Franklin, Massachusetts

Not to be confused with Franklin County, Massachusetts.
Town of Franklin

Main Street

Motto: Industry Need Not Wish
Town of Franklin

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 42°05′N 71°24′W / 42.083°N 71.400°W / 42.083; -71.400
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Norfolk
Settled 1660
Incorporated 1778
  Type Council-manager
Jeff Nutting
  Total 27.0 sq mi (70.0 km2)
  Land 26.7 sq mi (69.3 km2)
  Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
Elevation 300 ft (91 m)
Population (2012)[1]
  Total 33,092
  Density 1,200/sq mi (470/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02038
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-25100
GNIS feature ID 0611686
In 1879

The Town of Franklin is a city[2] in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Franklin 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.[3] As of 2012, the city's population was 33,092. It is home to the country's first library, with its first books donated by Benjamin Franklin. It also contains the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese, St. Mary's Catholic church, with some 15,000 members.


Franklin was first settled by Europeans in 1660 and officially incorporated during the American Revolution. The town was formed from the western part of the town of Wrentham on February 16, 1778; its designated name at incorporation was to be Exeter.[4] However, the town's citizens chose to be called Franklin in honor of the statesman Benjamin Franklin, the first municipality in the U.S. to be so named.

It was hoped that Benjamin Franklin would donate a bell for a church steeple in the town, but donated 116 books instead,[5] beginning a debate over who should be allowed access to these books. On November 20, 1790, it was decided that the volumes would be lent to the residents of Franklin for free via its library, which has been in operation since then. The Ray Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1904. In 1990, on the library's bicentennial, its staff published a booklet, "A History of America's First Public Library at Franklin Massachusetts, 1790 ~ 1990" to commemorate America's first public library and book collection.[6]

The town is also home to the birthplace of America's father of public education, Horace Mann. The town is also home to what may have been the nation's oldest continuously operational one-room school house (Croydon, New Hampshire's school dates to 1780, but there is debate as to whether it is truly "one room"). The Red Brick School was started in 1792, its building constructed in 1833,[7] and was operational until 2008. St. Mary's Catholic Church, located in central Franklin and built by Matthew Sullivan, is the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese with some 15,000 members.

County v. Town

The town of Franklin is located in Norfolk County. Unlike the municipalities of Barnstable, Essex, Hampden, Nantucket (co-extensive with its namesake county), Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester, all of which are located in the similarly named county, the town of Franklin is not actually located in Franklin County.


Franklin is located at 42°5′N 71°24′W / 42.083°N 71.400°W / 42.083; -71.400 (42.0891, -71.4069).[8] According to the U.S. Census Bureau the town has a total area of 27.0 square miles (70 km2), of which 26.7 square miles (69 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (1 percent) is water.

Most of Franklin lies within the Charles River watershed. Principal streams include Mine, Shepard's, Miller, Uncas, Dix and Miscoe Brooks. Much of the marshland along Mine Brook has been permanently protected by the Natural Valley Storage Project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The extreme southwest corner of Franklin is part of the Blackstone River watershed. The town has an impounded series of lakes known as the Franklin Reservoir, which is not used as a public drinking water supply. The lakes are now protected open space donated to the town by the late Ernest DelCarte. Beaver Pond also is a municipal recreation area and includes an artificial turf playing and recreation field, and playground. In the summer, it is a popular spot for swimming and fishing. The beach is also used for volleyball games. Significant public forests and parks include the Franklin State and the Franklin Town Forests.


