West Newbury, Massachusetts
West Newbury Town Hall, 2023
West Newbury Town Hall, 2023
Location in Essex County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Essex County and the state of Massachusetts.
West Newbury, Massachusetts is located in the United States
West Newbury, Massachusetts
West Newbury, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 42°48′05″N 70°59′25″W / 42.80139°N 70.99028°W / 42.80139; -70.99028
CountryUnited States
 • TypeOpen town meeting
 • Town ManagerAngus Jennings
 • Select Board ChairWendy Reed
 • Total14.7 sq mi (38.1 km2)
 • Land13.4 sq mi (34.8 km2)
 • Water1.3 sq mi (3.3 km2)
92 ft (28 m)
 • Total4,500
 • Density310/sq mi (120/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code351 / 978
FIPS code25-77150
GNIS feature ID0618313
WebsiteTown of West Newbury, Massachusetts, Official Web Site

West Newbury is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. Situated on the Merrimack River, its population was 4,500 at the 2020 census.[1]


Post Office Square, c. 1905

Originally inhabited by Agawam or Naumkeag peoples, West Newbury was settled by English colonists in 1635 as part of neighboring Newbury. After 15 years of English colonization, a 30 acre section of land around Indian Hill in current day West Newbury was purchased from an indigenous man Great Tom for three pounds.[2]

On February 18, 1819, the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act "to incorporate the town of Parsons."[3] The initial proposals had been made in the late 18th century, but determined resistance from the town of Newbury, which had already lost Newburyport, blocked the measure for decades. On June 14, 1820, the legislature passed another act to change the name to West Newbury.

West Newbury has evolved from a rural farming town into an affluent community.[4][5] Issues of balancing development and need for affordable housing[6][7] against the townspeople's desire to maintain West Newbury's rural charm and character[8][9] have been in play for at least fifty years. In 1969 local writer Margaret Coit called West Newbury a "hill-framed town that Lowell Thomas once described as 'the Garden of Eden of America,'" saying that as active farming faded away, West Newbury had become, "in its population and pattern of thinking ... virtually a suburb."[10]

Between 1820 and the early 1900s, an active Quaker community existed in West Newbury. The Quaker Meetinghouse stood at what is now 114 Turkey Hill Street[11] and the Quaker Burial Ground, which was established in the 1850s, is located along the Artichoke Reservoir [12]

During the 19th century, West Newbury was home to a vibrant industrial scene.[13] The town was renowned for its comb making industry. Beginning in the 1840s, small home-based comb shops gave way to large-scale factories that produced horn combs and hair adornments. S.C. Noyes, located at 320 Main Street, was the last remaining comb factory in town and shut its doors in 1904.[14] In addition to comb making, a shoe factory operated where the West Newbury Pizza Company currently exists.

The West Newbury Historical Society, a non-profit, maintains the Hills House Museum at the historic William Hills and Hannah Chase House. The home was built in 1780 and the property contains several outbuildings, one of which is a cobbler's shop. The museum boasts a collection of horn combs and adornments manufactured in West Newbury, along with cooper's tools original to the house.

In 1952, Julian D. Steele became the first African-American town Moderator in Massachusetts when he was elected to the position in West Newbury.[15]

The town's oldest continually-operating farm is Long Hill Orchard.[16] The farm has been active since 1896, and has a long and intriguing history. Today, in addition to the apple orchard, the farm is home to a popular community-supported agriculture program and farm to table dining events.


West Newbury is a part of Massachusetts' North Shore, as well as the Merrimack Valley regions of the state. It lies along the south banks of the Merrimack River, 10 miles (16 km) upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. The town is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Lawrence and 34 miles (55 km) north of Boston. It is bordered by Merrimac and Amesbury to the north, Newburyport to the east, Newbury to the southeast, Groveland to the southwest, and Haverhill to the west. The Rocks Village Bridge across the Merrimack River is the only access to the northern banks of the river in town; there is no direct route into Merrimac and Amesbury.

