|Town of Wakefield|
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
|Renamed "Wakefield"||1868 |
|Named for||Cyrus Wakefield|
|• Type||Open town meeting|
|• Administrator||Stephen P. Maio  (through 2018)|
|• Board of Selectmen/Town Council||Ann Santos (through 2022)|
Paul R. DiNocco (through 2021)
|• Town Clerk||Betsy Sheeran|
|• Clerk to the Board of Selectmen||Sherri Dalton|
|• Counsel||Thomas A. Mullen [nb 2]|
|• Total||7.9 sq mi (20.5 km2)|
|• Land||7.5 sq mi (19.3 km2)|
|• Water||0.4 sq mi (1.1 km2)|
|Elevation||100 ft (30 m)|
|• Rank||73rd in Massachusetts|
|• Demonym||Wakefieldian |
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (Eastern)|
|Area code(s)||339 / 781|
|GNIS feature ID||0619410|
(more articles on Wakefield...)
Wakefield is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, incorporated in 1812 and located about 12.5 mi (20.1 km) north-northwest of Downtown Boston. The 73rd most populous municipality in Massachusetts, Wakefield's population was 24,932 at the 2010 census, with a 2016 population estimate of 26,399. Wakefield offers an assortment of activities around the local lake, Lake Quannapowitt.
Wakefield was first settled in 1638 and was originally known as Lynn Village. It officially separated from Lynn and incorporated as Reading in 1644 when the first church (First Parish Congregational Church) and the first mill were established. This first corn mill was built on the Mill River on Water Street, and later small saw mills were built on the Mill River and the Saugus River.
The old parish church became known as the Old or South Parish when in 1713 the North Parish was established. This North Parish later became the town of North Reading. In 1769 the West Parish was established. In 1812 the Old or South Parish of Reading separated from Reading and was officially incorporated as South Reading. At the time it was spelled South Redding, not South Reading.
The railroad was chartered and built in 1844 between Wilmington and Boston. This later became the main line of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The Boston and Maine Foundry was built in 1854 and was later reincorporated as the Smith and Anthony Stove Company. The Boston Ice Company cut and shipped ice from Lake Quannapowitt starting in 1851.
The Rattan Works (which made wicker furniture) was established in 1856 by Cyrus Wakefield. This later grew into the Wakefield Rattan Company and at one time had a thousand employees. In 1868 Cyrus Wakefield donated land and money for a new town hall, and in thanks the town voted to change its name from South Reading to Wakefield. The town hall, currently named for William J. Lee, is located at 1 Lafayette Street.
In 1856 the South Reading Public Library was established, which later became the Beebe Town Library. In 1923, the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library was built and established by Junius Beebe, the son of Lucius Beebe (1810–1884).
The first weekly newspaper in Wakefield was established in 1858.
One of the oldest and largest manufacturers of flying model airplane toys in the world, Paul K. Guillow, Inc. is located in Wakefield. The company is particularly notable for its extensive line of balsa wood model airplane kits.
Route 128 was built along the north edge of the town by 1958, and the American Mutual Insurance Company built its headquarters between Lake Quannapowitt and Route 128. American Mutual had over 1000 employees, most of them commuting to work via Route 128. By the late 1980s American Mutual was in liquidation due to the Woburn W. R. Grace litigation. The headquarters building was sold to the Beal Company and was home to Boston Technology Inc. which invented and manufactured corporate voice mail systems that operated on computer systems. Boston Technology merged in 1997 with Comverse Technology, a digital telecommunications equipment manufacturer, which later bought the building; Wakefield became headquarters of its eventual spinoff, Comverse.
The northeastern part of Wakefield was home to an amusement park, Pleasure Island, billed as "The Disneyland of the Northeast," but the park closed in 1969 after only ten years of operation due to unseasonably cold weather that brought diminishing returns among tourists. In April 1971, a fire burned down much of the amusement park. The area now consists of several office buildings and is called "Edgewater Park".
The bicentennial of the incorporation of Wakefield took place in 2012, whereas 2018 was the sesquicentennial of the 1868 town name change from “South Reading” to “Wakefield.”
On December 26, 2000, seven workers at Edgewater Technology in Wakefield, Massachusetts were shot and killed by an Edgewater Tech employee. The 42-year-old gunman was an application supporter at Edgewater Technology.
