We’ve got a two-for-one special today, thanks to the Needham History Center and Museum. Once slated for demolition, both of these historic buildings were rescued, then moved to their current location to host the museum.
Matthias Mills House (1834)
The Matthias Mills House was built in 1834 by descendants of the Mills family, which settled here in the 1600s. In 1711, four Mills men signed a petition to separate Needham from the town next door, Dedham. The Mills family also sent 12 men to fight at the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Five Needham men were killed that day, including Elisha Mills and Amos Mills.
Matthias Mills was one of the four children of Lt. Fisher Mills, building his house on Central Ave., at the time of his marriage to Peady Hemenway of Framingham. Fisher Mills and his four sons built houses within a half-mile of a well-traveled intersection, and Mattias’ house faced in direction that allowed him to look out toward his family member’s homes.
The family owned a pack of hounds known for incessant barking and howling, earning the intersection the nickname of “Dog’s Corner.”
With his brother, John, Matthias built a workshop out back where he made glue, which was a valued item at the time. The brothers made bank from this venture.
Matthias was also a member of Needham’s militia company (the Norfolk Rifle Rangers) and a founding member of the Evangelical Congregational Church.
The Upper Falls Schoolhouse (1842)
Also known as the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” the Upper Falls Schoolhouse was built in 1842, serving children in its district until it became too small and a new school was built in 1869.
After being sold at public auction in 1870, the schoolhouse became a residence. It remained a house on that site until 2000, when the property was sold to developer. To save the building, a citizen committee called Save Our Schoolhouse raised the funds to have it moved offsite.
It is the only surviving example in Needham of a one-room schoolhouse.
The Mills House and Upper Falls Schoolhouse were moved to their current location, and were joined to become the headquarters for the Needham History Center and Museum in 2006.