Rocks Village Bridge, West Newbury, 2019

West Newbury is separated from Newburyport by the Artichoke River and its upper and lower reservoirs. Several other rivers and brooks, including the Indian River, flow through the town. The southern corner of town is part of the Crane Pond Wildlife Management Area, and two other protected areas, the Riverbend Recreation Area and Mill Pond Recreation Area, are located in the northern part of town. The town's highest point is on Archelaus Hill in the center of town. Significant efforts have been made by residents to maintain the rural character of the town through advocacy for the preservation of open spaces. West Newbury is well known for its many hills: Pipestave Hill, Archelaus Hill, Brake Hill, Ilsey Hill, Indian Hill, Long Hill and Meetinghouse Hill.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.7 square miles (38.1 km2), of which 13.4 square miles (34.8 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.3 km2), or 8.65%, is water.[17]


See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income

Historical population
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

In 2000 the 4149 were distributed into 1,392 households, and 1,183 families.[32] The racial makeup of the town was 98.5% White, 0.2% African American, 0.5% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 0.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.7% of the population. In March 1952, Julian Steele, the sole African-American voter among some 1,500 residents at the time, was elected West Newbury's town meeting moderator. He was the first African-American town moderator in Massachusetts,[33] and remained the only African-American town moderator in the state for at least a decade.[34]

West Newbury Town Center, 2019

Of 1,686 households in 2010, 46.6% had their own children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.8% were married couples, 6.2% were a female householder with no husband present, and 15.0% were non-families. 11.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.2% were individuals living alone who were 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.25.

By age, 30.0% were under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 29.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $164,250, and the median income for a family was $193,951.[35] Males had a median income of $100,670 versus $80,189 for females. The per capita income for the town was $35,323. About 2.8% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under the age of 18 and 9.8% of those 65 and older.


West Newbury and its residents were the models for Popperville, the setting of Virginia Lee Burton's children's story Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.[36] The town hall where the story ends is patterned after West Newbury's Old Town Hall.[37] West Newbury also provided the geographical inspiration for the Mad Scientists' Club series of stories by Bertrand R. Brinley. Portions of John Cena's music video, "Right Now", were shot in West Newbury, with the remainder filmed at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. In the late summer and fall of 2008, various scenes from Mel Gibson's film Edge of Darkness were shot on Church Street.[38]

West Newbury is home to Emery House, monastery guesthouse and sanctuary of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.

Farm at Crane Neck Street, West Newbury, 2019

Many farms remain in West Newbury. In 2019 the town, in conjunction with Essex County Greenbelt Association, purchased an agricultural preservation restriction for Brown Spring Farm, permanently eliminating rights to develop the farmland and making it affordable for a new farmer.[39][40] Long Hill Orchard is the town's oldest continually-operating farm. A number of smaller farms exist in West Newbury, including Maple Crest Farm, several Christmas tree farms, and numerous horse stables and equestrian facilities.

The town has two primary outdoor recreational areas, Mill Pond and Pipestave Hill, which offer walking trails, horseback riding trails, as well as space for canoeing, fishing, and kayaking. Equestrian events are regularly held by the West Newbury Riding and Driving Club throughout the riding season. Additionally, the Myopia Hunt Club holds an annual fox hunt through the town during the fall.

Efforts to maintain West Newbury's rural charm have been ongoing; the Town has purchased large swaths of land designated as Open Space by the West Newbury Open Space Committee.


Along with neighboring Merrimac and Groveland, it is part of the Pentucket Regional School District. It also contains the Dr. John C. Page School.

For elementary school, students also have the option of attending River Valley Charter School in Newburyport.

For high school, students also have the options of attending Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in nearby Haverhill, and Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School in Danvers.

Nearby private schools include The Governor's Academy in Byfield, Phillips Exeter Academy, Phillips Academy, Waring School, Central Catholic High School, St. John's Preparatory School, Pingree School, and Shore Country Day School.


Interstate 95 crosses through the eastern corner of town, with an exit lying just over the line in Newbury providing access to the town. Massachusetts Route 113 is the main road through town, roughly parallel to the contour of the Merrimack River. The town lies between the termini of two lines of the MBTA Commuter Rail, the Haverhill Line to the west and Newburyport/Rockport Line to the east. A small airstrip, Plum Island Airport (2B2), is located in neighboring Newburyport; the nearest national air service is in Boston at Logan International Airport.

