Needham Massachusetts, 1890
Needham lies in the northern part of Norfolk County, its boundaries marked on three sides (except a mile or two at the southeast) by the circuitous lane of Charles River. Newton and the West Roxbury district of Boston lie on the east, Dedham and Dover on the south, the latter also on the west, and Wellesley on the northwest and north. The assessed area is 7,692 acres including 3,046 acres of woodland.
Bird's Hill in the southeast corner and Ridge Hill in the western part are charming elevations, commanding extensive prospects of well-cultivated farms and prosperous villages. Much attention is bestowed on market gardening. The extensive meadows on Charles River produce valuable crops of hay and cranberries. The apple and pear orchards are numerous, and berries are found in large variety.
The value of the aggregate product of the 249 farms in 188 was $132,275. Many of these farms are small, and are simply the residences of people principally engaged in other business. Only 81 persons are reported as farmers. The largest manufactory is the hosiery mill, employing 243 persons, and in 1885 producing goods to the value of $276,924. Other manufactures are machinery, scientific appliances, carriages, leather, and food preparations. The total number of establishments was 35, and their aggregate product had the value of $377,247. The population was 2,586, of which 603 were legal voters. The valuation in 1888 was $2,081,082; and the rate of taxation was $13 on $1000. There were 605 taxed dwelling-houses.
The post-offices are Needham (village), Highlandville and Charles River Village: and these are also the railroad stations. The other villages are Greendale and Needham Upper Falls. The Woonsocket Division of the New York and New England Railroad passes through the midst of the town. The schools consist of the grades of sub-primary, primary, intermediate, grammar and high; and are provided with 6 buildings, valued at nearly $60,000. The Needham Library Association has some 2,000 volumes. The "Needham Chronicle "is the favorite weekly of the town. There are here one church each of the Baptists, Methodists, Unitarians and the Congregationalists, the latter having an edifice of beautiful design, recently erected.
This town, originally a part of Dedham, was incorporated November 5, 1711; having its name, probably, from the parish of Needham in Norfolk County, England. On April 6, 1881, the northern part of Needham was set off to form the town of Wellesley.
pp. 486-487 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890