Southbridge, Massachusetts

The Town of Southbridge has a city form of government with a city council legislative body, but via a statute calls itself a Town.[3] It is located in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,719 at the 2010 census. Southbridge is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of" in their official names.[4]

Southbridge, Massachusetts
Town of Southbridge[*]
Southbridge Town Hall
Flag of Southbridge, Massachusetts

Official seal of Southbridge, Massachusetts

The Eye of the Commonwealth,[1]
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Southbridge, Massachusetts is located in the United States
Southbridge, Massachusetts
Southbridge, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 42°04′30″N 72°02′02″W / 42.07500°N 72.03389°W
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCouncil-manager
 • Town ManagerRon San Angelo
 • Town CouncilMarc DiPietro
Denise Clemence (Chairman)
Gus Steeves(vice-Chairman)
Esteban Carrasco
Kristen Auclair
Rick Nash
Wallace Mackenzie
Monique Manna
Jorge Morales
 • Total20.9 sq mi (54.0 km2)
 • Land20.4 sq mi (52.7 km2)
 • Water0.5 sq mi (1.3 km2)
489 ft (149 m)
 • Total16,719
 • Estimate 
 • Density800/sq mi (310/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)508 / 774
FIPS code25-63270
GNIS feature ID0618383


View of Southbridge from Paige's Hill
View of Southbridge c. 1905

The area was initially inhabited by the Nipmuck and Mohegan tribes, with the Quinebaug River dividing their territories. As early as 1638, John Winthrop, Jr. purchased Tantiusques a tract for mining lead centered at what is now Leadmine Road in Sturbridge (it was thought at the time that where there was lead, there should be silver nearby). In fact the mineral deposit was graphite which the Winthrops commercialized employing Nipmuck miners.

Southbridge was first settled by Europeans in 1730. In 1801 a poll parish, named the Second Religious Society of Charlton, and popularly called Honest Town, was formed from the west part of Dudley, the southwest part of Charlton and the southeast part of Sturbridge. In 1816 this parish was incorporated to become the township of Southbridge.[5] Among the first settlers was Moses Marcy, who owned a home on the site of what is now Notre Dame church and was elected to Congress, and the Dennison family. Water power from the Quinebaug River made Southbridge a good location for sawmills and gristmills in the 18th century, and textile mills in the 19th century. After the Civil War, many immigrants of Irish and French Canadian descent came to work and live there; by the 1930s they had been joined by Poles, Greeks, Italians and others.

Southbridge has a long history of manufacturing optical products, earning it the unofficial title "Eye of the Commonwealth", in reference to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Under the Wells family, the American Optical Company ("AO") became the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic products, and at its height employed more than 6,000 people around the world. Many of its workers were exempted from the draft during World War II since they were doing vital defense work, including making Norden bombsights and even some work on the atomic bomb.

By the early 1960s, the mill town had a movie theatre, an AM radio station (WESO), and an airport. New immigrants from Puerto Rico, Laos, and Vietnam began arriving in the 1970s and 1980s, and the town now has a significant Hispanic and Puerto Rican population. The American Optical Company shut down in 1984, and Southbridge is still struggling from the loss of these and other manufacturing jobs.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54 km2), of which 20.4 square miles (53 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2), or 2.40%, is water. Southbridge is drained by the Quinebaug River.

The principal road in Southbridge is Route 131, known as Main Street through downtown and East Main Street past the "AO Rotary" and through Sandersdale, a village on the town's east side. North-south roads include Eastford Road and Elm Street (Route 198), and Worcester Street-Mechanic Street-North Woodstock Road (Route 169).

Southbridge was formed out of portions of three of its neighboring towns: Sturbridge to the west, Charlton to the north, and Dudley to the east. The other neighboring towns are Woodstock, Connecticut, and Eastford, Connecticut to the south.


As of the census[17] of 2010, there were 16,719 people, 7,077 households, and 4,522 families residing in the city. The population density was 858.9 people per square mile (326.4/km²). There were 7,511 housing units at an average density of 368.9 per square mile (142.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.2% White, 2.6% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.6% of the population.

There were 7,077 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,913, and the median income for a family was $41,863. Males had a median income of $36,008 versus $25,685 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,514. About 13.0% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.8% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.


Southbridge is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of" in their official names[18]

County-level state agency heads
Clerk of Courts: Dennis P. McManus (D)
District Attorney: Joe Early Jr. (D)
Register of Deeds: Katie Toomey (D)
Register of Probate: Stephanie Fattman (R)
County Sheriff: Lew Evangelidis (R)
State government
State Representative(s): Peter Durant (R)
State Senator(s): Ryan Fattman (R)
Governor's Councilor(s): Jen Caissie (R)
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s): Richard E. Neal (D-1st District),
U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (D), Ed Markey (D)
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008[19]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 4,590 38.48%
Republican 1,132 9.49%
Unaffiliated 6,096 51.11%
Minor Parties 109 0.91%
Total 11,927 100%
1915 Southbridge library
Southbridge public library, 1915


The Southbridge Public Library was founded in 1870.[20][21] In fiscal year 2008, the town of Southbridge spent 1.03% ($426,025) of its budget on its public library—some $25 per person.[22]

The Jacob Edwards Library[23] is the public library for the town of Southbridge. It is a member of Central Massachusetts Regional Library System (CMRLS) and C/W MARS.


