If you stand by the vast central common of Norwood, and look at the quasi-ecclesiastical building, near-Gothic, and forming the base of a great square tower, you will find it hard to believe that the thing is really the town hall of a tannery town. Yet so it is.
Tucked away, down on the low ground, are great groups of red factories where raw hides and pickled skins arrive in trainloads, to become elegant leathers and wool products. Near by are two great and famous printing plants, and the ink factory that supplies them and many other printers.
The town hall is new. It is really two buildings set at right angles to one another, with the tower at the angle, and one of the buildings is given over mostly to an auditorium. The other contains the town offices. Altogether, it is beyond question the finest town hall in New England.
The Civic Centre
The answer, of course, lies in the tanneries and printeries. Big industries pay big taxes, allowing the town to raise big buildings. And when the big tanners and printers and inkers are also public-spirited citizens, you are going to find many other pleasant features in that town; Norwood has a “civic centre” lying just off her main street—she is bisected by the Providence turnpike—with baseball diamond, tennis courts and clubhouse all complete. The original clubhouse was burned only a short time ago; the present building is really only a makeshift, the caretaker said.
Norwood has a fine pond out to the westward, with a bathing beach well equipped and much used. She has the hospital which an industrial population needs, and which the public-spirited group founded, organized, and raised the money for.
Norwood has grown very fast. Not more than 10 years ago, she was principally a painful stretch in the journey to Providence. Her streets were narrow, and congestion was at its worst. The motorist could count on a hot and dusty quarter of an hour to get through.
Improvements struck a broad highway through and paved it, and then hung up traffic lights over the middle of the street. Unfortunately or not, this road improvement came before the new fashion of sending through routes around towns had become popular.
A new road to Providence has since been built, and takes a great part of the actual Providence traffic out of Norwood, but there are enough local trains, so to speak, to keep her streets still a region where one needs to look both ways and jump quick.
Ex-Gov Frank G. Allen lives in a modest mansion by a beautiful grove, right on the main street. He a largely interested in the tanneries, and in the town for whose welfare he shows a feeling of considerable responsibility.
If you drive through Norwood you will be impressed by the great number of children in the streets away from the business section, and also by the great number of dogs. The rule seems to be four children and at least one dog to a family, with police dogs just now leading the way.
The town has not the social cachet of its neighbors to the north. Dedham and Westwood. It is far more pretentious than modest Medfield on the west or Canton on the east. It has a great percentage of commuters, of course, but the shops on the main street are certainly busy, the streets are full of well-dressed folk and, altogether, the place has a most cheerful aspect.