During his trial, he stated that he was born without a soul and that God had allowed him to earn a soul by traveling back in time to kill Nazis. However, the prosecution asserted that the killings were motivated by his employer's garnishing of his wages to the IRS, as he failed to pay back taxes. He was found guilty of seven counts of first degree murder and sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
In 2008 this case was studied on the psychology program Most Evil.
Wakefield is located at (42.501345, -71.071324).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.9 square miles (20 km2), of which 7.5 square miles (19 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), or 5.56%, is water.
Wakefield has two lakes, Crystal Lake and Lake Quannapowitt. Crystal Lake is used as a reservoir for some of the town's drinking water; as such, recreation is prohibited on Crystal Lake. Lake Quannapowitt, meanwhile, is used for a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, windsurfing, kayaking, and fishing, and is the primary source of the Saugus River.
In 1847, Lake Quannapowitt was named for the Native American James Quannapowitt, one of the signers of the old Indian Deed of 1686. The earliest settlers referred to the lake simply as the "Greate Pond" or "Reading Pond."
Lake Quannapowitt is also home to the oldest inland yacht club in the United States, Quannapowitt Yacht Club, which was founded in 1886.
Long regarded as "Wakefield's greatest natural resource," Lake Quannapowitt covers an area of 247 acres (1.00 km2). Its outlet is the Saugus River to the Atlantic Ocean. Wakefield Common sits to the south of the lake, and is the site of many recreational activities and events throughout the year. In 1991, a group of local citizens formed "The Friends of Lake Quannapowitt" to advocate for the lake and to educate the public about this natural resource. The group has also raised money for projects that benefit the lake and the surrounding areas.
Wakefield harbors a climate typical to the Northeastern United States, with cold, snowy winters, cool, rainy springs, cool, sunny autumns, and hot, humid summers. The town received, along with many other parts of Massachusetts, 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m) of snow during a January 2011 Nor'Easter. Wakefield also received 27.5 inches (700 mm) or 2.29 feet (0.70 m) of snow during the February 2013 Nor'Easter known as Winter Storm Nemo, and snowfall in Wakefield was unofficially reported as 29.0 inches (740 mm) or 2.42 feet (0.74 m) following the January 2015 Nor'Easter known as Winter Storm Juno.
|Climate data for Wakefield, Massachusetts|
|Average high °F (°C)||35
|Average low °F (°C)||15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||4.36
|Historic populations for Wakefield, Massachusetts, 1850—present|
|* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.|
As of the census of 2010, there were 24,932 people, 9,994 households, 10,500 housing units, and 6,547 families residing in the Town of Wakefield.
The racial makeup of the Town in 2010 was:
In the Town in 2010, there were 9,994 households out of which:
The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the Town in 2010, the population was spread out agewise with:
The median age was 41.9 years, 40.6 for males and 43.0 for females.
The population of Wakefield was 24,915 as of July 2007.
The town's population was 47.4% (11,814) males versus 52.6% (13,101) females.:
The median resident age was 38.9 years, compared to the Massachusetts median age of 36.5.
In 2008, the median household income was $85,011, about $20,000 above Massachusetts as a whole.
The estimated income per capita was $39,918.
Racially, Wakefield broke down as:
Ancestries in Wakefield broke down thus
The cost of living index was listed as 121.4, 21.4 points above the U.S. average.
As of the census of 2000, there were 24,804 people, 9,747 households, and 6,608 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,321.6 people per square mile (1,282.0/km²). There were 9,937 housing units at an average density of 1,330.7 per square mile (513.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.94% White, 0.45% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races.
There were 9,747 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.09.
In the town, the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $66,117, and the median income for a family was $77,834. Males had a median income of $51,591 versus $39,327 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,369. About 1.7% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
Wakefield holds yearly major town meetings to discuss the budget. As it is a town, not a city, Wakefield's main decisions are made, in the New England style, by a Board of Selectmen, which works in collaboration with a town administrator. Stephen Maio was the town administrator as of 2019. Administrator Maio hosts a "Town Administrator's Report" monthly on the public-access television cable TV station, WCAT-TV (about which more below).
