Easton is an attractive and quiet suburban town in southeastern Massachusetts, just 24 miles south of Boston and 4 miles west of Brockton. With commuter rail service directly to Boston available in neighboring Mansfield, Easton makes an ideal bedroom community. Additionally, highway access is available on State Routes 106, 123 and 138.... Show all »
Easton is an attractive and quiet suburban town in southeastern Massachusetts, just 24 miles south of Boston and 4 miles west of Brockton. With commuter rail service directly to Boston available in neighboring Mansfield, Easton makes an ideal bedroom community. Additionally, highway access is available on State Routes 106, 123 and 138. The town has remained largely rural, with its only significant growth in residential development after World War II, but this pastoral feeling is an important asset of the community that can be characterized as having an abundance of open space since its early settlement.
At first, what is now Easton was rough frontier of the Taunton North Purchase and provided hunting, fishing and lumbering for early Taunton settlers in the 17th century. Permanent settlement by colonists started around 1695 and the town was incorporated in 1725. Bog iron discovered at this time made Easton part of an important late 17th and 18th century iron producing region in southern Massachusetts. The first commercial steel made in the English colonies is believed to have been in Easton and was used to manufacture muskets. In 1803 the Ames Shovel Company was established, and became nationally known as having provided the shovels which laid the Union Pacific Railroad and opened the west.
The Ames family left indelible marks in Easton by leaving a rich philanthropic and architectural legacy. In the late 19th century, the family donated several landmark buildings to the town. The town's public library, the Ames Free Library, for example, was founded by an endowment of $50,000 left by Oliver Ames II. The main building, constructed in 1877, was designed by the famous architect H.H. Richardson.
Other structures in Easton, built in Richardson's characteristic Romanesque style, include Oakes Ames Memorial Hall and the Old Colony Railroad building which now houses the Easton Historical Society. The community carefully preserves these buildings, as part of the town's rich architectural heritage. The Ames family also built shops and company housing. In addition, Ames family estates effectively maintained large tracts of open space in the community.
For most of its history, Easton has contained a small, but healthy industrial base that featured the production of the Morse automobile between 1902 and 1914, cotton and thread mills, machine shops, piano-making operations, and the location of the natural spring supplying the oldest carbonated beverage company in the country. Today, the residential community of suburban neighborhoods, fine public schools and an active town government has a population of around 20,000.
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