In 1826 a new public school, to be named the Avery in 1867, was built on High Street in Dedham, Massachusetts. The site overlooks the banks of the Mother Brook Canal, the oldest hand-dug mill pond in the United States. The canal was constructed in 1639 to take advantage of the height difference between the Charles and Neponset Rivers to create a source for hydropower for flour, textile and woodworking mills. In 1921, the third Avery Grammar School on the Mother Brook site burned to the ground. A new school was built on the 3.8 acre site and remained in operation until April 2012 when it was declared surplus.
Anticipating the closing, a Selectmen-appointed committee held 11 public meetings in 2011 that resulted in an enthusiastic endorsement of re-using the Avery as an arts and community center. With grass roots support and Mother Brook Community Group seed money, Mother Brook Arts and Community Center was formed to create the new center. Spring 2012 Town Meeting overwhelmingly voted support for the MBACC concept. The Town of Dedham and MBACC signed a ten year lease for the former Avery School building on March 1, 2013.