Whitman, Massachusetts

Whitman is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 14,489 at the 2010 census. It is notable as being the place where the chocolate chip cookie was invented.

Whitman, Massachusetts
Whitman Town Hall
Whitman Town Hall
Official seal of Whitman, Massachusetts

"The Birthplace Of The Chocolate Chip Cookie"
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°04′50″N 70°56′10″W / 42.08056°N 70.93611°WCoordinates: 42°04′50″N 70°56′10″W / 42.08056°N 70.93611°W
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedMarch 4, 1875
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Total7.1 sq mi (18.1 km2)
 • Land7.0 sq mi (18.0 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
110 ft (34 m)
 • Total14,489
 • Density2,069.9/sq mi (804.9/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)339/781
FIPS code25-79530
GNIS feature ID0618355


Whitman was first settled by Europeans in 1670 and was officially incorporated in 1875. Prior to becoming Whitman, it was formally the southern parish of the town of Abington. The new name, Whitman, was taken from Augustus Whitman,[1] whose family who grew up in South Abington, and was adopted in 1886. Though before adopting the name Whitman, the small town was known as Little Comfort.

Whitman has a rich history that is deeply rooted in the shoemaking industry. Regal Shoe and Bostonian Shoe are perhaps the most notable companies. At one time there were over 20 shoe factories and related factories making metal shanks in town. There are a few abandoned factories left, and some have been turned into condominiums.

In the late 1930s, Ruth Graves Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in Whitman at the Toll House Inn on Bedford Street.[2] The Toll House burned completely on New Year's Eve 1984, in a fire that originated in the kitchen. The inn was not rebuilt. The site is marked with a historical marker, and that land is now home to a Wendy's restaurant and Walgreens pharmacy, with the Toll House sign still in existence. The former Whitman Savings Bank was also the first in the country to offer savings bank life insurance (SBLI). Whitman is the home of the famous Peaceful Meadows Ice Cream, as well as the former home of Saftler's Inc., one of the oldest and largest independently owned fabric stores in the country, which closed in June 2011.[3] In 1964 The Venus Cafe was founded by former professional wrestler Peter Drosos, who fought under the name Pete "The Golden Greek".

From 1968 to 1994, Whitman was also home to King's Castle Land, a children's amusement park owned by the Whitney family and located near the intersection of Routes 18 and 14.[4]

The Whitman Fire Bell, known and loved for its boisterous ring as a call to action in the event of a fire, could be heard throughout the town. The bell has since been defunded with no plans to reactivate. Firefighter Bryan Smith (6’4”, formerly of Southern Tar) was the last known operator of the bell.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.0 square miles (18 km2), of which 7.0 square miles (18 km2) is land and 0.14% is water. Statistically, the town is the 327th of 351 communities in the Commonwealth by land area, and is the second smallest (above only Hull) in Plymouth County. Whitman is bordered by Abington to the north, Rockland to the northeast, Hanson to the southeast, East Bridgewater to the south, and the city of Brockton to the west. Whitman's town center is approximately 4.5 miles (7.2 km) east of the center of Brockton and approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Boston.

The small town today is mostly residential, with a small town forest in the northeast corner of town. The eastern half of the town is divided by the Shumatuscacant River, which is dammed near the town center at the site of the town's mills. The eastern half of town is also dominated by two meadows, the Hobart Meadow to the north and the Bear Meadow to the south, both along the banks of the river.


The center of town is about half a mile to the east of the intersection of Route 18 and Route 27, the actual center of town being at the intersection of Route 27 and Washington Street. Route 14 also intersects with Route 18, about three-quarters of a mile south of the intersection of Routes 27 and 18. Route 58 also crosses through the eastern corner of town. There are no interstates or divided highways in town; the nearest highway is Route 24 which passes through Brockton.

Whitman has a stop, located on Route 27, along the Kingston-Route 3 route of the MBTA's commuter rail. The rail, formerly the Old Colony Line, passes through the eastern half of town, east of the mill ponds and meadows. There is no air service to the town; the nearest international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston, 26 miles north of Whitman.


Historical population
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 13,882 people, 4,999 households, and 3,604 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,995.7 people per square mile (770.1/km²). There were 5,104 housing units at an average density of 733.8 per square mile (283.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.15% White, 0.65% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.88% of the population.

There were 4,999 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. Of all households 22.4% were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the town, the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $55,303, and the median income for a family was $63,706. Males had a median income of $41,950 versus $30,629 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,002. About 2.0% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

Statistically, Whitman is the 133rd largest community by population and 52nd most densely populated in the state. On average, Whitman's population is below the average but above the median, and its population density is well above the state average.


