SouthField – Creating the Future, Acknowledging the Past

March 30, 2012

At SouthField, history is an integral part of the surroundings of the master-planned community. Currently being built on the site of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station, the homes for sale and apartments for rent at SouthField will become part of the existing neighborhood while establishing their own historical timeline.

History is a living, breathing entity and every day, everywhere in the world, history is being made. It might not make the evening news or be an action that defines a Presidency but the beauty of history is that it doesn’t sit still. Ten seconds after an event occurs, it’s already history.

Residents of Weymouth already know this.  They have chosen to live in the founding settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and second only to Plymouth in terms of original New England towns. For residents that are new to the area, it’s time for a history lesson.

Thomas Weston, who saw the area as a perfect place to set up a trading post, first settled Weymouth in 1622 with 60 men. The settlement was originally known as Wessagusset (the native American name) but the passage of time has not been kind to these early entrepreneurs. Ted Clarke, a local historian, described them in his book ‘South of Boston‘  as “not an admirable group, they had no skills to help them survive the winter.”

Problems with the locals and internal disputes broke up the fledgling community but the excellent location and abundance of natural resources ensured a continuance of settlers. As more people immigrated to the area from England, it was decided to incorporate it as Weymouth in 1635 (named after the town in Dorset from where many of the settlers had come).

When the American people pursued their quest for independence, the town had swollen to a healthy 1,470 inhabitants. Architecture in the town was simple, yet practical. Houses and churches were constructed as replicas of their European origins some of which can still be found in Weymouth today.

Fittingly for a town that had been formed as an original trading post, the town prospered after the Industrial Revolution that had taken a grip in Europe.  From 1837, the Weymouth Iron Works supported many jobs in the town and led to a boom time for residents before increased iron ore competition from Pennsylvania forced the factory to close.

The Stetson Shoe Company in Weymouth

The Stetson Shoe Company in Weymouth closed in 1973. Picture courtesy of http://www.weymouth.ma.us.

Weymouth then became a center for shoe-making and one in three residents were involved in the industry. The shoes and boots that were being made here were of such a high standard that the town became famous for quality footwear.  The art of the cobbler was a part of Weymouth until 1973 when the Stetson Shoe Company finally closed its doors.

Conveniently located twelve miles south of Boston, Weymouth became a “bedroom community.” With four distinct districts – North, South, East and Landing – city dwellers could purchase or rent property in the area and commute into Boston while still being able to enjoy the coastal facilities of the town and surrounding area. The opening of Route 3 in 1956 and the increase in car ownership had a major impact on Weymouth with families keen to take advantage of the South Shore lifestyle.

John F. Kennedy said “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.” A proud son of Massachusetts, he understood that communities are built on not just the people but also the lessons of the past. 

SouthField may be the latest addition to Weymouth but it acknowledges the past while it looks to the future. A fresh take on the classic New England towns that encircle it, the community will be a special place that will write its own history.

 

Leave a Comment