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Wellesley, Massachusetts
Wellesley Town Hall
Wellesley Town Hall
Yellow, green and white seal with "WELLESLEY" and "APRIL 4, 1881" in black
Location of Wellesley in Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Location of Wellesley in Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Wellesley is located in Massachusetts
Location in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°17′47″N 71°17′35″W / 42.29639°N 71.29306°W / 42.29639; -71.29306
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Norfolk
 • TypeRepresentative town meeting
 • Select Board
List of Select Board members
  • Thomas Ulfelder
  • Ann-Mara Lanza
  • Beth Sullivan Woods
  • Colette Aufranc
  • Lise Olney
 • Total10.49 sq mi (27.2 km2)
 • Land10.18 sq mi (26.4 km2)
 • Water0.31 sq mi (0.8 km2)
141 ft (43 m)
 • Total29,550
 • Density2,902.75/sq mi (1,120.76/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
02481, 02482, 02457
Area code339/781
FIPS code25-74175
GNIS feature ID0618332

Wellesley (/ˈwɛlzlɪ/) is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Wellesley is part of Greater Boston. The population was 29,550 at the time of the 2020 census.[3] Wellesley College, Babson College, and a campus of Massachusetts Bay Community College are located in the town.


Wellesley was settled in the 1600s as part of Dedham, Massachusetts. It was subsequently a part of Needham, Massachusetts called West Needham, Massachusetts. On October 23, 1880, West Needham residents voted to secede from Needham, and the town of Wellesley was later christened by the Massachusetts legislature on April 6, 1881. The town was named after the estate of local benefactor Horatio Hollis Hunnewell.[4][5]

Wellesley's population grew by over 80 percent around the 1920s.[6]


Wellesley is located in eastern Massachusetts. It is bordered on the east by Newton, on the north by Weston, on the south by Needham and Dover and on the west by Natick. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.49 square miles (27.2 km2), of which 10.18 square miles (26.4 km2) is land and 0.32 square miles (0.83 km2) is water.[2]



Wellesley has a warm-summer humid continental climate (Dfb under the Köppen climate classification system), with high humidity and precipitation year-round.

Climate data for Wellesley, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Average high °F (°C) 33.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 26
Average low °F (°C) 18.3
Record low °F (°C) −14
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.2
Average snowfall inches (cm) 16.1
Average precipitation days 12 11 13 12 12 12 11 10 9 10 11 12 135
Source 1: Climate Summary for Dedham, Massachusetts
Source 2: Monthly- All Data for Dedham, Massachusetts


See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

Historical population
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.[11][3][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

The Census Bureau has also defined the town as a census-designated place with an area exactly equivalent to the town.[2]

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,613 people, 8,594 households, and 6,540 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,614.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,009.3/km2). There were 8,861 housing units at an average density of 870.4 per square mile (336.1/km2). According to a 2007 Census Bureau estimate, the racial makeup of the town was 84.6% White, 10.0% Asian, 2.2% Black, 0.01% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.4% of the population.[2]

There were 8,594 households, out of which 39.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.2% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.14.[2]

In the town, the population was spread out, with 25.1% under the age of 18, 13.9% from 18 to 24, 22.9% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 77.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.1 males.[2]

The median income for a household was $159,167, and the median income for a family was $186,518. The per capita income in the town was $72,046.[19] About 2.4% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.0% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.[2]


Wellesley is home to the headquarters of many local, national and global businesses including Benchmark Senior Living, Blank Label Apparel, Eagle Investment Systems, EPG Incorporated, GrandBanks Capital, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Livingston and Haynes PC, and Sun Life Financial U.S.

