Winchester, Massachusetts

Winchester is a small suburban town located 8.2 miles north of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, United States in Middlesex County. It is the 7th wealthiest municipality in Massachusetts and functions largely as a bedroom community for professionals who work in the greater Boston area. The population was 21,374 at the 2010 United States Census.

Winchester, Massachusetts
Winchester Town Hall
Winchester Town Hall
Official seal of Winchester, Massachusetts

Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°27′08″N 71°08′15″W / 42.45222°N 71.13750°WCoordinates: 42°27′08″N 71°08′15″W / 42.45222°N 71.13750°W
CountryUnited States
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
 • Total6.3 sq mi (16.3 km2)
 • Land6.0 sq mi (15.6 km2)
 • Water0.3 sq mi (0.6 km2)
62 ft (19 m)
 • Total21,374
 • Density3,522.8/sq mi (1,354.9/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s)339 / 781
FIPS code25-80510
GNIS feature ID0618247


The land on which Winchester now sits was purchased from Native Americans by representatives of the settlement of Charlestown in 1639, and the area was first settled by Europeans in 1640. In the early years of the settlement, the area was known informally as Waterfield, a reference to its many ponds and to the river which bisected the central village. In its second century, the area was referred to as Black Horse Village, after the busy tavern and hostelry in its center.

Until the middle of the 19th century, parts of Arlington, Medford, Cambridge, and Woburn comprised what is now Winchester. The movement toward incorporation of what, by this time, was called South Woburn was likely precipitated by the rise of the Whig Party in Massachusetts (History of Winchester, Massachusetts by H. S. Chapman and Bruce W. Stone, 1936, 1975).

The Whigs sought to split a new jurisdiction away from heavily Democratic Woburn and found enough supporters in the burgeoning village to organize a movement toward incorporation. Representatives of the planned new town selected the name Winchester in recognition of Colonel William P. Winchester of nearby Watertown, who pledged $3,000 toward the construction of the first town hall. Upon the signature of then Governor Briggs, the town of Winchester was officially incorporated on April 30, 1850. Colonel Winchester did not live to visit the town that had honored his family name. He succumbed to typhoid fever within months of its incorporation.

The town's early growth paralleled improvements in transportation. Prior to incorporation, the Middlesex Canal, linking the Merrimack River to Boston, was completed through then Waterfield. It flourished from 1803–36, until the Boston and Lowell Railroad completed a line which neatly bisected the town and provided it with two stations. Able to deliver passengers as well as goods, the railroad soon bankrupted the canal and spurred more people to move to the area. The first church was built in 1840, the Post Office followed in 1841, and soon after incorporation town schools were started. Industries small and large followed, including the Beggs and Cobb tannery and the Winn Watch Hand factory which would operate well into the 20th century.

By the time of the Civil War, to which Winchester lent many citizens, the need for a municipal water supply became apparent. Engineers convinced a skeptical public to fund a dam in the highlands to the east of town. The structure blocked the creek which flowed from the Middlesex Fells and produced the first of three reservoirs which continue to provide clear water today.

In the early 20th century, growth continued apace as Winchester evolved from its agri-industrial roots into the bedroom community it is today. A rich mix of immigrants (the Irish in the northern and eastern neighborhoods, a smattering of African-Americans who flocked to the New Hope Baptist Church in the highlands, and finally Italians who came to work in the westside farms and live in the "Plains" to the east) complemented Winchester's Yankee forebears. The constant in these times of change and up to the present day has been the public spirited efforts of all to continue to maintain the innate physical charm of the town.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16.3 km²), of which 6.0 square miles (15.6 km²) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) is water. The total area is 3.97% water.

The town is roughly bisected by a central valley which is the remnant of the original course of the Merrimack River. After glacial debris effectively rerouted the Merrimack north to its current location, all that remained of its original course through present day Winchester is the Aberjona River and the several ponds it feeds en route to the Mystic Lakes on Winchester's southern border.

On its eastern third, the valley rises steeply into the wooded hills of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, in which lie the North, Middle, and South Reservoirs. The western edge of the valley yields to Arlington and Lexington heights, and the boundaries with those two towns. To the north, the town's longest border is shared with Woburn.

Winchester has several major bodies of water, including the Mystic Lakes, Wedge Pond, Winter Pond, and the Aberjona River, as well as several minor bodies of water such as Sucker Brook and Sachem Swamp.

Winchester borders the towns of Woburn, Stoneham, Medford, Arlington, and Lexington.


Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

As of the census[11] of 2010, there were 21,382 people, 7,647 households, and 5,785 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,394.6 people per square mile (1,312.0/km²). There were 7,988 housing units at an average density of 1,267.9 per square mile (490.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 87.1% White, 9.3% Asian, 1.0% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 7,647 households, of which 40.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.3% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the town, the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18 and 16.2% over the age of 65. The median age was 42.7 years. The population was 52.3% female and 47.7% male.

According to a 2008 estimate,[12] the median income for a household in the town was $125,952, and the median income for a family was $200,000+. Males had a median income of $100,000+ versus $70,847 for females. The per capita income for the town was $68,479. The median home value was $838,420, compared to a U.S. average of $180,000. About 1.3% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.3% ages 65 or older.

Overall Winchester is safe with crime well below the U.S. average. The most common crime is property crime, with 62 burglaries reported in 2010. Violent crimes are very low, with five murders and five rapes reported in 10 years.[13]

Winchester was ranked number 86 on the Bloomberg list of America’s 100 Richest Places with an average household income of $204,878 in 2016.[14]


Public schools

Winchester has five elementary schools (Ambrose, Lincoln, Lynch, Muraco, and Vinson-Owen) and one middle school, McCall Middle School. Considered one of Boston's elite public high schools, Winchester High School was founded in 1850, at the time was part of present-day Lincoln elementary. Winchester High was rebuilt in a different area in 1972, then renovated in 2016. Winchester public schools have achieved superior performances on the MCAS exams since their inception, and the district is consistently ranked by editorial reviews such as Boston Magazine as one of the best in Massachusetts.[15] The Winchester High School sports teams are known as the "Sachems," which has been somewhat controversial in the town due to its reference to native people. For the 2018-2019 school year, Winchester public schools and Winchester Recreation has developed the WRAP-AROUND program. A program designed to provide supervision for students who are dropped at school a bit early or who need to stay at school later on some days and was created to assist families with the school start time change for next fall. Wrap-around care will be offered at all five elementary schools for students in grades K-5, both before and after school.[16] [17] The Sachem teams practice and host home games at Knowlton Field.[18] The Winchester Sports Foundation[19] raises money through donations to maintain sports programs in the town and to give financial support, make sports programs accessible to all classes, meet costs of program expenses and preserve and promote the level of WHS sports programs.

Private schools

Founded in the 1942, the Children's Own School is among the earlier surviving Montessori schools in the United States. The building it occupies, a former farmhouse, is considered locally historic. The school's founder, Ms. Dorothy Gove, was an acquaintance of Maria Montessori, giving her a firsthand opportunity to learn the Montessori concept of learning. Today the school operates as a private, non-religious, Montessori school for children of ages two to six, with classes of up to 20 children. Children's Own School is located at 86 Main Street in Winchester.

Winchester has two parent-led cooperative nursery schools: Neighborhood Cooperative Nursery School and Winchester Cooperative Nursery School. In addition, the Methodist church, Winchester Recreation Department, and Creative Corner all offer preschool classes.

St. Mary's School is a parochial school of St. Mary's Parish, which opened 134 years ago. The school opened in 1914 and has over 200 students in grades pre-K through 5. The school building also serves as the Sunday school for the parish during Sunday services. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Acera School is a small private school founded in 2010 in Melrose[20][21] which moved to Winchester in 2013.[22] It offers K-8 education in small multi-age classrooms, and focuses on high-ability children, STEM education and fostering creativity.


Downtown winchester MA
Train at the Winchester MBTA station in October 2008, between the Town Hall and the First Congregational Church.

Winchester has two "Zone 1" stops on the MBTA Commuter Rail Lowell Line: Wedgemere and Winchester Center. The stops are within easy walking distance of one another. The Lowell Line runs from Lowell to Boston's North Station, where one can connect with the "T", Boston's subway system.

There are bus lines going through Winchester to nearby communities such as Medford, Arlington, and Cambridge. Bus route No. 134 runs between North Woburn and Wellington Station on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Orange Line in Medford. Bus route No. 350 runs from the Burlington Mall to Alewife station in Cambridge on the MBTA's Red Line. A commuter express bus runs from Cummings Park in Woburn to Boston during rush hours. Nearby Anderson Regional Transportation Center off I-93 (Commerce Way exit) has Logan Express shuttle bus service to Boston's Logan Airport every 30 minutes, and a paid shuttle service to Manchester New Hampshire Airport (reservations required in advance).

