52 Weeks of Fun

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Duxbury Town Hall

Local Attractions

The idyllic town of Duxbury is located on Cape Cod Bay, 35 miles south of Boston on the South Shore. The topography of Duxbury is the result of the last Ice Age. Duxbury’s landscape includes dunes and salt marshes, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, swamps and cranberry bogs, as well as forests, fields, and farms. Enclosing Duxbury Bay is Duxbury Beach, a glacial outwash barrier beach. One access to the beach is by a half-mile-long wooden bridge, reputedly, the longest in the country. Bay Farm, an open meadow on Kingston Bay, is Duxbury-owned and is the terminus of the Bay Circuit Trail.

In 1620, the Colonists arrived in Plymouth, but the Wampanoags inhabited Duxbury as much as 12,000 years ago. They farmed, hunted and fished. There are 33 archeological sites in Duxbury. Trails made by the natives were followed by the Colonists, and today, many remain as routes and streets. The Colonists were required to stay together for seven years. The 1629 land grant gave about one-third of the Colonists land to the north along the coast in an area called Mattakessett, which means “place of many fish” to the indigenous people, Settlers include John Alden, whose house is now a museum, Captain Myles Standish, whose statue sits upon the hill as welcoming to seafarers. The Colonists were part-time farmers until an increase in population enabled them to form their own parish and build their own meetinghouse. It still sits on Chestnut Street, next to the Myles Standish Cemetery. The cemetery is reputed to be the oldest still maintained in the United States. The graves of many settlers, including Standish, Alden, and Pricilla Mullins Alden can be found there.

During the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Alden formed a Minuteman company of 60. George Partridge emerged as a statesman and represented Duxbury at the Second Provincial Congress and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress. The industry of shipbuilding began in the early 1800’s. By the end of that century, 180 vessels were built at some 20 shipyards. The shipbuilding era brought great wealth and Duxbury became the largest and most famous shipbuilding center in the world. But by 1864, the China trade required faster Clipper ships to replace Duxbury’s slower vessels, the Clippers needed a deeper harbor than Duxbury Bay provided. The wealth of Duxbury steadily declined until fishing, farming, and cottage industries became the main means of sustenance. The Civil War of the 1860’s further added to Duxbury’s economic downturn.

Fortunately, Duxbury began to attract summer visitors to such a degree that in 1871 the Boston and Cohasset Railroad was extended to Duxbury. As vacationers began to build their own summer homes, Duxbury’s largest source of income dwindled. As income declined, so did the appearance of Duxbury. In 1833, the Duxbury Rural Society was formed for the purpose of beautifying the town.

Anticipating rapid growth after the construction of Route 3 in the early 1960s, a group of farsighted citizens led the way to the first acre zoning codes in the United States. Much land has been restricted from development and designated as open space, like conservation lands, not only for recreational purposes, but to also protect Duxbury’s only source of drinking water.

Located along the shore of Duxbury Bay and the mouth of the Bluefish River in Duxbury, the Old Shipbuilder's Historic District is dominated by Federal period dwellings built between 1780 and 1840. The district includes more than 200 buildings. The first houses in the area were modest cottages, many of which were built for mariners along the shoreline at the center of the current historic district. Few other communities have retained as extensive or as well-contained an area of finely detailed shipbuilders' or ship captains' houses as is found in Duxbury. The Captain Gamaliel Bradford House, the Captain Gershom Bradford House, the Captain Daniel Bradford House, and the King Caesar House in Duxbury exemplify two-story, wood-frame, Federal-style residences.


A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Duxbury

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