OLD MEDWAY LOCATIONS

By Francis D. Donovan © 1996

Many of the named places in old Medway are still here. Others have disappeared through "progress", and most are either forgotten, or no longer called by their former names.

Fortunately, though, there are still those residents of Medway who can recall the Straw Shop fire, skinny-dipping at Big Rock, or enjoying Coombs' store 2-cent rope licorice.

But not many of us can remember all of the places in the following list.

So, before they are gone forever, here they are:

ADAMS GRIST MILL. On Chicken Brook at the dam, east of the present No. 30 Winthrop Street, at Kirby's Pond. Later the site of a sawmill owned by Timothy Partridge. One of the earliest mill sites in Medway.

ADAMS NEIGHBORHOOD. See OVER NORTH.

BAPTIZING PLACE. At Chicken Brook between Main and Oak Streets, where the Baptists practiced baptismal by immersion.

BENT, THE. The bend or "bent" in Charles River at Walker Street.

BIG ROCK. A huge boulder still visible in Charles River a few hundred feet upriver from the Sanford Street mill dam. A favorite swimming place for Medway youth for many years. At one time a diving board was erected, and traces of the bolts holding it can still be seen in the rock. Just upstream from Big Rock was a popular canoe launching area.

BIG ROCKS. Boulders left by glaciers in the Bullard Sawmill area east of the former Deveney Farm at Ellis Street, at the edge of Black Swamp. This area was known as Gonka by the Mucksquit Indians. A blueberry area par excellence. The Big Rocks were also known as The Sisters.

BLACK SWAMP. The area now traversed by Route 109 between Oakland Street in Medway, and the former railroad crossing in Millis.

BOUNDARY ROAD. An old unofficial name for Summer Street, when that road was the boundary between Medway and Holliston, until the land exchange of 1829.

BREEZY MEADOWS. The Kate Sanborn place on Summer Street at the Holliston town line. After years of deterioration, it was razed in November, 1993. A complete story of this place can be found in Shirley Chipman's "Kate Sanborn & Breezy Meadow Farms."

BRICK SCHOOL. Once stood at the intersection of Fisher and West Streets. The posts and steps at its walkway are still visible.

BUNKER HILL. The steep banking at the Franklin side of Charles River about opposite the Sanford Mill, west of the Sanford Street bridge.

CAMPBELL BRICK YARD. Located between Burke School and the railroad. A rich deposit of clay supported the industry there for several years until about 1900.

CANDLEWOOD ISLAND ROAD. Old name of Oakland Street.

CARPET MILL. The first carpet mill in New England, located on Chicken Brook just north of the present 19 Winthrop Street. Built around 1845. Parts of the mill foundation wails are still visible, and until the new bridge was built, evidence of a sluiceway under Winthrop Street could be seen, especially at the outflow end.

CEDAR STREET. An abandoned road beginning at Oakland Street near Main Street, and connecting with Farm Street in Millis at Stoney Plain. Traces of this old way can still be seen. Cedar Street originally connected with Coffee Street near the Main Street-Industrial Park Road intersection.

CHICKEN BROOK. A stream long asssoclated with Medway history. Begins in Holliston near the Milford town line, and drains much of North Medway. Achieved its distinctive name through the accident of Old Joe Barber, a resident from "over north" dropping a sack of live chickens in the stream near No. 19 Winthrop Street. The chickens drowned, and a legend was born. See also CARPET MILL and TRIP-HAMMER SHOP.

CLASSICAL INSTITUTE. A short-lived institution of higher learning conducted by Rev. Abijah Baker on the site of St. Joseph's Church. A later school located there was moved to North Street to make way for the church.

COCKERELL HILL. A slight rise at Knowlton and Oakland Streets, at the entrance to a proposed development to be called "New City."

COFFEE LOT. A tract of land on the edge of Black Swamp, where Ishmael Coffee, a man of mixed Indian and Negro blood built his house and raised 16 children. Mr. Coffee served with distinction in the Revolutionary War from Medway. Coffee Street was named in his honor.

CORNER, THE. As it is today, the intersection of Village, High, and Lincoln Streets.

CUTLER ROW. A row of identical houses on the north side of Highland Street near the Community Church. The houses were all built at the same time by one of the Cutlers for factory workers.

