Leominster, Massachusetts: Wikis

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Leominster, Massachusetts
—  City  —
Leominster City Hall

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Nickname(s): Pioneer Plastics City
Location in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°31′30″N 71°45′37″W / 42.525°N 71.76028°W / 42.525; -71.76028
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Settled 1653
Incorporated 1740
Government
 - Type Mayor-council city
 - Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella
 - City Council Dennis A. Rosa
John Dombrowski
James Lanciani, Jr
Virginia Tocci
David E. Rowlands (Ward 1)
Wayne A. Nickel (Ward 2)
Claire M. Freda (Ward 3)
Robert Salvatelli (Ward 4)
Richard Marchand (Ward 5)
Area
 - Total 29.8 sq mi (77.1 km2)
 - Land 28.9 sq mi (74.8 km2)
 - Water 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2)
Elevation 400 ft (123 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 41,303
 - Density 1,430.3/sq mi (552.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01453
Area code(s) 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-35075
GNIS feature ID 0617697
Website http://www.leominster-ma.gov

Leominster (pronounced "lemon-ster") is a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 41,303 at the 2000 census. Leominster is located north of Worcester and west of Boston. Both Route 2 and Route 12 pass through Leominster. Interstate 190, Route 13, and Route 117 all have starting/ending points in Leominster. Leominster is bounded by Fitchburg and Lunenburg to the north, Lancaster to the east, Sterling and Princeton to the south, and Westminster to the west.

Contents

History

Before European settlement, various divisions of the Pennacook or Nipmuc tribes inhabited the area, with a settlement nearby called Nashua. Leominster was first settled in 1653 as part of the town of Lancaster as a suburb of Fitchburg. The settlers of Lancaster lived in peace with the Native Americans for more than years, until the start of King Phillip's War in 1675. Many of Lancaster's inhabitants were either killed or had fled the town. Once the fighting had ceased, the town was left virtually deserted. In an effort to bring people back, a new grant of land (containing what is now Leominster and Sterling) was offered to the former residents. To avoid further hostilities with the Native Americans, a negotiation with Chief Sholan of the Nashaway tribe resulted in one of the only parcels of land in Central Massachusetts to be legally purchased. The first house was built in 1724 and by 1740 Leominster had gained enough inhabitants to be officially incorporated into a town. Early Leominster consisted of family farms, growing mainly grains, vegetables, and fruit. And a city in 1915. Leominster is now known as "The Pioneer Plastics City" because of its thriving plastics industry from the early part of the twentieth century to present day and as "The Home of Street Hockey" due to its contributions to the game. Leominster and Fitchburg are commonly known as the twin cities in the area because of their similar populations, their shared history of industry, and their location on the Nashua River. Leominster was also a major contributor in the Underground Railroad. The Emory Stearn Schoolhouse and the John Drake home, both on Franklin Street, led anti-slavery campaigns and helped house slaves on their journey to freedom. [1] Leominster is the second largest city in Worcester County, after Worcester.

The Plastics Industry

The city of Leominster has played a more significant role in the establishment and progress of plastics than any other city in the United States. The Plastics Industry started with the comb industry in 1770s which has flourished in Leominster ever since. Early combs were made of animal shell, horn, and hooves; by the mid 1800s, these supplies were dwindling rapidly. Everything changed when in 1868 John Wesley Hyatt invented a material made from cellulose nitrate, to which he gave the name "celluloid". [2] Celluloid was hard, durable, and easy to shape and mold when heated to a certain temperature. Leominster's facilities for horn fabrication rapidly become the center for plastic fabrication in the United States. Leominster used celluloid not only for combs but also for toys, cutlery handles, optical frames, buttons, and novelties of all shapes and sizes. Most celluloid manufacturing was later changed to cellulose acetate which did not burn as quickly. The peak of the plastics industry in Leominster was between 1900 and 1920. The plastics industry was Leominster's largest employer.

Johnny Appleseed, Harper’s Magazine, 1871

Unfortunately, in the late 1920s women's styles were changing rapidly; hair was worn shorter with no need for elaborate combs. With the advent of the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and did not end until the end of World War II, Leominster's plastics industry went into a decline.

