Village Greens

Not every town in New England has a village green or common. Of those that do, some have nothing more than a little plot of grass bounded on all sides by pavement. In compiling this list, preference was given to those greens that are fronted mostly by pre-1850 houses.

Bar Harbor, ME A nice village green, but surrounded by some less-attractive commercial buildings.

Castine, ME

Vinalhaven, ME Across the road from the library, if I remember correctly.

Wiscasset, ME Wiscasset bills itself as “the prettiest village in Maine.” They may be right.

Brunswick, ME Brunswick has a long green between Maine Street and Park Row. The other side of Maine Street is mostly unattractive commercial development, but Park Row is fronted by large, well-preserved mid-19th-century houses, some of which have nice gardens. The green itself is pleasant enough, with some nice trees, a bandstand, and (in winter) a small skating rink.

Cornish, ME A small triangular green in the middle of the village, fronted by shops on one side and by an inn and houses on the other sides.

Haverhill, NH

Bath, NH

Wentworth, NH  A very quaint, very quiet common, just off Route 25.

Plymouth, NH  The town common is fronted on one side by the state college campus, and on the other by the shops of Main Street.

Center Sandwich, NH  A small green in front of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen shop, in one of the prettiest villages in the state.

Lyme, NH

Washington, NH

Hancock, NH

West Jaffrey, NH A beautiful village green just a couple of miles southeast of Mount Monadnock. It’s gorgeous, in an austere New Hampshirey white-clapboard way.

Craftsbury Common, VT

Woodstock, VT

Norwich, VT

Proctorsville, VT

Brandon, VT

Middlebury, VT

Old Bennington, VT In the churchyard of the nearby Congregational church you can find the graves of Robert Frost and his family. Looming over everything in Old Bennington is the Bennington Monument, commemorating the 1777 Battle of Bennington, which was actually fought not in Vermont but a short distance away in New York.

Williamstown, MA The center of Williamstown is mostly taken up by the campus of Williams College, but it’s quite lovely.

Lee, MA It’s in a commercial district so is fronted by stores rather than houses, but it does have grass and trees, and it’s fronted by a white-steepled Congregational church.

Montague, MA  An interesting spandrel-shaped green.

Deerfield, MA Between the campus of Deerfield Academy and Deerfield village.

Hadley, MA An unusually long village green, extending a full mile from the Connecticut River.

Amherst, MA Abutting the Amherst campus, this is definitely a college-town green.

South Amherst, MA A lovely green off the beaten path.

Belchertown, MA A no-nonsense central-Mass green.

Brimfield, MA

West Brookfield, MA

Brookfield, MA

Royalston, MA The Town Common in Royalston is an out-of-the-way treasure.

Barre, MA Another Central-Massachusetts hill town, with lots and lots of trees. The Common is nice, though.

Leicester, MA

Harvard, MA A charming town center, not really on the way to anywhere.

Grafton, MA

Northbridge, MA

Hopkinton, MA The Boston Marathon begins here. A fairly large green with some nice Greek-Revival houses fronting it.

Townsend, MA A lovely common.

Groton, MA There’s a nice little green in front of the Unitarian Church, across the street from the public library.

Concord, MA Monument Square is nice, and the historic sites of Concord are all nearby.

Lexington, MA The Battle Green, where the American Revolution began.

Waltham, MA Downtown Waltham isn’t the most picturesque place in Massachusetts, but its large, square common is pleasantly leafy.

Ipswich, MA The green in Ipswich is rather small and unfortunately broken up by crisscrossing streets. Very nice houses, though.

Topsfield, MA

Salem, MA The Salem Common, a large green space with some nice old trees, is fronted by a lot of very attractive houses, including some grand 3-story Federals.

Swampscott, MA A relatively new green, but quite attractive–it’s part of Frederick Law Olmstead’s design for the the residential neighborhood at the west end of town.

Lynn, MA A remnant from Lynn’s rural past. Not the nicest village green by a long shot, but pleasant enough in a city of decrepit factories.

Boston, MA The Boston Common dates to the 17th century and abuts the State House, two historic churches, and a row of lovely Federal-period townhouses on Beacon Hill. The Public Garden, immediately adjacent to the Common, dates to the mid-19th century and is beautifully landscaped with trees, shrubs, seasonal flower plantings, and the swan boat pond.

Dedham, MA

Walpole, MA

South Walpole, MA

Liberty Hall Green, South Dennis, MA

Lebanon, CT Lebanon Green is an unusually large village green, with a lot of open space around it.

Old Lyme, CT

Wethersfield, CT  There’s a small green immediately in front of the 18th-century brick church in the middle of town. Half a mile to the south of it is the much larger Broad Street Green, which is pleasant enough, but most of the houses there are late 19th and 20th-century ones.

Litchfield, CT One of Connecticut’s best (and best known), in a quiet village in the hill country of the northwestern part of the state.


About Peter Chipman

I'm a lexicographer, an editor, and a lover of language and literature. Also a proud father of two, an occasional bell-ringer, a thirteenth-generation New England Yankee, a former owner of a one-room schoolhouse, and the current owner of a 220-year-old farmhouse.
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2 Responses to Village Greens

  1. Tom Walsh says:

    Montague, MA has a nice town green as well. It’s not very big, and there’s a busy road next to it, but the buildings are old enough and stately enough to be worth a look.

    • Hey, Tom, thanks for pointing it out! I just paid it a virtual visit, courtesy of Google street view, and it looks charming.

      Have you run into any other noteworthy sites (of any category) in your travels across New England?

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