DRYBRIDGE HILL. The hill on which our present shopping center is located, between Temple and Holliston Streets. So named because a "dry bridge" once existed for a cattle underpass under Main Street - the former Turnpike - about 200 feet westerly of Holliston Street. Traces of the northerly end of the underpass are still visible. The Turnpike authorities would not allow cattle crossing over the road to pastures south of the 'pike. The walled tunnel was built in 1807, and lasted until 1842.

DRYBRIDGE SCHOOL. Located on the north side of Main Street - the Turnpike Road - at the top of Drybridge Hill, about where a filling station now stands.

DYE WORKS. An ancient dyehouse for textiles, located on the north side of Populatic Street near the Medway Pumping Station. The remains of the dye house, which was destroyed in a fire, were torn down around 1960.

FABYAN MILL. See Sanford Mill.

FLAT, The. The long, low, level part of Medway running easterly from Oakland Street. A favorite flooding area for Charles River.

FORDING PLACE. A crossing of Chicken Brook on Winthrop Street near Maple Street. A concrete bridge now carries traffic over the stream at this location.

FULLER'S BLOCK. Now the 01d Parish House, West Medway. Once owned by Squire Asa Fuller where he conducted his watch and clock business for over 50 years.

GAR BLOCK. Stood at Village Street and Norfolk Avenue, site now marked by a small stone monument. The Block once housed the town offices, and Charles River Lodge, AF&AM, and burned in 1918.

GONKA. See Big Rocks.

GOOSE ISLAND. A piece of land separated from the mainland by a canal at Walker and Village Streets. The canal was filled in with hat blocks and gravel, and is now Canal Street.

GRANNY DARLING LOT. Site of Mary (Granny) Darling's house, in the field a few hundred rods north of the Broad Street railroad crossing. Granny Darling was 102 years old when she died in 1865, although she claimed she was born in 1760, making her 105 years old.

GRANTVILLE. A proposed 1885 real estate development on Populatic Street near the present Medway pumping station.

HALL'S HOTEL. Now a dwelling on High Street, second on right, south of Awl Street. It was purchased by John Rector of the famed hotel family in 1889. Thomas Allen opened a livery stable in the rear of this building in 1890.

HAPPY HOLLOW. A slight depression in the landscape just north of the intersection of Oak and Highland Streets.

HASTINGS SPRING. A source of clear, cold water near Chicken Brook in the rear of the present 150 Main Street. During drought periods, this spring and the well at 19 Winthrop Street provided water for residents whose wells had gone dry. The spring was also was the source of water for Dr. Lawrence's medicines, manufactured on Lincoln Street. Dr. Lawrence was the maker of Dr. Haynes Arabian Balsam, a noted cure-all in the late 1880s, that was developed by Rev. Aaron Haynes, a Minister in the West Medway Baptist Church.

HATHON'S TAVERN. An ancient hostelry owed by Collins Hathorn, located at the northeast corner of Broad and Village Streets, later owned by Job Harding. The old building was cut into two pieces in the late 1800s, and moved to North and Peach Streets and made into dwellings, to make way for the Quinobequin House, and the later New Medway Hotel. The old tavern housed our first post office, and mail was brought here by post riders.

HIXON'S CORNER. The area about Main and Holliston Street intersection, where members of the Hixon family owned property on all four corners.

HOG POND. Now a grassy triangle at Main, Village and Summer Street intersection across from Levi Adams' Tavern site. The pond was for many years the habitat of the Hog Pond Ghost, the wraith-like spirit of a watch and jewelry salesman supposedly murdered for his wares in the tavern, and whose body was never found.

HOLY CROSS. Intersection of Milford and Summer Streets. The Holy Cross School stood where the Medway No. 1 fire station is now located. A dwelling stood there until about 1965.

HOPPIN BROOK. A stream in the northwest corner of West Medway; crosses Milford Street near West Street.

INDIAN STEPPING STONES. A row of large stones in Charles River westerly of Big Rock, marking the Indian trail from Wennakeening to Populatic. At low water, the Stepping Stones wreaked havoc on canoes.

JOB HARDING'S TAVERN. An ancient inn that stood at the northeast corner of Broad and Village Streets, formerly Collins Hathon's tavern. It was during Job Harding's ownership that this tavern was cut in half and moved.

