Located in the Wakefield Common District of the National Register of Historic Places, 306 Main Street was built ca. 1800 by Benjamin Brown Wiley. Wiley, from a prolific family descended from early settlers, was a shoe manufacturer. He actually built 306 Main Street to be his shoe factory. Later he built the brick structure currently at 316 Main Street as his family home. He would give that home to his son's family later in his life, and move into 306 Main Street, our building.
He was a wealthy man, and owned much real estate, including part of what is now the Lower Common. He was also very involved in town affairs, serving on many boards and committees.
The photo above is one of the oldest photographs taken in what is now the town of Wakefield, probably from the 1850s. It's extraordinary because of its age of course, but also because three of the structures shown in this photograph are still standing. 306 Main Street, the white building in the foreground, 316 Main Street, which Zuzu's Cafe is currently part of, and the Universalist Unitarian Church prior to its 'renovation' which would raise the building and add the tower and steeple.
From the vantage point of this photograph, one can get a sense of the real village of South Reading (prior to the town's growth as an industrial center, and its name change to Wakefield, Massachusetts.)