Sunday, August 26, 2018

Café Crawl – Downtown Framingham, MA


Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Café Tour Plus History & Architecture On The Side




Got up early to go on a guided tour of cafés in downtown Framingham, sponsored by Downtown Framingham, Inc., with Courtney Thraen serving as our friendly and knowledgeable guide.

 



The tour started at the Amazing Things Art Center on Hollis Street, as Courtney described the history of the building, which originally served as the fire house.  Framingham began its boom in 1883 with the arrival of the train passing directly through town, followed shortly thereafter by the Framingham Water Company and construction of a public sewer system to deal with the growing population.

 


Stop 1: Tesoro Super Market

Here we sampled some of the finest French bread, with its crisp, delicate crust, and soft interior. Perfect! We perused the aisles and found a wonderful selection of everything one could want or need.

 

Along the way, we saw the apartment buildings and Odd Fellows Hall built in the Elmwood area. 


 
 
Stop 2: Neca’s Bakery
 
Here we feasted on samples of fried plantain, and a variety of little cookies. Yummo!


 
We moved along to the intersection of Routes 126 and 135, plus the railroad tracks, making this a major crossroads of the time. The old train depot is a fine example of classic William Hobson Richardson architectural design, contrasting the natural stones from the region, with the auburn red arkose sandstone (quarried from Longmeadow in the Connecticut River Valley) against the lighter granite. Another great example in Boston is Trinity Church at Copley Square. (They offer tours, too!)


 





 
Looking east down Waverly Street (Route 135), I caught a picturesque pic of buildings, with bicyclists passing by.


 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We headed west on Waverly to our next stop.

 

Stop 3: Miranda Bakery

Inside, we found a bustling café, shelves and cases stocked with fresh breads and Brazilian pastries. The coconut cake was heavenly, it was so light!



Next, we headed back to the main intersection, crossed the railroad tracks, and went up Concord Street.

 
 

We learned that there was at one time something called the South Framingham Doughnut. It was huge, cheap, and delicious. What’s not to love? This is an idea that is just waiting for a comeback!

If it ever comes back, I had better go back down Waverly Street to visit my friends at Summit Fitness!

Along Concord Street, we saw the Common, and a variety of architectural styles all from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, such as the bank building (1920’s art deco) and Hemenway building (neo-classical revitalism).








 
 


 
 





 
 



Stop 4: Padaria Brasil Bakery

This is the longest running continuously operated Brazilian bakery in the US, and still going strong. They provided a variety of breads to sample. “The best bread I’ve ever had,” I heard one person say.


  
Our next stop was just a few doors down.

 
Stop 5: Sofá Café

This was a modern space, with fireplace and lounge chairs. More samples, plus some robust iced coffee. Just in time, pretty thirsty!


 
 

Post-Script

 
As many times as I have driven through downtown Framingham, I’m not sure I fully appreciated all the history. Like many downtowns, their great years of ‘urbanization’ were in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and with the rise of shopping malls, such as Shopper’s World in 1951, these downtowns became ghost towns. This is not specific to Framingham, it happened everywhere across America. Examples abound.

Now these under-appreciated vestiges of the past are being dusted off and revitalized, and recognized for their unique place in history, and going through a resurgence. I hear the same is going on farther down the coast, such as in the little shoreside town of Asbury Park, NJ.

Even though this was a walking tour, I don’t think the calories expended made up for the calories taken in! No regrets, but I will need to put in a little extra muscle to work off all those samples now, and I know just where to go:

Summit Fitness Framingham. Located in the KCR building on Waverly Street, a former mill, the space is no longer milling lumber, but instead devoted to getting attendees back in shape, trim and fit! I hear there is a great boot camp (“Bubba’s Boot Camp”) on Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM.







Check it out! We could all be a bit fitter, and we’ll all need it if the mythical South Framingham Doughnut ever makes a comeback!
 

Mark Your Calendar:

·       August 29: Jahriffe and the JAH-N-I Roots Movement play at the Milky Way Lounge in Jamaica Way, MA, at 6 PM. Rasta on! Also playing September 8th in Laconia and September 15th in Portland, ME.

·       September 21: Anjimile at Aeronaut, Allston, MA. http://www.zone3westernave.com/aeronaut/

·     September 23: Manufacturing Tour, Downtown Framingham, MA.
    https://downtownframinghaminc.org/manufacturingtour
 
·     October 13: Oktoberfest, Downtown Framingham, MA.
 
·      HUBweek 2018: October 8-14. https://2018.hubweek.org/

© 2018 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS

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