by Fred Wallace, Town of Framingham Historian
Starting in 1945, countless G.I.s returned home from the war, eager to start living the dream they had fought for – a job, a sweetheart, marriage, family and a home. Among them were the Campanelli brothers of Brockton – Michael, Alfred, Joseph and Nicholas (shown in photograph below)
Born of immigrant stock, all had worked in the trades prior to the war. Three of the brothers served their country in the Navy, while one supervised the construction of warships at the Fore River shipyard. After the war, surplus construction equipment was available at bargain prices, and the need for inexpensive housing was growing rapidly. They saw their opportunity and seized it. Starting on Massachusetts’ South Shore, they quickly found a formula that worked while greatly reducing costs…a small “L” shaped ranch set on a concrete slab. Prior to this, a home without a basement was virtually unknown in the northeast. By 1948, they had completed their first subdivision, and by 1953, they had built thousands of homes throughout eastern Massachusetts – Peabody, Beverly, Holbrook, Braintree, Newton and Natick.
Their entry into our town came in 1955 with “Cherryfield at Framingham”, a small subdivision off Cherry Street. The ad read “a site close to every convenience – schools, churches, Shoppers’ World.” Their signature design, the “L” shaped ranch, was soon nicknamed “The Campi”. It was priced at $13,700 and veterans were offered special financing. A home could be theirs for $700 down! Wives loved the kitchens which came fully equipped with built-in modern appliances – stove, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and a unique refrigerator/freezer mounted on the wall – all in the color of their choice, as long as it was aqua, avocado, or pink! They couldn’t build them fast enough! And they not only built the homes, they installed the infrastructure as well – water, sewer, sidewalks, the works.
By 1956, Campanelli Construction was building a thousand homes per year. Land was plentiful north of Route 9, and they advanced up Concord Street, Edgell Road, Brook and Water Streets, building one subdivision after another. After Cherryfield it was Ridgefield I, off Beacon Street, followed by Ridgefields II through IV. The choice and size of models grew too. While the little “L” model, known as the Highlander was still popular, larger models such as the Monterey and Eldorado gained popularity.
Campanelli was not alone in the building boom here. In 1955, the Planning Board approved thirteen new subdivisions! A major competitor was Paul Livoli Inc. yet the Campanellis remained dominant. Their “holy grail” came when they acquired the Pinewood Golf Club property off Elm St., near Saxonville – over a hundred acres of rolling open land. Here they built Pinefield, phases I through VI, complete with its own shopping center. They would go on to build Bayberry Hill, Nob Hill, Meadowbrook, Woodfield, the Deerfields and others throughout the north side of town.
By the late 1960s the Campanellis were finished in Framingham. In the years since, owners have found novel ways to modify and expand, even adding second stories. A final count of Campanelli homes here has yet to be made, but the figure is in the thousands. Campanelli ranches have proven to be durable, and are still popular today among empty-nesters, young couples looking for a starter home, and design enthusiasts seeking a mid-century iconic home style.