KING'S HIGHWAY. An ancient way running from Oak Street, crossing the northerly end of Highland Street, and going on to Milford, north of Wight's Corner at Milford and West Streets. Never heavily used, the old cartpath road fell into disuse after 1800, and traffic over it followed what is now Milford Street around 1828.

LATIC. Abbreviated name for the area around Populatic Pond.

LEVI ADAMS TAVERN. Now the location of a dwelling at 260 Main Street at Summer Street. Adams ran a prosperous tavern here, dating to the early 1700s. He was called "Squire Levi," and was a generous contributor to the Second Church.

LILY POND. A shallow body of water near St. Joseph's Cemetery noted for beautiful acquatic plants.

LITTLE ROUNDTOP. The house on Mann Street distinguished by round conical towers on the ends of the porch. It was so named by Judge Rufus Fairbanks when he lived there, and in recent years, it was the residence and office of Dr. Harold Shenker.

LOVER'S LANE. A very old way between Village and Holliston Streets marking a boundary between two of the 1659 River Section Lot Grants. A favorite place for young lovers "walking out" in the evening, in the late 1800s.

LUTHER METCALF MANSION. Built in 1792, now the Village Inn, in Medway. Metcalf was a noted builder of fine furniture, and was a Major in the militia.

MANSION HOUSE. See Collins Hathon's Tavern.

MECHANIC'S HALL. At Cottage and Main Streets. Built in 1852 from timbers and boards from the first meeting house of the 1832 Baptist Society which stood nearby. The old hall has lately been used as a store for the sale of unfinished furniture and wood items. Universalist services were held here in the 1830s.

MEDWAY FIFTY ACRES. South side of Village Street, the area east of No. 27 Village Street to Farm Street. After WWII, Kate Cifre ran a fried chicken restaurant in the long, low, brick building still standing. A drive-in theater was once planned for the area now partially taken up by Lakeshore and Lewis Drives.

MEDWAY RAILROAD STATION. Stood across Broad Street from the Medway Oil Company. The depot was destroyed in a fire in 1965.

METHODIST VILLAGE. Dwellings in the immediate vicinity of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now the Masonic Temple, in the Plainville section of Cottage Street.

MIDDLE ROAD. Also Old Post Road, Old Mendon Road, Old County Road, Road to the Wilderness, a former stage route to Connecticut, and now Village Street.

MOON'S CORNER. Intersection at Winthrop and Hill Streets, named for former residents.

MUCKSQUIT. Also known as Squit. The area at Winthrop's Pond at Hill and Winthrop Streets. Once the location - until about 1690 - of a small Indian village of about 50 Mucksquits of the Mendon Nipmuc tribe.

MUSTER FIELD. A former Revolutionary War and militia training field in "Plainville," at Cottage and Brigham Streets, once the Joel Hunt Farm.

NARROWS, THE. Where the Charles River narrows westerly of Sanford Street.

NEW CHICAGO. A never-realized real estate subdivision at the railroad and Lover's Lane. The lots as laid out were 50 by 50 feet.

NEW CITY. An 1880s residential development projected near the railroad crossing at Oakland Street; only two houses were built. One of the three slaughterhouses in Medway nearby may have contributed to the failure of the project.

NEW GRANT. Comprising the present Town of Medway, and until 1829, only existing as far west as Summer Street.

NEW GRANT MEETING HOUSE. The 1749 Meeting House built at the southwest corner of Main and Evergreen Streets. A day school is now located on the site, named appropriately "Meetinghouse School."

NEW MEDWAY HOTEL. The third hostelry to be built at the northeast corner of Village and Broad Streets. The first was Hathon's Tavern, followed by owner Job Harding. That building was cut in two and the sections were moved to Peach and Broad Streets where they exist as dwellings. The Quinobequin House was then built on the site, renamed the Mansion House, and the New Medway Hotel was the last of its type at that location. The present building, shorn of its round conically-topped towers as the result of a fire, still stands as an apartment house, with shops at the street level.

NUMBER 5 SCHOOL. Located where there is now a small recreation area at Winthrop and Partridge Streets. Also known as the NORTH SCHOOL. Well attended in winter by children from the many farms in the area.

OLD COUNTY ROAD. Village Street.

OLD GRANT. The present Millis, East Medway until 1885.

OLD LOCKUP. The last town lockup before the Town Hail/GAR Building was used. The Old Lockup stood on Norfolk Avenue, and was bought by a Frank Clancy (who lived in the last house on Norfolk Avenue), around 1920 and who used it for a woodshed.