Southbridge has three public elementary schools, formerly "neighborhood schools" serving grades K-5. Since the 1988–1989 school year, however, all kindergarten and 1st grade classes have been at Eastford Road School; all of grades 2–3 at Charlton Street School; and all of grades 4–5 at West Street School. In the mid 2010's Schools were shifted so that Eastford Road School housed PK-1, and both Charlton Street School and West Street School housed grades 2-5 in traditional neighborhood style with exceptions for certain programs (i.e. Dual Language students attend West Street School). Grades 6–12 are at Southbridge Middle/High School. Southbridge residents can also attend Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton.

In addition to the public schools, a parochial private school, Trinity Catholic Academy, serves pre-k through eighth grade.

On January 26, 2016, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education placed Southbridge School District in state receivership.[24]


Southbridge is served by Southbridge Municipal Airport(3B0), a public owned airport managed through a contract with Jim's Flying Service. Runway 02/20 has a 3501 x 75 feet asphalt surface.

Sites of interest

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Seen in the official town seal.
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  3. ^ Although it is called the "Town of Southbridge," it is a statutory city of Massachusetts. See Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  4. ^
  5. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Southbridge" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  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). 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. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 15, 2008" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  20. ^ C. B. Tillinghast. The free public libraries of Massachusetts. 1st Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts. Boston: Wright & Potter, 1891. Google books
  21. ^ Jacob Edwards Library. Retrieved 2010-11-10
  22. ^ July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008; cf. The FY2008 Municipal Pie: What’s Your Share? Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Board of Library Commissioners. Boston: 2009. Available: Municipal Pie Reports Archived January 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2010-08-04
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links

Beechwood (Southbridge, Massachusetts)

Beechwood is a historic house at 495 Main Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Built in 1868, it is prominent locally as a fine early example of Stick style architecture, and as one of the first houses to be built that became one of the city's upper-class neighborhoods. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Bill Swiacki

William Adam Swiacki (October 2, 1922 – July 7, 1976) was an American football player and coach. He played college football as an end for Columbia University in 1946 and 1947 and was a consensus first-team All-American in 1947. He played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants from 1948 to 1950 and for the Detroit Lions in 1951 and 1952. He was a member of the Lions' 1952 team that won the NFL championship.

Calvin Paige

Calvin DeWitt Paige (May 20, 1848 – April 24, 1930) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

He was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts. He was president of the Central Cotton Mills Company, the Southbridge Savings Bank and the Edwards Company.

Chamberlain-Bordeau House

The Chamberlain-Bordeau House is a historic house at 718 Main Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Built sometime between 1855 and 1870, it is one of the best preserved Italianate houses in the city. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

David Wu (American actor)

David Wu (Cantonese: Ng Dai-Wai, simplified Chinese: 吴大维; traditional Chinese: 吳大維; pinyin: Wú Dàwéi; born Southbridge, Massachusetts, 2 October 1966), also known by the nickname Wu-Man, is a Chinese American film actor, TV personality and formerly MTV Asia and Channel V video jockey.

George Constantine (racing driver)

George J. Constantine (February 22, 1918 in Southbridge, Massachusetts – January 7, 1968 in New York City) was a racing driver from the United States. He competed nationally in 108 races between 1953 and 1962, winning 17 times. Mr. Constantine was the United States Sports Car Driver of the Year in 1960. He won the 1959 Nassau Trophy race and the 1956 grand prix at Watkins Glen, N.Y. (in a Jaguar D-type). He set course records at Lime Rock, Conn. (1:05.81), and Marlboro, Md., in 1958, and he was one of the top-rated competitors in the 1959 Daytona, Fla. international speedway race. Mr. Constantine was known as the "King of Lime Rock" and "The Flying Greek." His most famous car with the most victories was the rare and fabulous Aston Martin DBR2/1 (owned by Elisha Walker, Jr.), and his mechanic was Rex Woodgate.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (Southbridge, Massachusetts)

The Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, formerly the Evangelical Free Church, is a historic church building at 446 Hamilton Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Built in 1869 for a nominally non-denominational congregation of senior Hamilton Woolen Company employees, it has house an Episcopal congregation since 1921. The building is architecturally noted for its Romanesque and Gothic Revival features, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

John Fitzgerald (center)

John Robert Fitzgerald (born April 16, 1948) is a former American football center in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 1980, including four Super Bowls. He played college football at Boston College and was drafted in the fourth round of the 1970 NFL Draft.

Kenny Dykstra

Kenneth George Doane (born March 16, 1986) is an American professional wrestler. He previously performed for WWE as Kenny Dykstra and Kenny.

