One of the true signs you are from Massachusetts: You live near a town common.
These historic gathering places often are located in the center of town. The giveaways that you’ve come across a town common often reveal a large parcel of grass, gazebo or bandstand, benches, paved paths and memorials. Churches with tall white steeples and older colonial homes also reside near the scene and help frame the classic New England look.
Town commons often date back to the 18th century where they were often used as military training grounds, religious centers and places for cattle and sheep to graze. Today, the town commons commonly serve as park-like settings to relax or attend seasonal events or observances.
While many famous Massachusetts towns and cities feature town commons, the more low profile communities, many times, offer the most impressive versions. The other day I drove through the small town of Norfolk and had to stop the car to take the photo of the town common that you see at the top of this story. Additionally, the church with tall white steeple and red colonial embodies the classic, traditional look of a town common so well!
And the large green spaces just make you want to be there right now…
A town common often serves as a barometer of a community’s vibrancy. Norfolk is a prime example of this connection between town and town common. What a beautiful town! The winding semi-rural back roads, well-preserved historic buildings and scenic bodies of water lend such a nice feeling when traveling this close-knit community only 30 miles southwest of Boston.
A Book on Town Commons!
Like many New Englanders, I am no stranger to the town common (many call it a town green). I actually got to write a book on Massachusetts Town Greens which you can buy through any major bookseller or many local indie bookstores. In six months, I visited 70 town commons, took copious notes and photos and then submitted the final version to the publisher, Globe Pequot out of Gilford, Conn. The book is available through paperback and Kindle.
If interested in reading my book, here is a link where you can purchase it…
What are your favorite town commons in Massachusetts? Please share them in the comments box at the end of this page. Thanks!