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Scott

Gardner, Massachusetts pt.1

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Went to Gardner to look at some furniture on Saturday.

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Situated in the Montachusett Region of northern central Massachusetts, the City of Gardner is a human scale and livable city of 20,125 residents. Although Gardner is only one hour from Boston and 30 minutes from Worcester, the non-metropolitan setting of this City has allowed it to retain a small town atmosphere.- Gardner Chamber of Commerce

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The City of Gardner is an urban/industrial center. The city was settled late and showed a dispersed, small scale woodworking industry in the 1800's. By the early 19th century, however, this had become concentrated in a large number of chair manufacturing shops. Between 1830 and 1870 the expansion had brought in immigrants mostly from England, Ireland and Canada. Russian Finns, Swedes and Poles joined them in the 1890's as the chairmaking industry expanded.

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The Heywood-Wakefield chair factory complex was created and expanded between 1870 and 1897 and remained for the whole of the 19th century a major factor in the city's economy.

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Mt. Gardner Seminary, a college for women, was formed in 1884 and the free public library was created in 1886, but the Gardner Light Infantry, a voluntary military troop, was formed as early as 1813. In 1896, the evening naturalization classes established in the city to help immigrants become citizens were commended by the state. The Gardner State Colony for the Insane, built in 1904, was a pioneer in the then innovative dispersal of patients in cottage residences rather than one huge building, a model that has since been copied around the country.

Information from Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

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Location: North Central Massachusetts, bordered by Winchendon and Ashburnham on the north, Templeton on the west, Westminster on the east, and Hubbardston on the south. Gardner is 28 miles northwest of Worcester, 59 miles northwest of Boston, 61 miles northeast of Springfield, and 195 miles from New York City

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Part2 will feature more history (and blight) and a look inside Gardner's new furniture industry.

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Great pics, Scott! I'm looking forward to part 2!

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Growing up in Massachusetts and living there for most of my adult life. It's amazing how foreign Western Mass. is to me. It really is like they say, that people in the Eastern part of the state think the world ends somewhere outside of 128.

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Actually with sprawl, the world ends one town past 495! You're very right, western and central Massachusetts are still a world away from the Boston area in many ways.

btw- Gardner, unfortunately has not seen the economic expansion seen in so many other parts of Massachusetts and New England. Housing prices have actually decreased in the city since 1995 while most of the region has bloomed. That fact becomes very clear the minute you get off rt.2. Thankfully if they can't make furniture economically anymore, at least they can sell it and have the square footage to display it in the old mills.

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