Franklin's climate is variable. Winters are typically cold, with frequent Nor'easters and occasional blizzards. Snowfall ranges widely from season to season, although the average is about 50 inches (150 cm). In the recent past, there has been as little as 14 inches (360 mm) of snow (in the 1988–89 winter season) to 126 inches (in 1995–96). The amount decreases dramatically eastward towards Boston because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Snowfall amounts can also decrease rapidly south of Franklin. Low temperatures below zero are not uncommon in winter, and the lowest recent temperatures have been 14 below in January 1994, 14 below in January 2011 and 16 below in February 2016. Average January high temperatures are in the low 30s. Average January low temperatures are in the upper teens. Snow depth can reach two feet or more during the winter season. The winter of 2010–11 was notable for snow depths of nearly 40 inches during January and February. Nearly 60 inches of snowfall was recorded in Franklin in January 2011 alone. The winter of 2014–15 saw a very cold February and March. Snow depths reached 45" by mid February. Snow cover lasted from late January until the first week of April. February 2015 was one of the coldest months on record. Snowfall for Franklin was 107.6" for the season. Spring temperatures can be mitigated by penetrating cold fronts originating from the Canadian Maritimes, known as "Backdoor Cold Fronts". Typically, high temperatures consistently above 70 degrees do not set in until late May. The last frost is usually in mid-May. Summers are generally comfortable, with periods of high humidity. Prolonged heat waves of three or more days with highs of 90 or above are uncommon but can occur. In July 2011 an unusually high temperature of 101 was reached. Average July high temperatures are in the low 80s and average lows are around 60. Severe summer weather is not as common as in areas to the west in Central Massachusetts. Fall is pleasant with the first frost usually around October 1, and the peak of the fall foliage season averages around October 12. Franklin can expect a "white" Christmas slightly under 50 percent of the time.


Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]
U.S. Decennial Census[19]

As of the 2010 census,[20][21] there were 31,852 people, 10,866 households, and 7,877 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,105.4 inhabitants per square mile (426.8/km2). There were 10,327 housing units at an average density of 386.2 per square mile (149.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.8 percent White, 3.83 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 2.0 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.4 percent Black or African American, 0.15 percent Native American, 0.29 percent from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races.

There were 10,866 households out of which 44.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.4% contained married couples living together, 22.4% were non-families, and 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present. 18.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80, the average family size 3.29.

As far as breakdown by age, the population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median household income in the town was $92,066, and the median income for a family was $81,826 (these figures had risen to $89,659 and $101,900, respectively, as of a 2008 estimate)[22]). Men had a median income of $58,888 versus $36,557 for women; the per capita income for the town was $27,849. About 2.2% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under 18 and 5.2% of those 65 or over.

The town is represented in the Massachusetts General Court by Representative Jeffrey Roy and Senators Richard Ross and Karen Spilka.[23]

Theme Song

The Town of Franklin has its own theme song composed by town resident and music teacher James H. Barrett. Entitled "The City Known as the Town of Franklin", the song reflects the many unique characteristics of Franklin. The lyrics discuss the library, the one-room schoolhouse, and the birthplace of Horace Mann.


The Franklin Public Schools have six elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Franklin is also home to one regional vocational-technical high school and one charter school (Grades K - 8). The elementary schools are John F. Kennedy Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Oak Street Elementary School, Gerald M. Parmenter Elementary School, Helen Keller Elementary School, and Davis Thayer Elementary School. The middle schools are Annie Sullivan Middle School, Remington Middle School, and Horace Mann Middle School. All of the Franklin middle schools share a building with at least one other school. Annie Sullivan shares with Helen Keller Elementary, Remington with Jefferson Elementary, and Horace Mann shares with Oak Street Elementary school and the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). The two public high schools are Franklin High School and Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School. Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School and the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School operate independently of the Franklin Public School system.

Franklin High School has gone through the process of constructing a new high school building and tearing down the old one in 2014. The new FHS features modern, accessible classrooms, science labs, integrated technology, and a performing arts theater.[24]

The Red Brick School is a historic school in the town. It was strictly for kindergarten students and was one of the longest running one-room schools in America. The quality of its public schools is part of the reason that Family Circle named Franklin as one of the top ten towns in the US to raise a family.

The Town of Franklin is also home to Dean College, founded in 1865, is a private residential college with about 1,100 students. The college grants associate degrees in a number of subjects (98% of the students are accepted for transfer to four-year schools); but also offers bachelor's programs in Arts and Entertainment Management, Psychology, Sociology, History, English, Business, Dance, Liberal Arts & Studies, and Theater.


