It was settled in 1635 by people from Roxbury and Watertown and incorporated in 1636 (making it quite old by American standards), and is the county seat of Norfolk County. Its motto (and at one time the name of the town) is "Contentment".
Dedham is home to the Fairbanks House , the oldest surviving timber frame house in the United States. Other Dedham firsts include the first taxpayer-funded public school in the US and the first man-made canal, the Mother Brook, which linked the Charles River to local mills. In 1818, though citizens were still at this time taxed for the support of ministers and other "public teachers of religion", Dedham set an important precedent towards the separation of church and state by selecting a different minister than that chosen by the church, a right of selection that was confirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court. The historic Sacco and Vanzetti trial in the 1920s was held in the Dedham Courthouse. Dedham pottery is a cherished class of antiques, characterized by a distinctive crackle glaze, blue-and-white color scheme, and a frequent motif of rabbits and other animals.
Dedham is located at 42°14'40" North, 71°9'55" West (42.244609, -71.165531)1.
According to a small medallion inset into a granite block at the northeast corner of High Street and Court Street, the elevation at that point is 112.288 feet. The medallion is inscribed "U.S. COAST & GEODETIC SURVEY AND STATE SURVEY STATION NO 61D ELEVATION 112.288 FEET".
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 23,464 people, 8,654 households, and 6,144 families residing in the town. The population density is 866.9/km² (2,244.6/mi²). There are 8,908 housing units at an average density of 329.1/km² (852.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 94.51% White, 1.54% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.87% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.80% from other races, and 1.08% from two or more races. 2.42% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 8,654 households out of which 30.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% are married couples living together, 11.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% are non-families. 23.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.14.
In the town the population is spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $61,699, and the median income for a family is $72,330. Males have a median income of $46,216 versus $35,682 for females. The per capita income for the town is $28,199. 4.6% of the population and 3.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 3.9% of those under the age of 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
- Lockridge, Kenneth A. (1985). A New England Town: The First Hundred Years: Dedham, Massachusetts, 1636-1736 (2nd ed.). W. W. Norton. ISBN 0393954595.
- Dedham's web site is http://www.town.dedham.ma.us/.
- "Taxation for Religion in Early Massachusetts" - Ronald Golini mentions the role of the 1818 "Dedham case"
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