Notable people

See also

National Register of Historic Places in West Newbury


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  2. ^ Perley, Sidney (1912). The Indian land titles of Essex County, Massachusetts. The Library of Congress. Salem, Mass. : Essex Book and Print Club.
  3. ^ Currier 1902, p. 301.
  4. ^ Merrimack Valley Planning Commission; JM Goldson community preservation + planning (2018). Town of West Newbury Housing Production Plan 2018-2022 (PDF). p. 9. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
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  6. ^ Merrimack Valley Planning Commission; JM Goldson community preservation + planning (2018). Town of West Newbury Housing Production Plan 2018-2022 (PDF). p. 28. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Muldoon, John P. (August 23, 2018). "Affordable Housing by Community on the North Shore". The Local Ne.ws. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  8. ^ "West Newbury". Essex Natural Heritage Area.
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  10. ^ Coit, Margaret L. (August 17, 1969). "Looking Backward and Forward at 150". The New York Times. pp. 13/440. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  11. ^ West Newbury Historical Commission (November 2019). "Quaker Meetinghouse" (PDF). Historical Commission. Town of West Newbury. Retrieved December 25, 2019.
  12. ^ West Newbury Historical Commission (December 2019). "Quaker Cemetery" (PDF). Historical Commission. Town of West Newbury. Retrieved December 25, 2019.
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  14. ^ "Comb making in America, an account of the origin and development of the industry for which Leominster has become famous, to which are added pictures of many of the early comb makers and views of the old time comb shops". Boston. 1925.
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  30. ^ Hayward, John (1839). New England Gazetteer (7th ed.). Boston: John Hayward. p. 482. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  31. ^ Fowle, William (1845). An Elementary Geography for Massachusetts Children. Boston: Fowle and Capen. p. 92. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
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  34. ^ Rollins, Bryant (February 28, 1962). "West Newbury Formula: 'A Touch of Humor Cools the Hotheads'". The Boston Globe. p. 25. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  35. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  36. ^ Sullivan, James (March 30, 2006). "As a child, his steam fueled hot 1939 children's classic". The Boston Globe. pp. 1/131, 6/136. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  37. ^ Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art. 2002. ISBN 0-618-00342-8
  38. ^ King, Liz (January 30, 2010). "Local 'Mel fan' hopes he makes the cut". Newburyport Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  39. ^ Alterisio, Heather (December 24, 2019). "West Newbury, Greenbelt, secure future for Brown Spring Farm". Newburyport Daily News. p. 1. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  40. ^ "West Newbury Special Town Meeting results". The Newburyport Daily News. April 30, 2019. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  41. ^ Stapleton, John Paul (December 30, 2015). "John Cena talks West Newbury on 'Today'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  42. ^ "Slideshow: Yankee Homecoming Weekend". Newburyport Daily News. August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2019. West Newbury's and founder Pat Badger plays with Eagles cover band Dark Desert Eagles
  43. ^ "Moody Boynton, Bicycle Railroad Inventor, Dies". Boston Globe. March 10, 1927. p. 1,3. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  44. ^ "Greeley and Moody Boynton". Boston Globe. July 18, 1897. p. 25. Retrieved January 13, 2020. No more singular character has been in evidence before the Massachusetts legislature for many years than E. Moody Boynton, the sage and inventor of West Newbury.
  45. ^ "Lost in the Grand Canyon, Other Explorers: George Young Bradley (1836-1885)". PBS American Experience. Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved September 26, 2022. A moody man and a loner, Bradley's secretly-kept diary is the most compelling and detailed record of the trip.
  46. ^ "The Nineteenth Regiment". Newburyport Herald. December 25, 1862. p. 1. Retrieved September 26, 2022. At the taking of Fredericksburg, [soldiers including] George Y. Bradley were slightly wounded. They were all of West Newbury.
  47. ^ "West Newbury: High School Reception". Newburyport Daily News and Newburyport Herald. June 22, 1935. p. 2. Retrieved August 25, 2019. the president of the graduating class, Bertrand Russell Brinley
  48. ^ "St. Joseph's Students Get Letters from Noted Authors". The North Adams Transcript. April 15, 1966. p. 7. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  49. ^ Moore, Leonard B. (March 2, 1959). "Neophyte Missilemen: State Boys' Rocket Called Tops by Army". The Hartford Courant. p. 28. Retrieved August 25, 2019. Capt. Bertrand Brinley, the guiding force behind amateur rocket groups throughout the county
  50. ^ "Addison Brown Dies: Ex-District Judge" (PDF). New York Times. April 10, 1913. p. 11. Retrieved February 14, 2020. He was born in West Newbury, Mass., Feb. 21, 1830, of Pilgrim stock.