Bird's eye view of Leominster from 1886
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Foster Grant

In May 1919 Sam Foster Jr. and his only employee, Grace Goodhue, started the Foster Manufacturing Company. The work the company did was subcontracted from the Viscoloid Company and other Leominster manufacturers. The first product produced was jewelry. Sam then decided he needed a salesman. Sam hired William Grant, who was made a partner in the business and was responsible for sales. The name was changed to Foster Grant Company, Inc. Grant only lasted a couple months but, with no money left to legally change the name back, the company remained Foster Grant. [3] In 1920, Goody Hair Products, a New York City-based firm, started ordering products from Foster Grant. Foster Grant was getting national recognition and an increase in orders from various companies. The factory was moved to a three-building complex on Lancaster Street with a total 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) in 1924. Sam Foster learned about the technique of injection molding and brought it to the United States via his Foster Grant factory. Mr. Grant quickly turning Foster Grant into one of the leading plastic manufacturers in the country. Due to the growth of the company, Sam Foster hired his son Joe to be the company's representative in New York. Joe Foster moved the company to national prominence with the sale of plastic notepads with attached crayons—one of Sam's inventions—to Woolworth's. The order was for three thousand gross at about twenty-five thousand dollars, the largest order by far the company had filled. Sometime between 1927 and 1929 Sam Foster designed the first ever Foster Grant sunglasses. The first sunglasses were sold for 10 cents, but were viewed as childish, until Hollywood movie stars were seen and photographed wearing the sunglasses in sunny southern California. The sunglasses industry exploded in the 1930s and expanded through the 50's, 60's, 70's. During World War II, due to the lack of consumer demand for plastic, Joe Foster began selling plastic to the military; during this period, 80% of the company's profit came from military contracts. [4] Foster Grant continued to grow, and eventually went international. Sam Foster retired from Foster Grant in 1942 at age 59 and Joe Foster died on November 10, 1971. The company was sold and moved from Leominster in 1986.

The Dupont Viscoloid Company

The former Whitney Carriage Company Complex

The Viscoloid Company was incorporated in 1901. Founded by Alexander Paton, the president of the company. He was accompanied by Ludwig Stross and his Secretary and Treasurer Bernard Doyle. In 1902, the partners started the Sterling Comb company which made dress combs and other hair ornaments. The men owned the Viscoloid Company, Harvard Novelty Company, and the Paton Company, but in 1912 the companies were consolidated under the name Viscoloid Company and later the Viscoloid Company Inc. By 1923, the company's capital reached three million dollars and had become the largest employer in Leominster. That same year, Alexander Paton resigned and Bernard Doyle became Chief Executive. He remained Chief until 1925 when the company merged with The Dupont company. The name was then changed The Dupont Viscoloid Company. The company was the largest in the city making dress combs, brushes, mirrors, toilet articles, hair ornaments, and other novelties.

Pink Flamingo

Union Products first conceived the idea of plastic lawn ornaments in 1946. Unfortunately, the first ones were two-dimensional and not very well designed. In 1956, the company decided to hire an artist to correct the problem. They turned to the prestigious Worcester Art Museum School in Worcester, Massachusetts for candidates, ultimately hiring Don Featherstone. [5] His first project was a duck named “Charlie the Duck"; it was modeled after a real duck that Mr. Featherstone kept at his studio. Charlie met with moderate success, but Mr. Featherstone was sure that he could do better. Using flamingo pictures from National Geographic, he created a clay sculpture of the famous bird. The company made aluminum molds and the pink flamingo was born. During the 1950’s, vast numbers of families were moving into ranch houses in new suburban developments. The new homes were affordable and comfortable, but employed a repetitive “cookie-cutter” design. The new homeowners now had lawns and a desire to publicly express their tastes. The sales of Leominster’s native bird took off. Since then, sales have had their ups and downs over the years, the birds occasionally being replaced in popular fashion by more tasteful rabbits or less tasteful gnomes. During the 1980s, sales increased dramatically because of the successful television show “Miami Vice” where the birds gave a strong but understated and uncredited performance as show regulars. Today, they are purchased for uses as varied as wedding decorations, house warming gifts, or to humorously mark a birthday. Authentic Leominster pink flamingos have Don Featherstone’s signature under their tails, a yellow beak with black tip, and are only sold in pairs. Union Products, of Leominster, Massachusetts, stopped production of pink flamingos on November 1, 2006. However, HMC International LLC, a subsidiary of Faster-Form Corporation, purchased the copyright and plastic molds of Featherstone's original plastic flamingos in 2007, and will be resuming production of them in Westmoreland, New York.[6]

Geography

View across Monument Square in Downtown Leominster

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.8 square miles (77.1 km²), of which, 28.9 square miles (74.8 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it is water. The total area is 2.96% water.

