Natick is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is near the center of the MetroWest region of Massachusetts, with a population of 37,006 at the 2020 census, 10 miles (16 km) west of Boston, Natick is part of the Greater Boston area.
The name Natick comes from the language of the Massachusett Native American tribe and is commonly thought to mean "Place of Hills." A more accurate translation may be "place of [our] searching," after John Eliot's successful search for a location for his Praying Indian settlement.
Points of interest
- The U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) (Also known as The Natick Army Labs), a complex of military R&D facilities, produces military-use items such as field rations, personal protective field equipment, and specialized uniforms.
- Natick Mall is the largest shopping center in New England. First opened in 1966, it was replaced by the current building in 1994. A major renovation took place in 2007.
- Cognex Corporation corporate headquarters.
- MathWorks corporate headquarters, which is split into two campuses, Lakeside and Apple Hill. The Lakeside campus was formerly the site of Boston Scientific headquarters and of mini-computer manufacturer Prime Computer. Before Prime, Carling ran a Black Label brewery there.
- The Walnut Hill School is a private secondary school, offering particular emphasis in the studio and performing arts. Walnut Hill graduates more students to the Juilliard School than any other secondary school in the world.
- The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN), located in Natick's historic Central Fire Station, is a performance venue for musicians in jazz, folk, classical, and rock genres. TCAN also hosts theatrical productions by the TCAN Players and children's classes in theatre and dance. A cinema on the restored second floor shows new releases and classic films. Artists performing at TCAN have included Judy Collins, Don McLean, George Winston, Paula Poundstone, Shawn Colvin, Marshall Crenshaw, Jimmy Webb, Karla Bonoff, John Sebastian and Adrian Belew.
- Casey's Diner, constructed in 1922, is one of the oldest operating ten-stool diners in the United States. Casey's Diner is diminutive in size at only 10 feet (3.0 m) by 20-1/2 feet, and was constructed by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in Worcester, Massachusetts. Famous for its steamed hot dogs, Casey's originated as a horse-drawn lunch wagon that was parked on Natick Common.
- Henry Wilson Shoe Shop, 181 West Central Street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
- The Chabad Center of Natick is a synagogue and Jewish educational center in West Natick which is dedicated to strengthening Jewish awareness in the Metrowest area. The Hebrew School for the Arts is a breakthrough in typical Hebrew school education. Located at the Chabad Center, Hebrew School for the Arts teaches traditional Judaism while integrating the modern arts of drama.
- The Morse institute Library, located in Downtown Natick, is a public library which serves as a major educational resource as well as providing programs and hands-on learning opportunities for all residents of Natick and the Metrowest area.
- The Natick Historical Society, located in the lower level of the Bacon Free Library. Archives and exhibits on John Eliot and Praying Indians, natural history collections, life during colonial times, early republic and industrial revolution, memorabilia of famous Natick citizens.
- The Boden Lane Cemetery is a very small burial site established in 1815. Although the cemetery was established in that year, many of the gravestones are dated even earlier than this date, with some dating back to the Revolutionary War. The cemetery is located on Boden Lane, to the right of Beaver Dam, and directly across the street from the Chabad Center of Natick.
Communities and neighborhoods
Natick Center, also known as Downtown Natick, is at the intersection of Central Street and Main Street and serves as the town's civic and cultural hub.
Many public services and public land use are downtown. Municipal buildings like the Natick Town Hall, Natick Fire Department, Natick Police Department and Morse Institute Library are there, along East Central Street. Also directly downtown is the Natick Town Common, where many town events and community activities are held. In the 1990s new downtown construction of a town hall, fire/police station, and enlargement to the library gave the downtown a fresh new look. New municipal buildings exist alongside several historic buildings and churches, the restored Central Fire House, several banks, restaurants and small businesses.
In 2012 the Massachusetts Cultural Council voted unanimously to make Natick Center one of the newest state-designated cultural districts, the tenth district to win this designation from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Cultural Districts Initiative is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development. Natick Center Cultural District is anchored by The Center for Arts in Natick, Morse Institute Library and the Natick Common.
South Natick, known for its scenic nature, is where the Native American settlers first arrived and began the town on the shores of the Charles River. Housing developers like Martin Cerel lived in South Natick, and thus refrained from building major tract neighborhoods in this part of town.
Most South Natick residents consider themselves to have a strong, separate cultural identity from the rest of Natick. It is the only community in Natick that can be separately addressed officially via the US Postal Office, and street signage such as a sign along Route 16 coming from Wellesley communicates arrival in "So. Natick."
East Natick is a community of Natick along Oak Street and at the intersection of Oak Street and Worcester Street. Notable landmarks include Jennings Pond, the Industrial Park on Oak St North, and the Lilja School. Longfellow Health Club, which features a gym, pool, and tennis courts, is in East Natick off Oak St. in the Industrial Park. The stretch of Route 9 in East Natick as one heads into Wellesley contains a multitude of ever-changing retail businesses.
West Natick is a large section of Natick that borders the city of Framingham. The Natick Mall, as well as the strip mall called Sherwood Plaza with its office Industrial Park behind, are considered to be the commercial hub of West Natick. In addition to its retail development, post World War II housing developments like Westfield, Pelham, and Sherwood as well as the National Guard depot and a golf course on Speen St brought many people to this part of town.
There are many businesses in West Natick along West Central Street as well as another MBTA Commuter Rail station in addition to the one downtown. The area in West Natick, along Route 135 is the most densely populated section of town, with its thousands of condominiums and apartments clustered across the street from the train station.
Natick is a small town, and thus, the various sections of tract development homes are considered neighborhoods. These were houses built by several contractors in the late 1940s until the late 1950s. Listed here, are a few of these sections.
One of the earliest post World War II developments in West Natick, the homes are colonial in style, with street names reminiscent of the Robin Hood legend. The homes were built in 1948 and the neighborhood remains popular due to the fact that there's no through traffic, and most of the houses have been enlarged with additions.
Walnut Hill is a neighborhood north of downtown. It is known for the private boarding school Walnut Hill School for the Arts, as well as many Victorian era houses lining Walnut and Bacon Streets.
The Wethersfield area of Natick is a residential neighborhood north of Route 9. It is a typical 1950s development of Campanelli ranch houses, and remains popular with first-time home buyers due to the relatively inexpensive slab-style houses. This area includes Drury Lane and all connecting roads within the boundaries of route 9, Pine Street, and Route 27.
South of Route 9, this section began as a summer vacation area, with tiny cottages surrounding Jennings Pond. Over the years, some houses were enlarged, but the area remains quaint and quiet with no thru traffic. On the westerly side of South Oak is a neighborhood of Cape style houses with streets named after World War II Generals. North of Route 9, other developments of small Cape-style homes were built in the early and mid-1950s and remain popular with first-time home buyers due to their affordability. There are two Industrial Parks along north Oak St that contain office buildings on one side of the road and larger warehouses on the eastern side.
Just south of the Natick Common, Cottage Street begins what is commonly called Little South, named so because of its proximity to South Natick. Little South nomenclature extends to the east portions of Everett Street, down to Eliot St. Homes along Cottage St. were primarily built in the early 1950s and are mostly modest and well-maintained. The best-known landmarks in Little South are a WWII monument dedicated to the fallen soldiers from Natick, and The Tobin School, a private daycare and elementary school that has two large buildings off of Cottage St. Everett St. has larger farm homes situated on generous lots. Eliot St., which runs parallel to the Charles River, has some of Natick's oldest homes. Just before South Natick begins, there is a Virgin Mary statue on a large rock on the south side of the Charles River, enveloped by pine trees.
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