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Upton Town


Upton Town Hall is located at One Main Street, Upton, MA 01568; phone: 508-529-3565.

Beginnings [1]

When Upton was incorporated in 1735, it was a farming community; early families in Upton were self-sufficient farmers, weavers, saw mill operators, grist millers, and tanners. Upton was created so that early settlers in the area could more easily go to church services.

Upton's original meeting hall was located on the south end of town, but was moved to Upton Center in 1771, making it more accessible to major transportation routes and residents on the north end. This relocation set the foundation for growth in Upton, as development remained primarily in the Town Center area until the late 20th century.

Small industries grew, stimulated by the water supplied by the Mill River. By the 1800's, shoes were the most important manufactured products, later being replaced by the Knowlton Hat Factory erected in 1840. The Knowlton factory, on the west side of town, became the primary industrial employer in Upton. The Knowlton family in turn helped build many public buildings in town and attracted new residents with manufacturing work. The Knowlton Hat Factory has been converted to a residential complex as have many of the structures contributed by William Knowlton and his family. They include the "Lodge" across the street from the former hat factory and the Unitarian Church, which still stands in the center of West Upton.

This industrial expansion was significant in terms of Upton's land use and development patterns. Agriculture was in a slow growth period with respect to land consumption as the farming economy began to shift from the cultivation of vegetables to dairy production. More land became available for residential and industrial development or was returned to a wooded state, although most new buildings, both residential and commercial, were located in the town center near rail lines and major roads. The Knowlton factory in West Upton created another viable secondary center, with higher density residential areas close to the plant. Settlement patterns remained compact and centralized as growth occurred in and around the town center and villages.

Today the Knowlton Hat Factory is no longer in production and little industry or commercial development has moved into Upton. With Upton's close proximity to Worcester, Boston and major commuter routes, it has become a bedroom community experiencing a significant growth in population and residential development. This development has moved beyond the town centers to outlying sections of the town. This growth is altering the small town charm and open landscape characteristic of Upton as open space and farms outside of the town centers are developed at lower density.

  1. Town of Upton, Massachusetts, Upton Master Plan, 2005, www.upton.ma.us, accessed October, 2012.

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