Southbridge Town Hall
|Nickname(s): The Eye of the Commonwealth, Friendly town, Honest town|
Location in Worcester County in Massachusetts
|• Town Manager||Open|
|• Town Council||
David Langevin (Chairman)
Catherine E. Nikolla
Conrad L. Vandal
|• Total||20.9 sq mi (54.0 km2)|
|• Land||20.4 sq mi (52.7 km2)|
|• Water||0.5 sq mi (1.3 km2)|
|Elevation||489 ft (149 m)|
|• Density||800/sq mi (310/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||508 / 774|
|GNIS feature ID||0618383|
The Town of Southbridge is a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,719 at the 2010 census. Southbridge is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of” in their official names.
- History 1
- Geography 2
- Demographics 3
- Government 4
- Library 5
- Education 6
- Transportation 7
- Sites of interest 8
- Notable people 9
- See also 10
- References 11
- External links 12
The area was initially inhabited by the Nipmuck and Mohegan tribes, with the Quinebaug River dividing their territories. As early as 1638, John Winthrop, Jr. purchased a tract for mining lead at what is now Leadmine Road in Sturbridge (it was thought at the time that where there was lead, there should be silver nearby).
Southbridge was first settled by Europeans in 1730. In 1801 a poll parish, named the Second Religious Society of Charlton, and popularly called Honest Town, was formed from the west part of Dudley, the southwest part of Charlton and the southeast part of Sturbridge. In 1816 this parish was incorporated to become the township of Southbridge. Among the first settlers was Moses Marcy, who owned a home on the site of what is now Notre Dame church and was elected to Congress, and the Dennison family. Water power from the Quinebaug River made Southbridge a good location for sawmills and gristmills in the 18th century, and textile mills in the 19th century. After the Civil War, many immigrants of Irish and French Canadian descent came to work and live there; by the 1930s they had been joined by Poles, Greeks, Italians and others.
Southbridge has a long history of manufacturing optical products, earning it the unofficial title "Eye of the Commonwealth", in reference to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Under the Wells family, the American Optical Company ("AO") became the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic products, and at its height employed more than 6,000 people around the world. Many of its workers were exempted from the draft during World War II since they were doing vital defense work, including making Norden bombsights and even some work on the atomic bomb.
By the early 1960s, the mill town had a movie theatre, an AM radio station (WESO), and an airport. New immigrants from Puerto Rico, Laos, and Vietnam began arriving in the 1970s and 1980s, and the town now has a significant Hispanic and Puerto Rican population. The American Optical Company shut down in 1984, and Southbridge is still struggling from the loss of these and other manufacturing jobs.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54 km2), of which 20.4 square miles (53 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2), or 2.40%, is water. Southbridge is drained by the Quinebaug River.
The principal road in Southbridge is Route 131, known as Main Street through downtown and East Main Street past the "AO Rotary" and through Sandersdale, a village on the town's east side. North-south roads include Eastford Road and Elm Street (Route 198), and Worcester Street-Mechanic Street-North Woodstock Road (Route 169).
Southbridge was formed out of portions of three of its neighboring towns: Sturbridge to the west, Charlton to the north, and Dudley to the east. The other neighboring towns are Woodstock, Connecticut, and Eastford, Connecticut to the south.
As of the census of 2010, there were 16,719 people, 7,077 households, and 4,522 families residing in the city. The population density was 858.9 people per square mile (326.4/km²). There were 7,511 housing units at an average density of 368.9 per square mile (142.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.2% White, 2.6% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.6% of the population.
There were 7,077 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,913, and the median income for a family was $41,863. Males had a median income of $36,008 versus $25,685 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,514. About 13.0% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.8% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008|
|Party||Number of Voters||Percentage|
The Southbridge Public Library was founded in 1870. In fiscal year 2008, the town of Southbridge spent 1.03% ($426,025) of its budget on its public library—some $25 per person.
Southbridge has three public elementary schools, formerly "neighborhood schools" serving grades K-5. Since the 1988-1989 school year, however, all kindergarten and 1st grade classes have been at Eastford Road School; all of grades 2-3 at Charlton Street School; and all of grades 4-5 at West Street School. Grades 6-8 are at Mary E. Wells Junior High School, the former high school building. Grades 9-12 are at Southbridge High School, which includes the old Cole Trade School building. Southbridge residents can also attend Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton.
In addition to the public schools, a parochial private school, Trinity Catholic Academy, serves pre-k through eighth grade.
Southbridge is served by Southbridge Municipal Airport(3B0), a public owned airport managed through a contract with Jim's Flying Service. Runway 02/20 has a 3501 x 75 feet asphalt surface.
Sites of interest
- The Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities - Arts Center
- Gateway Players Theatre
- New York, New Haven & Hartford Passenger Depot
- Southbridge Little League
- Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center
- Westville Lake and Recreation Area, outdoor recreation area along the Quinebaug River
- Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Jeff Belanger - author, public speaker and paranormal investigator
- Sidney Clarke - congressman
- Kenny Dykstra - professional wrestler
- Michael Earls - Jesuit priest, writer, poet and teacher
- John Fitzgerald - football center
- Félix Gatineau - historian and state legislator
- William L. Marcy - senator and governor of New York, secretary of war, and secretary of state
- Calvin Paige - businessman and congressman
- William Tremblay - poet, novelist and professor
- William Joel "Taz" DiGregorio - longtime member and keyboardist for the Charlie Daniels Band
- Dexter-Russell, cutlery manufacturing company in Southbridge
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Southbridge, Massachusetts
- Hamilton Woolen Company Historic District
- Stonebridge Press, newspaper company based in Southbridge
- Westville Dam
- Seen in the official town seal.
- Although it is called the "Town of Southbridge," it is a statutory city of Massachusetts. See Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
- "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
- "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "American FactFinder".
- "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 15, 2008" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
- C. B. Tillinghast. The free public libraries of Massachusetts. 1st Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts. Boston: Wright & Potter, 1891. Google books
- Jacob Edwards Library. Retrieved 2010-11-10
- July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008; cf. The FY2008 Municipal Pie: What’s Your Share? Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Board of Library Commissioners. Boston: 2009. Available: Municipal Pie Reports. Retrieved 2010-08-04
- Town of Southbridge official website
- Jacob Edwards Library
- All About Town, all things Southbridge
- History and info of Southbridge, MA
- History of Southbridge, MA (PDF)
- The Southbridge Evening News
- yourSouthbridge.com: Events, Activities, and Business Listings
- The Future of Southbridge
- Southbridge History, Old Newspaper Articles, Genealogy
- Links to Southbridge