On the national level, Whitman is a part of Massachusetts's 8th congressional district (as of the 2013 redistricting), and has been represented since 2001 by Stephen Lynch. The state's senior (Class I) senator, elected in 2012, is Elizabeth Warren. The junior (Class II) member of the United States Senate is Ed Markey. Markey was elected in 2013 to finish out the remainder of the term vacated by John Kerry when he became Secretary of State.

On the state level, Whitman is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Seventh Plymouth district, which includes the towns of Abington and East Bridgewater and is currently represented by Whitman resident Geoff Diehl. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Second Plymouth and Bristol district, which includes Brockton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson and portions of East Bridgewater and Easton and the seat is currently held by Michael Brady.[13] The town is patrolled by the First (Norwell) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.[14]

Whitman is governed by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a town manager and a board of selectmen. The town's police department is located in a newly constructed building on a site formerly used for a succession of schools.[15] The town's fire department is located further west along Route 27. It has its own ambulance service, and patients needing emergency care are brought to Brockton Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton or South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth. The town's post office is located just east of the town hall. The Whitman Public Library is located a block south of Route 27, having moved into its first stand-alone branch in 1982 after seventy-five years in the town hall. Between the library and the fire department is a National Guard armory. The town also operates a playground and pool at the Whitman town park (which was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm), just north of the town hall.


Since the mid-1960s, Whitman has been paired with Hanson as a part of what was the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School School District but later joined as Whitman-Hanson Regional School District with the addition of the elementary and middle schools. There are two elementary schools in town; the Duval and Conley Schools (in the east and west parts of town, respectively), which serve students from kindergarten through fifth grade. The Whitman Middle School, located south of Route 27 in the western part of town, serves students from sixth to eighth grades. Students from both Whitman and Hanson attend Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, located along Route 27 on the Hanson side of the road. Students moved into the new, more technologically advanced school building in 2005 from the previous school, which was closer to the road (the former Whitman-Hanson High School is no longer standing and its old location is now home to athletic fields.) Whitman-Hanson's teams are known as the Panthers, and their colors are red and black. One of their chief rivals is nearby Abington, whom they play in the annual Thanksgiving Day football game. In 2010, Whitman-Hanson played the 100th anniversary game against Abington.[16] Whitman-Hanson leads the series 59-43-3 through the 2015 season, although Abington has won 11 of the last 14.[17]

In addition to Whitman-Hanson, students may choose to attend South Shore Regional Vocational Technical High School in Hanover free of charge. There are no private schools in the town, but both Hanson and Brockton have private schools. The nearest college is Massasoit Community College in neighboring Brockton.

Notable people


The novel Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (ISBN 978-1496715906) was named for the town. The author's father and grandmother grew up in Whitman.

See also


  1. ^ "Profile for Whitman, Massachusetts". ePodunk. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
  2. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  3. ^ Lambert, Lane (June 3, 2011). "Saftler's fabric store, a Whitman landmark, to close at end of June". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, Mass. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  4. ^ "King's Castle Land". Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  5. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  6. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  7. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  8. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts" (PDF). US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  9. ^ "1950 Census of Population" (PDF). 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  10. ^ "1920 Census of Population" (PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. ^ Index of Legislative Representation by City and Town, from Mass.gov
  14. ^ Station D-1, SP Norwell
  15. ^ "Police Department Webpage". Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  16. ^ "Rivalry reaches 100 years". Boston.com. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  17. ^ "H.S. FOOTBALL: Smith powers Whitman-Hanson past Abington". The Enterprise (Brockton). Retrieved 2016-04-21.

External links

Cape Cod Crusaders

Cape Cod Crusaders were an American soccer team based in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, United States. Founded in 1994, the team played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, until 2008, when the franchise folded and the team left the league.The team played its home games at several different venues in eastern Massachusetts: mainly in stadium on the campus of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but also at Whitman-Hanson High School in Whitman, Massachusetts, and at Bowditch Stadium in Framingham, Massachusetts. Also played at Barnstable High School in the town of Hyannis, Massachusetts. The Crusaders' historical home was the stadium on the grounds Dennis Yarmouth High School in the town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, where they won back to back championships in 2002 and 2003. The team's colors were red and white.

The team had a sister organization, the Boston Renegades, who play in the women's USL W-League. The club still fields a team in the USL's Super-20 League, a league for players 17 to 20 years of age run under the United Soccer Leagues umbrella.

Dana LeVangie

Dana Alan LeVangie (born August 11, 1969) is an American professional baseball coach, currently the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). Formerly a scout and minor league catcher, as an active player he both batted and threw right-handed and was listed at 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) and 185 pounds (84 kg).

