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Adams is a town in Berkshire Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. It is part of the Pittsfieldmarker, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 8,809 at the 2000 census.


Center Street Square in c.
Nathan Jones purchased the township of East Hoosac at auction in 1762 from the state for £3,200. The town was officially incorporated in 1778 as Adams, named in honor of Samuel Adams, revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later governor. Much of the land had been subdivided into and lots. These were mostly farms with frontage on the Hoosic River, which over time would provide water power for woolen, cotton, lumber and plastic mills.

First settled in 1737, North Adamsmarker was originally part of Adams until the town split in 1878. Although there has never been a town of South Adams, the name was used prior to 1878 to specify the southern part of the town that had long had two primary centers, and survives in the name of the South Adams Savings Bank, which was incorporated in 1869.

Early settlers in the 1760s included a group of Quakers, many of whom came together from Smithfieldmarker, Rhode Islandmarker. The Quaker civil rights leader, abolitionist and suffragist Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, and her childhood home is today a museum.

The town's population declined from 1810 to 1820 as farmers moved west for better soil. But the War of 1812 allowed the textile industry to gain a foothold in the United Statesmarker because British textiles were no longer available. In 1814, the Adams South Village Cotton Manufacture Company opened. With the establishment of a number of mills on the Hoosic River, Adams' population more than doubled to 4,000 between 1820 and 1835. Growth in both halves of Adams was further propelled by the opening of the Hoosac Tunnelmarker in 1875.

President William McKinley made two visits to the town, the second in 1897 to lay the cornerstone of the Adams Free Library. He was a friend of the Plunkett brothers (founders in 1889 of the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company), and of the textile industry generally. In 1903, the assassinated president was honored with a larger-than-life statue beside the library. Berkshire Cotton later became a major part of Berkshire Hathaway, whose large factory in Adams was closed in 1958 (the 1,000 lost jobs were not the fault of Warren Buffett, who did not take over the firm until 1965). The mill town's only major remaining mill, Specialty Minerals, mines and processes limestone for calcium carbonate, used in antacids and food supplements, as well as paper whiteners and other industrial purposes.

The town's more recent move toward tourism, part of a broader trend in the Berkshiresmarker, is primarily centered on its natural beauty and outdoor activities, and on its proximity to the galleries, museums and colleges of North Adams and Williamstownmarker.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.9 square miles (59.4 km²), lying along the valley surrounding the Hoosic River and its tributary brooks. Set between the Taconic Rangemarker to the west and the Hoosac Range of the Berkshiresmarker to the east, Adams includes the summit of Mount Greylockmarker, elevation 3,491 feet (1,064 m) above sea level. The mountain, located within the state reservation of the same name, is the highest point in Massachusetts, a waypoint on the Appalachian Trail, and in the 19th-century inspired writers including Herman Melville. The town also includes a corner of Savoy Mountain State Park.

Adams is bordered to the north by North Adamsmarker, to the east by Floridamarker and Savoymarker, to the south by Savoy and Cheshiremarker, and to the west by New Ashfordmarker and Williamstownmarker.

Massachusetts Route 8 is the primary north-south road through town, and was originally signed as New England Interstate Route 8, which extended southward to Bridgeportmarker, Connecticutmarker. The town is also the northern terminus of Route 116, which extends to Springfieldmarker in the south.

Freight rail once ran through the town, but is now mostly converted to the paved Ashuwillticook Rail Trailmarker. The town lies along the northern route of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. Regional bus service can be found in North Adams, as can regional air service at Harriman and West Airport. The nearest airport with international flights is Albany International Airportmarker in New York.


See also: Adams marker, Massachusettsmarker
Congregational Church, Club House and Parish House in c.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,809 people, 3,992 households, and 2,431 families residing in the town. Adams is the third most populated town in Berkshire County, and ranks 184th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 384.1 people per square mile (148.3/km²), ranking it third in the county and 197th in the Commonwealth. There were 4,362 housing units at an average density of 190.2/sq mi (73.4/km²), albeit packed in to a fairly small portion of lower-lying land. The racial makeup of the town was 98.02% White, 0.36% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.

There were 3,992 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.81.

Bridge at Maple Grove in c.
In the town the population was spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,161, and the median income for a family was $40,559. Males had a median income of $34,110 versus $23,556 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,572. About 7.0% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 12.9% of those age 65 or over.


McKinley Statue in the square in front of the library
Adams employs the representative town meeting form of government, and is led by a town administrator and a board of selectmen. The town has its own services, including police, fire and public works. The nearest hospital, North Adams Regional Hospital, is located in neighboring North Adams. The Adams Free Library was founded in 1897, and was established as a war memorial, with the cornerstone being laid by President McKinley himself.

On the state level, Adams is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the First Berkshire district, which covers northern Berkshire County, as well as portions of Franklin County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The town is patrolled by the Fourth (Cheshire) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.

On the national level, Adams is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherstmarker since June 1991. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator John Kerry and interim junior senator Paul Kirk.


Adams is joined with neighboring Cheshire to form a regional school district. Each town runs its own elementary school, with Adams operating the C.T. Plunkett Elementary School, serving students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Both towns send students to Adams Memorial Middle School, located in Adams, and Hoosac Valley High School, just over the border in Cheshire. Hoosac Valley's colors are red and white, and their teams are nicknamed the "Hurricanes."

Adams is also home to the Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter School (BArT) serving grades six through twelve. BArT is a free public school open to all students, that prepares students for college by promoting mastery of academic skills and content through the integration of the arts and technology in core subjects. The school provides middle and high school students in northern Berkshire County with an educational community that regards everyone, including teachers and parents, as lifelong learners.

High school students may also choose to attend the public McCann Technical High School in North Adams. There is also a parochial school in Adams, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and other private schools are located in neighboring towns.

The nearest community college is Berkshire Community Collegemarker in Pittsfield. The nearest state college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Artsmarker in North Adams, and the nearest university is University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Williams College in nearby Williamstown.

Events and Activities

  • The Berkshire Visitors Bureau, at 3 Hoosac Street, offers maps, pamphlets and personal help to visitors throughout the region.
  • The Quaker Meeting House, dating from 1782, is open Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
  • Adams celebrates Susan B. Anthony with a festival in late July.
  • The Adams Agricultural Fair is held in early August.
  • The Fall Run Weekend and Motorcycle Ride, which benefits the Shriners Children's Hospital in Springfield, is held each September.
  • The Mount Greylockmarker Ramble attracts crowds of hikers to the summit each Columbus Day; this is also generally the end of the season for driving to the summit, and for using the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial tower and Bascom Lodge at the summit.
  • The Western Mass Athletic Club runs numerous road, trail and snowshoe races along Adams streets and at the Greylock Glen area at the foot of Mount Greylock.

Sites of interest

Notable residents


External links

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