Two Old Buildings Get New Business

Though two new businesses, Wakefield Un-Common and ZuZu Cafe, have opened at 306 and 316 Main Streets, the buildings, built between 1760 and 1800, are anything but new.

Both buildings, 306 Main Street, where Wakefield Un-Common is located, and 316 Main Street, where is located, are on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Wakefield Common National Historic District.  

The original use of 306 Main Street was as a shoe factory.

Benjamin Brown Wiley was a descendant of one of the town's first settlers.  His primary occupation was as a shoe manufacturer; he had his shoe factory in 306 Main Street, built between 1800 – 1810. 

In 1822, he built the house at 316 Main St. on the former site of the Town Pound, built in 1761.  Some of the house's granite foundation blocks actually came from the Pound.  The house was unusual for the town of South Reading (the original name for the Town of Wakefield).  Very few brick houses were being built; the brick for this house was manufactured in Danvers at the Tapleyville Kiln. 

Many local people in the area were shoe manufacturers, like Wiley.  And, like many other local people, he had a variety of other means of income.  He rented rooms on the third floor of his brick house to students at the South Reading Academy, and opened a bookstore for Academy students in the shoe manufactory at 306 Main Street.  He also kept stables for renting horses, sold insurance and served as Justice of the Peace and Selectmen.

In 1850, he sold the brick house to his son Ebenezer and altered 306 Main St. so he could live in it (as well as keeping the bookstore and doing some shoe manufacturing in it).   He died in 1877.

Both buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Wakefield Common National Historic District.   


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