Franklin boasts many sports teams. For public recreation, Franklin offers baseball, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, track and field, football, flag football, basketball, metro basketball, softball, Babe Ruth baseball, and wrestling. There are many trails for recreational hiking and some trails in the Franklin State Forest are approved for non-motorized mountain biking while others are approved for motorized two-wheeled dirtbikes. From 1967 through 2000, the town was also home to a small downhill ski area called Klein Innsbruck.[25]

Franklin High School's sports teams belong to the Hockomock League, in Division 1 (the Kelley-Rex Division). Their sports rival is King Philip Regional High School, in neighboring Wrentham.

Points of interest

As noted, the Franklin Public Library is the first public library in America. It is a 1904 building with granite and marble staircases, frescoed walls in its reading room and still houses the original books donated by Benjamin Franklin. Across the street from the library is Dean College, with Gothic architecture and a historic gymnasium.

According to a survey of the center of Franklin done for the historical commission of the town, the Franklin Common Historic District includes 74 historically contributing buildings. There are a number of houses prior to 1780, including a saltbox, kept as close to original as possible, from 1710. There is a house that dates to 1780 and was moved to Union Street in 1840. The next oldest house was built in 1830. There are 32 buildings that were built before 1900. The former town hall on West Central Street was built in 1842.

At one end of Franklin's Historic District is the little Red Brick School. Its classroom, believed to be one of the oldest still functioning as a public school in the United States, celebrated its 175th birthday in 2008. The Franklin Town Common features a gazebo, and several dedications located around the common. The brick bandstand on the Town Common was dedicated in 1917 and contributed by the Hayward family. Concerts and a Fourth of July celebration are held on the Common each summer. The Feast of St Rocco, a four-day family festival, is held each year in mid-August, sponsored by St. Mary Roman Catholic parish.

Downtown there is a series of restaurants and bars. The street lines on Union Street used to be painted red, white, and green to reflect the extensive Italian heritage in the city. The Zeotrope was an old fashioned movie theater that was a trademark of Franklin lore until it was torn down.

At Beaver Pond, there is an AstroTurf playing and recreation field, and playground. In the summer, it is a popular spot for swimming and fishing. The beach is also used for volleyball games.

The town also contains remnants of its Industrial Revolution background. Until recently, abandoned mills existed along the railroad tracks. One old mill building was turned into residential condos and a nearby building consists of a variety of multiple-use commercial businesses, including the Franklin Mill Store. The Brookdale Mill on the other side of Franklin was converted into Incontro, an upscale restaurant. A fourth mill on Hayward street was converted for upscale shopping.


Franklin has easy access to major cities like Boston and Providence with its two exits along I-495 at Route 140 and King St. Commuter rail service from Boston's South Station is provided by the MBTA with the Forge Park/495 and Dean College stops on its Franklin Line.

Franklin, and the surrounding towns also have a bus system, that is part of the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) bus authority. Its route features many stops around the town, including the Municipal Building, Senior Center, Franklin Public Library, and the Franklin Village Shopping center.

Notable people

Unless otherwise noted, individuals are or were residents of Franklin.

Born in Franklin:

