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The village of Wakefield is at a turning point. The sense of its traditional existence as a village is still there, and could be reinforced if there were the will to regulate the hyped-up commercialization which suburban growth and a hub of major regional highways have brought to it. Its Main Street still possesses the mix of some exceptionally fine nineteenth-century houses and commercial buildings with early twentieth-century commercial additions. But the promise these might offer for a handsome business district which preserves the “village” while catering to the “mall” are fast disappearing through thoughtless ad hoc remodeling and the continuing growth of a nearby regional shopping strip which siphons off business and institutional activity.

Just off Main Street, on High, the present Wakefield Mill began with a stone mill constructed around 1867 following the destruction by fire of an earlier wooden mill (one of several farther upstream, which have also disappeared). The names of its successive owners—James and William Robinson from 1821, Gideon Reynolds from around 1862, Robert Rodman from around 1875 until 1903—are a roster of South County first families. The architectural character of its early buildings has been veiled by twentieth-century remodeling and accretions, although a portion of the compartmented plant still produces textiles. In the vicinity of Main Street, from among a number of buildings or their remnants dating from the Greek Revival to the 1930s, a number merit special notice.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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