New England Village Walking Tour
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Grafton has been a significant contributor in the success and progress of the American Industrial Revolution that was started in 1793 by Samuel Slater with his cotton mill in Pawtucket. North Grafton's Upper Mill, now known as the Washington Mills complex that still produces abrasives, was once known as the New England Manufacturing Company. This was part of the New England Village as North Grafton was known for generations. This part of the mill was built in 1826 and was part of a much larger complex, but most of that is now gone, mostly due to serious fires.
Mill housing was built at 12, 14 and 16 Overlook Street. These central chimney style homes were boarding houses with ornate trim that has since been lost.
The Methodist Church of Grafton, which is still operating, was built in 1847 on land donated by the New England Mill complex. It is a Greek revival style church. The Church is looking to build a new site on Potter Hill currently.
The Turner House at 8 Overlook Street was built in the 1826-30 period as a Greek Revival and was highlighted in the 1895 book, Picturesque Worcester.
The Wingate/Shattuck House at 15 High Street is a gable end Greek Revival built in 1842. 13 and 17 High Street are similar styles.
1,3,5,7 Second Street are 4 unit buildings with paired chimneys and 8 window facades built in 1875 as mill housing.
38 and 44 Second Street was the Quinsigamond Farm on Blackberry Hill. The barn no longer exists but this was the company farm and also housing for the mill superintendents built in the 1860s.
The Lower Mill New England Village was a long shallow building of rubble stone built int he 1830s along with a dam and a millpond.
The Little Stone Bridge is the earliest extant bridge in Grafton made of fieldstone and three courses of dry laid, cut granite block on the east with one course on the west.
The Gerry House at 11 North Main Street is an 1870 Federal period style house with tapered pilasters and a glass fanlight.
The Fairbanks House at 168 Worcester Street, now known as State Glass, is a Federal/Greek revival that once was home to William Duncan Cree, an engineer on transatlantic ocean liners.
The Franklin Baldwin House at 158 Worcester Street was built in 1879 and owned by Franklin Baldwin, one of the owners of the Upper Mill and director of the Grafton Center Railroad.
The Thornton/Pratt/Knowlton House at 151 Worcester Street was owned by a North Grafton physician named William Thornton who practiced water cures in the mid 19th century. Chandler Pratt was the owner from 1844-54 and he was part owner of the New England Mills. Edward Knowlton was another early owner of this 1830 home which is the only example of a 5 bay, temple front form of an elegant Greek revival home. He was a grain and feed dealer in North Grafton.
The Putnam/Hubbard/Rice House at 147 Worcester Street is one of the earliest buildings in North Grafton Center and was owned by a series of prominent Grafton residents, including: John Putnam who owned several mills, Daniel Hubbard who had a prosperous career in education, law and international affairs and Ashley Rice, a farmer and state legislative representative.
The high style brick building at 139 Worcester Street was the mill agent's home. James MacDougall was the first mill agent of the Upper Mill and this is the only structure of this type in Grafton. It si now a multifamily home.
The Ethan Allen Gun Shop at 37 Waterville Street was the site of manufacturing and invention of the "pepper box pistol" for 28 years. This self-cocking revolver was known as the "pistol that preserved the pioneers". This building was sold in 1898 and then used as a grist mill, machine shop, jewelry shop, tortoise shell comb factory and is now undergoing renovations to become a private duplex home. The fieldstone dam is a 50 foot spillway which has needs maintenance currently to clean up debris caught at the dam.
The information above was taken from a brochure compiled by Harry Bridges and Mrs. Parker's 4th Grade Class in the early 1990s. It can be found at the Grafton and Worcester Libraries.