Reading, Massachusetts

Reading (/ˈrɛdɪŋ/ (listen) RED-ing) is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, 16 miles (26 km) north of central Boston. The population was 24,747 at the 2010 census.[1]

Reading, Massachusetts
Downtown Reading in the snow
Downtown Reading in the snow
Official seal of Reading, Massachusetts

Location of Reading within Massachusetts
Location of Reading within Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°31′32″N 71°05′45″W / 42.52556°N 71.09583°WCoordinates: 42°31′32″N 71°05′45″W / 42.52556°N 71.09583°W
CountryUnited States
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
 • Total9.9 sq mi (25.7 km2)
 • Land9.9 sq mi (25.7 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
127 ft (39 m)
 • Total24,747
 • Density2,500/sq mi (960/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)339 / 781
FIPS code25-56130
GNIS feature ID0618232


Settlement and American independence

Many of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's original settlers arrived from England in the 1630s through the ports of Lynn and Salem. In 1639 some citizens of Lynn petitioned the government of the colony for a "place for an inland plantation". They were initially granted six square miles, followed by an additional four. The first settlement in this grant was at first called "Lynn Village" and was located on the south shore of the "Great Pond", now known as Lake Quannapowitt. On June 10, 1644 the settlement was incorporated as the town of Reading, taking its name from the town of Reading in England.[2]

The first church was organized soon after the settlement, and the first parish separated and became the town of "South Reading" in 1812, renaming itself as Wakefield in 1868. Thomas Parker was one of the founders of Reading. He also was a founder of the 12th Congregational Church (now the First Parish Congregational Church), and served as deacon there.[3][4][5][6] He was a selectman of Reading and was appointed a judicial commissioner.[7] There is evidence that Parker was "conspicuous in naming the town" and that he was related to the Parker family of Little Norton, England, who owned land by the name of Ryddinge.[8][9][10]

A special grant in 1651 added land north of the Ipswich River to the town of Reading. In 1853 this area became the separate town of North Reading. The area which currently comprises the town of Reading was originally known as "Wood End", or "Third Parish".[2]

Parker Tavern Reading MA
The Parker Tavern, built 1694, is the oldest surviving building in Reading. It was owned and operated by Ephraim Parker, who was the great-grandson of Thomas Parker, who was one of the founders of Reading and probably named the town. The tavern is now a museum.

The town of Reading was initially governed by an open town meeting and a board of selectmen, a situation that persisted until the 1940s. In 1693, the town meeting voted to fund public education in Reading, with grants of four pounds for three months school in the town, two pounds for the west end of the town, and one pound for those north of the Ipswich River. In 1769, the meeting house was constructed, in the area which is now the Common in Reading. A stone marker commemorates the site.[2]

Reading played an active role in the American Revolutionary War. It was prominently involved in the engagements pursuing the retreating British Army after the battles of Lexington and Concord. John Brooks, later to become Governor of Massachusetts, was captain of the "Fourth Company of Minute" and subsequently served at the Battle of White Plains and at Valley Forge. Only one Reading soldier was killed in action during the Revolution; Joshua Eaton died in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.[2]

In 1791, sixty members started the Federal Library. This was a subscription Library with each member paying $1.00 to join, and annual dues of $.25. The town's public library was created in 1868.[2]

1852 Middlesex Canal (Massachusetts) map
1852 map of Boston area, showing Reading and its rail lines

19th century

The Andover-Medford Turnpike was built by a private corporation in 1806-7. This road, now known as Massachusetts Route 28, provided the citizens of Reading with a better means of travel to the Boston area. In 1845, the Boston and Maine Railroad came to Reading and improved the access to Boston, and the southern markets. During the first half of the 19th century, Reading became a manufacturing town. Sylvester Harnden's furniture factory, Daniel Pratt's clock factory, and Samuel Pierce's organ pipe factory were major businesses. By the mid-19th century, Reading had thirteen establishments that manufactured chairs and cabinets. The making of shoes began as a cottage industry and expanded to large factories. Neckties were manufactured here for about ninety years. During and after Civil War the southern markets for Reading's products declined and several of its factories closed. For many years, Reading was an important casket manufacturing center.[2]

During the Civil War, members of the Richardson Light Guard of South Reading fought at the First Battle of Bull Run. A second company was formed as part of the Army of the Potomac, and a third company joined General Bank's expedition in Louisiana. A total of 411 men from Reading fought in the Civil War, of whom 15 died in action and 33 died of wounds and sickness. A memorial exists in the Laurel Hill Cemetery commemorating those who died in the Civil War.[2]

20th century

Post Office Square, Reading, MA
Post Office Square c. 1905

In the 20th century, Reading became a residential community with commuter service to Boston on the Boston and Maine Railroad and the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway. Both commuter services were later taken over by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and for many years, there was discussion of extending the MBTA Orange Line to Reading. Industrial expansion during that time included the Goodall-Sanford Co. off Ash Street, later sold to General Tire & Rubber Company, later known as GenCorp. Additional businesses created after World War I included the Boston Stove Foundry, Roger Reed Waxes, Ace Art, Addison-Wesley Publishing and several other companies. For many years, Wes Parker's Fried Clams was a landmark off state Route 128.