OLD MENDON ROAD. Village Street.

OLD PARISH HOUSE. At Franklin and Main Streets, built in 1816 from timbers and lumber from the 1749 Meeting House. The cellar was once used as a lockup.

OLD TAVERN HOUSE. The large apartment building at 186 Main Street at Slocumb Place. The westerly half of the building was built in 1814 to house the workmen building the church nearby. This part was later a tavern and rooming house, and the ell to the east was added around 1890. Coombs' General Store was an occupant here for many years. A barn to the rear burned in 1881.

OLD POUND. Can still be seen on the east side of Holliston Street just beyond Ellis Street.

OVERLOOK FARM. Recently the Syngay Farm, and now the location of a health club at 276 Village Street. The small building across Village Street was a farm store, and the field in back of it, where houses now stand, was where acres of cabbages were grown for the Boston Market.

"OVER NORTH." The northerly part of West Medway around Winthrop, Partridge, and Lovering Streets, also known as the Adams Neighborhood.

PAPER MILL. An early paper manufacturing company at Rolling Dam, West Medway, operated by the Campbell Brothers. Later the Medway Pulp & Paper Company took over, and closed in 1910. The paper made here was a coarse rag paper used mainly for packaging, and not for stationery.

PAUL'S HILL. The hill on the Franklin side of Charles River at Sanford Street. Settled by John Paul in the 1600s, and later known as Fairmount, where there were extensive orchards. A discovery of iron pyrites or "Fool's Gold" on the hill's river slope touched off Medway's first and only gold rush in 1895.

PINE HILL. Now in Holliston at the Medway-Holliston town lines at Winthrop Street. Winthrop Street was originally Pine Hill Road.

POTASH ROAD. Part of which is now Alder Street. This old road tapped the potash deposits near the Milford line, and at Bear Hill in Milford. Traces of the road can still be seen where it crossed Route 495 north of the Route 126 overpass.

QUINOBEQUIN. Said to be the Indian name for Charles River. QUINOBEQUIN HOUSE. See New Medway Hotel, etc.

RABBIT HILL. The area around the Federated Church at Main, Highland and Franklin Streets in West Medway. It received its name due to the great number of rabbit warrens there when it was pasture land.

ROAD TO THE WILDERNESS. Village Street.

ROLLING DAM. A dam on Charles River about opposite the Police Station. Sluices at this dam, which can still be seen, furnished water power for a paper mill at this site. In recent years, the site was considered for an electric generating plant, but lack of consistent water flow discouraged promoters.

SANFORD HALL. Built in 1876, and named for Milton H. Sanford, Medway industrialist, town benefactor, and principal financier for our first Town Hall. Sanford Hall burned in 1911, and was replaced in 1912-13 by the present Sanford Hall.

SANFORD MILL. Built on the site of the White Mill which burned in 1881. Sanford Mill was built through the finances and efforts of Milton H. Sanford. The mill was later owned by the Fabyan family of New York, and became known as the Fabyan Mill. John Reardon of Medway and later the Reardon family operated it as a textile mill for many years, and around 1990, the building was converted to condominiums. Before it closed, it was one of only a few textile mills still operating in New England.

SECOND CHURCH. The present Federated (Community) Church, built in 1814-1816.

SHUMWAY'S GROVE. A popular picnic area in the pine grove between Village, Main and Franklin Streets behind the two old Shumway houses.

SISTERS. See Big Rocks.

SLAUGHTERHOUSES. There were three active slaughterhouses in Medway; Katzeff's, at Hill Street near the Holliston town line, another of Katzeff's off Winthrop Street in the fields north of Ward's Lane, and in Medway Village between New City Road and the railroad.

SOAPSTONE MINES. On the north side of Causeway Street about a mile east of Holliston Street on the old Meyer Gotz farm, westerly of the Clark/Herter brick house. Long since abandoned due to flooding.

SODOM. The area Winthrop and Main Streets to Cottage Street, so named due to a large population of Baptists.

SPARROW HILL. The area east of Mann Street at Lincoln Street.

SQUIT. See Mucksquit.

SQUITVILLE. The area around the Mucksquit Indian village in North Medway.