Leominster lies on a plateau bordered on the north and west by hills. The southern part of the city is relatively flat, with the Nashua River running through the plateau's easterm portion.

Villages

The city is divided into several small "villages" such as French Hill, a large hill covered in planned blocks of "triple decker" apartment houses located from 1st Street to 12th Street. It is called French Hill because this is where the large immigrant French population took root. In the early 1900s, on Lincoln Terrace, immigrating Italian families began to arrive in the area and built a semi-closed society which existed for many years. The French population built a new church and moved closer to it. Other areas include Morse Hollow, North Leominster, Rice Hill, the Flats, the Bowery, the West Side, and the Car Barn area, located along the Fitchburg border. A granite marker showing the birth place of Johnny Appleseed can be found on Johnny Appleseed Lane.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1940 22,226
1950 24,075 8.3%
1960 27,929 16.0%
1970 32,939 17.9%
1980 34,508 4.8%
1990 38,145 10.5%
2000 41,303 8.3%
Est. 2005 42,000 1.7%

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 41,303 people, 16,491 households, and 10,900 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,430.3 people per square mile (552.2/km²). There were 16,976 housing units at an average density of 587.9/sq mi (227.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.50% White, 3.70% African American, 0.15% Native American, 2.44% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 4.32% from other races, and 2.21% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.00% of the population.

There were 16,491 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,893, and the median income for a family was $54,660. Males had a median income of $41,013 versus $30,201 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,769. About 7.2% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over. Leominster has the lowest single tax rate than any other city or town in the Commonwealth.

Leominster Culture

Nicknames

Leominster is commonly referred to as "Frenchtown" because of its large French Canadian population. This name was coined by author Robert Cormier (who grew up on French Hill) in his book, Frenchtown Summer. Leominster is also called the "Pioneer Plastics City" because of its early role in plastics manufacturing. It was also called the "Comb City". The National Plastics Center & Museum is located in Leominster. One would be hard pressed to walk through a large department store or supermarket today and not find some plastic product from Leominster.

Leominster is named after the market town of Leominster in Herefordshire, England. The city name is not pronounced as spelled, "Leo" followed by "minster"; locals refer to the city as "Lemon-stah" in the Eastern New England dialect. However, it is commonly referred to in standard pronunciation as "Lemon-stir". (Leominster, England is pronounced in fewer syllables yet, as if it were spelled Lemster.)

Leominster Sports

Leominster High School has had a long tradition of Massachusetts Division 1 sports. Basketball, baseball, tennis, and track have become popular sports. Football has emerged as the main competitive sport. Leominster has 10 State Championships second to only Brockton who has 11. Leominster High's football team has faced Fitchburg High School's team since 1894 and have met each other 125 consecutive years and 103 consecutive years on Thanksgiving, one of the longest Thanksgiving Day rivalries in the state.

Emile Johnson, the long-time Leominster High School baseball coach, has the most career wins in the state of Massachusetts; he is still coaching today. The Leominster High School Blue Devils baseball team has earned three Division 1 State Championships, most in the state of Massachusetts, and is a regular contender.

Leominster High School is also home to the award-winning Blue Devil Marching Band. The band, under the direction of Barry Hudson, plays at more than thirty school and municipal events each year. With over seventy members, the marching band is an organization of the school's most talented musicians. The Music Department also boasts a Jazz Band, that plays throughout the city at both public and private events.

Doyle Field: Leominster plays at Doyle Field dedicated to the city by Mayor Bernard W. Doyle in 1929. The original stadium included a press box, bleachers for 6,200 people, and additional portable bleachers that could be placed in the end zone making seating for nearly 10,000 fans. Doyle field was dedicated on October 10, 1931. Doyle had spent $200,000 on the project. The field had the longest fence in the United States surrounding its perimeter when first built.2005 was the start of the Doyle Field Renovation Project. The project consists a three-phase plan to update the complex. Phase One will cost an estimated $4 million The Phase includes improving the bowl land form, replacing bleachers, installing new turf, constructing an Entertainment Plaza and Pavilion for cultural events, building new locker rooms, providing concession stands and restrooms, replacing the media box, and installing new ticket booths.

In 1988, the Leominster High School Blue Devils football team defeated the USA Today top ranked high school team in the nation, the Brockton Boxers by a score of 27-12 before a crowd of 11,000 at a noisy and jubilant Doyle Field.