Military installations also came to the town, with two Nike missile sites, one on Bear Hill and the other off Haverhill Street, and the opening of Camp Curtis Guild, a National Guard training facility. The business community currently consists of a number of retail and service businesses in the downtown area, a series of commercial businesses in and around the former town dump on Walker's Brook Road (formerly John Street) as well as the Analytical Sciences Corporation (TASC).[2]

In 1944, Reading adopted the representative town meeting model of local government in place of the open town meeting. This retained the representative town meeting and board of selectmen, but focused policy and decision making in a smaller number of elected boards and committees whilst providing for the employment of a town manager to be responsible for day-to-day operations of the local government.[2]

Basketball player Bill Russell lived in Reading in the 1960s at 1361 Main Street, but later moved to 701 Haverhill Street.[11] Vandals broke into the basketball player's home and damaged his property, leaving racial epithets in their wake. Russell left Reading after retiring as coach of the Boston Celtics in 1969.

In recent years the town of Reading struggled with the decisions to build a new elementary school, to cope with the influx of new families to the community, and renovate Reading Memorial High School which was opened in 1954 with an addition added in 1971. Both of these projects were approved and in August 2007 the new $57 million renovation at the High School was completed.


Reading is located at 42°31′33″N 71°6′35″W / 42.52583°N 71.10972°W (42.52585, −71.109939).[12] According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.9 square miles (25.7 km²). No significant amount of land is covered permanently by water, although there is a plethora of vernal pools in various areas of conservation land.

Reading borders the towns of Woburn, Stoneham, Wakefield, Lynnfield, North Reading, and Wilmington.


Historical population
Population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

As of the census[23] of 2010, there were 24,747 people, 9,617 households, and 6,437 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,486.1 people per square mile (921.8/km²). There were 9,617 housing units at an average density of 888.8 per square mile (343.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 92.4% White, 0.8% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.2% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.

There were 8,688 households out of which 36.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.5% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.9% were non-families. 22.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.22.

In the town, the population was spread out with 26.3% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.3 males.

As of 2015, according to the Census Bureau,[24] the median income for a household in the town was $107,654 and the median income for a family was $124,485. The per capita income for the town was $47,981. Of the families in Reading, 1.0% were below the poverty line, as opposed to 1.9% of the general population. 2.7% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over were under the poverty line.


Reading Massachusetts Town Hall
Town Hall

The municipal government of the town of Reading comprises a representative town meeting, whose members are elected from eight precincts.[25]

The town elects a five-member select board by general election, who serve for overlapping three-year terms. The select board are responsible for calling the elections for the town meeting, and for calling town meetings. They initiate legislative policy by proposing legislative changes to the town meeting, and then implement the votes subsequently adopted. They also review fiscal guidelines for the annual operating budget and capital improvements program and make recommendations on these to the town meeting. In addition the board serves as the local road commissioners and licensing board, and appoints members to most of the town's other boards, committees, and commissions.[26]

The day-to-day running of the town government is the responsibility of a town manager, appointed by the board of selectmen.[26]


Reading is located close to the junction of Interstate 93 and Interstate 95/Massachusetts Route 128 to the north of Boston. I-93 provides a direct route south to central Boston and beyond via the Big Dig, whilst I-95/128 loops around Boston to the west, crosses Interstate 90/Massachusetts Turnpike, and then continues south before meeting up with I-93 again at Canton.

Reading is served by Reading station on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Haverhill/Reading commuter rail line, which links the town to Boston's North Station. Plans existed during the 1970s, when this line of track was bought by the MBTA, to extend the Orange Line rapid transit service out as far as Reading. Although new stations were successfully constructed at Malden Center and Oak Grove station, residents just past Oak Grove complained and such plans were put on hold.

Reading is also served by MBTA bus service routes 136 and 137, which run between Reading station and Malden station.


Reading's public school system, managed by Reading Public Schools, comprises:[27]

Reading was an early and active participant in Boston's METCO program, which brought African American and inner-city students from Boston to attend grades K-12.

