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Shirley, Massachusetts is well known locally as rural-suburban community with some supporting residential retail commercial,
light industry, the Commuter Rail and home to a former Shaker Village. The first inhabitants either Nipmuc or Pennacook Indians
called the area Catacunemaug, which means swampy area. Shirley settled in about 1720 as part of "The Plantation of Groton," but
incorporated itself in 1786 and was named in honor of William Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts (1741-1757).
As other towns in the area, the number of settlers increased and they turned to agriculture and grazing as their main activities.
Townspeople planted fruit bearing trees, managed the orchards and seasonal lumbering became part of the town's economy. As the
Industrial revolutions began to take hold the town was home to a paper and cotton mill, a the Samson Cordage Company, a pitch fork
factory, and the C.A. Edgarton Suspender Factory, which by 1890 was the second largest maker of suspenders in the country.
Shirley, like Harvard, Ma, had a Shaker community, a utopian religious sect, known for simple architecture and furniture.
The Shaker village reached its peak membership in the 1840s. Employment opportunities introduced by the Industrial Revolution
eventually lured away some potential and practicing Shaker members and others became dissatisfied with the church's insistence on
celibacy, self-abnegation and communal ownership of property. Over time the membership dwindled, and the Shaker Village closed.
Today, only one church "society" remains open and is located in New Gloucester, Maine and the area where the Shaker Village was
located in Shirley has been re-purposed to the state prison.
Approximately 39 miles northwest from Boston Shirley is approximately 15 square miles and is bordered by the towns of Groton,
Lancaster, Lunenburg, Townsend, Groton, and Ayer.
The town design, is for the most part meandering rural roads intersecting with a main commercial corridor including the railroad
and light retail activity. People walk if they live close to their destination otherwise cars are used to run errands.
Depending on your housing needs the Shirley real estate market offers many home options. Shirley real estate offers rentals of
apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes. If your housing needs are long-term, the Shirley real estate market also
offers condominiums, and single-family homes for sale. Anyone considering Shirley real estate needs to ask: Is the neighborhood
the right fit?
Neighborhoods in Shirley, Ma
Shirley, Massachusetts neighborhoods are a mix of old and new and like other towns that developed along rail lines there is
a commercial feel along the rail line and a community-gathering place boasting a wonderful common with old historic homes,
a cemetery, school and church.
Commuting from Shirley, Ma
Several options exist for commuting out and into Shirley, Ma.
Route 2A runs through the town which provides easy access to Route 2 (approximately 3 miles from Shirley, Ma).
If you prefer to ride the MBTA Commuter Rail"Commuter Rail train, it stops in Shirley
(you must flag down the train) terminating at North Station in Boston and is approximately a 77 minute ride. There is parking
in the area but nothing official.
Access to the south side of Boston or in the South Station direction can be accessed via the
'T' and/or local buses which intersect at certain points along the Commuter Rail.
Freight travels daily through Ayer over the tracks of the historic Stony Brook Railroad. The line currently serves
as a major corridor of Pan Am Railway’s which connects New Hampshire and Maine with western
Massachusetts, Vermont and New York.
Population of Shirley, Ma
According to the Census of 2010 there were
Approximately 7,211 people a 13.15% increase from 2000
Approximately 2483 housing units (American Fact Finder~US Census Bureau 2006-2008)
Government of Shirley, Ma
Shirley uses the Town Meeting form of government and town-elected selectmen serve as the presiding government officials.
Anyone may attend Town Meeting but only registered voters (Ma property owners and renters alike) may vote. Shirley also has
a water district, which is run separately from town government, as a public utility.
The town services are primarily funded through the residential property tax and the tax rate may be raised however, taxes may
not be raised more than 2½% (locally known as State "Proposition 2½”) unless approved by the voters at Town Meeting. If real
estate taxes are to be raised a separate budget line item must be delineated in the budget as opposed to wrapping all the
taxes into an overall budget proposal. More information is available at the
Shirley Town Hall
Water Supply and Sewage Treatment in Shirley, Ma
Shirley Water District supplies drinking water to the approximately 50% of the town and homes and businesses that do not
have public water or sewage delivery system provide those services privately. The Water District is funded through water rates,
connection fees and property rental and, to date, are not subject to State "Proposition 2½."
