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The Town of North Reading is an outlying suburban town in Middlesex County, lying entirely within the watershed of the Ipswich River. It was created an independent town in 1853 and retains a number of simple and well-preserved mid-18th century center-chimney vernacular houses with about three houses dating back to 1730. Original grants of large farmsteads along the river during the mid-17th century brought six families to the settlement before 1680. The economy of the town in the 17th and 18th century was based on subsistence farming with limited hop production. There was a sawmill on Lob's Pond by 1694 and grist and saw mills at the village center by 1794. Some small scale boot and shoe making was underway by 1820, and by 1850 small sheds or shops to make shoes were attached to almost every house in town. These shops produced cheap footwear that was sold south to clothe slaves, and the Civil War destroyed the town's industry. The principal products of the town in the early 20th century were milk, apples and fruits. The town center retains a Federal style meeting house and affluent Federal village with a well-preserved district of period houses, and townspeople are very proud of the fact that their town center retains its complete historic fabric. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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