Acton is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, approximately twenty-one miles west-northwest of Boston along Route 2 west of Concord and about ten miles (16 km) southwest of Lowell. The population was 21,929 at the 2010 census. It is bordered by Westford and Littleton to the north, Concord and Carlisle to the east, Stow, Maynard, and Sudbury to the south and Boxborough to the west. Acton became an incorporated town in 1735. The town employs the Open Town Meeting form of government with a Town Manager and an elected, five-member Board of Selectmen. Acton was named the 11th Best Place To Live among small towns in the country by Money Magazine in 2015, and the 16th best in 2009 and in 2011. The local high school, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Acton-Boxborough #3 among open enrollment high schools and #7 overall for STEM education in the United States.
Acton Town Hall
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Acton (the United States)
Acton (North America)
|• Type||Open Town Meeting|
|• Town Manager||John S. Mangiaratti|
| • Board of |
|• Total||20.3 sq mi (52.5 km2)|
|• Land||20.0 sq mi (51.7 km2)|
|• Water||0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)|
|Elevation||260 ft (79 m)|
|• Density||1,037.7/sq mi (401.4/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
|Area code(s)||978, 351|
|GNIS feature ID||0618213|
Acton is located at United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 20.3 square miles (53 km2), of which 20.0 square miles (52 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 1.53 percent, is water. Almost all of Acton is forested, except for where it has been cleared for residential or agricultural use. Some forested areas have been put aside for special use by corporations.. According to the
The current geography of Acton was created when the last wave of glaciers retreated approximately ten thousand years ago. Acton has nine drumlins — hills which are composed of glacial till. In addition, Wills Hole and Grassy Pond are kettle ponds which were formed in depressions in the till formed by large blocks of ice.
Acton has two primary stream systems: the Nashoba Brook system including the incoming streams Butter Brook, Wills Hole Brook and Conant Brook and the Fort Pond Brook system including the incoming streams Guggins Brook, Inch Brook, Grassy Pond Brook, Pratt's Brook and Coles Brook. Both stream systems empty into the Assabet River, which passes briefly through the town at its southern corner. Nagog Pond in the north, forms Acton's border with the Town of Littleton and provides drinking water to the Town of Concord. A small artificial pond is at NARA Park in North Acton.
While Acton Center has been the civic center of the town since the revolution, the four other village centers earned their nomenclature from the names of their corresponding railroad station.
The current Master Plan for the town encourages development in the village centers in an attempt to prevent further sprawl and preserve open space in the rest of the town.
|* = population estimate. |
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
According to the 2010 census, there were 21,924 residents, a 7.84% increase from 2000 and 5,958 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,080.5 per square mile (417.0/km²). There were 8,530 total housing units, 96% of which were occupied, at an average density of 384.6 per square mile (148.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 77.3% White, 18.6% Asian, 1.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.2% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races.
Of the 8,187 occupied households, 42.7% had children under the age of eighteen living with them, 63.5% were husband-wife married couples living together. 23.0% of all households were occupied by individuals 65 years of age or older living alone. The age distribution of the population was 29.5% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.2 males. For every 100 females age eighteen and over, there were 94.2 males. For those age 25 years or older in Acton during the 2000 census, 97.2% had a high school degree or higher, 72.0% had a bachelor's degree or higher, and 40.5% had a graduate degree or higher. Also, 98.0% were employed with a mean commute time of 31.0 minutes.
The median income for a household in the town is $133,532, and the median income for a family is $156,388. Males had a median income of $109,371 versus $48,113 for females. The per capita income for the town was $61,034. About 1.7% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
|Rank||ZIP Code (ZCTA)||Per capita
|1||01718 (Nagog Woods)||$62,059||$132,981||$145,750||343||167|
Acton's history reflects the history of Massachusetts, New England, and the United States.
Acton was first settled by Native Americans who used the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord rivers for transportation and the fields for farming seasonal crops. There is evidence of Native American settlements in Acton which go back 7,000 years. When the colonists arrived in this area, the Native American population dropped dramatically due to European diseases for which they had no immunity.
