StilesHart_MAPLOCATION: Off Broad Street, Route 18, Bridgewater, MA

AREA: 75 Acres

PURCHASED: Funded by Self-Help Grant Fund, 1999

DIRECTIONS: Route 24 to Exit 16A. East on Route 106 (2.2 miles). Slight right onto Route 28 South (2.7 miles). Turn left onto Broad Street (Route 18), continue 0.5 miles, trail head is on right immediately after the Town River.

PARKING: There is no dedicated parking area for this site. With permission from management, there is potential parking in the shopping center off Broad Street. A new trail head and parking area is planned for Town River Landing in the next few years.

This site was an agricultural fairground with a grand exhibition hall from 1820 – 1875. In 1895, a local teacher, William Basset, Sr., purchased the land and founded the Bridgewater Brick Company. The company mined clay and produced bricks on the site. In 1913, Stiles & Hart Brick Company purchased the operation. Due to damage to the buildings in the hurricane of 1938, brick production ceased, but clay mining continued until after World War II. Today, you can still find mounds of defective bricks up to eight feet in height; evidence of this site’s industrial past.

Nature has been reclaiming the clay pits for over 50 years. Pioneer trees such as aspen and cherry are being replaced by oak and maple. Skunk cabbage is the predominant wetland plant in the shaded interior wetlands. There are small areas of cattails in the river marsh at the eastern end of the property and there are large areas of phragmites, an exotic invasive plant, along some areas of the Town River.

Dense vegetation provides cover for deer, fox, and other small mammals. Water creates swamps, vernal pools, ponds, and a small brook. The Town River borders the property to the south and east; due to its meandering nature, the river border is over 7,000 feet long.