Good Lord's: End of an era in Medfield

The Globe reports Lord's Department Store - the throwback to an another era, right down to the lunch counter - is closing next month.

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      Also closing: Macy's (formerly Filene's) in Belmont Center

      The story at Belmont Patch: Macy's Closing Iconic Belmont Center Store. The department store, a Filene's until 2006, has been in this 'tony' (and green and tree-filled) suburb since 1941.

      I think this is the last big chain department store left in a suburban town center. Not that long ago, we had Filene's or Jordan Marsh stores in downtown Malden, Winchester, Wellesley, and probably other towns I'm less familiar with.

      Marshalls and TJ Maxx have stepped up their games.

      I think

      I live out that way, but I have noticed that Marshalls (Medfield), and TJ Maxx (Dedham and Norwood), have seemed to have cornered this market on decently priced merchandise like kitchen ware, gifts, small furniture, office nic-knacks, and general clothing.

      20 years ago department stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls pretty much sold only clothes, while Woolworths, Lords, Calverts (in Needham) and other "department stores" carried this other stuff that you can now also find in Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.

      They are still a pale reflection

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      of the old Filenes, Jordan Marsh, and Woolworths. These places were a mixture of bed&bath, Jordan's furniture, toy r us, Marshall's and Lord and Taylors all rolled into one. AND THEY DELIVERED. When my grandma would buy a TV, piece of furniture, etc., at Jordan Marsh downtown Boston she didn't carry it home on the train of have her car parked out from, it was just delivered while she went clothes shopping, had lunch, or went back to work.

      Even the biggest Woolworths in the world in downtown Boston [now Marshalls, TJ Max, CVS, etc.,] had a sporting goods section that carried shotguns and hunting rifles well into the 1980s.

      Woolworths was a Five and Ten

      Woolworths was a Five and Ten chain. Filene's and Jordan Marsh were department stores, and in an entirely different class. You bought curtains and your goldfish and parakeets from Woolworths - you dressed your kids and yourself downtown in the department stores.

      Without ever having set foot

      Without ever having set foot in the town, I would have guessed tony exurb with green space and trees, not town with a department store.

      Medway is the next town out from Medfield. In the mid-1970s, Medway had a serious heroin problem. These were once mill towns that lost their mills long ago. Away from Boston and surrounding suburban ring does not mean tony.

      You missed a town

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      Medfield and Medway don't touch. Millis is in the way.

      About the only things Medfield and Medway have in common are being on Rte. 109 and forever getting confused by non-locals for Medford (trust me on this: I spent a year and a half covering Medfield, Millis and Medway at the same time for the Middlesex News)

      Medfield today is what it was back then: A mostly upper-class ruralish enclave (with a smallish industrial zone and a former state hospital up by the Sherborn line). It has a small town center with small town-center type churches, town hall (well, they call it Town House for some reason), stores and, yes, Lord's. The library's a bit bigger and you can get shwarma now, but otherwise, it's pretty much the same as it was when I covered it back in the 1980s.

      Also, there's the Peak House, which was the only English structure in town that didn't get burned down during King Phillip's War.

      The library's a bit bigger

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      The library's a bit bigger and you can get shwarma now

      That must really stink up the library, not to mention the potential stains on the books.

      The only reason I know of these places

      I've biked through and around much of Eastern and Central Massachusetts over the past 12 years or so. Great way to learn about local-level geography. Many areas are accessible by bike-to-train if you don't want to ride through the more urban areas.

      Also a great way to know what to do to get from here to there in a car if you get caught in epic freeway traffic.

      I"m old enough to remember

      I"m old enough to remember that their were folks who lived in suburban towns without cars. One could buy groceries at local markets (in the pre-supermarket, super-store era), buy clothing non-boutique clothes, socks, underwear, trousers, shirts etc. etc., toys, hardware. You could see a local Doctor, Dentist and Optometrist all within walking distance.

      Yet as convenient as these businesses were, they did not enjoy much economy of scale and as newer retail corporations moved into the areas, consumers repeatedly demonstrated that they would almost always opt for cheaper prices over local convenience.

      The current "Main Street" revivals attempt to evoke a nostalgic nod to the past along with touching upon a sense of frustration with corporate lack of service. Dedham's "Dedham Square Circle" (Dedham's Main Street program" lather's it on pretty thick on it's web site,

      Dedham is very often the envy of other towns which have no downtown. Take a walk through the Square and you'll see why.

