucester. He was the organizer of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scout troops in Norwood at the church.
To learn more, see This Day in Norwood