Wakefield Lower Common
Built - 1885
Wakefield, originally called Linn Village, was settled in the 1640s by 7 families who built their houses near the shores of the "Great Pond" Lake Quannapowitt. Soon after, the new town was renamed Redding and developed into a settlement of farmers who reaped the benefits of their good crops and also of the enormous flocks of wild pigeons, an abundance of fish in the Great Pond and nearby rivers along with grapes, blueberries and blackberries that grew in abundance in the area.
Two hundred years later, now South Reading, doubled its population after the Boston and Maine Railroad came to town in 1845. From that point on, new businesses developed including the shoe business and the ice business taken from frozen blocks harvested from the town's two lakes.
In 1851, Cyrus Wakefield moved to town and established two new industries: The Boston & Maine Foundry Company and the greatly successful Wakefield Rattan Company, which popularized the use of wicker in the United States. This company would later merge with the Heywood Chair Company to form The Heywood-Wakefield Company. A few years later, the wealthy Cyrus Wakefield offered to build the town a new town hall which was accepted and the residents of the town voted to change the name from South Reading to the now Wakefield.
Wakefield flourished in the late 1800s through the 1900s especially after Route 128 was extended through the town brining an increase of high tech industries. In 1994, Wakefield celebrated its 350th anniversary celebration with two events - Midsummer Night and the Homecoming which have become an annual established Town Day celebration.
The town of Wakefield is really blessed with what is the "Grandfather" of all bandstands in New England, and even in America. The structure is not only one of the oldest in the country, but is also the most ornate bandstand which has withstood the test of time being built in 1885. In October of that year, the Wakefield Daily ran an article which stated: "The new Park Music Pavilaion, alias "The Pagoda" is steadily approaching completion. The dome-like top is almost finished, and has been painted the colors of the heart's blood of the indulgent taxpayer. It will doubtless be a very handsome structure when completed and a very worthy ornament to the Park."
Over the years, the bandstand has not only become just an ornament, overlooking Lake Quannapowitt, but a symbol of the town. Its origin reaches back to 1871 when Cyrus Wakefield began a campaign to improve the town named after his family. For the sum of $19,600 land was purchased and established a new park "an extension of the common," in land lying between Church Street and Lake Qwannapowitt. In 1873 Mr. Wakefield died and much of the town's public-spirited vitality vanished with his passing and little was done to improve this new park until 1883 when Cornelius Sweetser, a weathy South Reading native, died and bequeathed the town, that he endeared, $10,000 to be used in furnishing and beautifying the park thus picking up the torch that Mr. Wakefield had left behind. On May 7th of that year, in a 132-4 vote, the town accepted his gift and conditions to use the money for that very purpose.
The next year, 1884, saw the draining and grading of the common area and in 1885, the bandstand was erected at a cost of $2,500. From that point on, many hundreds of concerts and special events have taken place on or near the bandstand.
In 1993, the structure was badly in need of repair due to the hundred years of extensive use and difficult New England winters. The Wakefield Center Neighborhood Association then undertook the task of its restoration, at the same time replacing its modern green paint with a hue closer to the bandstand's original colors.