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A rugged terrain and limited waterpower potential kept Dover a sparsely settled community throughout its history. Part of the 1636 Dedham grant, a separate town of Dover was only incorporated in 1836. Relatively few farms were developed along the Charles River in the colonial period, and the construction of the Charles River Railroad through Dover in 1861 had little impact on population growth. Household industries of shoemaking and basket weaving supplemented the agricultural economy. The early twentieth century witnessed the first period of substantial development, as wealthy Bostonians discovered Dover as a site for estate development, especially along the Charles River. Large landholdings were assembled, many of which survive, and immigrants came to staff the estates. Older buildings were restored and expanded, and many new country houses built, including a few important experiments in modern architecture in the 1930s and 1940s. After the World War II, Dover opened slightly for general suburban development, but the community has remained isolated and underpopulated by choice.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan

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