Edward P. Kirby

Edward P. Kirby (January 10, 1928 - January 3, 2017) was an American politician from Whitman, Massachusetts. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1949 and Boston College Law School in 1952.

Francis Spellman

Francis Joseph Spellman (May 4, 1889 – December 2, 1967) was an American bishop and cardinal of the Catholic Church. From 1939 until his death in 1967, he served as the sixth Archbishop of New York; he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston from 1932 through 1939. He was named a cardinal in 1946.

Frank Kane

For the Canadian professional ice hockey player, see Francis Kane (ice hockey).Frank Kane (March 9, 1895 in Whitman, Massachusetts – December 2, 1962 in Brockton, Massachusetts), nicknamed "Sugar", was an outfielder in Major League Baseball in 1915 and 1919. His minor league career stretched as late as 1928.

Geoff Diehl

Geoffrey G. Diehl (born April 23, 1969) is a Republican politician who represented the 7th Plymouth District (Abington, Whitman, and East Bridgewater) in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He is a member of the Joint Committee on Housing, House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the House Committee on Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs. Representative Diehl is also a member of the House Library Caucus and Regional School Caucus. On November 2, 2010 he upset incumbent Allen McCarthy and was sworn in on January 5, 2011. He served as Donald Trump's Massachusetts campaign co-chair during the 2016 presidential election.On November 6, 2018, Diehl lost the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts to Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Warren.

Lennie Baker

Lennie Baker (April 18, 1946 – February 24, 2016) was an American singer and saxophone player for the 1950s rock group, Danny and the Juniors.Baker was born in Whitman, Massachusetts. He went on to become a member of the musical group Sha Na Na, doing vocals and playing sax. He toured with the group, and appeared with them on the television series, Sha Na Na, which aired from 1978-1981. He was also in the movie Grease with them, singing lead on the song, Blue Moon. He appeared in several other movies with the group, as well.

Baker graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts where he joined Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity.

Massachusetts Route 14

Route 14 is an 18.5-mile highway in southeastern Massachusetts. It runs from Route 27 in Brockton east to Route 3A in Duxbury, near the coastline.

Massachusetts Route 3 (Pilgrims Highway) has an interchange with Route 14, at Exit 11 in Duxbury.

Massachusetts Route 18

Massachusetts Route 18 is a north–south state highway in Southeastern Massachusetts. Beginning in the city of New Bedford, it runs as a freeway for approximately 2 miles (3.2 km), continuing as a surface street until it reaches Weymouth.

The segment of Route 18 from its southern terminus to I-195 is part of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, a state-maintained road that extends an additional 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south without the Route 18 designation.

Massachusetts Route 27

Route 27 is a south–north highway in eastern Massachusetts that runs for 73.4 miles.

Massachusetts Route 58

Route 58 is a south–north highway in southeastern Massachusetts. For all but its final 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the route lies within Plymouth County.

Peter McNeeley

Peter McNeeley (born October 6, 1968) is an American former heavyweight boxer, best known for his 1995 fight with Mike Tyson, before which McNeeley had said he would wrap Tyson in a "cocoon of horror." McNeeley fought aggressively but was knocked down twice within the first two minutes. McNeeley was disqualified after his manager Vinnie Vecchione stepped into the ring to stop his fighter from taking any more punishment after the second knockdown. TV Guide included the fight in their list of the 50 Great TV Sports Moments of All Time in 1998.Jack Newfield of The Nation called McNeeley just "another manufactured white hope with a fake résumé." McNeeley's handpicked opponents had a combined record of 301 defeats in 422 fights. They had already been knocked out a total of 132 times before facing McNeeley. In words of Jack Newfield, "they were a bunch of drug-rehab refugees, retired fighters, out-of-shape bouncers and tomato cans who worked day jobs, Jordan garty banged Peter McNeeley in round 1 in there fight in Maddison square where McNeeley fouled himself straight after the fight."McNeeley's infamous career wasn't a unique case of such order, with LaMar Clark being his predecessor in the early 1960s, Faruq Saleem and Richie Melito being his successors in the late 1990s.