A number of other matters are handled by different committees in the town, such as the Finance Committee, or FinCom, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the School Board. The Town Hall houses the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee, as well as other town boards and offices.
|Town Accountant||Kevin Gill|
|Animal Control Officer||Kenneth Stache|
|Health Director||Ruth Clay|
|Building Inspector||John Roberto|
|Council on Aging
|DPW Director||Richard Stinson|
Department (WFD) Chief
|Wakefield Municipal Gas &
|Parking Clerk||Kenneth Stache|
Department (WPD) Chief
|Wakefield School Department
|Tax Collector||Kathleen Kelly|
|Town Administrator||Stephen P. Maio|
|Town Clerk||Mary K. Galvin|
|Town Counsel||Thomas Mullen|
|Town Planner||Paul Reavis|
|Town Treasurer||John J. McCarthy, Jr.|
|Veterans' Services||Hector Errina|
|Water and Sewer Supervisor||Steven Fitzpatrick|
|As of May 2019|
The Board of Selectmen was the name of Wakefield’s primary governing body until 2018, when it changed its name to the “Town Council” in an effort to maintain gender neutrality. “Selectmen” are now called “Councilors.” However, despite the name change, members of the newly formed Town Council are and will be—barring elections—the same as those that composed the Board of Selectmen. A single Councilor term lasts for three years; barring special elections, annual town elections take place each April. The Town Council consisted of, as of May 2019, Ann Santos, Paul DiNocco, Peter J. May, Edward F. Dombroski, Jr., Mehreen N. Butt, Julie Smith-Galvin, and Jonathan Chines. with Betsy Sheeran newly elected to the town clerk position, Sherri A. Dalton as clerk to the Town Council, and Thomas Mullen as town counsel.
In 2013, Selectmen John B. Encarnacao and James E. Good announced that they would not seek reelection. Vice Chair Tiziano Doto was reelected to a three-year term while former Board of Health member Ann Santos won a seat. Former Selectwoman Phyllis Hull returned to the Board with a term lasting through 2016.
Phyllis Hull and Ann Santos both ran for re-election on April 26, 2016, in a field of five. Santos renewed her term; Hull lost out to new Board of Selectmen add-on Anthony J. Longo and Peter J. May.
2016 Special Election (July)
A vacancy on the Board of Selectmen was filled by a Special Town Election held on July 19, 2016. The candidates to fill the vacancy were announced as Daniel L. Benjamin, Jr., Mehreen N. Butt, Christopher J. Callanan, Nathaniel David Gayman, Allyson Gael Houghton, and Phyllis J. Hull. Hull won the election by 31 votes, avenging her defeat of three months prior and filling a vacant seat on the Board of Selectmen. Hull's new term lasted through April 2017.
The 2017 town election was held Tuesday, April 25, 2017. The only incumbent Selectperson on the ballot in this election cycle was Phyllis J. Hull, who was defeated by the two top vote getters, Edward Dombroski Jr. and Mehreen N. Butt.
In the 2018 town election, held on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, two seats were up for election. Paul R. DiNocco renewed his Selectman’s seat while a newcomer to the Wakefieldian political scene, Julie Smith-Galvin, defeated incumbent Selectman Brian Falvey.
Three seats for Town Councilors were to be decided in 2019. Ann Santos and Peter J. May, both incumbents, renewed their terms through 2022. However, Anthony Longo was voted off of the Board of Selectmen/Town Council after receiving fewer votes than the only new member to be elected in 2019, Jonathan Chines.
The Finance Committee, colloquially abbreviated FinCom, is responsible for matters of finance in the town and for setting a budget for the town and its various departments to follow. The fifteen-member committee is composed of, as of February 2017, Chairman Daniel W. Sherman, Vice Chairman James Sullivan, Rebecca Gilding, Joseph Bertrand, Jan Digiambatista, Douglas Butler, Brian Cusack, Dennis Hogan, Peter McManama, Morgan McCauley, Joanne Reilly, Gerard Leeman, Jonathan Chines, Joseph Tringale, and Evan Kenney.
The Wakefield Board of Health (BOH) legislates health policy within the town. As of March 2019, the three-member board is composed of Chair Elaine M. Silva, Vice-Chair Alison Mehlman, and Secretary Laurel Skinder Gourville.
The Wakefield Board of Appeals, alternately known as the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), holds hearings on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month and as of March 2019 consisted of five members, Richard O. Bayrd, James H. McBain, Ami Wall, Chairman David Hatfield, and Charles Tarbell, with Michael Feeley, Thomas Lucey, and Gregory McIntosh as alternates.
