Dunstable, Massachusetts

Coordinates: 42°40′30″N 71°29′00″W / 42.67500°N 71.48333°W / 42.67500; -71.48333
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Dunstable, Massachusetts
The town hall
The town hall
Official seal of Dunstable, Massachusetts
"The Profit of the Field is for All"
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°40′30″N 71°29′00″W / 42.67500°N 71.48333°W / 42.67500; -71.48333
CountryUnited States
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Total16.7 sq mi (43.4 km2)
 • Land16.6 sq mi (42.9 km2)
 • Water0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
224 ft (68 m)
 • Total3,358
 • Density202.3/sq mi (78.3/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code351 / 978
FIPS code25-17825
GNIS feature ID0618222

Dunstable (/ˈdʌnstəbəl/ DUN-stə-bəl) is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,358 at the 2020 census.[1]


Dunstable was named after its sister town Dunstable, England. There are several theories concerning its modern name. In one version, legend tells that the lawlessness of the time was personified in a thief called Dun. Wishing to capture Dun, the King stapled his ring to a post daring the robber to steal it. It was, and was subsequently traced to the house of the widow Dun. Her son, the robber, was taken and hanged to the final satisfaction that the new community bore his name.[2] Another theory is that it comes from the Anglo-Saxon for "the boundary post of Duna".[2][3] A third version is that the name is derived from Dunum, or Dun, a hill, and Staple, a marketplace.[4]


Old map of Dunstable from 1846 showing the towns and the disputed state line with the original Dunstable tract line

Dunstable was first settled by Europeans in 1656 and was officially incorporated in 1673. It is likely named after the town of Dunstable in Bedfordshire, England, home of Edward Tyng, the town's first settler. The original township of Dunstable, granted in 1661, consisted of two hundred square miles, including the Massachusetts towns of Dunstable, Pepperell, Townsend and Tyngsborough, the New Hampshire towns of Hudson, Nashua and Hollis, and parts of other towns as well. Increases in population leading to subsections becoming independent towns and the delineation of the northern boundary of Massachusetts in 1740 placed the northern part of Dunstable (present day Nashua) in New Hampshire, so the southern part remains the Dunstable of today.

Today, Dunstable, in the face of urban sprawl, has held onto a largely rural character.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.7 square miles (43 km2), of which 16.5 square miles (43 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.13%) is water. Dunstable is bordered by Pepperell to the west, Groton to the south, Tyngsborough to the east, and Nashua and Hollis, New Hampshire, to the north.

The main road and only numbered route through Dunstable is Route 113; the nearest limited-access highway is US 3, two miles to the east. Dunstable does not have any public transportation in the form of trains or buses.


Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 2,826 people, 923 households, and 798 families residing in the town. The population density was 171.0 inhabitants per square mile (66.0/km2). There were 944 housing units at an average density of 57.0 per square mile (22.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.49% White, 0.11% African American, 0.04% Native American, 1.52% Asian, 0.07% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.53% of the population.

There were 923 households, out of which 47.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.7% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 13.5% were non-families. 10.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 31.1% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $86,633, and the median income for a family was $92,270. Males had a median income of $61,425 versus $39,946 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,608. About 2.1% of families and 1.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.


In a typical year, Dunstable, Massachusetts temperatures fall below 50 °F (10 °C) for 195 days per year. Annual precipitation is typically 44.2 inches per year (high in the US) and snow covers the ground 68 days per year or 18.6% of the year (high in the US). It may be helpful to understand the yearly precipitation by imagining 9 straight days of moderate rain per year. The humidity is below 60% for approximately 25.4 days or 7% of the year.[17]


District schools[edit]

  • Boutwell School
  • Swallow Union Elementary School
  • Florence Roche Elementary School
  • Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School
  • Groton-Dunstable Regional High School
  • Prescott Elementary School (Closed after the 2007–2008 school year due to budget cuts)[18]

Other public schools[edit]

Points of interest[edit]

  • "The Little Red Schoolhouse" is a historical building located on route 113 near the Tyngsborough border. This school house originally came from Tyngsborough. Local students take field trips there to historically re-enact a school day. An annual Strawberry Festival is also held there. Boy Scout Troop 28 of Dunstable holds a Mother's Day pancake breakfast there every year.
  • The "Sarah R. S. Roby" Town Hall in located at 511 Main Street (Rt. 113) was built in 1909 and renovated in 2003. Most town offices are located here as well as meeting rooms for various meetings and events.
  • The Town Commons across from the Dunstable Town Hall on Rt. 113 is the site of many town events including the summer "Concerts on the Common" live performance series and the Grange Fair in August. This is also the site for the annual auto in Dunstable.
  • The Dunstable Evangelical Congregational Church (DECC) is located at 518 Main Street, adjacent to the Town Commons and directly across from Town Hall. While the congregation was established in that location in 1831, the current building dates from the early 1900s. Because it is the only church in town, it is often called simply "the Dunstable Church".
  • The Dunstable Free Library is located at 588 Main Street. In addition to the collection of books, periodicals, movies, children's activities and historic items (which include a collection of typewriters and miscellaneous Girl Scouting materials), it is the site of many community activities as well as the site for town elections.
  • Blanchard Hill is a 39-acre (16 ha) conservation area[19] and the site of a former ski resort.[20]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Dunstable town, Middlesex County, Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Adrian Room, ed. (1996), Brewer's dictionary of Fame and Fable (1st ed.), ISBN 0-304-34869-4
  3. ^ Sunday Times Travel, January 6, 2008, p. 46
  4. ^ Genuki entry for Dunstable, Accessed 26_12_09
  5. ^ "Total Population (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
  6. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  7. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  8. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  9. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). 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.
  10. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). 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.
  11. ^ "1890 Census of the Population" (PDF). 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.
  12. ^ "1870 Census of the Population" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "1860 Census" (PDF). 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.
  14. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  15. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  17. ^ "Climate in Dunstable, Massachusetts". Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  18. ^ "Prescott Home Page". Archived from the original on February 16, 2010.
  19. ^ "LIST OF PARCELS IN DUNSTABLE" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  20. ^ "DUNSTABLE RECONNAISSANCE REPORT" (PDF). Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]