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Emery Grover Building (First High School)
For some communities, buildings document conflicts as much as common aspirations. Throughout the nineteenth century, Needham was divided into two villages—Needham Plains (the current town center), which was populated primarily with descendants of the original settlers and grew up around the railroad station established here in 1853; and Needham Highlands, a community of English immigrant textile workers. When the plains community established a town common at Highland and Central avenues in 1884, the Highlanders created Avery Square as the focus of their village.
This tension manifested itself most strongly in the process of building the first public high school for Needham. Both villages wanted the new building in their area. The crisis was resolved after the work of the first building committee was overturned by a court injunction, a second building committee was appointed, and a public-spirited individual, John Mosley, donated land between the two villages as the site for the new school. The two-story yellow-brick Renaissance-inspired high school continued in use until 1924 and is now the school administration building.
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