Although a somewhat antiquated position, the town of Wakefield, in accordance with other towns in the state of Massachusetts, appoints townspeople to positions of fence viewers. Fence viewers serve advisory positions to property owners before a fence is built on or dividing properties. As of March 2019, Dennis M. Cloherty and James Byrnes serve as fence viewers in Wakefield.
The Town of Wakefield tasked a fifteen-member committee headed by Selectwoman Phyllis Hull to oversee the construction of a World War II Veterans' Memorial on the Upper Common. The memorial includes the names of 72 Wakefieldians who lost their lives during World War II, as well as names of all other Wakefieldians who served in the war. The creation of the committee overseeing the project was authorized in 2007, and the memorial was completed in 2011.
Wakefield is home to two high schools: one public school (Wakefield High School), and one regional vocational school (Northeast Vocational). Wakefield contains one middle school, Galvin Middle School, and five elementary schools, Greenwood, Walton, Woodville, Dolbeare, and Doyle.
The Little Red School House is a former one-room school house building that was last used by kindergarten students on the West Side until the 1980s. It has been preserved and now houses the Wakefield Historical Society.
The Wakefield School Committee oversees Wakefield Public Schools, which is currently headed by superintendent Doug Lyons as of July 1, 2018. Lyons’ Assistant Superintendent is Kara Mauro. The School Committee, as of June 2018, is composed of the following elected members: Chairman Thomas F. Markham, III (2019), Christopher J. Callanan (2020), Anne-Marie Fortier (2020), Greg Liakos (2019), Ronald Masse (2019), Colleen Guida (2021), and Aimee Purcell (2021). The School Committee controls the majority of municipal spending.
Wakefield is roughly composed of the following neighborhoods:
Wakefield has a wide variety of places of worship serving numerous faiths and denominations. Many townspeople are regular attendees at one of the following:
The First Baptist Church of Wakefield (Downtown/Wakefield Square, constructed 1872) served Wakefield for nearly 150 years before being destroyed by a lightning strike and subsequent fire around 7:10 PM EDT, Tuesday, October 23, 2018. It took the rest of the night for firefighters and first responders to extinguish the blaze. As of October 25, the remains of the church were in a pile waiting cleanup. In the aftermath, First Baptist worship services have continued at the nearby First Parish Congregational Church.
An MBTA Commuter Rail station on the Haverhill/Reading Line is located near the center of town as well as a second station in the Greenwood section. A former Boston and Maine Railroad station located east of this line is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Several MBTA buses on Route 136 and Route 137 run to surrounding communities, including the nearby Oak Grove stop as well as Malden Center, both rapid transit stations on the Orange Line. The route 428 bus from Oaklandvale in nearby Saugus to Haymarket in downtown Boston stops on Farm Street in front of Wakefield High School; this bus route runs express to Haymarket. Rt. 128/I-95 runs through Wakefield with exits at Albion Street, North Avenue, Water Street, Vernon Street, New Salem Street, and Salem Street. State Route 129 also passes through Wakefield. US Route 1 runs through nearby Saugus and Lynnfield, while I-93 runs through neighboring Stoneham.
The town is served by two daily newspapers, the locally owned Daily Item, an edition of the Daily Times Chronicle; and a weekly, the Wakefield Observer. The Wakefield Memorial High School has a newspaper, written by the students, recently renamed "WHS exPRESS". The town operates a Public Access cable channel, WCAT Wakefield.
In addition, Wakefield Nation provides election coverage and supports local charitable causes.
Wakefield has a strong local sports fan base and a robust youth sports culture. Wakefield High School has popular football, baseball, softball, hockey and basketball programs. Wakefield High's football team earned a Division II "Super Bowl" title in 1999, and its men's and women's basketball teams won Division II state championships in 1997. Baseball is a popular spring and summer sport in the town, with two men's semiprofessional teams: the Wakefield Merchants, a member of Boston's Intercity Baseball League (and champions of that league in 1978 and 1994), and a team representing the local American Legion post.
Wakefield has many active youth sports leagues. Young athletes in Wakefield can choose to play baseball, basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer, hockey, dance, cheerleading, and softball, among other team sports. The following is a list of the volunteer organizations that maintain these leagues.
The headquarters of The Wakefield Daily Item
Below are some of the notable residents or people from Wakefield, Massachusetts.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wakefield, Massachusetts.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Wakefield (Massachusetts).|