      Notice the unique boutiques, the variety of eateries, the art deco movie theatre, the coffee shop on the corner where everyone knows your name. See families gathering for ice cream, neighbors chatting at the farmers market, coworkers going out for lunch. Look at the babies in strollers, the seniors on park benches, classmates en route to the library. Watch the merchants greeting their customers, the jurors reporting for duty, the firefighters readying their gear, the postman delivering mail. Spot the town employees arriving for work, the shopkeeper washing his window, the policeman waving to a child. Catch a glimpse of the church steeples, the shiny bronze courthouse dome, the flowers in bloom.

      As one who is skeptical of hyperbolic language, this approach would not make me get in my car and drive to Dedham, Sq. However different things work for different folks.

      It will be interesting to see how local main street efforts go to bring back downtown retail and will the State monies invested gain sufficient return to justify their expenses.

      Town center shopping districts may be able to survive by creating a nice mixture of niche businesses, however the day of local residents being able to meet all of their shopping needs by walking downtown are long gone.

      Cleary and Logan Square in Hyde Park May meet all shoppers needs

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      Cleary and Logan Square in Hyde Park have a variety of stores, restaraunts, etc. that allow one to accomplish alot of shopping in one area - Family Dollar, two cheap junk stores, two quality sit down restaraunts (hopefully a third where Townsends ussed to be), two bars, four or five counter / take out restaraunts, multiple nail salons and barber shops,three banks, a YMCA, a pet store and even a woman's cloeting store....with plenty of empty storefronts for new businesses! There are also parts of Newton with large commercial centers and Roslindale Village.

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      Dedham Square needs one dive bar.

      Before it becomes the perfect town square.

      Kikuyama and Isabellas are close to filling the beer pouring bar rooms that I like, but I think they need one more local pub to make it a true town square.

      As far as retail goes, Dedham

      As far as retail goes, Dedham has an intersection; Norwood has a square. Dedham square never was much of a retail center, and with the addition of the Dedham Mall and the Route 1 strip, the square never had a chance. Norwood square was far enough away from Route 1 to suffer the same fate, although it certainly shrunk from its heyday.

      I guess it was redone within

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      I guess it was redone within the past year. I just hope they don't go with the same stupid "pedestrian friendly" sidewalk bumpouts like they did in Canton that made sure that the center of town is completely filled with cars most of the day.

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      I kinda liked that ol' round concrete thing

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      Not because it was ugly - it was - or because it didn't confuse drivers no end - which side do you go around it? - but because I always pictured some Keystone Kop standing on top of it madly directing traffic. Also, that leaves us with one fewer red-yellow pedestrian crossing signal (the only one I know of that's still left is on West Roxbury Parkway by the library branch in Putterham).

      Fortunately, those in favor of big ugly round things can just go around the corner back towards the parking lot to see the gigantic planters on the sidewalk.

      +1 on the Dive Bar in Dedham

      +1 on the Dive Bar in Dedham Sq.

      The giant planters lasted only a few weeks before disappearing due to a blizzard of laughter/ridicule.

      The infamous traffic light island (concrete round pedestal) has finally been replaced with a post 1930's overhead traffic light.

      Regarding the sidewalk bumpouts like Canton, too late. All of the sidewalks of the too major intersections have been bumped out to provide additional angle parking (local merchants love angle parking for it's entertainment value as well as the extra parking spaces that it provides).

      Oddly like the giant tree pots (placed there because underground wiring didn't allow the traditional planting of old fashioned trees, the expanded sidewalk bumpouts have several waist-high black iron poles that have am amtiquiy look to them, but baffle your humble observer as to what their purpose is.

      I suspect that they are to suggest old horse hitching posts (after all, Dedham is home to "The Society in Dedham for Apprehending Horse Thieves" ) My best guess is that these iron posts are to prevent crazed rush hour drivers who have been sitting in traffic since Wilson Mountain from bypassing the newly narrowed High Street at it's intersection with Washington St. from simply bypassing the whole mess by utilizing the wide sidewalks, sans giant flour pots, as brick-lineed express lanes.

      Inman Square is pretty self-sufficient

      I like to joke I could I live there my whole life without leaving the neighborhood. They have a grocery store, family dollar, hardware store, pharmacy, restaurants, hospital, and when you kick the bucket they even have a place to buy a tombstone.

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      Waltham had an indie department store, too

      Grover Cronin's, until ~1990. It was located where Moody Street meets the river. There was also a Woolworth's further up Moody -- now occupied by a dollar store, but you can still see the Woolworth's logo on the stone entranceway outside the front door.