Austin Preparatory School, is a co-ed, independent school, in the Augustinian Catholic tradition, founded in 1962. It is located on 55 acres of land and has an enrollment of 700 students, providing instruction for students in grades 6–12.

Points of interest

Local media

  • The Daily Times Chronicle publishes a Reading edition of the newspaper on weekdays.[30]
  • The Reading Advocate publishes weekly and is delivered by mail.[31]
  • Reading's Community Access Television station is RCTV, which provides trainings and air-time for residents to produce their own programs.[32]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Reading town, Middlesex County, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Town of Reading – History". The Town of Reading. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  3. ^ Our History. First Parish Congregational Church.
  4. ^ Parker, Theodore, John Parker of Lexington and his Descendants, Showing his Earlier Ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass. from 1635 to 1893, pp. 15–16, 468–470, Press of Charles Hamilton, Worcester, MA, 1893.
  5. ^ About Wakefield.
  6. ^ Eaton, William E. Historical Sketches of Ancient Redding, Massachusetts, Vol. I, pp. 6, 6A, 20, 23, 30, 34, 114-5, Wakefield, MA, 1935.
  7. ^ Cutter, William Richard, Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, p. 1860, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1908.
  8. ^ Parker, Theodore, John Parker of Lexington and his Descendants, Showing his Earlier Ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass. from 1635 to 1893, pp. 21–36, Press of Charles Hamilton, Worcester, MA, 1893.
  9. ^ Parker, Augustus G., Parker in America, 1630–1910, pp. 5, 27, 49, 53–54, 154, Niagara Frontier Publishing Co., Buffalo, NY, 1911.
  10. ^ A Brief History Archived 2013-10-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Goudsouzian, Aram. King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution. Univ of California Press, 2011.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  13. ^ "Total Population (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
  14. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ "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.
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  23. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  24. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "The Town of Reading – Voting Precincts". The Town of Reading. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  26. ^ a b "The Town of Reading – Board of Selectmen". The Town of Reading. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  27. ^ "Directory List". Reading Public Schools. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  28. ^ Missile Sites. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  29. ^ Nike Sites of Boston: Reading B-03 CL. (2000-05-17). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  30. ^ "Reading Chronicle". Woburn Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  31. ^ "Reading Advocate". Gatehouse Media. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  32. ^ "Reading Community Television". Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  33. ^ "The Late William Weston". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. April 2, 1875. p. 4 – via

Further reading

External links

Batchelder House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Batchelder House is a historic house at 607 Pearl Street in Reading, Massachusetts. Built about 1783, it is a good local example of Federal period architecture. It is also significant for its association with the locally prominent Batchelder family, and as an early shoemaking site. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Brackett House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Brackett House is a historic house at 276 Summer Avenue in Reading, Massachusetts. Built during a local residential construction boom in 1920, it is Reading's best example of Bungalow style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Carter Mansion

The Carter Mansion is a historic house located at 89 Woburn Street in Reading, Massachusetts.

Hartwell House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Hartwell House is a historic house at 121 Willow Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The 1.5 story wood frame house was built in 1918 for George Hartwell, an engineer. The most prominent feature of this Craftsman/Bungalow style house is its stonework: the front porch is supported by tapering piers of fieldstone, and the full length of its chimney is similarly composed. There is a decorative woodwork trellis at the peak of the front gable.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

James Cerretani

Jamie Cerretani (born October 2, 1981) is an American professional tennis player. A doubles specialist, he has won four ATP World Tour titles in his career. He reached his career-high doubles ranking of World No. 45 on July 21, 2008.

Lewis House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Lewis House is a historic house at 276 Woburn Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The 2.5 story wood frame house was built in the late 1870s by John Lewis, a successful shoe dealer. The house is three bays wide, with a hipped roof with a single gable dormer. The roof has extended eaves with false rafter ends that are actually lengthened modillion blocks; these features give the house a Colonial Revival feel. The corner boards are pilastered, and the front entry is flanked by half-length sidelight windows and topped by a pedimented lintel, above which is a round fanlight window.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Reading, Massachusetts

This is a list of properties and historic districts in Reading, Massachusetts, that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is within Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

The locations of National Register properties and districts (at least for all showing latitude and longitude coordinates below) may be seen in an online map by clicking on "Map of all coordinates".

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 7, 2019.

North Reading, Massachusetts

North Reading (pronounced, as is with Reading as North REDD-ing) is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 14,892 at the 2010 census.