Title V is the State law that requires an on-site septic system must meet certain standards and pass a test when a piece of
property is sold. Most banks require the septic system be functioning and a home habitable to fund a residential loan however,
there are exceptions to this rule. As for private well regulations, it is at the discretion of the property owner to insure
the water consumed from the property is potable however, both tests, the Title V test and the potable water test is the seller’s
responsibility and are required prior to a Shirley real estate sale.
Trash Pick-up in Shirley, Ma
Shirley, Ma does not have a transfer station in operation and therefore trash pick-up is contracted through private companies.
Electricity of Shirley, Ma
Electricity and Natural Gas is provided by National Grid
Education of Shirley, Ma
The public school system in Shirley is regional and is known as the
Ayer-Shirley Regional School District. There is one elementary
school, Laura A. White, in Shirley, Ma which provides education from Pre-K to 5th. The Ayer-Shirley Middle
School also located in Shirley, Ma provides education for 6th–8th and the high school,located in Ayer, serves
Massachusetts offers a program entitled “School Choice” which allows students from neighboring towns to attend the local public
school if there are spaces available and if the local School Committee decides this is in the best interest of the district. If
there are spaces available, a notice is published in the local paper. There has been some discussion as to parents of children
exercising this option to provide some compensation to the schools district. Each district is different so, please check with
administration officials for the current policy.
The Francis W. Parker Charter School, is another education option, technically located in Fort Devens. Admission
is based on a
lottery system for grades 7th -12th. One of Massachusetts’ first charter schools, Parker was started in 1995 by area
parents and teachers committed to the principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools. According to the website, The
Coalition of Essential Schools, were established in 1984 by Theodore R. Sizer at Brown University, is a national network
of over 1,200 schools and Centers engaged in restructuring and redesigning schools to promote better student learning and
achievement. Essential schools share a common set of ideas known as the Ten Common Principles, which call for schools to set
clear and simple goals about the intellectual skills and knowledge to be mastered by all the school’s students; to lower
teacher-student loads, personalize teaching and curriculum, and make student work the center of classroom activity; to award
diplomas based on students’ "exhibition" of their mastery of the school’s program; to create an atmosphere of trust and respect
for the school, faculty, students and parents; and to model democratic practices and honor diversity.
Library of Shirley, Ma
The Hazen Memorial Library has a history dating back to 1790 when local families
in town and the local Minister Thomas E.
Whitney established a library containing the best literature of the day including subjects such as history, geography and
science. The library then evolved and grew around 1890 by means of a membership fee and contribution from the local government
to collect book, and magazines. Then in 1892, Mrs. Betsy Hazen gave land and money to build a library building designed by
Henry M. Francis of Fitchburg. The library operated in this building for 103 years when a new building almost half of the cost
was paid for by the state and the other half was raised by the town residents via ta 21/2% property tax override.
Today the library is an integral part of the Shirley, Ma community and is also part of the Central West Massachusetts library
system (C/W MRS) with access to over 65 local libraries and 12 academic libraries. As a member of the network, library patrons
have access to over one million items. The library hosts many activities and programs conducted throughout the year and are
Terrain of Shirley, Ma
The town is a rolling hilled community and is bounded by the Squannacook and Nashua rivers. In addition, Mulpus Brook
and Catacunemaug Brook are located in this area along with the wetland areas know as Spruce Swamp and Tophet Swamp.
Recreation of Shirley, Ma
Recreation areas in the town include some of the following:
The town of Shirley has an active Recreation Department that provides a wide range of activities for children and adults.
There are several programs including youth soccer, youth basketball, and camp in the summertime and adult yoga.
The Recreation Commission oversees Shirley Recreation activities and facilities and meets regularly at Town Hall.
Benjamin Hill Recreation Area is a small hill that was originally a skiing area with rope tows and sledding but it closed
in the 1970s and today the area is an all-season recreation center used in the winter for sledding, and in the warmer weather
there are fields, playground, tennis courts and a pool.
The Oxbow Wildlife Refuge also passes through Shirley, Ma
which provides bird watching, hiking, kayaking and seasonal hunting.
Communities We Serve That Have Massachusetts Homes For Sale
Known for a great school system that consistently ranks at the top of the "regional-school" rankings.
Acton Ma real estate offers both single-family and condo options.
Located on the bank of the Merrimac River this walkable town has a lot to offer with proximity to major highways,
resturants, many type of housing opportunities and close to several beaches.