  • Charles Partridge Adams, born in Franklin, 1858 – landscape painter, Gold Medal of National Mining and Industrial Exposition, Denver, for landscape
  • Edward Reed Blake, born in Franklin - Wisconsin state legislator and businessman[26]
  • Major General Normando Antonia Costello, born in Franklin, 1905 – orchestrated surrender of Weimar, Germany [27]
  • Oliver Dean, MD, born in Franklin, 1783 - physician and educator, benefactor and founder of Dean Academy [28]
  • Alexander Metcalf Fisher, born in Franklin, 1794 – elected Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Yale University in 1817 [29]
  • Milton Metcalf Fisher, born in Franklin, 1811 - abolitionist [30]
  • George Warren Fuller, born in Franklin, 1868 – responsible for important innovations in water and wastewater treatment
  • Eddie Grant (baseball), born in 1883 and grew up in Franklin - baseball player, killed in WWI
  • Peter Laviolette, born in 1964 and grew up in Franklin[31] - former head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, former head coach of the 2006 Stanley Cup Champions Carolina Hurricanes. Coached Team USA in the 2006 Olympics in Italy
  • Horace Mann, born in Franklin, 1796 – educator
  • Eliab Metcalf, born in Franklin, 1785 – artist [32]
  • Theron Metcalf, born in Franklin, 1784 - Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Abigail Pond, born March 7, 1778 (daughter of Hezekiah & Loes Pond) – first child born in Franklin after incorporation [33]
  • Louis Pieri, born in Franklin, 1897 - hockey executive and coach
  • Albert D. Richardson, born in Franklin, 1833 – journalist, spy, and author
  • LTC Welcome Ballou Sayles, born in Franklin, 1812 - Postmaster of Providence RI and delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention in Baltimore [34]
  • Bobby Santos III, born in Franklin, 1985 - NASCAR driver
  • Davis Thayer, born in Franklin, 1778 - straw-goods merchant and manufacturing pioneer [35]
  • Rev William Makepeace Thayer, born in Franklin, 1820 – author and editor [36]

Former residents:


  1. "Franklin Massachusetts".
  2. Although it is called the "Town of Franklin," it is a statutory city of Massachusetts. See Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  5. "Town Profile". Town of Franklin. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  6. "History of the Franklin Public Library". Town of Franklin. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  7. The Red Brick School, Franklin, Massachusetts site. Retrieved 11 September 2008.
  8. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  9. "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
  10. "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  11. "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.
  12. "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.
  13. "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.
  14. "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.
  15. "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.
  16. "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.
  17. "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.
  18. "1850 Census" (PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  19. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  20. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  21. "Franklin, Massachusetts - QuickFacts - United States Census Bureau". Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  22. "Franklin city, Massachusetts - Fact Sheet - American FactFinder". Retrieved 2010-10-25.
  23. "The 187th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" (official website.) Retrieved December 23, 2012. <>
  24. "The New FHS: Timeline". The New Franklin High School. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  25. "Klein Innsbruck".
  26. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1885,' Biographical Sketch of Edward Reed Blake, pg. 425
  27. Schmidt, Bernd (June 11, 2011). "80th Infantry Division Takes Weimar; Germans Fail to Resist Yanks; Col. Costello Arranges for Surrender" (PDF). Blue Ridge, The Service Magazine. 80th Infantry Division. pp. 13–15,. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  28. Blake, Mortimer, ed. (1879). A History of the Town of Franklin, Mass: From Its Settlement to the Completion of its First Century. Providence, RI: J.A & R.A Reid. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-178-85357-5.
  29. Kingsley, William, ed. (1879). Yale college, a sketch of its history. 1. New York: Holt. p. 228. ISBN 978-9-333-60860-2.
  30. Fisher, Milton Metcalf (1902). The Autobiography of Milton M. Fisher of Medway, Mass. Medway, Mass: Rumford Press.
  31. "Franklin's favorite son Peter Laviolette on wrong side of rink". The Milford Daily News. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  32. "Eliab Metcalf". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  33. Orestes, Doe, ed. (1898). The Record of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in the Town of Franklin from 1778 to 1872. Franklin, Mass: Franklin Sentinel. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-153-11962-7.
  34. Slater, A.B. (October 1, 1917). "The Postage Stamps of the Providence, R.I. Postmaster". The American Philatelist. American Philatelic Society. 31 (1): 205–206.
  35. Blake, Mortimer, ed. (1879). A History of the Town of Franklin, Mass: From Its Settlement to the Completion of its First Century. Providence, RI: J.A & R.A Reid. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-178-85357-5.
  36. Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society…. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society. 1893. p. 50.
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