Westwood, Massachusetts

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Westwood, Massachusetts
From left to right: Westwood First Parish Church, inscription on town clock, Fisher School House, Hale Reservation, Town Hall, and the Old Burial Ground
From left to right: Westwood First Parish Church, inscription on town clock, Fisher School House, Hale Reservation, Town Hall, and the Old Burial Ground
Official seal of Westwood, Massachusetts
"Committed to service"
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°12′50″N 71°13′30″W / 42.21389°N 71.22500°W / 42.21389; -71.22500Coordinates: 42°12′50″N 71°13′30″W / 42.21389°N 71.22500°W / 42.21389; -71.22500
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Norfolk
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Total28.8 km2 (11.1 sq mi)
 • Land28.4 km2 (11.0 sq mi)
 • Water0.4 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
67 m (220 ft)
 • Total16,266
 • Density572.7/km2 (1,478.7/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code339 / 781
FIPS code25-78690
GNIS feature ID0618333

Westwood is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,266 at the time of the 2020 United States Census.[1]


Westwood was first settled in 1641 and was part of the town of Dedham, originally called 'West Dedham', until it was officially incorporated in 1897. It was the last town to split from the original town of Dedham. From early in the settlement of Dedham, the people of the Clapboard Trees Precinct were "a wealthy, sophisticated lot, familiar with the bigwigs of provincial politics and prone to the religious liberalism that was à la mode in Boston."[2] Residents did not care for the politically more powerful Calvinist views of those who lived in the village of Dedham and asked to separate.[3]

It was originally to have been named the "Town of Nahatan:"

a bill to incorporate the Town of Nahatan was reported in the Senate on March 8, 1897, by Senator Charles F. Woodward, Chairman of the Committee on Towns. No opposition to the passage of the bill appeared until it reached the House, when the representative from Nahant objected to the name "Nahatan," owing to its alleged similarity to the name Nahant. It was desirable for the old, as well as the new town, to have the question of incorporation settled, if possible, before April 5, when appropriations for the coming year were going to be made. Therefore, in order to remove every trace of friction, however trivial, and thus expedite matters, the name was changed to Westwood.[4]

In July 2005, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Westwood 13th on its list of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 11.1 square miles (29 km2), of which, 11.0 square miles (28 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (1.35%) is water.

Adjacent towns[edit]

Westwood is located in eastern Massachusetts, bordered by:

  • the town of Needham to the north
  • the town of Dedham to the east
  • the town of Canton to the southeast
  • the town of Norwood to the south
  • the town of Walpole to the southwest
  • the town of Dover to the west


Historical population
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 14,117 people, 5,122 households and 3,867 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,286.7 people per square mile (496.9/km2). There were 5,251 housing units at an average density of 478.6/sq mi (184.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.98% White, 0.50% African American, 0.04% Native American, 2.48% Asian, 0.21% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.94% of the population.

There were 5,122 households, out of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.1% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.24.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 27.8% under the age of 18, 3.4% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $128,984, and the median income for a family was $157,656. Males had a median income of $71,801 versus $46,194 for females. The per capita income for the town was $71,553. About 1.3% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.5% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.


The town of Westwood operates under a home rule charter. This means that the town is given a degree of autonomy in regards to internal affairs. The charter defines the powers of elected boards, including the select board, which serves as the executive branch of government and hires a Town Administrator responsible for day-to-day operations of town departments. The legislative branch operates through open town meeting, which meets at least once and often twice a year where all residents are entitle to speak and vote on approval of warrant articles which authorize the town budget and may create or modify town bylaws. Select Board members and other town officials are elected through an annual town election at the end of April. The select board appoints residents to various volunteer boards and committees. The Town Administrator appoints town staff who manage public safety, recreation, and other services. The Select Board has three members who serve overlapping three-year terms. Michael F. Walsh, John M. Hickey, and Robert Gotti are currently Westwood's Select Board officials. Hickey's term will be up in 2022, Walsh’s in 2023 and Gotti’s in 2024.[12]