  51. ^ "John Appleton Brown". Standard Union. Brooklyn, NY. January 20, 1902. p. 2. Retrieved January 26, 2020. He was born in West Newbury, Mass., [i]n 1844, and studied in Europe under the best masters....
  52. ^ Downes, William Howe (1923). "John Appleton Brown, Landscapist". The American Magazine of Art. 14 (8): 436–39. JSTOR 23927935.
  53. ^ Schaffer, Noah (July 5, 2023). "Singer Cidny Bullens traces a journey toward transitioning in his new memoir". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 10, 2023. This week Bullens kicks off a series of local readings and performances with an event at Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, just a few miles from his childhood home of West Newbury. 'Now it's a bedroom community, but when I was growing up it was a farming town,' says Bullens from his Nashville home. 'It was small and rural and perfect for me.'
  54. ^ "Grid coaching great, Burnham, dead at 82". South Bend Tribune. March 17, 1977. p. 44. Retrieved October 6, 2019. A native of West Newbury, Mass., ... where an athletic field is named in his honor.
  55. ^ Bailey, Michael J. (March 19, 2003). "Margaret Coit Elwell, 83: won Pulitzer Prize in 1981". The Boston Globe. pp. D12/56. Retrieved August 25, 2019. She ... returned permanently to New England, settling in West Newbury
  56. ^ Muldoon, Michael (October 23, 2011). "Under the Lights: Dyer an American hero". The Eagle Tribune. North Andover, Massachusetts. Retrieved August 25, 2019. Red Sox killer Rawly Eastwick of West Newbury
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  58. ^ Currier 1896, pp. 677–80
  59. ^ Brown, Joel (January 22, 2006). "Arts center raises curtain on a season of change: Firehouse takes hard look at future". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 25, 2019. Todd Grinnell of West Newbury, one of the stars of NBC's new ... sitcom, 'Four Kings'
  60. ^ "Amherst Prof 50 Years Wed". The Boston Globe. October 21, 1923. p. 31. Retrieved October 6, 2019. Born Aug 30, 1845, in West Newbury ...
  61. ^ "Ex-Sox pitcher graduates from Firefighting Academy". The Daily News of Newburyport. March 15, 2022. Retrieved March 15, 2022. I want to congratulate Firefighter Haley on completing the academy…," Chief Michael Dwyer said in a press release. "Firefighter Haley's commitment to his family helped lead him here, and he will be a great asset to our department and community here in West Newbury.
  62. ^ "A masterful showing". The Boston Globe. August 16, 2012. p. 4. Retrieved November 5, 2019. Masters Hall of Famer Mary Harada, 77, of West Newbury, won the 800 and 5,000 meters.
  63. ^ Vellante, John (December 27, 2009). "Notebook: A lifetime of running". The Boston Globe. p. 7. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  64. ^ Gasper, Christopher L. (June 1, 2006). "She's outrunning Father Time" (contains photos of Mary Harada). The Boston Globe. p. 60. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  65. ^ "Roland Hayes, Noted Singer To Be Eagerly Welcomed as Resident of West Newbury". Newburyport Daily News and Newburyport Herald. November 11, 1946. p. 11. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  66. ^ "Head of First WAACS in Africa Was Simmons Grad in '16". The Boston Globe. January 30, 1943. p. 3. Retrieved October 6, 2019. Capt. Marquis was born in West Newbury, Mass., and graduated from that town's high school at the age of 14.
  67. ^ Cowan, Ruth (February 1, 1943). "Waac Skipper In North Africa Can Make A Very Nice Lemon Pie". The Palm Beach Post. AP. p. 6. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  68. ^ Treadwell, Mattie E. (1954). The Women's Army Corps. United States Army in World War II (1991 ed.). Ft. Belvoir, Virginia: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 360. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  69. ^ Amaro, Bruce (November 30, 2012). "Lenny Mirra prepares to step into 2nd Essex seat". WickedLocal.com. Retrieved August 25, 2019. Mirra, a West Newbury resident, took the election
  70. ^ Pearlstein, Steven. "Robinson Professor of Public Affairs". Schar School of Policy and Government. George Mason University. Retrieved July 14, 2020. He is a former moderator of West Newbury, Mass.
  71. ^ Pearlstein, Steven (March 16, 1986). "Subverting Wishes of Majority". Boston Globe. p. A25,125. Retrieved July 14, 2020. On my reading list this time each year is a little red book called 'Town Meeting Time,' which guides me as I try to guide the discussions at the annual West Newbury town meeting.
  72. ^ "Ben: Perley Poore: The Journalist and Soldier Lays Down his Pen and Sword". Newburyport Daily Herald. May 30, 1887. p. 3. Retrieved August 25, 2019. Major Ben: Perley Poore, of Indian Hill, West Newbury, died
  73. ^ Marion, Frieda (March 2, 1950). "Julian D. Steele, Nationally Known Welfare Worker, Has Farm Estate in West Newbury". Newburyport Daily News and Newburyport Herald. pp. A15/23. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  74. ^ "Bay State Negro Elected: Town Names Only Voter of His Race to Be Moderator". The New York Times. AP. March 5, 1952. p. 24. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  75. ^ Coit, Margaret L. (February 24, 1952). "The Small Town Under Big Pressures: Urgent new pressures threaten old frugality at a New England hamlet's annual meeting" (contains photos of town hall, Julian Steele and his predecessor moderator). The New York Times. pp. 20/196, 21/197, 23/199. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  76. ^ Currier 1902, pp. 356–57

Further reading