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DeSorgher: Baxter Park – Television Spa to Noon Hill Grill

Town historian Richard DeSorgher details the history of Baxter Park at the corner of Routes 109 and 27 in Medfield.

The Baxter Park property on the southeast corner of Routes 109 and 27 was first owned by John Bullard.

Bullard came to Medfield from Dedham in the fall of 1651 and was given a house lot where the current is located. His lot ran south covering the land that is now Baxter Park. In 1696, Bullard’s son sold the property to Rev. Joseph Baxter, the town’s second minister. The property remained in the Baxter family for the next 220 years, when in 1916 the current park property was donated to the town of Medfield in honor of the Baxter family.

In 1924, following World War I, the park was completed in a design thought best suited to a soldiers’ memorial. The current WWI Memorial / flagpole was then added. By 1924, evergreens were planted along the southern border creating an attractive background for the World War I Memorial that was placed there. The flagpole that is currently in the center of the park is actually part of that Memorial.

Close examination of the base of the flagpole shows an inscription, which reads “In abiding memory of those from Medfield who served in the Great War 1917-1918.” Over the next seventy years the park saw little additional improvements or usage until 1994.

It was then that World War II veteran John Mezzanotte requested that  the Committee to Study Memorials make a permanent memorial to Medfield’s World War II veterans. The Committee accepted the request and developed a plan to honor Medfield veterans of all wars.

The current memorial facing the intersection of Routes 109 and 27 honors those of the Revolutionary, Mexican-American, Civil War, Spanish-American, WWI, and WWII and was dedicated in 1996. Korean War and Vietnam Memorials were next added around the WWI Flagpole and space was left for a Persian Gulf as well as an Afghanistan and Iraq Memorial, to be built at a future date. The Committee made the decision to have the names of all Medfield veterans placed on the memorials as a historic record as well as a memorial to our town and our veterans.

Memorial bricks were added to make up the brick walkways throughout the park. The sidewalk around the park was also rebuilt of brick and memorial benches and Colonial lamp poles were installed. Today, the park is used for events ranging from the Christmas Tree lighting, political rallies, picnics, to the Memorial Day ceremonies. A walk through the park is also a solemn tribute to our veterans, a lesson of history on the town of Medfield, and a pleasant place to just rest and relax.

The current building was first built in 1944.There had been no other structure on the lot, dating back to the founding of the town. Alfred Colatonio first built the building as a café. It was called the Television Spa. It was a family-run business and one of the first television sets in Medfield was put in the front window, where people would stop by and watch it. In the back section of the building, Mr. Colatonio, who immigrated to America from Italy, also sold bicycles, plants and shrubs. He also repaired lawnmowers and sold cement bricks, which he produced from a machine of his own design.

The building over the years housed a variety of business, including the Medfield Coffee Shop, the original Vet Package Store (now ), Dot’s Kitchen, Ned’s Coffee Shop, Video World, Horse’n habit, a basket shop called Ooh Basket, as well as several restaurants including Boca. 

In 1985, local owners and builders Cathy and Gerry Lake decided to make major renovations to the then somewhat dilapidated building. Their plans called for the remolded building to resemble an old railroad depot, similar to the one which stood across the tracks on Park Street. The “new” building added substantial parking spaces and became home to three local businesses. Today, the entire complex is occupied by Noon Hill Grill.

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