Isaac Davis' birth house in Acton, Massachusetts in 1905 (left) and 2015 (right)
Concord was the first inland colonial town established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The original boundaries of Concord included all of Acton and residents used the Acton land as grazing fields for their animals. In 1639, the first homestead was built within the modern day boundaries of the town.
Acton residents participated in the growing hostility with Great Britain by sending a list of grievances to King George III on Oct. 3rd, 1774. The anniversary of this day is celebrated in Acton as Crown Resistance Day.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, on April 19, 1775, a company of minutemen from Acton responded to the call to arms initiated by Paul Revere (who rode with other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, with Prescott the only one of the three who was able reach Acton itself) and fought at the North Bridge in Concord as part of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The Acton minutemen were led by Captain Isaac Davis. When a company was needed to lead the advance on the bridge which was defended by the British regulars, Captain Davis was heard to reply, "I haven't a man who is afraid to go." The Acton men led because, unlike other militias there, they were fully equipped with bayonets.
The colonists advanced on the bridge; in the exchange of musket fire that followed, Captain Isaac Davis and Private Abner Hosmer of Acton were killed. Davis was the first officer to die in the American Revolutionary War. In Acton they refer to "the battle of Lexington, fought in Concord, by men of Acton."
During the 19th century, Acton participated in the growing Industrial Revolution. By the mid-19th century, Acton was an industrial center for the production of barrels (cooperage). There were also a powder mill, three gristmills and four sawmills in town. The American Powder Mills complex extended downstream along the Assabet River and manufactured gunpowder from 1835 to 1940.
On October 1, 1844, the railroad came to Acton. The Fitchburg Railroad was routed through South and West Acton so that it could serve the mills. South Acton became a busy rail center and was the division point for the Marlborough Branch Railroad. With the railroad came increasing development in those areas. In addition to the Fitchburg Railroad, two others crossed the town: the Nashua and Acton, and the Framingham and Lowell. These two railroads shared a double track right-of-way that ran from West Concord (aka Concord Junction) through East Acton and then splitting in North Acton in the vicinity of Route 27 and Ledge Rock Way.
In 1874, the population of the town was almost 1700. The town established its first newspaper, The Acton Patriot, and the residents of West Acton formed the first library, The Citizen's Library. In 1890, the Memorial Library was completed and given to the town by William A. Wilde as a memorial to the Acton soldiers who fought in the Civil War.
Acton uses the Open Town Meeting form of town government. The town charter specifies that the annual town meeting must begin on the first Monday in April. The selectmen may also call a special town meeting at other times of the year to consider other business. Citizens may force a special town meeting by submitting a petition signed by 200 registered voters to the town clerk. Anyone may attend Town Meeting but only registered voters may vote. Acton also has a water district, which is run separately from town government, as a public utility.
Acton's elected officials include the following: the Board of Selectmen (5 members, 3-year terms), the Town Moderator (1 person, 1-year term), Acton members of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee (7 members, 3-year terms), the Housing Authority (4 members, 5-year terms) and Memorial Library Trustees (3 members, 3-year terms). In addition, the town moderator appoints a finance committee (9 members, 3-year terms) which issues an opinion on each of the warrant articles presented to Town Meeting. In addition, a separate and independent branch of government, the Acton Water District, was established in 1912 and consists of three elected Commissioners, an elected Moderator, an elected Clerk, an appointed District Counsel, Finance Committee, Water Land Management Advisory Committee, and paid professional staff.
The town services are primarily funded through the residential property tax, which is subject to the limitations imposed by state statute known as Proposition 2½. The Water District is funded through water rates, connection fees and property rental. The Water District revenues, however, are not subject to Proposition 2½.
On the state level, Acton is represented in the Massachusetts Senate by James "Jamie" Eldridge, and in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by Jennifer Benson and Tami Gouveia. On the federal level, Acton is part of Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district, represented by Lori Trahan. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate is Elizabeth Warren. The junior (Class II) senator is Ed Markey.
The civic infrastructure grew to accommodate the increasing population. A Water District was established in 1912 and a town-wide Fire Department was established in 1913. Acton was the first town in the area to have water-bound macadam highways.
