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Ashland, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Nickname(s): The Clock Town
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°15′40″N 71°27′50″W / 42.26111°N 71.46389°W / 42.26111; -71.46389
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1750
Incorporated 1846
 - Type Open town meeting
 - Total 12.9 sq mi (33.5 km2)
 - Land 12.4 sq mi (32.2 km2)
 - Water 0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation 188 ft (57 m)
 - Total 15,807
 Density 1,274.8/sq mi (490.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01721
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-02130
GNIS feature ID 0619394

Ashland is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the MetroWest region. The population was 14,674 at the 2000 census. As of 2007, the population had increased to 15,807.



The area now known as Ashland was settled in the early 1700s and inhabited prior to that by the Megunko Indians, to which Megunko Hill owes its name. Previously known as "Unionville", Ashland was incorporated in 1846, bearing the name of statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky estate, and is considerably younger than many of the surrounding towns. The establishment of the Boston to Albany railroad in the mid-1800s was key in the early development of Ashland, although it remained a mainly centralized residential town with limited industry until the mid 20th century.

Local inventor Henry E. Warren developed the Warren Synchronizing Timer in 1916, which made synchronous electric clocks possible by keeping alternating current flowing from power plants at a consistent sixty cycles per second. Warren founded Telechron, which, in partnership with General Electric, manufactured electric clocks in Ashland until 1979. A Warren Synchronizing Timer is on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History in Washington D.C, while the high school sports teams have been coined "The Clockers." Also of note was the construction of the Ashland Reservoir around 1900, from the waters of Cold Spring. This is the current site of Ashland State Park.

For most of the 20th century, Ashland's population remained slow in growth, until the post-war boom beginning in the 1950s. Ashland grew from a far-removed rural town 22 miles west of Boston to a primarily residential suburb by the 1980s. Many farms and open spaces have given way to housing, although some untouched land still remains, including the Ashland Town Forest, Ashland State Park, and land comprising the beach and dam portions of Hopkinton State Park.

Two major routes, 135 and 126, pass through Ashland. Route 135 is dominated by older residential development of varying density and is also part of the route for the Boston Marathon, which began in Ashland on Pleasant Street until the start was moved to Hopkinton's Main Street in 1924. Route 126 has developed rapidly since the 1980s, as farms have given way to shopping centers and condominiums. Part of the draw of Ashland, and one that has been publicized in recent years, is its "ideal" location about halfway between the cities of Boston and Worcester. Ashland is considered part of MetroWest, which also consists of the towns of Framingham, Holliston, and Hopkinton.

Even though the current Ashland has left its humble roots as a rural area, it still retains the look and feel of a typical residential Boston-area New England town. Traditions like the Ashland Day fair and small-town favorites like the ice cream shop Tasty Treat and breakfast joint Sunnyside Cafe maintain the feeling of a close-knit community. Even so, it is not without a McDonald's and a significant number of pizza establishments. Ashland's traditional rival for the Thanksgiving Day football game is Hopkinton.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33.5 km²), of which, 12.4 square miles (32.2 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (3.72%) is water.


Adjacent towns

Ashland is located in eastern Massachusetts, bordered by:


Ashland's climate is variable. Winters are typically cold, with frequent Nor'easters and occasional blizzards. Snowfall ranges widely from season to season, although the average is about 60 inches. In the recent past, there has been as little as 14 inches of snow (in the 1988-89 winter season) to 148 inches (in 1995-96). The amount decreases dramatically eastward towards Boston because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Snowfall amounts can also decrease rapidly south of Ashland. Low temperatures below zero are not uncommon in winter, and the lowest recent temperature was 17 below in January 1994. Average January high temperatures are in the low 30s. Average January low temperatures are in the upper teens. Spring temperatures can be mitigated by penetrating cold fronts originating from the Canadian Maritimes, known as "Backdoor Cold Fronts". Typically, high temperatures consistently above 70 degrees do not set in until late May. The last frost is usually in mid-May. Summers are generally comfortable, with periods of high humidity. Prolonged heat waves of three or more days with highs of 90 or above are uncommon but can occur. Average July high temperatures are in the low 80s and average lows are around 60. Severe summer weather is not as common as areas to the west in Central Massachusetts. However, Ashland was the site of a small Tornado which hit the south side of town near Route 126 on July 10, 1989 causing widespread tree damage through most of Ashland with several homes damaged. Fall is pleasant with the first frost usually around October 1, and the peak of the fall foliage season averages around October 12. Ashland can expect a "white" Christmas slightly over 50 percent of the time.