Doane was trained by Killer Kowalski, and made his wrestling debut at the age of fifteen in 2001. He began working for Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), per WWE request. In May 2003, Doane made his WWE television debut as "Ken Phoenix". During his time in OVW, he won the Television Championship once. After losing the title, Doane became part of The Spirit Squad faction. The team debuted on Raw in January 2006, and won the World Tag Team Championship three months later.

Following the Spirit Squad's dissolution, he began working as "Kenny Dykstra", before being released from his WWE contract in November 2008. He later began working on the independent circuit, wrestling for promotions including Dragon Gate USA and Evolve.

Maple Street Historic District (Southbridge, Massachusetts)

The Maple Street Historic District consists of a cluster of ten similar worker cottages on Maple Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. They were built as part of an effort by the locally important American Optical Company to improve the quality of its worker housing in the 1910s. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Southbridge, Massachusetts

List of Registered Historic Places in Southbridge, Massachusetts

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 14, 2019.

Notre Dame Catholic Church (Southbridge, Massachusetts)

Notre Dame Catholic Church is a historic church on Main Street at Marcy Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts.

It was built from 1912–1916 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Route 169 (Connecticut–Massachusetts)

Route 169 is a state highway in the U.S. states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. It begins in the city of Norwich, Connecticut, and runs 38 miles (61 km) through Northeastern Connecticut, continuing across the state line into Southbridge, Massachusetts. The route ends in Charlton after another nine miles (14 km). A portion of the route in the town center of Pomfret is on the National Register of Historic Places as Pomfret Street Historic District, and 32.10 miles (51.66 km) of the road is designated as the Connecticut State Route 169 National Scenic Byway.

Sidney Clarke

Sidney Clarke (October 16, 1831 – June 18, 1909) was a U.S. Representative from Kansas, a Kansas state speaker of the house, and an Oklahoma territorial legislator. He was a part of the Oklahoma statehood movement.

Southbridge Evening News

The Southbridge News is a weekly newspaper in Southbridge, Massachusetts. It is owned by Stonebridge Press, Inc., a group that includes twelve weekly newspapers in central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut.


WESO (970 AM; "Emmanuel Radio") is a radio station broadcasting a Catholic radio format, simulcasting sister station WNEB in Worcester. Established in 1955, the station is licensed to serve Southbridge, Massachusetts, United States. WESO is owned by Emmanuel Communications, Inc.WESO broadcast a country music format as "The Spirit 970" until October 2008, when the station began to simulcast the business talk programming of then-sister station WBNW in Concord. On June 13, 2014, Money Matters Radio, Inc. reached a deal to sell WESO to Emmanuel Communications, Inc., the owner of WNEB. The deal closed on August 29, 2014, at a purchase price of $250,000. Following the sale, WESO was converted to noncommercial operation and began to carry WNEB's "Emmanuel Radio" programming, which includes programming from EWTN Radio.


WWFX (100.1 FM; "100 FM The Pike") is a classic hits radio station serving the Worcester vicinity. It broadcasts on 100.1 MHz/Channel 261 and is under ownership of Cumulus Media. WWFX is also an affiliate of the New England Patriots Radio Network.

William E. Alden House

The William E. Alden House is a historic house at 428 Hamilton Street in Southbridge, Massachusetts. Built in 1882 for a prominent local businessman, it is a fine example of a modest home with Queen Anne and Stick style decoration. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

William L. Marcy

William Learned Marcy (December 12, 1786 – July 4, 1857) was an American lawyer, politician, and judge who served as U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, U.S. Secretary of War and U.S. Secretary of State. In the latter office, he negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, the last major acquisition of land in the continental United States.

Born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Marcy established a legal practice in Troy, New York after graduating from Brown University. He fought in the War of 1812, serving first as a lieutenant and then as a captain of volunteers. Politically, he aligned with the Bucktail faction of the Democratic-Republican Party and became a leading member of the Albany Regency. As the Democratic-Republicans fractured in the 1820s, he became a member of the Democratic Party. Between 1821 and 1831, he successively served as Adjutant General of New York, New York State Comptroller, and as an associate justice of the New York Supreme Court. In 1831, the New York legislature elected Marcy to the U.S. Senate, and he held that position until 1833, when he became the Governor of New York. He served three terms as governor until his defeat in 1838 by the Whig nominee, William Seward.

He served as Secretary of War under James K. Polk from 1845 to 1849, overseeing the Mexican–American War. After leaving the Polk administration, he resumed the practice of law and became a leader of the "Soft" Hunker faction of the New York Democratic Party. He returned to the Cabinet in 1853, serving as Secretary of State under Franklin Pierce. In this role, he resolved a dispute about the status of U.S. immigrants abroad and directed U.S. diplomats to dress in the plain style of an ordinary American rather than the court-dress many had adopted from Europe. He also negotiated a reciprocity treaty with British North America and the Gadsden purchase with Mexico, acquiring territory in present-day Arizona and New Mexico. He left office in 1857 and died shortly thereafter.

Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
Municipalities and communities of Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States
Ghost town
Indian reservations
Major cities
Cities and towns
Cities and towns
Cities and towns

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