Winchester today

Winchester's town government of Selectmen and Town Meeting members has remained essentially unchanged for most of its existence, until the renaming of the Board of Selectmen to the Select Board in 2018. Since the completion of the past Winchester High School in 1972, with population growth leveling off, town leaders have had more time and funds to devote to maintaining rather than molding Winchester's character. Winchester's flavor has little departed from the place that a 1970s survey listed as "one of the top fifteen suburbs" in the nation (Ladies Home Journal, August 1975).

In December 2010 Winchester was among 18 Massachusetts communities to earn the "Green Community" designation by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (bringing the total number of green communities in the state up to 53).[23] In 2011 Winchester was selected as one of four communities to participate in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Solarize MASS pilot program.[24] The program provided incentives to home owners to install rooftop solar electric systems. During that year, 35 residents contracted to have solar systems installed, resulting in 165 kW of solar installations. The town's Energy Coordinator, Susan McPhee and the town's Energy Management Committee have received numerous Green Community Grants from the state, which have helped Winchester reduce energy consumption and save the town money. Most recently, in July 2014, Winchester received a $250,000 Green Communities Grant[25] which helped to offset the cost of installing 1668 cobra-head LED street lights. It is estimated that the LED streetlight conversion will reduce the town's electricity costs by $50,000 each year.

Across the Main Street bypass from the high school sits the Jenks Community Center,[26] which offers programs for seniors and other age groups. Wedge Pond, home to Borggaard Beach and Splash Park, is a popular swimming spot which is continually monitored to ensure safe water quality levels. The Kiwanis Club hosts its annual fishing derby on the pond, while the Rotary Club runs its auction nearby. Adjacent to the beach are the Packer Tennis Courts, comprising fifteen clay courts. The Winton Club, founded in 1911, raises funds in support of the Winchester Hospital.

Founded in 1900 as a canoe club, the Winchester Boat Club now serves locals wishing to sail casually or competitively on the Mystic Lakes. In the summer it is a popular meeting place for local families and their children. Likewise, the Winchester Swim and Tennis Club provides a large swimming pool, five hard tennis courts, and bocce courts to members. The Winchester Country Club offers an 18-hole course—open to members only—in the Myopia Hill neighborhood, which was named after the Myopia Club based there in the late 19th century. And every year, as for over a century, thousands of fans attend the annual Thanksgiving Day football contest between Winchester High School and its long-time traditional rival, Woburn.

In 1902, En Ka Society began as an all woman volunteer organization in Winchester. The Society raises funds and financially supports various local organizations around town. A long time tradition for the town of Winchester since 1935 is the En Ka fair, which arrives each spring. The fair and the En Ka Exchange, a shop which began in 1944, bring in a significant source of income for the Society and their doings.[27]

Black Horse Tavern opened on August 9, 2010, in Winchester Center on the former site of the Black Horse Bootery, which was demolished in 1892. According to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the town’s original Black Horse Tavern was built in 1742 and served as an important meeting place during the American Revolution.[28]

Town services

Instead of municipal trash pickup in the town, Winchester operates a refuse transfer station and recycling center off Swanton Street. Residents currently pay $225 per family annually for a permit to dispose of their trash at this location, colloquially referred to as "The Dump." A Smart Permit costs $50, in a recycling program where trash bags are purchased for unrecyclable materials.

There are private haulers in Winchester, for residents who wish to avoid bringing their trash and recyclables to the dump.

The site started as a primitive landfill in the 1940s and 1950s. "Going to the dump" was a Saturday ritual for many families that dated back to when it was a real 'dump' or landfill.

In the 1960s, a gas-fired incinerator was built on one side of the property. The remainder of the property was used for noncombustible waste such as appliances and metal. The incinerator was forced to shut down in the 1970s because of environmental concerns about the untreated smoke from the incinerator's furnace. With the closure of the incinerator, the site was converted to the transfer station that is there now.

Other town services include full-time police and fire departments, the Winchester Board of Health, the Town Clerk, the Post Office, Water and Sewer Department, and the Public Works Department.

Winchester also has a Chamber of Commerce located on the platform of the Winchester Center station of the MBTA Commuter Rail.


In 2008, Winchester voted for Democrat Barack Obama 59% to Republican John McCain 39%.[29]

Comparatively, in 2012, Winchester voted for Democrat Barack Obama 55% to Republican, former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney 44%.[30]

In the 2010 United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, Winchester voted 51% for Republican Scott Brown and 48% for Democrat Martha Coakley.[31]

In the 2012 United States Senate election, Winchester voted 52% for Republican Scott Brown and 48% for Democrat Elizabeth Warren.[32]

In the 2016 United States Presidential Election, Winchester voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton 68% to Republican Donald Trump 32%.