Home of Leominster Post 151 American Legion Baseball Team. The team was the Massachusetts State Champions in 1971 and has recently made trips to the State Finals in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The 1971 team was coached by the legendary Emile Johnson who retired the Legion position in 1978. The team has recently been guided by Sid Rafuse, a former team member ('83-'84), who has amassed over 225 wins (1998-2009).

Education

View of Downtown Leominster

Public Schools:

Private Schools:

  • St. Anna's Elementary School
  • St. Leo's Elementary School
  • Bright Beginnings Preschool

Approved Special Education School:

  • Lipton Academy
  • North Leominster Community College for The Blind and Deaf

Colleges:

Media

Newspapers

Television

  • Leominster Access Television

Points of interest

Kendall Hall (which currently houses a branch of the local fire department) and City Hall are two major landmarks in the city. Others can be seen in this slide show] of local places.

Parks

Other than the triangle-shaped common in downtown, and the various parks like Barrett and Carter, Leominster is home to two large forest parks. One, the Doyle Reservation, is home to the local branch of the Trustees of Reservations. The other large forest park is the Leominster State Forest. This is a large state forest and is home to hiking and multi-use trails, some of which connect with the Midstate Trail. Leominster is a hilly city and provides plenty of hiking with great views.

Red Apple

The renovations at Doyle Field have given the teams of Leominster High School some of the best playing fields in the area. However, the track is not being resurfaced and will be torn up in the next few years. This will leave the Leominster High School track team, which already cannot have home meets because of the poor condition of the track, without a practice track. Over the years, Leominster has provided some of the state's best runners.

Sholan Farms

Sholan Farms is the latest tourist attraction to the city. This apple orchard offers a large variety of apples, a great view, and a historic and scenic look into the area's agricultural history. This orchard is home to festivals and functions and is a source of local pride. Sholan Farms is 123 years old, purchased from Chief Sholan of the Nashaway (Nashua) tribe in 1701.

Transportation

Commuter rail service from Boston's North Station is provided by the MBTA with a stop in North Leominster on its Fitchburg Line.[8] Extensive Bus transportation is also provided by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, also known as the Montachusett Area Regional Transit or MART. This service operates specifically in Leominster, Fitchburg, and Gardner. Fitchburg Municipal Airport, an airport in neighboring Fitchburg, serves as the air-hub of the area.

Notable residents

References

  1. ^ http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/27/old_house_in_leominster_has_a_history/
  2. ^ http://www.plasticsmuseum.org/timeline.html
  3. ^ http://www.plasticsmuseum.org/Collections9.html
  4. ^ http://www.plasticsmuseum.org/Collections9.html
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Retro pink flamingos to hatch in New York". MSNBC. 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18967357/. Retrieved on 2008-04-23. Published: May 31, 2007. From the Associated Press, on the purchase and re-production of Don Featherstone's original plastic-flamingo design.
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  8. ^ MBTA website.mbta.com. Retrieved May 25, 2008.
  9. ^ http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/bio/

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEOMINSTER, a township of Worcester county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., about 45 m. N.W. of Boston and about 20 m. N. by E. of Worcester. Pop. (1890) 7269; (1900) 12,392, of whom 2827 were foreign-born; (1906, estimate) 14,678. It is a broken, hilly district, 26.48 sq. m. in area, traversed by the Nashua river, crossed by the Northern Division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, and by the Fitchburg Division of the Boston & Maine, and connected with Boston, Worcester and other cities by interurban electric lines. Along the N.E. border and mostly in the township of Lunenburg are Whalom Lake and Whalom Park, popular pleasure resorts. The principal villages are Leominster, 5 m. S.E. of Fitchburg,, and North Leominster; the two adjoin and are virtually one. According to the Special U.S. Census of Manufactures of 1905. the township had in that year a greater diversity of important. manufacturing industries than any place of its size in the state,. or, probably, in the United States; its 65 manufactories, with a capital of $4,572,726 and with a product for the year valued at $7,501,720 (39% more than in 1900), produced celluloid and horn work (the manufacture of which is a more important industry here than elsewhere in the United States), celluloid combs, furniture, paper, buttons, pianos and piano-cases,. children's carriages and sleds, stationery, leatherboard, worsted, woollen and cotton goods, shirts, paper boxes, &c. Leominster owns and operates its water-works. The township was formed from a part of Lancaster township in 1740.


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