The town design is a combination of grid pattern neighborhoods near the historic downtown
and suburban cul-de-sac neighborhoods that take advantage of ponds and open space areas outside of downtown proper.
A rural feel with meandering roads & pockets of single-family neighborhoods.
Boxborough Ma real estate is highly coveted as the school system consistently ranks at the top of the "regional-school"
Boxford lovely suburban town to offer with proximity to I-93 and a short drive to Boston. A historic farming community refelects
rural modern-day suburb of the Greater Boston area. Close by are resturants and beaches.
Known for peaceful living and openspace preservation. Homes are situated on 2 acre lots with well water and septic systems
Home to Great Brook State Park which is enjoyable year round.
Chelmsford Ma has been voted by Money Magazine as one of the best places to live
for several years. Chelmsford offers many cul-de-sac neighborhoods
and a variety of condo options.
Concord Ma, is one of the most famous Boston suburbs. Distinctive neighborhoods, tourists, unique retail, recreation &
private school options.
In the face of urban sprawl, Dunstable has maintained a rural feel along with a 25 mile per hour center. Single family homes
galore & the Pheasant Lane Mall is about 10 minutes north but a world away.
Georgetown, more dense than Rowley of which it was orginally a part but this town offers small industry & residential.
Noted as a greater Boston suburb close to the beach and highways.
A quintessential New England town. Groton is a rural suburban living with 35%
preserved in open space, some neighborhood retail serving mostly single-family homes and is home
to the Groton School and Lawrence Academy.
A small 9 squre mile town abuting the hustle and busell of Haverhill. Downtown is framed by the gazebo and after the morning
commute returns to a quite residential town with local roads and neighborhood commercial.
Handsome Harvard~ Harvard Ma is known for apple orchards, beautiful vistas with meandering rural roads
and single-family homes, and excellent schools. Real Estate in Harvard Ma primarily offers single-family, suburban living.
Wandering coastline and famous for thier clams and Crane Beach. Ispswich is a destination town being walkable with resturants,
commercial stores, museums, and a Commuter Rail stop!
Town design is varied as Littleton developed from a rural community to a suburban destination. Part of the Boston "new" high-tech
corridor change is in the air with building both single-family homes and commercial.
A small community formerly known as Niptown because the town is comprised of
grazing lands of Concord Ma, Weston Ma and Lexington Ma. Lincoln is predominately single-family homes, a retail
center and a MBTA stop.
Merrimac is a small town community close to Newburyport and NH but in it's own right offers small commercial and a variety
of suburban neighborhoods. Great highway access too!
A more rural town than the surrounding communities, lots are larger here and distinctive neighborhoods exist. Excellent higway
access, the beach, open space and a stones throw to Newburyport for resturants and commercial needs.
Newburyport Ma is a destination as a wakable town, the beach, highway access and small scale regional shopping. There is a communter
rail stop as well regional bus services. Character and community are noticable here. A lovely place to call home.
The heartbeat of Pepperell seems to be at the intersection of Route 113, the Rail Trail
and the Town Clock where local retail and recreation activities merge. Pepperell real estate offers many types of single
family neighborhoods branching off Route 113.
Rooted in agricultural from 1698 wide open space and access to marsh lands, beach, I-95 and a Commuter Rail stop
postions Rowley as a desirable town for many.
Salisbury abutts NH and is a small town with strip commercial corridors along major transportation routes. A car is a must
have to get around in this town unless you like a nice walk to Salisbury Beach State Park.
Shirley Ma is a suburb with commuter train access, a regional school system, a library, and many recreational
opportunities. The town offers primarily single-family homes.
Townsend Ma made the transition from rural to residential with the population boom of the 1950's.
Real Estate in Townsend offers single-family neighborhoods and typical suburban amenities. Townsend Ma is also home to
Willard State Brook Forest.
Tyngsborough Ma hugs the banks of the Merrimack River. Mostly developed post 1960 with single-family
cul-de-sac neighborhoods & commercial strip malls. Public & private schools along with the
Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsborough Regional State Forest.
The town design, of Westford's agricultural past has continued to give way to rapidly expanding
high technology industries, suburban retail, and single-family homes. Known for having good schools, recreation and a great location.
West Newbury as self described by the town offers rolling hills with broad valleys, open fields, woodlands, ponds,
and historic homes. Working farms and a dairy, as well as extensive conservation land, characterize West Newbury.