Monday, April 4, 2011

In My Footsteps: Trip 110: Foxborough, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 110:  Foxborough, Massachusetts
February 17, 2011

            When I say the name Foxborough, or Foxboro, most people get an image of the NFL’s New England Patriots.  Why not?  They have been one of the most successful franchises in all of sports over the past decade.  Still, despite that being what most outsiders know of when they hear the name Foxborough there is a lot more to see in this small town.  That does not mean I am not going to gush over my awesome time at Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place, it just means that I am going to tell you about more than just that.
Memorial Hall
            One place that is really cool is the Memorial Hall on South Street.  It is a Civil War memorial but unlike the normal ones that I have seen on the grounds of many town halls.  This one actually looks like a mausoleum and there is the small Centre Burial Ground next to it as well.  The building was erected in 1868 and there is another building based on it situated in Aurora, Illinois.  I was here near sunset so the brown and rust colors of the stones of the building were really accentuated by the orange glow of the sun.  There was a good amount of snow on the ground which made checking out the collection of gravestones a little tough but the overall experience was really neat.
            The Memorial Hall sits directly across the street from the Foxborough town green so of course I took my time to walk around there.  I love the town greens that are a bit circular in design where the cars go round and the buildings create a sort of outline encasing the green.  Foxborough’s green was like that, coupled with the slowly setting sun it was a nice walk.  There are a few memorials along the way and there is also a sign showing the ‘proper’ way to spell Foxborough, even though it is seen both ways.
Paine School(right), Reservoir at Powder House Hill(left).
            An intriguing spot I caught out of the corner of my eye ended up being a good sidetrack.  There were two buildings in the back of a parking lot off of South Street behind the town hall.  The first building is the recently restored Paine School which is all white with two red doors.  It was originally built 1790 and has been carefully brought back to its former glory thanks to tireless work of local businesses and volunteers.
A view from Foxborough's town green.
            Right behind the Paine School is a different looking stone structure on a hill.  It is in need of some repair but was neat to check out.  The snowpack made walking up the stairs a bit of a chore but I made it.  The building in question is called the Reservoir at Powder House Hill.  The stubby granite building is one of the most unique structures I have seen thus far.  It was built in 1858 by the Union Straw Works but the hill originally did house a powder house.  This was when the town decided to stop storing their gun powder in the garret at the Meeting House on Foxborough Common.  At one time there was a windmill which drew power to the odd-shaped granite building that was subsequently sent via gravity to a plant on Wall Street.  There were plans in the early 20th century to try to use the Reservoir as a museum but those were not possible and now the building sits stoically behind the Paine School.  I am very glad that I happened to spot it out of the corner of my eye as I passed the Town Hall.
             I did my part to showcase the other places Foxborough has to offer but I would not end the article without mentioning my amazing time at Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place.  I had not been to Patriot Place since its opening in 2007 but found its 1.3 million square feet to be quite a sight.  It is an outdoor shopping center complete with streets to walk between stores which is something I had never experienced before. 
            Having been a Patriots fan since I was a kid, including going to many games during their terrible period of the late-1980’s to early-1990’s, just being around the stadium was awesome.  I had a memorable experience getting to have lunch in the shadow of the stadium since football season was over.  I got to enjoy Five Guys burgers and fries for the first time and it blew me away.  I highly recommend choosing to eat there if you haven’t.  It was an hour drive for me to get to Foxborough and that was not too far for me to consider going back up there just to eat at Five Guys again.
The field at Gillette Stadium.
            After eating I got out and took a walk around the stadium area getting to see the immense CBS Scene and the Hall at Patriot Place.  What the Kraft family, the team’s owner, has done is make an area usually only populated from late-August to January a destination year-round.  I even got some amazing shots of the field from a nearby iron gate.  I did my due diligence and asked a guard if I could go out onto the field for a few shots.  He actually thought about it for a moment but the thought of getting in trouble stopped him.  I don’t blame him.
            All in all it was a great time in Foxborough, I will not lie that Gillette was the highlight for me but it was not the only bright spot.  The walk on the town green and finding the Reservoir at Powder House Hill were both amazing in their own right.  I know most visitors will spend the vast majority of their time at Gillette but I do recommend finding a few of the other great places to make your time in Foxborough complete.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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DirectionsGillette Stadium/Patriot Place:  From I-495 take exit 14A for Rt. 1 N.  Follow 4.5 miles, take exit for Rt. 1 S.  The stadium and Patriot Place cannot be missed. 
            Paine School/Reservoir at Powder House Hill:  From I-495 take exit 13A merging onto I-95 N.  Take exit 7B merging onto Rt. 140 N., continue onto Central St.  Follow .6 mi. turn left at Liberty St., take 1st right to stay on Liberty, take 1st left onto South St.  Take 1st left just after the town hall to find both places.   
            Memorial Hall: From I-495 take exit 13A merging onto I-95 N.  Take exit 7B merging onto Rt. 140 N., continue onto Central St.  Follow .6 mi. turn left at Liberty St., take 1st right to stay on Liberty, take 1st right onto South St.  Memorial Hall is on right just before town green.

            Foxborough Official Town Page

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