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Danvers, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
The Peabody Institute Library on Sylvan Street

Nickname(s): Oniontown
Motto: The King Unwilling[1]
Location in Essex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°34′30″N 70°55′50″W / 42.575°N 70.93056°W / 42.575; -70.93056
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Essex
Settled 1636
Incorporated 1757
 - Type Representative town meeting
 - Town
Wayne Marquis
 - Board of
Keith G. Lucy
Michael W. Powers
William H. Clark Jr.
Daniel C. Bennett
Gardner S. Trask III
 - Total 14.1 sq mi (36.5 km2)
 - Land 13.3 sq mi (34.4 km2)
 - Water 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2)
Elevation 48 ft (15 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 25,212
 Density 1,898.5/sq mi (733.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01923
Area code(s) 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-16250
GNIS feature ID 0618295

Danvers is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. Located on the Danvers River near the northeastern coast of Massachusetts, Danvers is most widely known for its association with the 1692 Salem witch trials, and for its famous asylum, the Danvers State Hospital.



The land that is now Danvers was once controlled by the Naumkeag branch of the Massachusett tribe. Around 1630, settlers converted an existing Naumkeag trail into the Old Ipswich Road, creating a connection to the main cities of Salem and Boston.[2] Danvers was permanently settled in 1636 as Salem Village, and eventually petitioned the Crown for a charter as a town. According to legend, the King, rather than signing the charter, returned it with the message "The King Unwilling." On June 9, 1757, however, the town was incorporated anyway, and the King's rebuff was defiantly given a place on the town's seal.

  • The historical event for which Danvers is probably most well-known is the Witch Hysteria of 1692. The house of one of the convicted "witches," Rebecca Nurse, is still standing in Danvers and can be visited as a historical landmark.
  • From the Battle of Lexington onward, Danvers has been represented in the Armed Forces. Noteworthy Revolutionary figures who stayed in Danvers include Royal Governor General Thomas Gage and Benedict Arnold.
  • In 1847, the railroad came to Danvers. A street railway was also installed in 1884, originally consisting of horse-drawn trolleys that were later converted to electricity.
  • Town Hall was built in 1855 and, though it has undergone modifications and renovations several times, still stands today. In the same year, the southern portion of Danvers broke away to become the town of South Danvers, later renamed Peabody.
  • In 1878, the Danvers State Hospital opened its doors.
  • Originally an agricultural town, Danvers farmers developed two breeds of vegetables: the Danvers Onion (origin of the "Oniontown" nickname) and the Danvers Half-Long Carrot.[3] This carrot was introduced by "market gardeners"[4] in 1871. There was also a booming shoe industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with successful manufacturing companies like Ideal Baby Shoe.
  • In 2002, Danvers celebrated its 250th anniversary with special events throughout the year.

Chemical plant explosion

On November 22, 2006, around 2:45 a.m., a major chemical explosion occurred at a facility housing Arnel Company (a manufacturer of industrial-use paint products) and CAI Inc. (a manufacturer of solvents and inks). The blast shook several North Shore towns—knocking homes off foundations and damaging buildings up to half a mile away. Glass windows shattered at least three miles (5 km) away, in neighboring Peabody and even in downtown Salem. The explosion was heard and felt up to 45 miles (72 km) away; the concussion was intense. According to many witnesses, it seemed like an airplane had crashed.

At least 10 people were taken to local hospitals. No one was killed, and none of the injuries was life-threatening, according to Fire Chief Jim Tutko. Approximately 90 homes were damaged. Residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the blast were taken to Danvers High School, where the Red Cross established a relief shelter. The blast occurred next to a marina, a bakery & pizza shop, and a gas station, and across the street from Eastern Propane Gas Inc.

January 2007 — In late November, the State Fire Marshal determined the explosion was not caused by an intentional act. No cause has been determined. State and Federal investigations are ongoing. Members of the US Chemical Safety Board investigating the accident have stated that this is one of the most difficult investigations the Board has ever undertaken, and that it will likely be 12 to 18 months before a final report is released by the agency.

Geography and Transportation

Danvers is located at 42°34′11″N 70°56′35″W / 42.56972°N 70.94306°W / 42.56972; -70.94306 (42.569756, -70.943222).[5] According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.1 square miles (37 km2), of which, 13.3 square miles (34 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (5.75%) is water. The Danvers River begins near the southeast corner of town, and is formed at the confluence of the Porter River, Crane River and Waters River. These rivers in turn are fed by several brooks. The Ipswich River also flows along the town's western border. Putnamville Reservoir lies in the north end of the town. The town has several low hills, and a small town forest.