Ruth Graves Wakefield

Ruth Graves Wakefield (June 17, 1903 – January 10, 1977) was an American chef, best known as the inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, which she created. She was also a graduate and educator, a business owner, a chef, and an author.Wakefield grew up in Easton, Massachusetts, and graduated from Oliver Ames High School in 1920. Wakefield was educated at Framingham State Normal School Department of Household Arts in 1924. There, she worked as a dietitian and lectured about foods. In 1928, she and her husband Kenneth Donald Wakefield (1897–1997) had a son, Kenneth Donald Wakefield Jr. In 1930, she and her husband bought a tourist lodge (the Toll House Inn) in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts in Plymouth County. Located about halfway between Boston and New Bedford, it was a place where passengers had historically paid a toll, changed horses and ate home-cooked meals. When the Wakefields opened their business, they named the establishment the Toll House Inn. Ruth cooked and served all the food and soon gained local fame for her lobster dinners and desserts. The restaurant had many people, including US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Sr. Her chocolate chip cookies soon became very popular. She invented chocolate chip cookies around 1938.She added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie. It is often incorrectly reported that the cookie was an accident, and that Wakefield expected the chocolate chunks to melt making chocolate cookies. In reality, Wakefield stated that she deliberately invented the cookie. She said, "We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream. Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different. So I came up with Toll House cookie."Wakefield wrote a best selling cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes, that went through 39 printings starting in 1930. The 1938 edition of the cookbook was the first to include the recipe for a chocolate chip cookie, the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie".During WWII, US soldiers from Massachusetts who were stationed overseas shared the cookies they received in care packages from back home with soldiers from other parts of the US. Soon, hundreds of soldiers were writing home asking their families to send them some Toll House cookies, and Wakefield was soon inundated with letters from around the world requesting her recipe. Thus began the nationwide craze for the chocolate chip cookie.As the popularity of the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie increased, the sales of Nestlé's semi-sweet chocolate bars also spiked. Andrew Nestlé and Ruth Wakefield made a business arrangement: Wakefield gave Nestlé the right to use her cookie recipe and the Toll House name for one dollar and a lifetime supply of Nestlé chocolate. Nestlé began marketing chocolate chips to be used especially for cookies and printing the recipe for the Toll House Cookie on its package.Wakefield solved an immense pain point, the boringness of traditional cookies that left consumers yearning for something much greater. Her invention met this need and went on to be the most popular cookie of all time. Chocolate chip cookies are still consumed today and currently exist in a market space of over $18 billion here in the US.

Wakefield died on January 10, 1977 following a long illness in Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts.In 2018 the New York Times published a belated obituary for her.

Shumatuscacant River

The Shumatuscacant River is an 8.8-mile-long (14.2 km) river running through Abington and Whitman, Massachusetts. It forms part of the Taunton River Watershed.

The river arises in a wetland just west of Vineyard Road, Abington, and flows to Poor Meadow Brook in Hanson, which then flows southwest to Robbins Pond. From there, the Satucket River originates in Robbins Pond and meanders west to join the Matfield River in East Bridgewater, thence to the Taunton River. Island Grove Pond formed in the 1700s when a dam was built on the Shumatuscacant River.

Steve Smith (American musician)

Steven Bruce Smith (born August 21, 1954) is an American drummer best known as a member of the rock band Journey, rejoining the group for the third time in 2015. Modern Drummer magazine readers have voted him the No. 1 All-Around Drummer five years in a row. In 2001, the publication named Smith one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time, and in 2002 he was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey on April 7, 2017.

Toll House Inn

The Toll House Inn of Whitman, Massachusetts was established in 1930 by Kenneth and Ruth Graves Wakefield. Toll House chocolate chip cookies are named after the inn.

Whitman-Hanson Regional High School

Whitman-Hanson Regional High School is a public high school located in Whitman, Massachusetts. The school serves students in grades 9-12 from the towns of Whitman, Massachusetts and Hanson, Massachusetts. It is part of the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District. The schools colors are Black & Red and their mascot is the Panther.

Whitman Park

Whitman Park is a historic park near the center of the town of Whitman, Massachusetts. It is bounded by Maple Street and Park, Whitman, and Hayden Avenues. The park was established in 1880 by a gift of land from Augustus Whitman, whose family gave the town its name. The well-known Olmsted Brothers landscape firm was retained to design a public park on this land, which was implemented in 1900. This gave the park the basic layout of its paths, as well as its general appearance as a woodland park with open fields for passive recreation. Features that were part of the Olmsted design include a wading pool, concrete tennis court (now used as basketball court), bandstand, and a drinking fountain. The Olmsteds were retained again in 1931 to update the design, accounting for the addition in 1908 of the Civil War monumnent, and to deal with problematic drainage of water from the park's low-lying areas. The major intrusion on the Olmsted design has been the construction of a Little League ballfield in one corner.The park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Whitman station

Whitman is an MBTA Commuter Rail station in Whitman, Massachusetts. It serves the Plymouth/Kingston Line. It is located off South Avenue (MA 27). Parking is available on the south side of South Avenue on both sides of the tracks. The station opened along with the rest of the Old Colony Lines on September 26, 1997.

Municipalities and communities of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States
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