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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?

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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. Population of Shirley, Ma
According to the Census of 2010 there were
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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
The 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

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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 students 9th-12th.

Every year the State of Massachusetts requires public school districts to participate in Standardized Testing called the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The test scores are published in the Boston Globe and are also located at the State of Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education

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 worth exploring.

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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:
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