Washington Street Looking North from Cottage Street

Cottage Street and Washington Street, Norwood Massachusetts Then and Now


This postcard looks North from the intersection of Cottage and Washington streets in Norwood. The trolley tracks ran down the center of Washington Street starting in 1896. On the left you can see one of Norwood’s earliest brick commercial buildings, the first Talbot block, built on the site of Allen Talbot’s house. Norwood House, formerly the Norwood Hotel, still stood on the current site of the Town common when the postcard photo was taken. It was removed with all the other buildings in that area when the Norwood Town Common was constructed.

Washington St And Nahatan St



This postcard shows the intersection of Nahatan st and Washington Street, looking Southeast. The left side of the postcard shows the location of the current Norwood Municipal Building (Norwood Town Hall), completed in 1928. Standing opposite on the right side of the postcard is the Norwood Town Common, which still had a stone gazebo on the corner. In the foreground you can see the old trolley tracks running down the center of Washington Street, which were not removed until the early 1980’s.

Norwood Airport Proposed Plan


Use the above link to see the notes and zoom in on the map.

This is a proposed 1930 plan to build the Massachusetts Air Terminal and Arena (MATA) along the Norwood and Canton border. Interest in aviation was great enough after Charles Lindbergh visited in 1927 that investors were able to gather up $130,000 in private funding in the midst of the Great Depression to buy up the 1298 acres of land. It was said to be the largest single piece of land ever purchased by a private company in Massachusetts history. The location was prime real estate- just off the new US Route 1 in Norwood and adjacent to a mile and a half of railway lines in wetlands that were marked for industrial development. In addition to 8 runways, hangars and blimp docking bays, there would be an aviation club and a dedicated fire station. The area containing the arena would have a sports stadium, athletic complex, tennis club, 9 hole golf course with country club and various athletic fields. This was to be a major transportation center with a “world class” airport, ready to handle the future transatlantic air travel that the developers saw as the next big thing. On June 26, 1931 Canton opened the first airfield of the project, just East of present day I-95. At that time, the airport was the 3rd largest in the state. Several times when weather conditions in Boston made landing at Logan unsafe, flights were diverted to Cnaton airport and passengers were shuttled to Boston via Canton Junction. On August 19 of 1936, the German airship Hindenberg visited Canton. Less than a year later on May 6, 1937 it passed over the airport at around 300 ft, low enough that people on the ground could see the passengers. By 7:30 that same night, the Hindenberg burst into a flames attempting to moor in Lakehurst, NJ, killing 13 passengers and 22 crew members. A 1940 survery recommended moving the airport to the Norwood side of the Neponset river. During WWII Canton Airport came into competition with Bedford airport for government contracts and expansion funding. Bedford won the competition (and has a military base there today) partly because the town of Canton was slow to modernize their airport. in 1946, Wiggins Airways moved to the present day site and still operates the airport in Norwood today. The Canton airport closed sometime between 1957 and 1959 and was later used as a junkyard before being bought by the MDC for sewer piping. Today the Canton site has been developed into a park.

First Baptist Church 1938 Hurricane


The First Baptist Church originally stood at the foot of Vernon st, near 686 Washington St, current site of Byblos restaurant and Burn Boot Camp (home of New England Taekwondo and Ice Jack for many years).

In September of 1938, Norwood was struck hard with the Hurricane of ’38. Many houses and buildings throughout Massachusetts were damaged or destroyed, and Norwood was no exception.

Trees were knocked down all over town and several buildings and houses were struck, but the most dramatic loss in Norwood was the spire at the First Baptist Church.

The fall of the church spire was captured in a several photos.


The replacement spire was a different, smaller style and changed the look of the Church completely.

In 1951, a new church was built near the corner of Bond and Walpole streets and the old church was torn down.

The church on Bond st and Walpole st, shortly after it’s completion in 1951


Norwood Fire Station OCC Then and Now

This beautiful brick building stands at 171 Nahatan st on the corner of Market st, between the Norwood Town Hall and the Norwood Civic Center. Built in 1906-07, it was Norwood’s main fire house for over 50 years. The fire brigade used horses to pull the engines until at least WWI, and continued to use them well in to the automobile age.

In 1964, the fire house was closed when a new Fire and Police Station was built further down on Nahatan st. This is the building as it looked in 1983 when it was being used for storage.

At some point in the 1980’s the building was renovated into an upscale restaurant complete with a function room. Since 1999 it’s been the home of the Olde Colonial Cafe, formerly located on Savin Ave.

Norwood Armory Then And Now

The State Armory was built in 1929 and designed to be similar in style to the Town Hall, built one block over to the West one year earlier. Norwood resident and then Governor Frank Allen spent five years trying to get the project off the ground and was instrumental in getting it completed. Governor Allen  presided over it’s groundbreaking and dedication in 1930. The building housed Massachusetts National Guard units for many years. The town of Norwood also put the building to use during elections as a polling location and used the auditorium for public events.


In 1984 the State of Massachusetts sold the building to the town for $1. Since then the town has used the building as the Civic Center. In the 1980’s the RMV had an office in the building and after major flooding to the Public Safety Building in 1998, a branch of the Norwood Police Department was temporarily housed there.

The Civic Center in 1983

The Norwood Recreation Department runs dozens of programs from the Civic Center today, from sports to arts and crafts to programs for the community. The facility also has a gym, mean and women’s locker room (both contain a sauna with showers), multipurpose workout rooms for classes, meeting rooms and office space. The facility has a full kitchen and a full arts and crafts room, and the gym is available for special events. Norwood is truly fortunate to have such a great facility with such a dedicated staff.