Somerset is a town in Bristol
County, Massachusetts, United
The population was 18,234 at the 2000
is the birthplace and hometown of Clifford Milburn Holland (1883 -
1924), the chief engineer and namesake of
Tunnel in New York
Somerset was first settled in 1677 on the Shawomet lands, and was
officially incorporated in 1790. It was named for Somerset Square in
Boston, which was, in turn, named for the county of Somerset, England.
It was once a vital shipping point, and
after the War of 1812
it was one of
America's chief distribution points. In 1872, it became the site of
a major coal port, and in the early 20th century a large cannery
existed in the town. However, as neighboring Fall
River's industry grew, it absorbed much of Somerset's,
and the town took on more of a suburban character.
the town's population grew during the Great Depression
, as many people from Fall
River and other localities moved to the suburb. Today, the town's
major industry (other than suburban services) is power generation,
with the Montaup Electric Company plant upriver (founded in 1923)
and the Brayton Point Power Plant at the town's southern tip
(founded in 1963). Brayton Point has been the target of much
criticism for its pollution problems .
Historically, the town has had a connective relationship with Fall
River. Originally, Slade's Ferry ran across the Taunton River to
connect the two towns since the late 18th century. In the late 19th
century, the Slade's Ferry
Bridge connected the two towns, from the current southern
terminus of Brayton Avenue in Somerset to Brownell Street in Fall
River, and was double-decked, with a railroad section on the top
The bridge was dismantled after closing in 1970 due
to its rapid deterioration and its low height. Its replacement, the
Bridge, was opened in 1908.
(The path of the old
bridge is still somewhat visible; two large sets of power lines
cross the river at the same point.) Currently, a new bridge is in
construction to replace the deteriorating Brightman Street Bridge.
Completion is expected in 2011.
The Somerset Music Department became notable under the direction
and leadership of Dr. Robert Perry in the late 1960s. This was when
Somerset got its nickname "Musictown". The groups available at that
time were marching band, concert band, orchestra, chorus, glee
club, show group, women's chorus, and string ensemble. This was
also this time when the annual celebration of Musictown started.
The Musictown celebration includes a Kiddies Day (when the kids
come march with the marching band), a King and Queen Judging Day,
Concert Night, Pops Night, the Musictown Ball, and finally
concludes with the Musictown Festival Grand Day. The final day
starts with field show presentations by the invited bands and the
Somerset Blue Raider Marching Band, and the parade commences at
2:00 PM and lasts approximately 3–4 hours. Currently (2008), the
Musictown Festival consists of King and Queen judging Day, the
Musictown Ball, Kiddies Day, Pops Night, Concert Night, and Grand
Day. Every five years Somerset invites Somerset High School alumni
to perform with the current students in all of the music groups.
2008 is the most recent occurrence of this event.
Existing today in the department are the concert band, symphonic
band, orchestra, string ensemble, concert choir, treble choir,
'Blue Raider' marching band, winter percussion ensemble, winter
guard, jazz band, chorale, and the 'Electrify' show choir. Most of
these groups have been within the department for many years,
however, there are exceptions.
Though the marching band has existed for as long as anyone in town
can remember, no one has ever taken the time to bring the show to
competition. The 'Blue Raider' marching band has made its
triumphant return as a competing group in the Fall of 2007 with the
introduction of a new director, David Marshall
into the department with their field show of 'Wicked.' The group as
doubled in one year to now about 60 members and was pleased to
travel to Allentown, Pennsylvania in November of 2008 to compete in
the USSBA Northeastern Championships. They received the caption of
Best Percussion in their division of 2A and also received the
captions of 3rd best color guard and 4th best music. The group came
in 5th overall in their division which is a major feat for this
group in their first year of major competitive shows. The group
also competes in the NESBA circuit of shows. The 2008-2009 show,
was 'King Kong' and the 2009 show is 'Hydrodynamics'.
The Winter Percussion ensemble was also instituted in 2007 by Tim
Sepe. This ensemble is a group in which students practice with
percussion instruments such as xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones,
drums, and other auxiliary percussion equipment with added guitar,
bass, and keyboard parts. The 2007 group was a concert percussion
group and they played jazz classics such as 'Take the A Train' and
'Conga.' The 2008-2009 season was instead headed by Matt Cavanaugh.
The group took the leap to an indoor marching ensemble. Their show
was titled 'The Pursuit' and competed in many shows on the NESBA
circuit during the winter of 08 and 09.
The 'Electrify' show choir is one of the most popular and exclusive
groups at Somerset High School. Instituted in the 2004-2005 year by
Micheal Winslow, the group travels as a singing and dancing group
much like the show group that was part of the department many years
ago. As there is no established circuit, the group travels to many
area schools and performs in competition. The group even hosts
their own show dubbed the 'New England Show Choir Classic.'
Currently headed by Richard "Patches" Sylvia, the group has taken
home several plaques and trophies alike during the 2008-2009
season. The pit band, directed under David "Money" Marshall, is
also a crucial member to the group and have also taken home several
trophies this season.
Somerset High School is also home to a drama department which
overlaps the choral and band aspects of the music department. The
community looks forward each year to the professional performance
the group puts forward each year. Past performances include 'West
Side Story'(2008) and 'Grease'(2007). This past year's performance
was the off-Broadway musical 'Sideshow' about conjoined twins Daisy
and Violet on their way to the Broadway stage.