The town seal, designed by a descendant of Nathaniel Colburn, includes a drawing of the Town Pound.[13] On May 14, 1700, Lt. Joseph Colburn[a] was paid "forty shillings of the Town rate" for constructing an animal pound measuring 33' square on his land.[13][b] The pound was originally made out of wood and later reconstructed with stone.[13] By including the tree, the new town was paying homage to Dedham, which includes the Avery Oak on its seal.[13] The tree was toppled in the 1938 New England hurricane, but a new oak was planted in its place.[13]


Public schools[edit]

Westwood has five public elementary schools:

  • Deerfield
  • Downey
  • Paul R. Hanlon (originally Pine Hill)
  • Martha Jones
  • William E. Sheehan (originally Pond Plain)

Westwood has one public middle school, Thurston Middle School,[14] named after Edmund W. Thurston. Westwood High School, the only high school in Westwood, serves the Westwood area.

Westwood High School was rebuilt over 15 years ago, and the old school, built in 1957, was demolished. The gymnasium and swimming facility from the old school were refurbished and are part of the new high school campus. The school facilities also include a multi-use artificial turf field (named after former Westwood High School principal and teacher Charles Flahive) with a synthetic track, both of which are open to the public.

Private schools[edit]

Westwood is home to Xaverian Brothers High School, an all-boys Catholic prep school and the Westwood Montessori School, preschool.

Points of interest[edit]

  • Hale (formerly called Hale Reservation) – a private non-profit educational organization with 1,137 acres of land, including beaches and walking trails.
  • Westwood Library – On April 7, 2010, Library Trustees hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the town's new library. The new building was opened in Summer 2013.
  • Colburn School – A school built in 1877 that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • University Station – A recently built outdoor mall with restaurants, shops, and condos. University Station abuts Route 128 station, a rail station serving Amtrak and the MBTA commuter rail.
  • The rock that King Philip's men hid inside during King Philip's War.
  • Buckmaster Pond

Houses of worship[edit]

  • First Baptist Church of Westwood, 808 High Street (Association: American Baptist)
  • First Parish of Westwood United Church, 252 Nahatan Street (Association: United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association).
  • Temple Beth David, 7 Clapboardtree Street (Association: Union for Reform Judaism)
  • St. Denis Parish, 157 Washington Street (Association: Catholic Archdiocese of Boston)
  • St. John's Episcopal Church, 95 Deerfield Avenue (Association: Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Massachusetts) stjohnswestwood.org
  • St. Margaret Mary Parish, 845 High Street (Association: Catholic Archdiocese of Boston)

Westwood has an active Interfaith Council.



  • The remains of a cave sit along Route 109, that King Philip and his men hid inside during King Philip's War. The massive rock that once contained the cave was known as the "Oven's Mouth." It was blown up along with most of the cave in the 1950s to straighten out Route 109.
  • Maj. Robert Steele, the Continental Army drummer boy during the Battle of Bunker Hill, is buried in the old Westwood Cemetery off Route 109.
  • Westwood is home of the oldest animal pound in the United States.
  • Westwood was a dry town until 2005. Restaurants can now apply for liquor licenses.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Colburn lived from 1662 to 1718. He was the 11th and last child of Nathaniel Colburn. He was a town surveyor and set the boundary between Dedham and Medfield as well as between Dedham and Dorchester. He also laid out highways and cartways in town. Additionally, he was a constable and a tithingman. As such, he was responsible for maintaining moral family order.[13]
  2. ^ In 1639, the land was originally granted to Rev. John Allin.[13]


  1. ^ "Census - Geography Profile: Westwood town, Norfolk County, Massachusetts". Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  2. ^ Lockridge 1985, p. 101.
  3. ^ Lockridge, Kenneth (1985). A New England Town. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-393-95459-3.
  4. ^ Dedham Historical Register, Vol. VIII. April, 1897. No. 2, "The New Town of Westwood"
  5. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  6. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2003-03-13. 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-08-05. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  9. ^ "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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved July 12, 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  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. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  11. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. ^ Westwood, Town Of. "Town Of Westwood, MA Election Results". Westwood MA. Westwood MA. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Dedham Historical Society & Museum trivia answer". The Dedham Times. Vol. 29, no. 45. November 12, 2021. p. 8.
  14. ^ "Thurston Middle School". Westwood Public Schools. Retrieved 14 December 2016.

External links[edit]