Natick was first settled in 1652 by John Eliot, a Puritan missionary born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England who received a commission and funds from England’s Long Parliament to settle the Massachusett Indians on both sides of the Charles River, on land deeded from the settlement at Dedham. They were called Praying Indians – Natick was the first and for a long time served as the center of Eliot’s network of praying towns. While the towns were largely self-governing under Indian leaders, the praying Indians were subject to rules governing conformity to English Puritan culture (in practice Natick, like the other praying towns, evidenced a combination of traditional and English culture and practices). Eliot and Praying Indian translators printed America’s first written Bible in the Algonquian language.
Natick Center, which is also known as Downtown Natick, is located at the intersection of Central Street and Main Street and serves as the civic and cultural hub of the town.
Many public services and public land use are located downtown. Municipal buildings like the Natick Town Hall, Natick Fire Department, Natick Police Department and Morse Institute Library are located here along East Central Street. Also located directly downtown is the Natick Town Common where many town events and community activities are held. Natick Center station, located in the downtown area, is served by the MBTA Commuter Rail Framingham/Worcester Line. In the 1990s new downtown construction of a town hall, fire/police station, and enlargement to the library gave the downtown a fresh new look. New municipal buildings exist alongside several historic buildings and churches, the restored Central Fire House, several banks, restaurants and small businesses.
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