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

Around Needham Center

In the 1700s and for most of the 1800s, Needham Center was located at the intersection of Central Avenue and Nehoiden Street. The First Parish Church was located there, as was the Parsonage, the cemetery, the meeting hall and a school. Shops and the tavern were a block away, where Central Avenue met Great Plain Avenue.

In the 1850s, train service came to Needham. Denied permission to cross the ministerial lands in the town center, the tracks diverted southeastward toward Great Plain Village. The presence of the railroad drew toward itself businesses and workshops. The rising professional class, taking advantage of the convenience of travel to Boston, began to build townhouses along the roads that surrounded the station. By the late 1870s, Great Plain Village had become the de facto center of Needham. In 1879 it became the official center, as the First Parish Church was raised from its foundations on Nehoiden Street, and conveyed on rollers to its present site on the corner of Dedham and Great Plain Avenues.