At the 2000 census[1], there were 14,674 people, 5,720 households and 4,021 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,179.3 per square mile (455.4/km²). There were 5,794 housing units at an average density of 465.6/sq mi (179.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.88% White, 1.79% African American, 0.10% Native American, 2.47% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.67% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.92% of the population.

There were 5,720 households of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.2% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.04.

Age distribution was 25.3% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 35.5% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.

The median household income was $68,392, and the median family income was $77,611. Males had a median income of $51,869 versus $38,226 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,641. About 0.9% of families and 2.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.


In 2005, the town completed the new high school and revised the division of grades. These changes include the 6th grade being moved to join the 7th and 8th grades in the former high school to form what is now Ashland Middle School and moving the 3rd grade from the Henry E. Warren Elementary School into the Mindess Elementary School to join the 4th and 5th grades. The 8th grade students have an annual five day field trip to Washington D.C. The 1st and 2nd grades are in the Henry E. Warren Elementary School and kindergarten is in the William Pittaway School. The graduating class of 2007 was the first class to complete a full year in the new highschool. In 2009, a new program at Ashland High School encouraged teachers to "bridge the gap between subjects like math and history to the art world and visually engage students with traditional subject matter."1 This allowed students to make a connection between the material they were learning in the classroom and the knowledge of the arts and culture.


Points of interest

John Stone's Inn

Stone's Public House, circa 2008

Built in 1832 by Captain John Stone, John Stone's Inn, now known as Stone's Public House, is located in the center of Ashland. Stone's is on the list of allegedly haunted places in America. According to legend, the Inn was the site of a murder when Stone accidentally killed a salesman named Mike McPherson[3] who he believed was cheating at cards. Stone and the three friends with whom he had been playing swore to keep the event secret and buried the salesman's body in the Inn's basement. The legend contends that the ghosts of the salesman and the three other players involved all roam the inn.[4] Also, a ten year old girl was struck by a train just outside the inn in 1862, and is believed to have been brought inside where she died as a result of her wounds. Mary J. Smith, was listed through her death certificate as having been "killed by cars" on June 11 of that year. Employees, patrons, and passersby have all reported seeing the apparition of a young girl in a dress, with most reports detailing her looking out various windows that overlook the rear of the building. In the 1970s, during renovations, a hidden chamber was discovered in the basement, and it is speculated that this was used to house runaway slaves who made their way to freedom in the north along the Underground Railroad.

Many famous people have stayed at the inn. One of the notable guests was Daniel Webster, who gave a speech from the balcony on the day the hotel opened in 1834.[5]

Annual events

Ashland Day is annually held on a Saturday in September each year. The main event occur near the center of the town at Stone Park, with events at the park lasting from the morning until the afternoon. Festivities include a number of booths and various carnival-like rides. The athletic clubs and organizations of the town and of the schools use the day to as an annual fund raising event. Mainly, the day allows for residents and those that may have moved away to return to enjoy a day of fun and great food. Nearly every year there are fireworks atop the dam at Hopkinton State Park (the dam is in Ashland). Ashland Day has only been canceled once, due to inclement weather, in 2004.


The Nyanza Color and Chemical Company had a dye-manufacturing plant in Ashland. In 1971, the factory was identified as a hazard when pollution was discovered in the nearby Sudbury River. The site was placed on the Superfund National Priority List in 1982 when heavy metals and organochlorides were discovered in the soil and water near the site. It was also deemed probable that particles of mercuric sulfate were blown into the air. Cleaning up the contaminated site cost residents $55 million, and is still not complete as of 2008. The estates of the Nyanza executives were charged for the cleanup.

In 2006, the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health released a study that found that people who grew up in Ashland between the late 1960s and early 1980s and swam in the waters near Nyanza had a 200-300% higher incidence of cancer than those who weren't exposed to the chemicals.[6]

Sri Lakshmi Temple

Sri Lakshmi Temple is a large regional Hindu temple located in Waverly Street and is the largest Hindu Temple in New England, being the home of worship for most Hindus in the region. Sri Lakshmi temple hosts several Hindu functions throughout the year.


Commuter rail service from Boston's South Station is provided by the MBTA with the Ashland station on its Framingham/Worcester Line. The station is accessible from either Pleasant St or from an access road off of Union St that runs behind Ashland Middle School.

Notable residents

  • Dave Blass, film & TV art director of Cold Case, ER, Justified, Biggest Loser, Beauty and the Geek
  • Gregg Carey, contestant on Survivor Palau
  • Michael Fabbri, prosecutor in Neil Entwistle murder trial.
  • Henry E. Warren, inventor of the machinery necessary for the electric clock.

See also


External links


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