Holbrook is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, named for benefactor Elisha N. Holbrook, who provided the town with the funds for the town hall and library upon incorporation. Before European settlement, the area now known as Holbrook, Massachusetts, like all of New England, had long been inhabited by Algonquian-speaking peoples. Holbrook was first settled by Europeans (mostly British colonists) in 1710 and was officially incorporated in 1872.
Holbrook’s development is typical of suburban Greater Boston. In the 18th and 19th centuries, farming and cottage trades, particularly shoe production, dominated the economy. Slowly, the town evolved into a primarily residential community with many residents commuting to work in Boston proper and the primary employment within the town being in service industries. The impact of the Civil War came not only from the residents’ direct participation in the conflict, but was also from the need for production of boots for soldiers. It was during the Civil War that shoe production became a significant component of the town’s economic life, and production moved decidedly from the home and into factories.
After 1945, demobilization following WWII, Holbrook experienced a housing boom, becoming a largely residential community, in which some service industries provide local jobs but from which most residents commute to work in Greater Boston.