History of Upton

Welcome to the Town of Upton a suburban community located in Worcester County in south central Massachusetts 35 miles west of Boston and southeast of Worcester.  The Town is 21.8 square miles in size, has approximately 7,540 residents. One of our notable residents was Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. Upton is governed by an open town meeting form of government, a Town Manager and a three-member Board of Selectmen.

Upton was incorporated in June, 1735 with land taken from the towns of Hopkinton, Mendon, Uxbridge and Sutton. The first meeting house was erected on our first burying ground located at the junction of Mendon and Grove Streets and many of the first citizens are buried there.  It is not clear who chose the name Upton for our town, however it is known that in England there is an Upton which is situated 13 miles south of Worcester.  Many towns in New England were named after English towns. In Massachusetts, the town of Upton, like its counterpart is also 13 miles south of Worcester.

The main industry in Upton for 100 years was boots and shoes. In 1837 the Town's factories produced 21.7% of all of the boots manufactured in Worcester County.  This was followed in 1860 by the making of hats and bonnets. William Knowlton began expanding small shops into a factory considered for 90 years as the largest hat industry in the world employing nearly 1,000 workers. Today the renovated Knowlton Hat Factory provides affordable senior housing that includes 89 units which allows many Upton seniors to remain in our community. Rail service came to Upton in 1873 with the building of the Grafton & Upton Railroad that today extends to Hopedale and Milford.

Since 1940, with the approach of World War II people began to commute to work in surrounding communities at factories geared to the manufacture of military equipment, and automobiles. Although the jobs shifted to other communities, more and more young people furthered their education by attending colleges, moving from the town once they graduated.

During the 1980's Upton's population began to expand significantly, nearly doubling from the 3,884 persons counted in 1980, to the 7,542 counted in 2010.  Residents looking to live in a small town with good schools to raise their children, open space, and within commuting distance to today's employers find our Town an appealing community.    We still continue with many of our celebrations, church fairs, Heritage Day in the fall, a Memorial Day parade, honoring our Veterans of the many conflicts, and many groups of people sharing their common interests. Regardless of the changes, tradition is still prevalent in Upton.

Upton has worked hard to maintain its small town charm by managing growth, providing for open space, and providing services that ensure quality of life for all of our citizens. Today a significant portion of Upton's land area is protected as either State forest or by parcels purchased by the Town for permanent conservation. Upton has two excellent school systems, the Mendon Upton Regional School District serving both communities for students in kindergarten through high school, as well as Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School that is located in Upton serving 13 communities.  Citizens also take pride in the recreation opportunities in Upton including Kiwanis Beach on Pratt Pond that offers swimming and athletic fields.  Town services include a full-time police department with twelve sworn positions, a combination fire department (full-time and volunteer) that provides both fire and emergency management services, public works including water and wastewater services, library, the Council on Aging, and other related departments.

Upton is a beautiful established New England town with a caring community of residents. Citizens offer their time and talent to a variety of boards and committees that make Upton a wonderful place to live. We welcome our visitors and prospective residents an opportunity to experience our traditional New England heritage.

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