Top employers

According to Wellesley's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[20] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of employees
1 Wellesley College 1,103
2 Sun Life Financial 1,035
3 Babson College 800
4 Harvard Pilgrim Health Care 446
5 Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates 350
6 Massachusetts Bay Community College 295
7 Whole Foods Market 292
8 Wellesley Country Club 265
9 Roche Bros. 260
10 Dana Hall School 214

Arts and culture

Wellesley's Wonderful Weekend

Each year the weekend before Memorial Day, the town sponsors the annual Wellesley's Wonderful Weekend, which includes the annual veterans' parade and fireworks. On May 18, 2008, The Beach Boys performed in a concert on the Wellesley High School athletic fields in front of an estimated 10,000 town residents and fans. The funds for the performance, an estimated $250,000, were made as a gift by an anonymous donor and lifelong fan of the band.

Wellesley Symphony Orchestra

The Wellesley Symphony Orchestra presents classical, pops, and family concerts at Mass Bay Community College at its Wellesley campus.

Religious institutions

The town of Wellesley is home to several religious institutions. Wellesley contains two Jewish institutions including Temple Beth Elohim and the Wellesley Chabad Center. Predominantly Christian Wellesley contains many churches, including Wellesley Congregational Church, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, St. Paul's Catholic Church, Christ Church United Methodist, Wellesley Hills Congregational Church (also known as The Hills Church), First Church of Christ, Scientist, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the Metrowest Baptist Church, Milestone Wellesley, and Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, and Wellesley Friends Meeting (Quakers).


The Wellesley College campus includes greenhouses and the H. H. Hunnewell Arboretum. This is not to be confused with the neighboring private H. H. Hunnewell estate. The Elm Bank Horticulture Center is home to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Although the entrance is in Wellesley, access is over a small private bridge over the Charles River, so Elm Bank is therefore in the neighboring town of Dover.

Historic district

The town designated Cottage Street and its nearby alleys as the historic district in its zoning plan. Most houses in this district were built around the 1860s and qualify as protected buildings certified by the town's historic commission.[21]

Recent construction

The town's historic 19th-century inn was demolished to make way for condominiums and mixed-use development in 2006.[22] The Wellesley Country Club clubhouse, which is the building where the town was founded, was demolished in 2008, and a new clubhouse was built.[4] The town's pre-World War II high school building was torn down and replaced with a brand new high school finished in 2012.[23] The entire 1960s-style Linden Street strip-mall has been replaced by "Linden Square"—a shopping district that includes a flagship Roche Bros. supermarket, restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, along with a mixture of national chains and local shops.[24]


Wellesley opened its new Free Library building in 2003, which is part of the Minuteman Library Network. Due to the structure of budget override votes and perhaps the size of the new main branch of the library, the two branch libraries—one in Wellesley Hills, which was purpose-built to be a branch library in the 1920s, another in Wellesley Fells—closed in the summer of 2006. The branch libraries reopened in September 2008.[25] The main library branch near Wellesley Square underwent a major interior renovation in 2021.[26]


Central Street in Wellesley Square, looking west

The town government has been run by town meeting since the town's founding. Since Proposition 2½ limited property tax increases to 2.5% per year in 1980, the town has had to ask residents for a number of overrides to maintain funding for certain programs. Although the main 2005 override passed, a simultaneous supplemental override to preserve certain specific programs and services failed by 17 votes. The 2006 override passed with a large majority. Wellesley also receives funding from the state government. Local roads have been repaved several times in the 1990s and 2000s.

The town is part of the Massachusetts Senate's Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex district.

On December 18, 2014, Wellesley College and the Town of Wellesley announced that the College's Board of Trustees had chosen the town's $35-million bid for the purchase of 46 acres of land adjacent to its campus. Under this agreement, at least 50% of the North 40 property will be preserved in perpetuity as open space. A special town meeting in January 2015 resulted in a near-unanimous vote in favor of the purchase, and in March 2015, 80 percent of residents that cast votes at the Town election, voted to approve the purchase.

Reducing carbon footprint

In 2009 the town established the Municipal Energy Efficiency Committee (MEEC) made up of representatives from various town departments, to develop and evaluate municipal policies to reduce energy use.

