Shutesbury, Massachusetts

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Shutesbury, Massachusetts
Community Church
Community Church
Official seal of Shutesbury, Massachusetts
Nickname(s): Roadtown
Location in Franklin County in Massachusetts
Location in Franklin County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°27′23″N 72°24′37″W / 42.45639°N 72.41028°W / 42.45639; -72.41028Coordinates: 42°27′23″N 72°24′37″W / 42.45639°N 72.41028°W / 42.45639; -72.41028
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Franklin
Settled 1735
Incorporated 1761
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 27.2 sq mi (70.4 km2)
 • Land 26.6 sq mi (68.9 km2)
 • Water 0.6 sq mi (1.5 km2)
Elevation 1,225 ft (373 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,800
 • Density 66/sq mi (26/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 01072
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-61905
GNIS feature ID 0619382

Shutesbury is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 1,800 at the 2010 census.[1] It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Shutesbury was first settled in 1735, when it was called 'Road Town because it was chartered under an application to build a road connecting valley towns with markets to the Northeast. Road Town was officially incorporated as Shutesbury in 1761. The town was renamed in honor of Samuel Shute, former governor. Initially, town bylaws enforced clearing for hay for the purpose of livestock raising, primarily cows, then sheep during the brief expansion of textile mills in the valley. More recently, forestry has been an important economic activity in the town, while croplands have shrunk dramatically (second greatest type of land use loss in recent decades, according to the Town Master Plan). The town remains one of the most heavily forested in the area even so. Shutesbury enjoys a disproportionate number of professionals; cottage businesses and professional services are another important part of the town's economy. Because of its low population density and large ratio of conserved spaces, Shutesbury is one of the few towns in the area to retain a striclty rural character, where people still stroll the tree-lined streets regularly.

Shutesbury has not experienced significant population change since the end of WWII, with expansion pressures much lower than surrounding towns. The population remains around 1800 (2010 census), while that number represents a slow increase over several decades. Though Franklin County remains the fastest-growing county in Massachusetts, Shutesbury has not experienced the population pressures of nearby towns. The town has carefully managed zoning to prevent industrial contamination and suburban sprawl, making Shutesbury one of the few towns proximal to the valley that enjoys unpolluted water and expansive open spaces. Even though it is a small town, Shutesbury enjoys two large State Forests, Lake Wyola, where boating, fishing and swimming are available, with a kayak lending program for residents by grace of the Town Library, as well as extensive stretches of the Quabbin Reserve, which forms a large portion of the town on the East.

The December 2008 New England ice storm (December 11–12, 2008) inflicted damage on trees near roads and power lines in the town [the forests here are fine; there is no visible damage that can be tied to the storm], coating trees with a ½-inch to 1-inch thick layer of ice. Tree limbs came crashing down on power lines, houses, and cars. Power was out in Shutesbury for up to ten days, and the state of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. The estimated cost of cleaning up ranged from $50,000 to $100,000. The National Guard was called in to help with cleanup, and the worst-hit part of town, Wendell Road and Pelham Hill Road, was decimated by fallen trees. [Why is this here? Every town in the region suffered the same event. It's not really anything particular to Shutesbury and it is only one of many such storms.]

In recent decades, Shutesbury enacted strict bylaws to protect the town's uncompromised aquifer, the abundance of open space and rural character by preventing the opening of back lots to surburban sprawl and carefully guarding the town's abundant wetlands. In preserving the town's character, the town has collaterally prevented traffic congestion and air pollution. With no street lights, Shutesbury is a rare town in that it enjoys actual night darkness. By contrast, towns to the immediate West suffer from groundwater contamination, congestion and significant air pollution.

[Not true, I have 5Mbit DSL, and many of us here do not care about high-speed internet. We have other priorities.] As of 2015, Shutesbury still has limited access to high-speed internet; about 1/2 the town has access to 3Mbit/s DSL, while some rely on universal-placement satellite uplinks or dial-up access. The Boston Globe ran a story in 2005 describing Shutesbury and its neighboring town, Leverett, as one of "America's Broadband Black Holes".[2] [This is not true. I live in the geographic center of town and our cell reception is just fine here.]