STANLEY HOUSE. A hotel at Village Street and Norfolk Avenue, the ell to which is now a restaurant. The proprietor advertised that he had "the worst accomodations, and even poorer board, but the best livery stable in Norfolk County."

STONE MILL. Cephas Thayer's textile machinery shop, incorporated into what is now an industrial complex on the south side of Main Street at Chicken Brook. The walls for the shop were quarried from a single boulder located behind the L. S. Daniels boot factory at Main and Mechanic Streets (now gone). Parts of the wall, mill wheel raceway and wheel supports of the Stone Mill can still be seen next to what was once the card room of the Buckholz Woolen Company in this building.

STRAW SHOP. Site now marked by a vacant lot on Church Street. The shop was Medway's largest hat shop, and spanned a manufacturing era from straw to felt hats. It burned in a spectacular fire in 1935 after serving as a meeting place for town organizations.

SUBWAY, The. At one time, street cars operated over Village Street, and at West Medway, the trolley line was denied a grade crossing at the railroad near West Medway station. The street car builders dug out and wailed in a passage under the railroad and installed a trestle for the railroad tracks. The new underpass soon became known as "the Subway" The site is now marked by a remaining abutment of the long-gone trestle.

TANBARK SHEDS. At Nathaniel Curler's tannery in the field near Chicken Brook, south of Adams Street. Curler's drying racks for hides were located here, next to his long sheds. A drainage ditch used in his tanning process is still visible.

THAYER'S POND. The present West Medway Park pond, created when Cephas Thayer built a dam across Chicken Brook around 1809 for water power for his Stone Mill machine shop.

TIMOTHY CLARK'S ORDINARY. A tavern and inn located about where No. 54 Village Street is today. Built in 1702, and once a favorite stopping place for stages, post riders, and militia.

TORREY-IDE HOUSE. Now No. 160 Main Street, built for Mrs. Mary Ide Torrey by the Abolition Society of Boston after the death of her husband, Rev. Charles T. Torrey, in a southern prison in 1846. Rev. Torrey was a noted Abolitionist.

TRAINING FIELD. See Muster Field.

TRIP-HAMMER SHOP. Location of a water-powered trip hammer. Built and operated by Joel White of North Uxbridge, Mass., and located on Chicken Brook behind the dwelling at 19 Winthrop Street. The shop operated between 1808 and 1814, and hardware and ordnance parts were made there. Many iron items manufactured by White have been found in various digs at the shop site, and are on display by the Medway Historical Society.

TURNPIKE ROAD. The Hartford & Dedham Turnpike, now unfortunately known as Main Street. The 'pike was put through in 1807-9, and was never a paying proposition. It eventually became bankrupt, and was turned over to the County around 1820.

VINE LANE. Now Kelley Street in part. This old way once ran along what are now Evergreen and Oak Streets, and was used by North Medway residents to go to town meeting and church in East Medway. From Vine Lane, the roadway went through fields to the end of what is now Broad Street. It was one of the earliest traveled ways in Medway.

WEST MEDWAY RAILROAD STATION. Located on the site of the present police station. Shown as WOODSIDE on some New Haven RR timetables in the 1940s.

WHITE HOUSE. A large apartment building still standing on a knoll behind a store at School and Village Streets. Built for mill workers as a tenement around 1815.

WHITE MILL. See Whiting Mill.

WHITE'S LIVERY. Located where a garage is now, at No. 166 Main Street. Horses for the West Medway fire company were stabled here until the stables burned shortly after 1900. Owner Adam White lived in the 'Bijah Lawrence place next to the stables.

WHITING MILL. Nathaniel Whlting's cotton mill on the site of the condominiums on Sanford Street.. The Whiting Mill burned in 1881, and was replaced by the Sanford Mill in 1883. See Fabyan Woolen Mill.

WINNEKENING. Said to be the Indian word for "Smile of the Great Spirit," and identified the present Lake Winthrop. The beautiful old colonial house on the Morse-Cutler Farms on Highland Street at the Medway-Holliston line that burned several years ago was called Winnekening.

WOODLAND PARK. A popular recreation area on the Franklin side of Charles River opposite the Medway police station. It was owned and operated by Henry Parker, and had a small zoo, baseball field, dance hall, pavilion and restaurant. Special trains and trolley cars brought groups of people here until its popularity declined during the first World War.

WOODSIDE. See West Medway RR station.

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