In 2010 Wellesley's Sustainable Energy Committee (SEC) was formed by Town Meeting. The committee's primary objective was a 10% town-wide reduction in Wellesley's carbon footprint and 20% reduction in carbon footprint for all municipal departments by the end of 2013. In 2014 Town Meeting voted to support a new goal of 25% reduction by 2020 using 2007 as the base year. The committee is responsible for Wellesley's adoption of the Massachusetts Stretch Building Code approved by Town Meeting effective January 2012.[27]

In 2013, the committee organized Wellesley's Green Collaborative, a group of organizations that are concerned about environmental issues in Wellesley and beyond. Dozens of like-minded organizations are represented including the Natural Resources Commission, a five-member elected board of town residents; Wellesley Conservation Council, a private, non-profit, land trust and conservation education organization incorporated in 1958; and Sustainable Wellesley, a group of volunteers who encourage sustainability in Wellesley and the surrounding area through events, education, and action.

In 2014 the Sustainable Energy Committee served to double participation in the town's POWER TO CHOOSE program and organized the "More POWER TO CHOOSE" solar program.

Natural resources protection

Wellesley is the longest running Tree City USA community of any city or town in Massachusetts. Wellesley's Tree Bylaw became effective July 1, 2011, requiring property owners to protect certain trees and critical root zones during construction projects, and replace trees that are cut down or donate money to a special tree fund. The town's Natural Resource Protection (NRP) Development bylaw, approved by Town Meeting in 2013, applies to any subdivision generating five or more lots. This bylaw requires a minimum of 50% of the property be preserved as open space in exchange for reduced lot sizes without increasing density.

Established in 1979, Wellesley has a unique elected Natural Resources Commission (NRC) bearing the statutory authority and responsibility of Park Commissions, Conservation Commissions, Tree Wardens, Town Forest Committees, and Forestry and Pest Control Officers. The commission maintains Wellesley's two Community Gardens and maintains a trail network that includes 26 miles of marked trails interconnecting open spaces and conservation lands for walking, dog walking, jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and more.

In 2001 the commission, in collaboration with the Health, Public Works and School department, developed a pesticide awareness program resulting in an Organic Pest Management Policy governing pesticide use on all town-owned property.

In 2003 the commission created the Preservation Master Plan for Fuller Brook Park in collaboration with Wellesley's Department of Public Works. This major restoration project was completed in 2017. In 2009, the commission launched the Green Wellesley Campaign advocating for sustainability by raising awareness and promoting increased environmental action. That campaign has been renamed the Grow Green Wellesley initiative, which promotes earth-friendly lawn and landscaping practices.


Residence halls at Wellesley College

On the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test, the district regularly scores higher than the state average.[28][29][30] The school system also contains a middle school and seven elementary schools (Bates, Upham, Schofield, Fiske, Hardy, Hunnewell, and Sprague). Wellesley includes a primary and secondary school which are Wellesley Middle School (also known as Wellesley Junior High) and Wellesley High School, respectively; and are the home of the Raiders.[citation needed]

The town contains a private elementary school, Tenacre Country Day School, one private Catholic elementary school (St. John the Evangelist) and a preparatory school for girls, Dana Hall School. Also, the Wellesley A Better Chance outfit started in the early 1970s brings promising young women from underserved areas into town to attend Wellesley High School and live nearby.[31]

Wellesley also contains the main campus of three colleges: Wellesley College, a women's liberal arts college, Massachusetts Bay Community College, a two-year public college, and Babson, a business college.

Green Schools

Wellesley Green Schools was established in 2006. The No Idling Campaign received an Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award from the state of Massachusetts in 2014.

The town's new high school opened in February 2012 and includes such elements as green vegetated roof, geothermal heat pump and Solar thermal cooling, Solar Photovoltaic system, and rainwater recovery systems.


Events of significance to members of the Wellesley community are recorded in two local news publications: The Wellesley Townsman[32] has been published since 1906, and The Swellesley Report since 2005. Both are available online and digitized copies of the paper-based Townsman are available from the Wellesley Free Library.