In 2005 a new Public Safety Facility was built that expanded space for the Police Department and provided for a Joint Dispatch area with the Fire Department.
The Acton Water District is a community public water supply that delivers drinking water to the majority (about 90 percent) of the residents of the town of Acton, Massachusetts. All of the water provided from the District comes from seven wells located within the town of Acton. The District's system consists of 106 miles (171 km) of water main, four storage tanks, and water treatment facilities including aeration, activated granulated carbon (GAC), an advanced Zenon(R) filtration facility, plus fluoridation and state mandated chlorination.
Most homes and businesses in Acton (approximately 80%) use private on-site sewage systems (i.e. septic tanks). Higher density developments such as condominiums and apartment buildings (approximately 10% of the town) use private sewers which go to small-scale private treatment plants.
In 2001, Acton completed its first public sewer system, which serves approximately 10% of the town, primarily in South Acton. A betterment fee is charged to property owners whose property is sited proximate to the sewage lines, whether or not they connect to the system.
Acton has a total of over 1,650 acres (7 km2) of town-owned conservation lands.
These town conservation areas, and some smaller ones, are described and mapped in a website maintained by the town's volunteer Land Stewardship Committee.
At the beginning of the 20th century, each village in Acton had its own grade school, but the town struggled with how to provide a high school education for its students. Until 1925, Acton students were sent to Concord's high school.
In 1953, new schools were constructed to accommodate the growth in the student population. In 1957, Acton and Boxborough created a regional school district for grades 7–12. In 2014, the regional school district was expanded to include the elementary schools of each town. The Merriam School was constructed in 1958. Other schools quickly followed: Douglas (1966), Gates (1968), and Conant (1971). In 1967 a building was constructed for the junior high. In 1973 a huge addition was added to this building and it became the high school; the junior high moved to the old high school building.
The Acton Boxborough Regional School District operates five elementary schools in Acton as well as Acton public School Pre-school. The School District also operates the Blanchard Elementary school in neighboring Boxborough.
Acton has an uncommon method of assigning students to elementary schools, called "Open Enrollment." First-time incoming kindergarten parents participate in a lottery-based selection process where the parents "choose" the school by listing their preferences in ranked order. Boxborough students have priority for attendance in the school in their own town, but participate in the lottery if they wish to attend an Acton school. Any remaining spaces at Blanchard become available in the lottery.
This method of school choice has a large impact on the nature of the town. Acton is less oriented around neighborhoods than towns which have neighborhood based schools. This carries over into the recreational youth sport organizations whose teams are not organized around specific elementary schools. As a result, students and families are likely to have broad social connections in all parts of the town rather than being limited to neighborhoods. School Choice also benefits the towns real estate market since home valuations are not impacted by the perceived desirability of given neighborhood's school.
While the curriculum in the district is fairly standardized, each of the elementary schools has a different teaching philosophy. The schools and their philosophy of education are:
The Acton-Boxborough Regional School has a single Junior High School (Raymond J. Grey Junior High School) for grades 7 & 8 and a single High School (Acton-Boxborough Regional High School) for grades 9 through 12. The regional district accepts some students from other neighboring towns as 'choice' students if the school committee decides this is in the best interest of the district. Both the junior high and high school were enlarged and renovated in 2000–2005. Both buildings are located at the school district campus in Acton.
Current enrollment at the Junior High is approximately 1,000 students while the High School has roughly 2,000 students. The High School was ranked as the 3rd best public school in the Greater Boston area (defined as within I-495) by Boston Magazine in 2014.
Acton has two public libraries: the Acton Memorial Library and the West Acton Citizens' Library. The Acton Memorial Library was given to the town of Acton by William Allan Wilde as a memorial to its Civil War veterans in 1890. The building was expanded in 1967, and a second major expansion was completed in 1999. There are also libraries in each of the elementary schools, the Junior High, and the High School. The Acton Historical Society owns the Jenks Library which contains historical maps, documents, photographs and drawings.
Though there are several theater groups in Acton, the two eldest are Theatre III and Open Door Theater. The multi award-winning Theatre III was founded in 1956 when three organizations (a local chorus, dance group, and dramatic troupe) combined to present a show. It produces several plays and musicals each season in the historical old church building on Central Street.
