Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

2. Noyes Park (Noyes St. and Central Ave.)

This “pocket park” was named in 1913 in honor of Needham’s first physician, Dr. Josiah Noyes (1801-1875). Noyes was the first trained medical doctor to practice in Needham.  He was born in Acton, and educated in Medicine and Chemistry at Dartmouth College.  In 1825 he moved to Needham and lived here for the rest of his life.

Noyes was a natural scientist in the broadest sense. In addition to medicine and pharmacology, he studied theology, languages, ornithology, meteorology, botany, and geography.  He organized the Needham Lyceum (a forum to debate the issues of the day), the Needham Anti-Slavery Society, Needham’s temperance efforts, was a founder of the Congregational Church in Needham, served on the School Committee, and surveyed the town’s roads by attaching an odometer to his buggy wheels. An ardent abolitionist, Noyes used the Needham Lyceum to promote the cause, and invited William Lloyd Garrison to speak.

Noyes and his protégé, Timothy Otis Fuller, made extensive collections of plants throughout Needham.  The Needham Historical Society has two of Noyes’ herbaria pressed in books, but the two men also made a systematic collection of local flora for scientific study. The Noyes-Fuller collection is considered to be the largest collection of floral samples from New England.  It has been used for studies of local climate and habitat change, revealing that more than 40 percent of local species present in the 19th century are now locally extinct or endangered.

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