Somerset is located at (41.748502, -71.153188). According to the
United States Census
, the town has a total area of 12.0 square miles
), of which, 8.1 square miles
(21.0 km²) of it is land and 3.9 square miles
(10.0 km²) of it (32.30%) is water. It borders on the
Bay and Narragansett Bay, and its east border is formed by the Taunton River, an arm of that bay.
is bordered by Swansea on the west, Dighton on the north, Fall River on the east (across the Taunton River), and Bristol, Rhode
Island to the south.
The border with Bristol is
located in the middle of the bay. Cities close to Somerset include Fall
Bedford, Providence, and the town is one hour's drive south of Boston.
is accessed via Interstate 195,
which enters the town via the Braga
Bridge from Fall River.
It is also connected to
Fall River via the Brightman Street Bridge, a 100-year old bascule bridge
which US Route
crosses. Currently, a replacement bridge is being
built which has been hampered by problems, and was at one point the
third largest construction project in the state (after the Big
Dig and the widening of Route 3).
controversy in Fall River over the proposed building of an LNG
terminal has caused officials to consider keeping
the old bridge open, as the tankers would not fit through it, and
the terminal's proposed site is upriver of the bridges. Route 138
and Route 103
also pass through the
Somerset has bus service along Route 6 provided by the Southeastern
Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). The nearest regional bus service
is in Fall River, and the nearest rail service is in Providence.
There are plans in the works to bring commuter rail service to Fall
River, which would give the town rail access to Boston. The town's
nearest regional airport is in New Bedford, 18 miles away. Until
the late 1990s, the nearest airport was in Fall River; however, the
airport closed due to various issues. The nearest national
airport is T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, 27 miles away. The nearest
international airport is Logan International Airport, 55 miles away.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 18,234
people, 6,987 households, and 5,261 families residing in the town.
The population density
2,248.6 people per square mile (868.1/km²). There were 7,143
housing units at an average density of 880.9/sq mi
(340.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.22% White
, 0.16% Black
or African American
, 0.12% Native American
, 0.02% Pacific Islander
, 0.15% from
, and 0.79%
from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 0.49% of the
There were 6,987 households out of which 28.1% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 62.4% were married couples
living together, 9.8% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 24.7% were non-families.
21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the town the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age
of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to
64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
43 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $51,770, and the
median income for a family was $60,067. Males had a median income
of $42,036 versus $29,851 for females. The per capita income
for the town was
$22,420. About 3.2% of families and 4.0% of the population were
below the poverty line
, including 1.8%
of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
On the state level, Somerset is represented as part of the Fifth
Bristol state representative district, which includes Dighton and
parts of Swansea and Taunton. In the state senate, Somerset is part
of the First Bristol and Plymouth district, which includes Fall
River, Freetown, Lakeville, Rochester, Swansea and Westport.
Senator Joan M. Menard
, Assistant Majority Leader, (D-Fall
River)represents Somerset in the state senate. Somerset is
patrolled by Troop D (Southeast District), 3rd (Dartmouth) Barracks
of the Massachusetts State
. On the national level, the town is part of Massachusetts's 3rd
, which is represented by Jim McGovern
. The state's senior
(Class I) Senator is John Kerry
state's second senate seat has yet to be filled following the death
of Edward M. Kennedy
on August 25, 2009.
The town's library is located north of the town hall in the center
of town, and was recently expanded for more resource and meeting
areas. The town's historical society is located in the north end of
town, and also operates a museum in that location (in the former
Village School building). The old Town Hall, to the north of the
library is still in use for various public gatherings. The town is
served by one centralized police and fire headquarters, along with
a smaller branch fire station in the Brayton Point area which is
also trained to handle emergencies at the Brayton Point Power
Plant. The town's zip codes are 02725 and 02726, although both are
now located in the central post office in the heart of town. The
town maintains five parks (Buffington Park, Ashton Field,
Waterfront Park, Rock Park, and South Complex Baseball/softball
fields ), as well as a town beach, Pierce Beach, located next to
Pierce Playground along the Taunton River in the north end of town.
A sixth park, Slade's Ferry Park, was closed by eminent domain for
the right-of-way of the new Brightman Street Bridge being
Somerset High School
Somerset is served by its own public school system. It has four
elementary schools, from north to south they are the North
Elementary School, the Chace Street School, the South Elementary
School and the Wilbur Elementary School. Somerset Middle School
(Formerly known as Somerset Junior High School) is located adjacent
to South Elementary along Brayton Avenue, and handles grades 6
through 8. Somerset High School is located along County Street
(Route 138). The school's mascot is the "Blue Raider" and its
colors are dark blue and white. The school is known locally for
having two former baseball players play professionally, Greg Gagne
and Jerry Remy
. Students from Berkley,
Massachusetts also attend Somerset High School due to a
per-student tuition agreement between the two towns.
town is a member of the Diman Regional Vocational Technical High
School system in Fall River, and high school students may also
attend Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton.
students of all grades attend private schools in Fall River,
including Bishop Connolly High School.
There are no private schools in the
- Greg Gagne, former
major league baseball player, known as starting shortstop of the
Minnesota Twins' two world
- Jerry Remy, "The RemDawg", former
major league baseball player for the California Angels and Boston Red Sox, and current Red Sox color commentator for NESN
- Clifford Milburn
Holland, chief engineer and namesake of the Holland Tunnel in
New York City
- Nancy Pimental, A famous writer
known for her movie, The Sweetest
- Pamela Bustin, 1996 Olympic
field hockey player
- Stephen Rebello, a writer and
screenwriter known for such books as Alfred Hitchcock and
the Making of Psycho and for the screenplay of a forthcoming
(in 2009) movie based on that book.
- Shirley May France, attempted
to swim the English Channel, achieving world wide fame.