Ayer, Massachusetts: Wikis


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Ayer, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Looking West on Main Street

Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°33′40″N 71°35′25″W / 42.56111°N 71.59028°W / 42.56111; -71.59028Coordinates: 42°33′40″N 71°35′25″W / 42.56111°N 71.59028°W / 42.56111; -71.59028
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1668
Incorporated 1871
 - Type Open town meeting
 - Total 9.6 sq mi (24.8 km2)
 - Land 9.0 sq mi (23.4 km2)
 - Water 0.6 sq mi (1.4 km2)
Elevation 226 ft (69 m)
Population (2007)
 - Total 7,369
 Density 818.8/sq mi (314.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01432
Area code(s) 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-03005
GNIS feature ID 0618215
Website www.ayer.ma.us

Ayer is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. Originally part of Groton, it was incorporated in 1871 and became a major commercial railroad junction. The town was home to Camp STevens during the Civil War. Then Fort Devens, a federal army camp was established to train New England soldiers for World War I. Devens was a major influence in the area until its closure in 1994. The population was 7,287 at the 2000 census.

For geographic and demographic information on specific parts of the town of Ayer, please see the articles on Ayer (CDP) and Devens, Massachusetts.





East Main Street circa 1906

Ayer's history dates back to 1667, when the first mill in the agricultural community was built. The settlement sits on what the Nipmuc Indians called Nainacocius. A brook remains with that name. Originally part of Groton, the community was initially called Groton Junction or South Groton. The town of Ayer was incorporated in 1871, named in honor of Dr. James Cook Ayer, a prominent resident of Lowell who provided the funding for the recently restored Ayer Town Hall.

Regional rail hub

The town's growth was influenced by a period of rapid development of railroad transportation. Though only 9.5 square miles (25 km2) in area, the town became a major junction for both east-west and north-south rail lines, and developed into an important commercial center oriented towards the rail industry. Known as Groton Junction and later Ayer Junction, the intersecting railroads included:

The split between the Stony Brook and Fitchburg main line was moved east from the central junction to reduce parallel trackage.

Postcard view showing the two railroad stations that once served Ayer MA, dated 1910

Military roles

During the American Civil War an army camp, Camp Stevens, was established here; that camp later became known as Camp Devens, and eventually as Fort Devens. The presence of thousands of military and civilian personnel on the base shifted Ayer's commercial development towards meeting their needs until Fort Devens was closed in 1994.

Ski jump

In 1935, the largest Nordic ski jump in North America was constructed at Pingry Hill near the Willows. A 700-foot-high wooden trestle build, the ski jump operated for a single winter season amid the hardships of Great Depression-era Ayer. Abandoned by 1937, the massive jump itself was quickly pulled apart by wind and wanderer. As of 2009, no trace of the massive structure remains.[1]

Modern day

Within its relatively small area Ayer boasts numerous industries, including plants belonging to Cains, Pepsi, and Veryfine, a historical downtown unique to the region, and modern commuter rail service to Boston.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 24.8 km2 (9.6 mi2). 23.4 km2 (9.0 mi2) of it is land and 1.4 km2 (0.6 mi2) of it (5.75%) is water.

Ayer borders the following towns: Shirley, Groton, Littleton, and Harvard.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1900 2,446
1910 2,797 14.3%
1920 3,052 9.1%
1930 3,060 0.3%
1940 3,572 16.7%
1950 5,740 60.7%
1960 14,927 160.1%
1970 8,325 −44.2%
1980 6,993 −16.0%
1990 6,871 −1.7%
2000 7,287 6.1%

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 7,287 people, 2,982 households, and 1,774 families residing in the town. The population density was 311.9/km2 (808.1/mi2). There were 3,154 housing units at an average density of 135.0/km2 (349.8/mi2). The racial makeup of the town was 85.92% White, 5.70% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 2.90% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 2.28% from other races, and 2.81% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.69% of the population.

There were 2,982 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.9% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 36.3% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $46,619, and the median income for a family was $61,968. Males had a median income of $44,092 versus $32,418 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,400. About 6.1% of families and 10.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.5% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


As a New England town, Ayer is governed by town meeting and a five-member board of selectmen.



Commuter rail service from Boston's North Station is provided by the MBTA with a stop in Ayer on its Fitchburg Line.[3]

Freight travels daily through Ayer over the tracks of the historic Stony Brook Railroad. The line currently serves as a major corridor of Pan Am Railway's District 3 which connects New Hampshire and Maine with western Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.[4]

The southern segment of the Nashua River Rail Trail commences in Ayer.

Points of interest

Places on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Community Memorial Hospital - 15 Winthrop Ave.
  • Fort Devens Historic District
  • Ayer Main Street Historic District - Main St.
  • Pleasant Street School - Pleasant St.
  • St. Andrew's Church (1892) - 7 Faulkner St.

Notable residents


  1. ^ http://www.nelsap.org/ma/ayer.html
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ MBTA website.mbta.com. Accessed August 31, 2007.
  4. ^ Pan Am Railways route map.panamrailways.com. Accessed August 31, 2007.

External links


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