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This article is about the town of Harvard, Massachusetts. Harvard University is located in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Harvard, Massachusetts
—  Town  —

Location in Worcester County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°30′00″N 71°35′00″W / 42.5°N 71.5833333°W / 42.5; -71.5833333Coordinates: 42°30′00″N 71°35′00″W / 42.5°N 71.5833333°W / 42.5; -71.5833333
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Settled 1704
Incorporated 1732
 - Type Open town meeting
 - Town Administrator Timothy Bragan
 - Board of
Lucy Wallace
Timothy Clark
Leo Blair
Peter Warren
Ron Ricci
 - Total 27.0 sq mi (69.9 km2)
 - Land 26.4 sq mi (68.3 km2)
 - Water 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Elevation 421 ft (128 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 5,981
 - Density 226.9/sq mi (87.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01451
Area code(s) 978
FIPS code 25-28950
GNIS feature ID 0619482

Harvard is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. A farming community settled in 1658 and incorporated in 1732, it has been home to several non-traditional communities, such as Harvard Shaker Village and the utopian Transcendentalist center Fruitlands. Today it is an affluent residential town noted for its excellent public schools (Its students consistently ranking in the state's top ten test results in English and Math).[1] The population was 5,981 at the 2000 census.



Europeans first settled in what later became Harvard in the 17th century, along a road connecting Lancaster with Groton that was formally laid out in 1658. There were few inhabitants until after King Philip's War, in which Groton and Lancaster were attacked and substantially destroyed. Over the next 50 years the population grew until it had reached a point adequate to support a church. A new town including parts of Lancaster, Groton, and Stow was incorporated in 1732, subject to the proviso that the inhabitants "Settle a learned and Orthodox Minister among them within the space of two years and also erect an House for the publick Worship of God." It is uncertain how the town obtained its name, though the Willard family, among the first settlers and the largest proprietors in the new town, had several connections to Harvard College.

In 1734, the town was considered to have five districts or villages. These were Oak Hill, Bare Hill, Still River, Old Mill and Shabikin (present day Devens).

The town economy was primarily based on agriculture until the middle of the 20th century. This past is most prominently visible in the number of apple orchards. It is now a residential town within reach, for example, of the technology companies outside of Boston. It has had a relatively quiet history, but has attracted several "non-traditional" communities that have given its history some flavor.


The Shakers

Harvard Shaker Village c. 1905

The town was site of Harvard Shaker Village, a utopian religious community established in 1791, one of 19 scattered between Maine and Kentucky, and as far west as Indiana. The sect, renowned for plain architecture and furniture, reached its peak membership in the 1840s. But greater employment opportunities introduced by the Industrial Revolution would entice away some potential and practicing Shaker members. Some became disaffected with the church's insistence on celibacy, self-abnegation, and communal ownership of property. Indeed, Mary Marshall Dyer, a onetime believer, became an outspoken Anti-Shaker. The flock dwindled, and like others, Harvard Shaker Village eventually closed. Today, only one church "society" remains open, run by the last Shakers at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine.


Amos Bronson Alcott and some friends established the utopian transcendentalist socialist farm called Fruitlands on the slopes of Prospect Hill in Harvard. The community failed rather quickly but saw visits from the likes of Henry David Thoreau. Mr. Alcott's daughter, Louisa May Alcott lived at the farm with her father.

Fiske Warren Tahanto Enclave

Fiske Warren, a follower of Henry George, attempted to establish a single tax zone in Harvard in 1918. The enclave bought up land communally and attempted to manage the land according to George's principles. The enclave failed soon after Warren died in 1938.

St. Benedict Center

Father Leonard Feeney was a Jesuit priest who held to a literal interpretation of the doctrine "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus." His St Benedict Center at Harvard College in Cambridge made numerous converts in the 1940s, among them Avery Cardinal Dulles, the son of John Foster Dulles, secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration. Feeney was excommunicated in 1953. Cardinal Medeiros of Boston visited Feeney on his deathbed and apologized for the heavy-handed way he had been treated by the ecclesiastical authorities 30 years before. A branch of the Saint Benedict Center[2] is located in Still River, on the west side of Harvard.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.0 square miles (69.9 km2), of which, 26.4 square miles (68.3 km2) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) of it (2.26%) is water.

The area is largely wooded with small rolling hills, fields and wetlands. In addition to the numerous streams and brooks throughout Harvard, Bare Hill Pond is a central, iconic locale.

Harvard and the surrounding area are renowned for apple orchards and riding stables.


Old Stone Barn in c. 1915, Harvard Shaker Village

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 5,981 people, 1,809 households, and 1,494 families residing in the town. The population density was 226.9 people per square mile (87.6/km2). There were 2,225 housing units at an average density of 84.4/sq mi (32.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 91.69% White, 4.50% African American, 0.17% Native American, 1.97% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.50% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.09% of the population.

There were 1,809 households out of which 44.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.4% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.4% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the town the population was spread out with 26.6% under the age of 18, 4.0% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 32.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 124.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 133.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $107,934, and the median income for a family was $119,352. Males had a median income of $90,937 versus $49,318 for females. The per capita income for the town was $40,867. About 0.5% of families and 2.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.7% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.


The town elects five members to the Board of Selectmen to run the town day-to-day and has an annual Town Meeting to pass/amend the town bylaws.

County government: Worcester County
Clerk of Courts: Dennis P. McManus (D)
District Attorney: Joseph D. Early, Jr. (D)
Register of Deeds: Anthony J. Vigliotti (D)
Register of Probate: Stephen Abraham (D)
County Sheriff: Guy W. Glodis (D)
State government
State Representative(s): Jennifer E. Benson (D)
State Senator(s): James B. Eldridge (D)
Governor's Councilor(s): Thomas J. Foley (D)
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s): Niki Tsongas (D) (5th District),
U.S. Senators: John Kerry (D), Paul G. Kirk (D)

The town has resisted pressures to regionalize its school system and its K-12 school system ranks among the top 5% of schools in the state and more than 90% of its graduates go on to college. The public high school, the Bromfield School, and the Harvard Elementary School are both located in the center of town on Massachusetts Avenue.

Notable residents


Further reading

External links


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