Octagon House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Octagon House (or the Dr. Horace Wakefield House) is a historic octagon house at 97 Pleasant Street in Reading, Massachusetts, Built in 1860 by Doctor Horace Wakefield, it is a distinctive variant of the type, executed as a series of small octagonal shapes around a central cupola. The building is fashioned from large, heavy timbers in the manner of a log cabin, with long first-floor windows. The porches and eaves have heavy zigzag trim and brackets, some of which have carvings resembling gargoyles.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Parker House (Haven Street, Reading, Massachusetts)

The Parker House is a historic house at 316 Haven Street in Reading, Massachusetts. It is a two-story wood frame cottage, two bays wide, with a front-facing gable roof, clapboard siding, and a side entrance accessed from its wraparound porch. It is a well-preserved example Queen Anne/Stick style, with high style features that are unusual for a relatively modest house size. Its front gable end is embellished with Stick style woodwork resembling half-timbering, and the porch is supported by basket-handle brackets.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Parker House (Salem Street, Reading, Massachusetts)

The Parker House is a historic house at 52 Salem Street in Reading, Massachusetts. It is a ​2 1⁄2-story vernacular Federal-style wood-frame house, five bays wide, with a side gable roof, clapboard siding, and a granite foundation. Its center entrance is particularly fine, with tall sidelight windows flanked by pilasters, and topped by an entablature with a shallow hood. The house was built in 1792, although its center chimney may date from an older house built on the site in 1715. Jonas Parker, the builder, was active in the American Revolution. A portion of Parker's farm was dedicated as Memorial Park in 1919.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Pierce House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Pierce House is a historic house at 128 Salem Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The 2.5 story wood frame house was built sometime between 1875 and 1880 for Samuel Pierce, owner of the nearby Pierce Organ Pipe Factory. The house has Stick style/Eastlake style features, including a steeply pitched gable roof with exposed rafter ends, and an elaborately decorated entry porch with square chamfered columns and brackets in the eaves.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Pratt House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Pratt House is a historic house at 456 Haverhill Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The two-story wood-frame house built in 1809 and is stylistically a transitional Georgian/Federal structure. The main portion of the house is a single room deep, and there is a two-story shed-roof extension on the rear. The house belonged to various members of the locally prominent Pratt family, including Joseph Pratt, the first Reading shoe manufacturer to use a stitching machine.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Reading Public Schools

Reading Public Schools is the school district that manages the public schools in Reading, Massachusetts, USA.

The superintendent is John Doherty, who works under the direction of a six-person School Committee.

Reading station (MBTA)

Reading is an MBTA Commuter Rail station in Reading, Massachusetts. It serves the Haverhill/Reading Line. It is located at Lincoln and High Streets on the western fringe of Reading's central business district. The station's historic depot building was built in 1870 by the Boston and Maine Railroad. The station was the terminus of the line from 1959 until the re-extension to Haverhill station in 1979.

Roberts House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Roberts House is a historic house at 59 Prospect Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The two-story house is basically Colonial Revival in character, but also exhibits Craftsman style features, including extended eaves with exposed rafter ends, stucco walls, and a chunky entrance portico. The window above the entrance is a Shingle style band of three casement windows, and there is a hip-roof dormer in the roof above. The house is one of Reading's better examples of Craftsman architecture, and was built in 1911, during a building boom on the town's west side.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Samuel Parker House (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Samuel Parker House is a historic house at 132 West Street in Reading, Massachusetts. The front, gambrel-roofed portion of this house, was probably built in the mid-1790s, and the house as a whole reflects a vernacular Georgian-Federal style. The house is noted for a succession of working-class owners (of which Samuel Parker, a cooper, was one). Its most notable resident was Carrie Belle Kenney, one of the earliest female graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Walnut Street School (Reading, Massachusetts)

The Walnut Street School is a historic school building at 55 Hopkins Street in Reading, Massachusetts. A two-room schoolhouse built in 1854, it is the town's oldest public building. Since 1962 it has been home to the Quannapowitt Players, a local theatrical company. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Wisteria Lodge (Reading, Massachusetts)

Wisteria Lodge is a historic house at 146 Summer Avenue in Reading, Massachusetts. The ​2 1⁄2-story Second Empire wood-frame house was built in 1850 by Oscar Foote, a local real estate developer entrepreneur who attempted to market bottled mineral water from nearby springs. The house has a mansard roof with fish scale slate shingles, bracketed eaves, an elaborate porte cochere, and styled window surrounds with triangular pediments. The porches ahd porte cochere are supported by square columns set on paneled piers, with arched molding between.The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Reading, Massachusetts
General information
Notable residents
Natl. Hist. Places
Natl. Hist. Places
Municipalities and communities of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
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