Points of interest

Sister city

Winchester is the sister city of St. Germain-en-Laye, France.

Notable people


  1. History of Winchester, Massachusetts by H.S. Chapman and Bruce W. Stone (1936, 1975)
  2. Ladies Home Journal, Aug. 1975


1852 Middlesex Canal (Massachusetts) map
1852 map of Boston area showing Winchester and the Middlesex Canal
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External links

Aberjona River

The Aberjona River is a 9.3-mile-long (15.0 km), heavily urbanized river in the northwestern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The name is from the Natick language and means "junction or confluence".The river rises in Reading, flows roughly south through Woburn and Winchester, and empties into the Mystic Lakes. It is generally small and heavily channelized, often running through underground culverts, but is quite apparent in Winchester center where it widens into Judkins Pond and the Mill Pond. The river's 25 square mile watershed covers most of Woburn and about half of Winchester, as well as portions of the surrounding communities of Lexington, Burlington, Wilmington, Reading, Wakefield, and Stoneham.

The Aberjona River was first identified by Europeans shortly after 1631, when Captain Edward Johnson explored the area. The name Aberjona appears in the earliest colonial records, but its origins are unknown. By 1865 there were 21 tanneries and currying shops in Woburn, and by the 1870s pollution from tanneries in Woburn and Winchester was affecting both the river and the Upper Mystic Lake (then a public water supply). The Massachusetts Legislature banned the discharge of wastes into Horn Pond Brook (a tributary) in 1907 and into the Aberjona in 1911.

A 1995 study by Spliethoff and Hemond analyzed sediments of the Upper Mystic Lake with industrial records, and determined that high concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc were deposited by chemical and leather industries dating from the early 1900s.

In the 1995 bestseller A Civil Action (and 1998 film starring John Travolta), a 15 acres (6.1 ha) parcel of forest, field, and marshland on the banks of the Aberjona River is recalled by witnesses as the place where workers from abutting industrial plants (owned by W.R. Grace & Co. and Beatrice Foods) dumped trichloroethylene (TCE) and other toxic chemicals into trenches, or "swimming pools", "within a few inches of the water." At one time, the Aberjona River had "run clear and full of fish."

From 1969 into the early 1980s, the Industri-plex site was developed along the river due to its proximity to the I-93 / I-95 junction. Industri-plex manufacturing plants contributed to the area's extensive contamination with chemicals used by the local paper, textile and leather industries, including lead-arsenic insecticides, acetic acid, benzene and toluene, and sulfuric acid. Industri-plex is now a "superfund" site, although substantially remediated.

Allan MacLeod Cormack

Allan MacLeod Cormack (February 23, 1924 – May 7, 1998) was a South African American physicist who won the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (along with Godfrey Hounsfield) for his work on X-ray computed tomography (CT).

Brad Whitford

Bradley Ernest Whitford (born February 23, 1952) is an American musician who is best known for serving as the rhythm and co-lead guitarist for the hard rock band Aerosmith. He has also worked as a songwriter for the group, co-composing well-received tracks such as 1976's "Last Child".

Chip LaMarca

Chip LaMarca is a Republican member of the Florida Legislature representing the state's 93rd House district, which includes part of Broward County. Prior to that, he served on the Broward County Commission.

Holly Meade

Holly Meade (b. Winchester, Massachusetts, September 14, 1956 - d. June 28, 2013) was an American artist best known for her woodblock prints and for her illustrations for children's picture books.Meade's illustrations for Hush!: A Thai Lullaby (1996, Orchard Books,) by Minfong Ho won a 1997 Caldecott Honor for illustration.John Willy and Freddy McGee (Marshall Cavendish, 1998,) which Meade both wrote and illustrated, was an honoree for the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Creative Writing.

Ken Reid (comedian)

Kenneth William Reid (born 1980 in Winchester, Massachusetts) is an American standup comedian based in Boston.

Lars Ahlfors

Lars Valerian Ahlfors (18 April 1907 – 11 October 1996) was a Finnish mathematician, remembered for his work in the field of Riemann surfaces and his text on complex analysis.

Lyman Bradford Smith

Lyman Bradford Smith (September 11, 1904 – May 4, 1997) was an American botanist.

