But Many Phases Of Shurcliff Report Never Carried Out Here

The neighboring town of Dedham has received the spotlight of publicity since the appearance, four weeks ago, of an Attractive 100-page booklet, profusely illustrated with diagrams, maps, statistical charts, and an artists pictures of Dedham’s future.

This is a master plan prepared by the firm of Arthur A. and Sidney N. Shurcliff, town planners, of Boston. In it, they have painted a picture of the town as it is today, have pointed out such faults as traffic bottlenecks. narrow streets, inadequate parking areas, the existing drawbacks to the development of the business district. and town buildings that have become outdated, inefficient, and unattractive. They have also shown the picture of what Dedham can become if unanimous community action concentrates on correcting many of the present conditions, end systematically carries out the program of buying land, relocating buildings, and making a slight alteration in the tax rate for the next six years.

The master plan drawn up by the Shurcliff firm for Dedham, which appropriated $25,000 in 1945 for the comprehensive survey, has been generally referred to by Boston papers and those of neighboring towns as “the Dedham experiment”. The Shurcliff report and long-range plan is hardly an experiment, however, for in 1923 the same firm, which has been located in Boston since 1906, prepared a similar publication for the town of Norwood through the courtesy of George F. Willett, then Chairman of the Town Planning Board.

The Shurcliff report on Norwood of twenty-five years ago and the Shurcliff report on Dedham today make interesting comparisons. Pictures of Norwood’s center m 1923 show a comparatively undeveloped section, particularly in the area of the present Town Hall, Norwood Theatre building, and the site of the present block of stores now occupied by Lewis’ Restaurant, Sam’s and the Modern Meat. The report suggested the Norwood Theatre site for the proposed town hall, pointing out that it was badly needed: also suggesting the present location of the Municipal Building as an alternative. It suggested that the real center of the town move to this location and that a town square park set off the beauty of the new municipal building and other proposed business blocks. One bottleneck which the report pointed out and suggested correcting was at the High Bridge vicinity, where a traffic circle has since been constructed. Another suggestion made was the construction of an amphitheatre and parade grounds for all types of public functions of large scope in back of the Highland Cemetery area. Another need in Norwood was for more playground space, the report stating that playgrounds should be spotted throughout the town, none farther apart than a half hour’s walk. The booklet also contained a report by Harry J. Carlson, architect with Shurcliff’s firm, who recommended the development of the Town Square area and careful consideration to type of architecture in the building of business blocks and municipal structures, as well as careful landscaping and beautification of Norwood’s main street with trees.

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Another report by Flavel Shurcliff, member of the bar and secretary of the National Conference on City Planning, advocated step-by-step measures through which Norwood could follow the proposed development. He pointed out the importance of the immediate purchase of land for future building; the procedure in acquiring land for new streets; and suggested bond issues for schools, parks, and playgrounds to distribute the cost over a period of time and avoid financial burden. John P. Fox. zoning expert of New York, also included a tentative zoning map and zoning by-law in his study of Norwood. The entire book stresses the need for careful planning to insure beauty and practicality, to forestall haphazard growth and that the town realize the full value of its opportunities. With a population of almost 12,000, the Norwood of 1923 had doubled since 1905, and its valuation of slightly over $14.000,000 had then doubled in only twelve years.

New Survey Similar

The new survey of Dedham is in much the same style in presentation, but recommends a ten-year plan to keep the town in shape for the next 50 years. It suggests definite means of financing—tax consultant William Stanley Parker has stated that the entire cost to the town will be $1,000,000 a year. He suggests that the current tax rate of $36.78 continue for the next four years, then be upped to $38.76 and then dropped to $38.59. Among the traffic bottlenecks which will be removed, if the plan is carried out, will be that at Dedham Square. The block now containing the Dedham Institution for Savings will become an island, cut off by a through street to Route 1, thus easing traffic coming in Washington street from the Rotary. East Dedham Square will have its street widened considerably. Such eyesores as the antiquated town hall, the fire station, and the Ames School and Junior High School, familiar to Norwoodites who pass through Dedham on Washington street, will be torn down. The schools will be placed on the banks of the Charles River on Ames street. A new town hall will stand where there was once the railroad station, backing up to the Providence Highway. Vacant lots in back of the stores in Dedham Square will be utilized for off-the-street parking, and all the marshland along the Charles River between Dedham Square and Spring street will be purchased from the town and the natural beauty of this land, now threatened by trailer camps and dumps, will be restored.

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The Shurcliff’s, who have made valuable contributions to Norwood, see study, analysis, and careful planning as the only salvation to once beautiful communities that are now bogging down under 20th-century trends, as well as to undeveloped areas where potentialities could easily be overlooked.

1923 Norwood Planning Board Report


This Day In Norwood History-May 19, 1923-Planning Board Has Done Excellent Work

NORWOOD TOWN NOW BEAUTIFUL NORWOOD, May 19—The marked improvement in the physical appearance of the town of Norwood, since the establishment of a Planning Board, here, as well as the pride and interest which its townspeople have in the civic…



Published and Presented With the Compliments of George F. WillettChairman Town Planning Board1912 – 1923 Report of ARTHUR A. SHURTLEFF, Town Planner SUPPLEMENTARY REPORTS :Zoning, by JOHN P. FOX, ConsultantCivic Center, by HARRY J. CARLSON, ArchitectandLegal Aspects, by FLAVEL SHURTLEFF,…


1923 Planning Board Report-Plan for the Vicinity of Center of the Town

The plan on pages 20 and 21 for the center of Norwood is an integral part of the general plan proposed for the Town as a whole. The development of the center cannot be considered separately from the development of…


1923 Planning Board Report-Vicinity of High Bridge

The complicated and dangerous arrangement of roadways, railway tracks for electric and steam cars, in combination with a narrow underpass in the High Bridge district illustrates forcibly the costly results of allowing important road junctions to “happen by chance.” It…


1923 Planning Board Report-Streets Near Norwood Railroad Station

In the course of the general program of the state for the abolishment of railway grade crossings, the present dangerous crossing at Railroad Avenue will be abolished. This work should be undertaken, however, not only with an eye to the…

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1923 Planning Board Report-Proposed Additional East-West Through Streets and Diagonals

In the wide interspaces between the existing east-west thoroughfares there are many local streets already built, and many more contemplated or actually under construction. Gradually, in a long term of years, all these wild lands will be traversed by roads…


1923 Planning Board Report-Existing North-South Through Streets

The existing through streets of Norwood, as shown above, were laid out in times before the construction of the steam railroads, before the large industries were established, and, of course, long before the development of modern housing and the beginnings…


1923 Planning Board Report-Proposed Additional North-South Through Streets and Diagonals

In the outlying districts of the Town where new houses and new streets are springing up, the individual land owners have used and are still using customary skill and foresight in the planning of individual lots to meet the desires…


1923 Planning Board Report-Development of Clark Swamp District

The built-up area of Norwood is gradually approaching the margins of the Clark Swamp district. Under good or bad planning this entire neighborhood is destined to be crossed by streets and built up with dwellings. The cost of this work…


1923 Planning Board Report-Schools, Parks and Playgrounds

On the accompanying map are shown the public schools of Norwood. They are grouped most closely near the center of the Town with scattered buildings on the outskirts. Evidently school locations will follow the centers of new growth, but the…