Open Door Theater is a community theater group which was founded to provide an inclusive theater experience. Open Door produces one large musical each year which features a large number of performers ranging in age from 9 to adult including people with special needs. They perform and rehearse in the Dragonfly Theatre, located inside the R. J. Grey Junior High School.
The MBTA Commuter Rail Fitchburg Line train stops at the South Acton station. South Acton is a major station on the line at which many trains terminate. Besides the urban stops at Cambridge (Porter Square) and Boston (North Station Terminal), it is the only station on the line at which all trains stop. Railroad service provided to Fitchburg, Leominster, Shirley, Ayer, Littleton, Concord, Lincoln, Weston, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, and Boston.
Yankee Lines provides a commuter bus service to Copley Square in Boston from the intersection of Routes 2A and 119 in Acton.
The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail provides a paved bicycle commuter option north to Westford, Chelmsford and Lowell. The Assabet River Rail Trail provides a connection south to Maynard. The trails do not have lighting and are not snowplowed.
Media related to Acton, Massachusetts at Wikimedia Commons
Acton-Boxborough Regional High School (ABRHS) is an open enrollment high school in Acton, Massachusetts. A part of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, it serves the Massachusetts towns of Acton and Boxborough and has students in grades 9 through 12. It is situated downhill from the Raymond J. Grey Junior High School, at 36 Charter Road in Acton. Raymond J. Grey Junior High School occupies the facility that, until 1973, was the high school.
In 1999 A 16-year-old started multiple fires, the first fire began in a trash bin in an electrical closet near the gymnasium. The second, a five-alarm blaze in the school auditorium, forced the evacuation of all 1,300 students and canceled school the following day. The fire seriously damaged the auditorium, gutting the stage and rigging, and requiring the replacement of 50,000 ceiling tiles and four HVAC units. Parts of the school's math and science wing were also damaged. No students or staff were injured, but two firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation. The fire raged out of control for about an hour, until enough fire equipment and fire-fighting personnel could be assembled at the scene. A boy who said he was in charge of lights and sound in the auditorium said he first saw the flames as they were crawling up the curtains of the stage, he ran and pulled the fire alarm. ABRHS underwent $40,168,552.00 renovation and expansion in 2005.ABRHS School Fire Video on YouTube
ABRHS was one of 39 American high schools named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Acton-Boxborough #3 among open enrollment high schools and #7 overall for STEM education. Nonprofit group GreatSchools ranked Acton #2 among small cities nationwide for its public education. ABRHS has achieved this success while serving many immigrant and limited-English-proficient students and maintaining per-pupil spending below the state average.The National Wildlife Federation awarded ABRHS a Green Flag Award for its work to increase environmental awareness and promote environmental stewardship. ABRHS is also set to receive environmental awards from the Massachusetts state government and the National Energy Education Development Project.Acton-Boxborough Regional School District
Acton-Boxborough Regional School District (ABRSD) is a school district headquartered in Acton, Massachusetts and serving Acton and Boxborough in the Boston metropolitan area.Bob Brooke
Robert William Brooke (born December 18, 1960 in Melrose, Massachusetts and raised in West Acton, Massachusetts) is a retired American professional ice hockey forward who played 447 games in the National Hockey League between 1984 and 1990.
