The Town of Stoneham is a residential suburban community situated less than 10 miles to the Northwest of the city of Boston. Approximately one-third of the community is contained within the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) Middlesex Fells Reservation, including Spot Pond. Known as Charlestown End by the early American explorers, Stoneham’s early settlers were farmers.
The growth that followed the first settlement of 1645 was slow. In 1725 when the taxable male population reached 65 in number, the General Court was petitioned to allow Stoneham to become a separate town (breaking away from Charlestown).On December 17, 1725, the petition was granted, and one week later Stoneham’s first Town Meeting was held.
The construction of a major roadway linking Medford to Andover in 1806 resulted in a shift of the town center from the Summer and Pleasant Street area to what is now the modern Main Street. With the advent of the Federal Period (1775-1830) the local economy was still largely based on agriculture but was witnessing the introduction of shoes in small shops scattered throughout the community. During the 1830s central shops were established, often in conjunction with a general store.
The public stagecoach line linking North Reading to Boston began to pass through Stoneham on the Medford to Andover Turnpike in 1833 improving transportation. Over time the farmlands located within the Turnpike corridor was subdivided for the development of homes for the shopkeepers, shoemakers, carpenters, and other craftsmen. In 1840 churches were built, and in the 1850s the Stoneham 5 Cent Savings Bank and John Hill’s Factory were established on Main Street.
The Industrial Revolution brought growth and commerce to Stoneham. The home shoemaking industry was over time absorbed into the more than forty shoe manufacturing concerns. Today one only needs to look at the Town Seal to see the importance of shoe manufacturing, tanneries and box factories to see their importance to Stoneham.
The twentieth century brought more growth, more transportation services, more demand for carpenters and other craftsmen (to build the houses ) and as the shoe industry went into decline the advent of what was the Town’s largest employer E.L. Patch Company, a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals. Stoneham also was becoming Detroit of the East with a burgeoning auto manufacturing industry. Only fire could change the course with the destruction of the factory and the plans.
The Friendly Town
Stoneham was known as “The Friendly Town.” The success of the community was evident in the number of Olympic Team members that came from Stoneham since the modern Olympics were introduced.
Stoneham has established itself as a fine suburban community with low crime, fine schools, outstanding local services, and roadways linking in all directions and as a great location for people to live and locate their business.
View the July 2015 Issue of Northshore Magazine.