Smith was born in Winchester, Massachusetts. He studied botany during the 1920s at Harvard University and received his PhD from Harvard in 1930. Between 1928 and 1929, he worked for the first time in Brazil. Most of his life's work came to involve the taxonomy of the flowering plants of South America, in particular the bromeliads (Bromeliaceae). Smith worked on the Bromeliaceae for the North American Flora published by the American botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton, volume 19, no. 2 (1938). Smith was a world authority on Begoniaceae and also worked with Velloziaceae and numerous other plant families. He was a curator in the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Botany from 1947 until his retirement in 1974, but continued to work in the United States National Herbarium as an emeritus curator almost until his death in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1997.

Mark A. Milley

Mark Alexander Milley (born June 20, 1958) is a four-star general in the United States Army and the 39th and current Chief of Staff of the Army. He previously served as the 21st commanding general of United States Army Forces Command from August 15, 2014 to August 9, 2015. As the Army Chief of Staff, Milley is the highest ranking officer in the United States Army.On December 8, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Milley to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Middlesex Canal

The Middlesex Canal was a 27-mile (44-kilometer) barge canal connecting the Merrimack River with the port of Boston. When operational it was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide, and 3 feet (0.9 m) deep, with 20 locks, each 80 feet (24 m) long and between 10 and 11 feet (3.0 and 3.4 m) wide. It also had 8 aqueducts.

The canal was one of the first civil engineering projects of its type in the United States, and was studied by engineers working on other major canal projects such as the Erie Canal. A number of innovations made the canal possible, including hydraulic cement, which was used to mortar its locks, and an ingenious floating towpath to span the Concord River.

Middlesex Fells Reservation

Middlesex Fells Reservation, often referred to simply as the Fells, is a public recreation area covering more than 2,200 acres (890 ha) in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, Massachusetts. The state park surrounds two inactive reservoirs, Spot Pond and the Fells Reservoir, and the three active reservoirs (North, Middle, and South) supplying the town of Winchester. Spot Pond and the Fells Reservoir are part of the Wachusett water system, one of six primary water systems that feed metropolitan Boston's waterworks. The park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and is part of the Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston.

Middlesex Fells Reservation Parkways

The Middlesex Fells Reservation Parkways are the roadways within and bordering on the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a state park in the northern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The park includes portions of the towns of Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester. The roads inside the park and around its perimeter have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other portions of some of the roads are covered by more than one listing in the national register; see Fellsway Connector Parkways and Middlesex Fells Reservoirs Historic District.

The Middlesex Fells Reservation is one of the oldest and largest of the parks in the Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston. The reservation was created in 1894 with a gift of 450 hectares (1,100 acres) of land from The Trustees of Reservations to the Metropolitan Parks Commission, predecessor organization to the Metropolitan District Commission and today's Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). By 1897 the park had been expanded to some 3,000 acres (1,200 ha). This area included some existing roadways, which became internal roadways of the park. The border roads that surround the park followed a principle articulated by landscape designer Charles Eliot, who was instrumental in the preservation of the Fells, that such roads clearly delineated the bounds of the park, and provided its neighbors with pleasing views.

Mystic Lakes (Boston)

The Mystic Lakes, consisting of Upper Mystic Lake and Lower Mystic Lake, are closely linked bodies of water in the northwestern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.

The lakes lie at an elevation of 1 meter above sea level, within the towns of Winchester, Arlington, and Medford, Massachusetts. Upper Mystic Lake is fed by the Aberjona River, and drains south, over the Mystic Dam, into Lower Mystic Lake, which in turn empties into the Mystic River and then Boston Harbor.

Mystic Valley Parkway

The Mystic Valley Parkway is a parkway in Arlington, Medford, Somerville, and Winchester, Massachusetts. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and forms part of Route 16.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Winchester, Massachusetts

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

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.

St. Mary's Catholic Church (Winchester, Massachusetts)

St. Mary's Catholic Church is a historic church at 159 Washington Street in Winchester, Massachusetts. The church is part of St Mary's Parish, which includes St Mary's School. Both are part of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Vic Fazio

Victor Herbert Fazio Jr. (born October 11, 1942) is a former Democratic congressman from California.

Whitney Smith

Whitney Smith Jr. (February 26, 1940 – November 17, 2016) was a professional vexillologist and scholar of flags. He originated the term vexillology, which refers to the scholarly analysis of all aspects of flags. He was a founder of several vexillology organizations. Smith was a Laureate and a Fellow of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations.

William I. Fletcher

William Isaac Fletcher (April 23, 1844 – June 15, 1917) was an American librarian, bibliographer, and indexer who served as the head librarian of Amherst College from 1883 to 1911 and the President of the American Library Association in 1891-92. In 1951, he was named by Library Journal to the Library Hall of Fame.

Municipalities and communities of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Major cities
Cities and towns
Cities and towns
Cities and towns

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