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Dean Park

The park boasts 79 acres of natural surroundings, including sprawling green fields, towering trees, and a picturesque pond, perfect for enjoying nature or taking a peaceful stroll. Sports enthusiasts can make use of the well-maintained baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts. There are also open areas for frisbee, kite flying, and other outdoor games. There are picnic areas equipped with tables and benches, making it a perfect spot for a family outing or a casual gathering with friends. Trails wind through its landscape, providing places to explore on foot or with a bike. 

Since the transfer of the land in 1915, the boundaries of the park have remained the same.  The land was donated to the Town of Shrewsbury by Charles A. Dean in memory of his parents James and Kiziah Stearns Dean. Much of the development has occurred in the ballfields bordering Main Street and in the area of the basketball and tennis courts. Additional parking areas have been added.  At one time, there was a caretaker house in the vicinity of the northern pavilion but that has been torn down.  In 2023, the playground was expanded, and funds were attained to improve the basketball courts.  Early history of the park includes the use of the football fields for high school contests and pee-wee football.

Shrewsbury Resident, Paul Brueggemann

The neighborhood bordering the park has been known as Deanwood since the early 1950s.  It includes Carlton Street, East Avenue, Woodway Drive and Brookway Drive. I spent the first 26 years of my life in the last house on Brookway Drive. The park was our playground. As kids we played on the fields and courts – baseball, basketball, football and tennis.  My early memories of the park include a splash pad close to the tennis courts.  At the time, there was only one basketball court and two tennis courts. The splash pad was lost when the tennis courts were expanded. I remember many of the neighborhood golfers practicing on the fields in the park.

Every fourth of July, there were fireworks at Dean Park Pond that I could see from my house. Every year a carnival came to town and would set up in the field on the corner of Main and School Streets next to Ray Stone Post.  And I remember the Memorial Day celebrations, there was a memorial grove at the flagpole near the southern entrance of the park. 

In 1978, radio station WAAF coordinated a softball game and a concert, headlining the Cars, who had just released their first album, but there were concerns that oversized crowds would overwhelm the park and the concert was cancelled. [1]

Cars Concert TIX.jpeg

Land Donation

At a special town meeting on August 7, 1915, Article 3 was taken up “To see if the town will take any action regarding the offer of Charles A. Dean (now of Weston) to cause to be conveyed to the inhabitants of the Town of Shrewsbury certain interest and land for a park, playground and other purposes, or do or act anything relative thereto.  Motion by H. A. Maynard that the town accept the offer of Mr. Charles A. Dean, which the motion was promptly seconded.” [2]  In summary, this vote set in motion the transfer of 79 acres with the following four stipulations [3]:

Fence Field.JPG
  • That the land forever be used as a park,

  • That no buildings or structures other than the usual park buildings or playground buildings or public buildings devoted to educational, musical or art purposes,

  • That the premise be maintained in good condition;

  • That the town of Shrewsbury should elect a board of trustees and commissioners to manage the property.

In 1926, it was discovered by town legal counsel that the vote in 1915 did not properly transfer the deed of the park to the town and created a park property tangle.  Per a court agreement, on October 22, 1930, the town became the legal owner of the land. [4]

Charles Augustus Dean 

Charles was born in the town of Shrewsbury on June 15, 1844 to James and Kaziah Stearns (Hyde) Dean. [5]  He was born on the family farm located on Boylston Street where his father was a shoemaker and farmer. [6]  Charles remained in Shrewsbury until the age of 16 when he moved to Woodstock, Vermont .  At the age of 17, he enlisted into the Army as a private with Company H, 8th Infantry on January 6, 1862. [7]  He remained enlisted for three years and fought in major Civil War battles including the Battle of the Wilderness, Port Hudson and Vicksburg. [8]   

After he mustered out of the war, he returned to Shrewsbury for a brief time and then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and Rochester, NY as he started his career as a salesman in the paper business .


In 1875, he married Minnie Palmer in Woodstock, CT and moved to Boston to become a manager and ultimately president at the paper company Hollingsworth and Whitney. He lived in Weston, Massachusetts while summering at Moosehead Lake in Maine and wintering in Captiva, Florida.

Charles Dean.png

Charles’ philanthropy began as president at Hollingsworth and Whitney where he financed a few churches in Florida and a YMCA and hospital in Maine. [9] His largest benefaction to his hometown was the donation of the park land which he started purchasing land around 1913. [10] Charles died on March 30, 1921 while vacationing on his yacht “Aroostook” in Florida. [11]

Content was researched and written by Paul Brueggemann.

(1) The Cars concert ticket dated 23 July 1978, privately held by John DePaoli, Wilbraham Massachusetts, 2023.
(2)(3) Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Annual Reports, vol. 1909-18, No. 188 Annual Reports of the Town Officers of the Town of Shrewsbury, For the Financial year Ending December 31, 1915, p.19.
(4) “Deed Filing Ends Mixup Over Land”, (Worcester) Evening Gazette, 22 October 1930, p. 6, col. 4.
(5) Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, in the Town of Shrewsbury, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, p. 6, Charles Augustus Dean, 15 June 1844.
(6)(8)(10) “Charles A. Dean Dies in Florida”, (Worcester) Evening Gazette, 01 April 1921, p. 17, col. 4.
(7) Roster of Vermont Volunteers During the War of the Rebellion 1861-66; GAR Post 113, Boston, MA History; GAR Dept. of Massachusetts 1866-1947 (Sargent).
(9)(11) Bob Cowan, ”Remembering Our Early Benefactors – Part Two”, The Moosehead Historical Society and Museums, 19 April 2019, ( : accessed 03 June 2023)


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