Growing Plainville still dedicated to its young people
By Teri Borseti, Globe Correspondent, 2/26/2000
Located on the northeast border of Rhode Island, Plainville has Routes 1, 1A, 106 and 152 run through it, and the town is just a short drive to Route 95 and Interstate 495, making it convenient for commuters.
Once a part of Wrentham, Plainville got its name largely from its terrain, composed of sweeping plains. Though the town wasn't incorporated until 1905, shortly after the Civil War the area became well known as a center for both costume and semiprecious jewelry.
Town historian, Barbara Fluck, said the Whiting and Davis Jewelry Company settled in town in the late 1880s and remained there until the mid-1990s. Its metal mesh evening bags, which were popular in the mid-1900s, are collector's items today.
Fluck, who has lived in town most of her life, as did her parents, remembers growing up in and around 1939, when there were just 1,200 people in town.
There isn't much to the Town Center these days. Falks Market, which served as a general store from 1870 until just a few years ago, has been boarded up. However, real estate broker/owner, William Galvin of Galvin Realty in Wrentham said that an enterprising businessman recently purchased two blocks downtown, and he plans to restore the buildings to their original 1800s look.
"The center needs some restoration but I think that even with that, it will never be the thriving center common to some of the surrounding towns. People tend to head over to where routes 152 and 106 meet; there are a few strip malls there," said Galvin. Fluck said the center lacks sufficient parking to support thriving retail businesses.
Galvin, who has been selling real estate in Plainville and surrounding towns for 30 years, said Plainville is just beginning to experience spillover from residential development in abutting towns.
"It used to be unheard of to find houses at the prices they're selling for now. I currently have several new construction listings in the Forest Glen section of town near the State Forest. There's a four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath Cape with a bonus room and a two-car garage on 3/4 an acre of land for $349,000. It's a nice house with a very unusual floor design," said Galvin.
He also has a listing for a 38-foot, four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath Colonial for $349,900 and a New England Cape with 2 1/2 baths and a first-floor master bedroom on the Wrentham line listed at $359,900.
One of the largest developments in town is Maple Hill, consisting of more than 100 new houses, most of which are Colonials listed for between $249,000 and $269,000.
About a dozen horse farms still exist in one section of Plainville. This highly desirable part of town offers country charm, but Galvin said he has no listings available there at the moment.
One of the nice things that hasn't changed over the years is the town's dedication to its youth, Fluck said. During the 1920s a town park was established where huge, two-day Fourth of July celebrations were held. In 1927, a group of residents hand-built a public swimming pool for use during the summer months. Today, the recreation department still offers an active summer program.
Two of local residents' recent concerns are the state's authorization of the Willow Trace affordable housing development, currently under construction. It will consist of five buildings, including 80 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
Fire Chief and Planning Board member Edwin Harrop said he is concerned about the impact on the town's schools. "We just put an addition on one of the elementary schools and are now talking about doing the same to the other one, but if we get 100 new students it really won't help much," he said.
The other issue in town is the recently completed Plainridge Race Track. While some, like Harrop, feel that the track will bring revenue into the town, others, like Fluck, feel the town was better without it.
"They tried to put a flat race track in town 40 years ago and we fought to have it stopped. Now we have a track, anyway," Fluck said.
This story ran on page E1 of the Boston Globe on 2/26/2000.
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