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The Town of Franklin is a suburban industrial community on the watershed between the Charles and the Blackstone Rivers, 22 miles southwest of Boston. It is one of the highest towns in Norfolk County. Settlement came late, in 1676, after the ending of King Philip's war. Its early years saw settlers involved in small scale farming and grazing, but the town's abundant water power ensured early industrial development. There were cotton mills, felt makers and boot and shoe manufacturers established in Franklin in the 18th and 19th century, but the dominant industry in the town from 1799 on was the making of straw bonnets, and Franklin became one of the centers of straw bonnet manufacturing. Franklin renamed itself in 1778 to do honor to Benjamin Franklin. Although over 30 communities in the colonies eventually so honored Franklin, the Massachusetts Town of Franklin was the first to do so. Ambassador Franklin in turn showed his appreciation of the tribute by sending the town a library of 116 volumes which formed the nucleus of a public library. Franklin prides itself on the wide spectrum of architectural styles preserved in the community. Visitors can see handsome Greek revival and Italianate buildings, as well as High Victorian Gothic, Second Empire and Queen Ann, among others. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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