In 1793, Governor John Hancock ordered the establishment of a new county. Carved from the existing county of Suffolk, Norfolk County had a rocky beginning, with cities named to the new county petitioning to return to Suffolk. Dorchester and Roxbury were successful and were returned to Suffolk County.
The county seat of Norfolk County is Dedham, a city incorporated in 1636. This historic area contains the oldest wood-frame house in the nation, the Fairbanks House, which was built in 1637. Today, it is a historic house museum. The Dedham Village Historic District includes the Norfolk County Courthouse and the Ames Schoolhouse.
Other communities in Norfolk County include Braintree, established 1640; Medfield, established 1651; Milton, established 1662; Weymouth, established 1635; and Wrentham, established 1673. With so many historical communities, the list of historic sites in Norfolk County is extensive – the county has 340 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, ranging from the simple and unassuming, such as the Fairbanks House, to the elaborate and imposing, such as the Wellesley Town Hall.
The largest city in Norfolk County is Quincy, which was settled in 1625 and incorporated in 1792. It is named for Colonel John Quincy, a soldier, politician, and grandfather to John Quincy Adams. Boston is just north of Quincy. Quincy Bay contains several beaches, including the largest, Wollaston Beach.
Other important sites in Norfolk County include Fredrick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, a beautiful seven-acre park situated around the home of Olmsted, a landscape designer who help design several major US parks, including New York’s famous Central Park. The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site is located in Brookline. Now a museum, the home is the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy. Adams National Historical Park, located in Quincy, features the home of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The park contains 11 buildings, some dating back to the early 1700s.