Westwood History


History of the Historical Society

The Westwood Historical Society, Inc. was established in 1965 by a small group of founders becoming an active organization serving the community. With special attention to the unique history of Westwood, the Society is an organization which promotes historical work, research, and education. The Society encourages greater awareness of the importance of the past and its impact on the present.

The restored 1845 Greek Revival style Fisher School is the headquarters of the Society and used for meetings, exhibits, and other historical and cultural activities. The lower level houses the Society’s treasured collection of items pertaining to Westwood’s history where they are available for research and carefully preserved for future generations. Programs are open to the public and the building is handicap accessible. Meetings of the Historical Society are held the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Most meetings are held at the restored Fisher School, 830 High Street, Westwood, Massachusetts beginning at 7:30PM and followed by refreshments.

In 1845, a new one-room schoolhouse was built in District 9 of Dedham to replace an older schoolhouse nearby. Called simply “The District 9 School,” it was located near the corner of Milk Street facing Clapboardtree Street not far from where the old Engine House #2 still stands today.

In 1867, all Dedham schools were given names instead of numbers. The District 9 School was renamed in honor of Ebenezer Fisher, a prosperous West Dedham farmer and legislator who lived nearby on Gay Street. Mr. Fisher had served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He died in 1847 at the age of 96 and is buried in the Westwood Cemetery. In his will he left $600 for the benefit of the District 9 School.

When West Dedham separated from Dedham in 1897, three schools became the property of the new town of Westwood: Colburn, Wentworth (now the Islington Branch Library) and Fisher. As more students chose to attend the newer and larger Colburn School, the enrollment at the Fisher School dropped to 8 pupils, and in 1905 the Fisher School was closed. The schoolhouse was purchased by farmer William Colburn on whose property it stood, moved about 200 feet back from Clapboardtree Street and used for the storage of hay.

The Fisher School was donated to the Westwood Historical Society by its owner, Roger Pierce in 1994. It is the only remaining one-room schoolhouse in the area and is unusual because so many of its original classroom features are still there – the plaster blackboards, the chalk trays, paneling, plank flooring, and even some of the coat hooks. In 1995 the Historical Society moved the building to town property on High Street next to Thurston Middle School. The schoolhouse has been carefully restored and painted inside and out with its original 1845 colors. A large sample of the 1845 wallpaper, discovered behind a wooden air vent which was installed later, has been reproduced and hung on the walls. A new addition at the rear is handicapped accessible, with two bathrooms, kitchenette and storage area. A concession was made to modern comforts by adding heat, water, and electricity. The lower level provides space for the Society’s collection of items relating to the history of Westwood

The restored schoolhouse is now headquarters of the Historical Society and provides a “living history” setting for research, community activities, school classes and changing exhibits.

The Westwood Historical Society is a charitable, educational institution, organized under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is completely supported through membership and private donations. The mission of the Society is to preserve Westwood’s unique history, educate the community about it, and promote an understanding of its impact on the future. The Society collects, maintains and preserves documents and artifacts related to the town; serves as a resource for research; and advocates for historical preservation. It supports the study of history by conducting school programs and by educating the community through public programs and exhibits.