Hanover’s Four Corners

A convenient stop for stagecoaches and train travelers, this rural crossroads was once a bustling village center.

By John Galluzzo

A solid crossing of main roads was all it took to create a village in early America. Hanover had “the Corners,” North Hanover, West Hanover, South Hanover and the Center, to name a few. Each area had its undeniable identity and its own local stories. At the intersection of Broadway and Washington Street was a business district known as the Four Corners.


Any village worth visiting had everything a person could need within walking distance, from religion to education to basic necessities. This building, which began as the Hanover Academy in 1808 at Hanover Center, was moved across town in 1822 and became, among other things, a post office and a drug store. Today the building houses an antiques store.


Situated on the stagecoach route from Boston to Plymouth, the Four Corners was home to two hotels. The Josselyn House stood about where Lorraine’s Cake and Candy Supply stands today and the Howard House (also known as the Hanover House or Four Corners Inn, shown here) stood where there is now a parking lot across the street. When the Hanover Branch Railroad opened a station about a block away in 1870, the Howard House, which had been in operation since about 1797, became that much more important.


It was the advent of the automobile that put an end to the Howard House, which was torn down in 1925. The roadway needed to be widened and the hotel had to go. Some storefronts were unaffected and even benefitted from the change. Today, this edifice is easily identifiable as the Four Corners’ Marylou’s News.


Known as the “Long House,” the home at 240 Washington Street typified Yankee frugality in the wake of the embargoes of the early 1800s that killed the local shipbuilding industry. Thomas Turner, who took possession of the central portion of this house in 1818, added the wings on either side. Due to the incongruity with the lines of the old Cape portion, this created one of the first split-level homes in America, according to local antiquarian Wallace Nutting.


Easy access to the train made for easy transport of goods into the city of Boston. Florists like George Sylvester operated both retail shops and commercial-scale greenhouses at Four Corners, but when the train went away, so did the business. And when Route 53 was formalized in the 1960s, Hanover’s Four Corners fell just far enough off the beaten path to become an afterthought, a sleepy crossroads with a few standing reminders of what was once one of the busiest villages on the South Shore.

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