Danvers is located nearly halfway between Boston and the New Hampshire state border. It is bordered by Topsfield to the north, Wenham to the northeast, Beverly to the east, a small portion of Salem to the southeast, Peabody to the south and southwest, and Middleton to the northwest. The town center lies 4 miles north from Salem, 16 miles west of Gloucester, 18 miles northeast of Boston, and 19 miles southeast from the nearest point in New Hampshire, at Salem. Interstate 95 and Route 128 both pass through the town, just east of their junction in Peabody. U.S. Route 1 also passes through town, with a large junction with Interstate 95 in the northwest end of town. The main highways are also crossed by Route 35, Route 62 and Route 114, with Routes 35 and 62 intersecting just north of the town center. The northern terminus of Route 35 is just over the Topsfield town line, where it meets Route 97.

Several MBTA Bus routes pass through the town, between Peabody and Beverly. There is no commuter rail service within town; the Newburyport/Rockport Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail passes through neighboring Salem and Beverly. Two lines of the the Springfield Terminal railroad line also cross through town, merging ner the town center to head north. Two runways of the Beverly Municipal Airport cross through the town; the nearest regularly-scheduled commercial flights are located at Boston's Logan International Airport.


As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 25,212 people, 9,555 households, and 6,564 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,898.5 inhabitants per square mile (733.0 /km2). There were 9,762 housing units at an average density of 735.1 per square mile (283.8 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.72% White, 0.35% Black or African American, 0.10% Native American, 1.11% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.

There were 9,555 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the town the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $58,779, and the median income for a family was $70,565. Males had a median income of $48,058 versus $33,825 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,852. About 1.7% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 4.4% of those age 65 or over.


Danvers has a representative town meeting, five selectmen, and a town manager. The current Board of Selectmen (May 2009) is:

Board of Selectmen, Danvers, MA
Town Manager, Danvers, MA

The current Town Manager (September 2007) is

Public safety

Danvers has full time police and fire departments. The Danvers Police Department was accredited in 1986. Danvers was the 1st municipal agency within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to become nationally accredited.


Public schools

Danvers has five elementary schools, each serving Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade. Grades six through eight attend the recently renovated Holten-Richmond Middle School, and grades nine through twelve attend Danvers High School.

Danvers High School received national (and later international attention) when use of the word "meep" by students was forbidden, due to its disruptive use by some students[7] (and perhaps a harassment suit).[citation needed] Principal Thomas Murray banned the word, and has threatened police action as well over its use in either speech or on clothing.[8][9]

Private schools

Danvers is also home to four private schools. St. Mary of the Annunciation School is a private school that serves Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade. Plumfield Academy is a small private school for grades one through eight with a philosophy of education based on that of Charlotte Mason. St. John's Preparatory School is a secondary school for young men, serving grades nine through twelve. The Clark School serves Pre-Kindergarten and, as of 2007, is expanding through high school. Of these four schools, St. Mary's and St. John's are religiously affiliated. St. Mary's is part of the Archdiocese of Boston and "the Prep" is a Xaverian Brothers-sponsored school.

Technical, vocational, & agricultural schools

In addition to the public and private schools, Danvers hosts the Essex Agricultural & Technical High School, an independent, state funded, day school serving grades 9 through 12. Essex Agricultural & Technical High School is currently in the process of merging with the North Shore Vocational School, currently located in Middleton, which will result in a larger, unified campus located in Danvers.


Points of interest

Rebecca Nurse Homestead

See also



  1. ^ Brown, Thurl D. "Danvers Town Halls" The Oniontown Seniors Vol. 16 No. 5 (1964). Retrieved 2009-11-16.
  2. ^ Hanson, J. W. (John Wesley). History of the town of Danvers: from its early settlement to the year 1848. 1848. Salem, Mass.: Higginson Book, 1987.
  3. ^ "Historical Sites of Danvers" Retrieved on 2009-11-16
  4. ^ Carrots History Retrieved on 2009-02-26
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Forman, Ethan. "What's wrong with 'meep'? It's all in how you say it", The Salem News, 10 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Meep Banned At Danvers High School". Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  9. ^ "Danvers High School says students can’t say ‘meep’". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  10. ^ Postman, Joseph. 2003. "The Endicott Pear Tree - Oldest Living Fruit Tree in North America". Pomona. 35:13-15.


External links


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