Commuter Rail train at Wellesley Hills

Wellesley has had rail service to Boston since 1833. Rail service is currently provided through Wellesley's participation in the MBTA, which offers a total of 17 weekdays Commuter Rail trains inbound towards Boston and outbound towards Framingham and Worcester. Wellesley's stations are (east to west) Wellesley Farms, Wellesley Hills, and Wellesley Square. The Wellesley Farms station is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. MWRTA bus service also runs along Walnut Street, Cedar Street, and Route 9.

The highways Interstate 95/Massachusetts Route 128, Massachusetts Route 9, Massachusetts route 16 and Massachusetts route 135 run through Wellesley.

For elders and people with disabilities there is a specific MBTA-based service, The Ride, which offers free or low-cost door-to-door service by appointment.[33]

Wellesley's Council on Aging contracts out a daily low-cost minibus service offering elderly access to several local medical facilities and the Woodland MBTA station.[34] Further afield is the Springwell Senior Medical Escort Program / Busy Bee Transportation Service for rides to medical & non-medical services in the area. There is also a monthly minibus to the Natick Mall.

Municipal light plant

Wellesley is serviced by the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant. the three colleges voluntarily pay a premium to purchase electricity generated by wind power.

In 2012, Wellesley was designated a Green Power Community by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.[35]

Notable people

Sylvia Plath
Nate Freiman
Vladimir Nabokov
Steven Tyler


  1. ^ "Wellesley Board of Selectmen".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: United States". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Smolski, Anne-Marie (October 26, 2009). "Monument marks birthplace of Wellesley". The Wellesley Townsman. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  5. ^ Hinchliffe, Beth. "History of Wellesley". Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  6. ^ Schaeffer, K. H.; Sclar, Elliott (1980). Access for All: Transportation and Urban Growth. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-05165-4. Retrieved January 16, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Shulkin, Traci. "WELLESLEY NEIGHBORHOODS". The Traci Shulkin Group. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "Zip Code 02481, Wellesley Hills, MA". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "Zip Code 02482, Wellesley, MA". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  10. ^ "ZIP Code 02457". Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  11. ^ "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2022". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  12. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  13. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision – GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "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. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ "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: 1900, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ Massachusetts locations by per capita income
  20. ^ City of Wellesley CAFR
  21. ^ "Historic District Commission". Town of Wellesley. Wellesleyt Historic Commission. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Lehmann, Barbara (March 29, 2006). "No rooms at the inn". The Wellesley Townsman. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  23. ^ Zak, Elana (September 4, 2009). "Wellesley High School project moving ahead". The Wellesley Townsman. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  24. ^ Lebeaux, Rachel (March 29, 2006). "Design Review approves Linden Street plan". The Wellesley Townsman. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  25. ^ "Branch Libraries reopen this week". The Wellesley Townsman. September 4, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  26. ^ "2021 Renovation - Wellesley Free Library". October 19, 2021. Archived from the original on October 19, 2021. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  27. ^ "Sustainable Energy Committee: Wellesley, MA". Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  28. ^ "2007 MCAS Results – Wellesley Public Schools". The Boston Globe. 2007. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  29. ^ "2008 MCAS Results – Wellesley Public Schools". The Boston Globe. September 23, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  30. ^ "2009 MCAS Results – Wellesley Public Schools". The Boston Globe. September 14, 2009. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
  31. ^ "Wellesley a Better Chance celebrates 40 years of helping young women thrive". November 5, 2012.
  32. ^ "The Wellesley Townsman". Wellesley Free Library. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  33. ^ "The Ride Guide". Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  34. ^ "Town of Wellesley, Massachusetts – Transportation". Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  35. ^ [ "Wellesley Stands Mighty with Its 36th Consecutive Tree City Designation"]. Retrieved March 3, 2021. ((cite web)): Check |url= value (help)
  36. ^ Google Books: Yellow Clover: A Book of Remembrance, (E.P. Dutton, 1922), quote viii, accessed January 6, 2012
  37. ^ Eddie Yost at SABR Baseball Biography Project