Archive for July, 2008


It’s almost as if I just returned from the nuthouse: what a sight it was to see the street life around Pike/Pine. So what if a man was shot and killed on the street three blocks from where I live in the Central District while I was away. Last February there was a murder in […]

The Nuthouse

This is Medfield State Hospital, located adjacent to the 1960s subdivision in which I grew up. If you stood where I took the photo in this post, turned around and took a short path through a narrow boundary of trees, you would come upon the scene above. When I was a tween my friends and […]

Old vs. New: Extreme Edition

Originally built in 1651 and last enlarged around 1850, Medfield’s Dwight-Derby House is one of the oldest intact houses in the U.S. Built in 2005 for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, this home features a miniature replica of Fenway Park’s “green monster” in the back yard. I guess we’ve gotten better at garages over the past […]

Got Public Realm?

For a town that is so wealthy (median income = $98k, median home price = $525k) the downtown public realm of Medfield is remarkably shabby: Here we are at the primary downtown crossroads. (Pretty much every small town in this region has at least one pizza house, and amazingly, they have withstood the competition of […]

Ben Franklin’s National Bird

Wild turkeys run rampant in Medfield.

Getting Radical in Medfield

Radical = Traditional Neighborhood Development. This new project is the first of its kind in Medfield. The condo homes are on a scale similar to the housing in Seattle’s High Point neighborhood. Single family homes range from 2000 to 3000 sf, and there will also be duplexes (not yet built). The front yards are 12 […]

Main Street

This is the sort of human-scale, pedestrian-oriented streetscape you’d expect to find in an older town like Medfield that was built prior to the age of the car. Unfortunately very little of the downtown has this urban form. Most of it feels more like this: This is one of the two major crossroads in the […]

Hazy Purple

These are the Charles River wetlands along the western border of Medfield. This is the same Charles River that flows through Boston. If not for these wetlands that can soak up massive amount of excess water from the river, Boston would be subject to serious flooding. All that purple looks amazing, but its an invasive […]

Shutter Madness

As you tour around Medfield it would not be unreasonable to conclude that there must some kind of ordinance requiring shutters. I’d estimate that nine out of ten houses have them — no exaggeration — regardless of age. The house in the photo above is probably something like 200 years old, and when it was […]

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulation in Massachusetts

In April 2008 the City of Seattle began requiring new development projects that trigger SEPA to perform a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory, and in May 2008 King County released a draft climate change ordinance that proposes requiring projects to reduce GHG emissions to 15% below “business as usual.” But Massachusetts was there first, and […]

The Green Communities Act

Signed into law July 2, 2008 by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. The bill focuses on energy, promoting efficiency and renewables. Utilities will be required to purchase efficiency improvements that cost less than it does to generate equivalent power. And they will also be required to hit 25% renewable by 2025. No specific greenhouse gas emissions […]

Where The Streets Are Wide And The Minds Are…*

This photo was shot from a cul-de-sac in a 1960s subdivision in Medfield. Think that street is wide enough? For all you streetscape wonks, it measures 38 feet from curb-to-curb, with five foot sidewalks. In comparison, the standard low-density residential street in Seattle is 25 feet curb-to-curb (these are the streets on which it is […]

Seattle Staples

Thai food arrived in Medfield about a decade ago. But I’ve yet to find a good espresso cafe — not even a Starbucks in town.

Packy Run

The anchor business of nearly every small Massachusetts town: the package store, a.k.a. the “packy.” In Massachusetts this is the only place you can buy any kind of alcohol. About 5 years ago the State’s blue laws were relaxed and for the first time packies were allowed to open on Sundays, but only after 12 […]

Two Famous People From Medfield

[ By Stephen Mathewson, from “out of the ‘black_box_series” (2001, work_in_progress) ] 1. Stephen Mathewson (a.k.a. John Robinson): Founding member of Watch The Teeth Kate, and 21st century renaissance man. 2. “Hurricane” Peter McNeeley: First fighter to face Michael Tyson after he was released from prison in 1995; bout lasted 89 seconds.

Medfield Multifamily

Though the built environment of Medfield is dominated by single-family homes on large lots, there are more multifamily units than I would have guessed. The 2006 American Community Survey reports the following for the fraction of housing units that are single-family detached: Medfield: 81% Seattle: 48% Boston: 12% The rate of home ownership follows a […]


[ Medfield Town Hall, built in 1874 ] For 357 years since its incorporation as a town in 1651, Medfield has been governed by the purest form of democracy currently practiced in the United States: open town meeting. Any resident who is registered to vote can can show up at the annual town meeting and […]

It’s All About The Lawn

The people of Medfield respect The Lawn. These are 1/2-acre lots in the photo above, not quite big enough to fall in the “too big to mow, too small to farm” category, but it takes real work to keep these beauties looking so good. And so the signature sound of the suburbs is the gas […]

Medfield, Massachusetts

Greetings from Medfield, Massachusetts, population: 12,000, median household income: $98,000. I seem to recall that when I was in high school I spent a lot of time drinking Budweiser on deserted dirt roads in this town. When I was in college my friend’s brother died of a heroin overdose in a building about a block […]

Follow The Color

What is the relationship between the importance of a building and the brightness and saturation of its colors? One building in this photo provides energy for cars. The other provides housing and food for people. OK, whatever. Perhaps try a grok at this instead: Gas stations have remarkably resplendent color schemes, yet we barely notice […]