First settled in 1635 by people who had spread out from the Roxbury and Watertown areas, Dedham was incorporated the following year. Although the initial name of the town was supposed to be “Contentment”, it was changed by the Massachusetts General Court and the town was named after Dedham, England where some of the residents were born.
Over the ensuring years Dedham was known for its religious views and strident stand against the newly formed federal government after the US Constitution was approved in 1787. While this fervent nature has died down in recent years, the streak of independence still resides in many of the residents today. The town still retains much of its quaintness while being surprisingly modern in many ways as well.
One of the more interesting bits about Dedham was its role as being the first community in the US to help separate church and state. In 1818, the citizens of Dedham selected a minister that was different than those who were chosen by the church selectmen. Upheld by the Supreme Court, this action led to Congregational Churches being formed in the US.
The major employers in Dedham include the Norfolk & Dedham Group which is a regional insurance company and National Amusements which is the parent company of Viacom/CBS. Otherwise, the town itself has a large number of smaller businesses that mostly include retail and the like. However, as with most communities that surround the Boston area most of the employment is found within the great metropolitan area with commuting being a daily occurrence.
The first tax supported, free public school system in the United States was started in Dedham and now serves as a model for the rest of the country. There are a number of schools, community organizations and places of worship in Dedham like many smaller towns in the New England area.
Although small in nature, there are a number of points of interest in the town which makes it a good place to live. The Mother Brook is the first man-made waterway ever constructed in the US. While the Dedham Public Library is well noted for its several collections, the town itself does offer the MIT Endicott House and Fairbanks House which was built sometime between 1637 and 1641 which is the oldest standing timber-frame house in the United States.
The community of Dedham takes pride in its past while looking to the future thanks to its unique position as one of the surrounding communities in the greater Boston area. For those who call Dedham home, it represents a place of pride to keep small town values in a place so near one of America’s larger cities.