A 2012 attempt to pass a ballot measure to fund building a new library for the town resulted in an electoral tie, defeated on appeal. $233,232.93 in personal pledges and grants were raised kickstart the effort.[3][4] The current library, the first to ever be built in Shutesbury, was erected in 1902, is 768 square feet, similar to town libraries of other towns of the same size in the same area. The memorial library hosts family film nights, cultural events, and a kayak and tackle lending program for residents.[5] Town residents enjoy access to 5 colleges and universities a short drive away, while avoiding all the pitfalls of overdevelopment.

Geography and transportation[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.2 square miles (70 km2), of which 26.6 square miles (69 km2) are land and 0.6-square-mile (1.6 km2) (2.06%) is water. Shutesbury lies at the northern end of the western branch of the Quabbin Reservoir. The West Branch of the Swift River still flows through town to the reservoir, and the eastern half of town is defined by the hills leading to the river. The brooks in the eastern part of town lead to this river, while the brooks in the western part of town flow towards the Connecticut River. In the northwest corner of town lies the Wyola Reservoir, surrounded by marshes. The center of town is dominated by high plains, between the valley ridge and the hills on the edge of the Pioneer Valley. A portion of the hills in the eastern part of town are protected as part of the Shutesbury State Forest.

Shutesbury lies along the southern border of Franklin County, along the border of Hampshire County. Shutesbury is bordered by Wendell to the north, New Salem to the east, Pelham to the south, Amherst to the southwest, and Leverett to the west. The town center lies 17 miles (27 km) southeast of the county seat of Greenfield, 30 miles (48 km) north of Springfield, and 81 miles (130 km) west of Boston.

The town has no interstates or limited-access highways, lying east of Interstate 91 and south of Massachusetts Route 2. U.S. Route 202, known locally as Daniel Shays Highway, is the only highway through town, entering from Pelham and heading through the southeast corner of town before heading into New Salem. There are no means of mass transit within the town, with the nearest railroad passing through Leverett and Amherst along the Amtrak Vermonter line. The nearest general aviation airports are north of the town, in Montague and Orange, with the nearest national air service being at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1840 997 —    
1850 912 −8.5%
1860 798 −12.5%
1870 614 −23.1%
1880 529 −13.8%
1890 453 −14.4%
1900 382 −15.7%
1910 267 −30.1%
1920 242 −9.4%
1930 222 −8.3%
1940 191 −14.0%
1950 213 +11.5%
1960 265 +24.4%
1970 489 +84.5%
1980 1,049 +114.5%
1990 1,561 +48.8%
2000 1,810 +16.0%
2010 1,771 −2.2%

Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 1,810 people, 662 households, and 479 families residing in the town. The population density was 68.0 people per square mile (26.3/km²). There were 807 housing units at an average density of 30.3 per square mile (11.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.70% White, 1.05% African American, 0.55% Native American, 1.27% Asian, 0.44% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.15% of the population.

There were 662 households out of which 44.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.5% were non-families. 17.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the town the population was spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 5.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $60,438, and the median income for a family was $65,521. Males had a median income of $44,000 versus $32,069 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,260. About 1.0% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.8% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Shutesbury town, Franklin County, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved August 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Russell, Jenna (Aug 24, 2005). "Internet yearning in Western Mass. hills". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Contrada, Fred (May 4, 2012). "Judge's ruling kills Shutesbury library project". The Republican. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "M.N. Spear Memorial Library". Retrieved 13 May 2012. Total donations and pledges received to date: $233,232.93 Included in the total above is $60,291.82 of donations and pledges received toward the $150,000 challenge gift. 
  5. ^ "History of the Spear Library". Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010. 
  7. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). 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. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit]