Jul 30, 2014
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DeSorgher: Lord’s, Zullo Gallery, St. Edward’s and the Library

This article is part two of a two-part series that looks at the changes in Medfield’s Center over the years. This week, we look at the south side of Main Street in Medfield Center.

We will pack on Friday night, Dec. 2, taking part in their Midnight Madness Sale; we buy greeting cards, sports wear, lottery tickets, etc., and have lunch at their counter.

The corner of Main and South Streets has been the hub of retail business in Medfield Center for most of our history. In the early 1700’s, the property was owned by Richard Mann, who operated a saddler’s shop.

There were saddles, harnesses and other leather equipment for horses sold and repaired at this shop. In 1782, the property was sold to David Onion and it contained one-forth an acre with a house and barn.

Here, the beginnings of what we recognize as Lord’s appears, as Onion opened a general store to serve the needs of the town. Onions store also became the local hang-out, gossip headquarters and town meeting place. From 1818 to 1852, it also served as the town post office. 

Onion’s two sons, Willard and Charles, followed him in the business. In 1837, the store was sold to Thomas L. Barney, who continued the grocery/general store business. It stayed in Barney’s ownership until it was purchased in 1893 by Isaac Codding and Thomas Schools.

Dick Lincoln later took over and then finally into the Lord's and then Kelly ownership of today. The old original store was cut in two, with the east end ell moved to 7-9 South St. as a two-family home and demolished in 1976, becoming what is today’s Lord's parking lot. The main part of the building remained until the late 1950’s, when it was demolished and the current Lord’s building was built.

In between today’s Lord’s and the was the stable for the James Clark Tavern, which stood where is today. Medfield was on the stagecoach line running from Boston to Mendon and this was the place for the changing of horses, with a fresh team attached to the stage coming from and going to Boston.

The stable was later moved to make way for what today we know as the building or as it is officially called, the DeVasto Block. The building was originally located on the property of Edmund Chenery on 55-57 North St., opposite today’s post office. It was occupied in the 1800’s by a tailor and then later used as a shop for woman’s clothing.

In the late 1800’s, it was bought by Thomas L. Barney and moved from North Street to go along side Barney’s Main Street store (site of today’s Lord’s). In 1883 the primary school was moved into the first floor due to overcrowded conditions of the Centre School on Pleasant Street (later named the ).

The upper floor, now used as the Zullo Gallery, became the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Hall. The Grand Army of the Republic was founded after the Civil War. Its membership was limited to honorably discharged Union veterans who served in what they called "The War of the Rebellion" between April 12, 1861 and April 9, 1865.

It was an organization very much like today's American Legion. The G.A.R. later purchased the entire building to use as their “Post.” The first floor hall was used for banquets and dinners and the upper hall was used for their meetings. Later sold, the block, over the years, was used for a variety of businesses including The First National Store, Fayo’s pizza/ sub shop, real estate offices, Periwinkle’s Aquarium and today’s  , the Jewelry Store, the Medfield Barber Shop and of course upstairs, the Zullo Gallery. 

In the 1950’s the small stucco building between Lords and the DeVasto Block was built to house the Medfield Post Office. It later became Powell’s Linoleum and Title store and today is used as Lord’s office area.

Next to the stable and then later the G.A.R. Hall was a small house, built in 1830 by Samuel Johnson. The house was used later by Patrick McDermott’s as a tailor shop. He lived on the lower floor with a barber and then shoemaker’s shop above.When Church was built on the land of today’s gazebo, McDermott’s house and shop became the church’s rectory.

In 1926, Rev. John McCool of St Edward’s began plans to build a new brick rectory and the old wooden house was raffled off and moved to 42 Green St., where it serves today as a residential house. The new brick rectory was home for the priests serving Medfield Catholics until the church moved to its new location on Spring Street in 1980. In 1982, the rectory was connected to the public library as expansion and was later demolished in 1997 when the current new addition to the library was built.

 St. Edward’s Church was built in 1892 and dedicated on Oct. 15, 1893. It was located on Main Street, directly opposite Town Hall. The gothic style wooden building had a seating capacity of 350 with a bell tower rising to a height of 40 feet. The main church contained 33 stained glass windows.

When it was built, the local press called it the “handsomest church in town.” In 1980 the church moved to Spring Street and sold the church and rectory to the Town of Medfield. In 1985, 93 years after its corner stone was laid, the old St. Edward was torn down.

Moving west along Main Street, to the site of the current public library, in 1651 was the farm land of Rev. John Wilson, Medfield’s first minister. By 1818 a building was erected by Moses B. Harding on this location for a store.

It became the home to Captain James Ware, who kept a store in the lower part of the building. A small barn stood in the rear. An addition was later added and a number of rooms were rented out. So many families lived at one time in this house that it took on the nickname “The Beehive.”

Prior to 1917, to make way for the building of the library, the building was divided in two, with the main part of the house moved to 11 Pleasant St. and the ell section moved to 15 Pleasant St. The Memorial Public Library building was a gift to the town by Granville Dailey, part owner of the hat factory. It was given in memory of his wife and daughter.

To read part one of this series,

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