Brooke was the first of the "AB Pros," the handful of NHL players that grew up through the Acton-Boxborough youth hockey program of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s (Tom Barrasso, Ted Crowley, Bob Sweeney, Ian Moran, and Jeff Norton). He graduated from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in 1979. After graduation, Brooke played for the Yale University men's ice hockey team graduating in 1984 due to his hiatus to play international hockey as a member of the United States national team at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. He also played baseball for Yale alongside future New York Mets' pitcher Ron Darling.In the NHL, he played for the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and New Jersey Devils. After joining the NHL, he also played for US team in the 1984 Canada Cup, 1985 and 1987 Ice Hockey World Championships as well as the 1987 Canada Cup.Brad Norton
Brad Norton (born February 13, 1975) is an American former professional ice hockey Defenseman. Norton played for five seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).Dexter Keezer
Dexter Morriam Keezer (24 August 1895 – June 24, 1991) was a United States economist and served as president of Reed College from 1934–42.Drew Houston
Andrew W. Houston (; born March 4, 1983) is an American billionaire Internet entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, an online backup and storage service. According to Forbes, his net worth is about $2.2 billion. Houston held 24.4 percent voting power in Dropbox before filing for IPO in February 2018.Evelyn Stevens
Evelyn Stevens (born May 9, 1983) is a retired American professional road cyclist.Henry Durant
Henry Durant (June 18, 1802 in Acton, Massachusetts – January 22, 1875 in Oakland, California) was the founding president of the University of California.Ian Moran
Ian Patrick Moran (born August 24, 1972) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman. Throughout his 15-year professional career, Moran played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks in the National Hockey League (NHL). He retired in 2008 after suffering a knee injury. Since 2017 he has served as the head scout and Director of Neutral Zone New England.
Moran was the head coach of the Evansville Thunderbolts in the Southern Professional Hockey League during the 2018–19 season.Jamie Eldridge
James B. Eldridge (born August 11, 1973) is a Massachusetts State Senator from the Middlesex and Worcester District. Eldridge previously served three terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he sat on the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, the Joint Committee on Election Laws, and the Joint Committee on Public Service. Eldridge is an Acton native and the son of a public school kindergarten teacher and electrical engineer.Jeff Norton
Jeffrey Thomas Norton (born November 25, 1965) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman who played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).John Murphy (sanatorium operator)
John E. "Dropkick" Murphy (May 12, 1912 in Malden, Massachusetts – October 17, 1977 in Concord, Massachusetts) was an American professional wrestler and sanatorium owner. He operated the Bellows Farms Sanatorium, an alcoholic rehabilitation facility in Acton, Massachusetts from 1941 to 1971. The band Dropkick Murphys is named after him.Kelly Dyer
Kelly Dyer (born March 1, 1966 in Princeton, New Jersey and raised in Acton, Massachusetts) is a member of the Northeastern University athletics Hall of Fame, and a former ice hockey goaltender for the United States women's national ice hockey team.Lee Brooks
Lee Raymond Brooks (born February 26, 1983, in Acton, Massachusetts, U.S.) is a composer and sound designer for film.Madeline Amy Sweeney
Madeline Amy Sweeney (December 14, 1965 – September 11, 2001), known as Amy Sweeney, was an American flight attendant killed on board American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11 attacks.Steve Hathaway
Steven Ryland Hathaway (born September 13, 1990) is an American professional baseball pitcher who is a free agent.
Hathaway attended Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Massachusetts, and Franklin Pierce University. After his junior year at Franklin Pierce, the Diamondbacks selected Hathaway in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB draft.The Diamondbacks promoted Hathaway to the major leagues on July 30, 2016. He was outrighted to AAA on October 16, 2017. He was released by the organization on March 14, 2019.Tami Gouveia
Tami Gouveia is a State Representative who represents the 14th Middlesex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She represents the towns of Acton, Carlisle, Chelmsford, and Concord. Gouveia serves on the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and the Joint Committee on Export DevelopmentJoint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.Thomas B. Marsh
Thomas Baldwin Marsh (November 1, 1800 – January 1866) was an early leader in the Latter-day Saint movement and an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He served as the first President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1835 to 1838. He withdrew from the church in 1838, was excommunicated from the church in 1839, and remained disaffected for almost 19 years. Marsh was rebaptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in July 1857, but never again served in church leadership positions.WHAB
WHAB (89.1 FM) is a high school radio station licensed to serve Acton, Massachusetts. The station is owned by Acton-Boxborough Regional High School and licensed to the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District. It airs a high school radio format. WHAB is one of more than a dozen FCC-licensed high school radio stations in the state of Massachusetts.The station was assigned the WHAB call letters by the Federal Communications Commission.After technical issues that left the station silent for a time in the early 1990s, WHAB returned to full-time broadcasting in 1995. In addition to its FM signal, WHAB's programming is carried on Acton Community Television and in the high school's cafeteria.
Municipalities and communities of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
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