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Williamstown is a town in Berkshire Countymarker, in the northwest corner of Massachusettsmarker. It shares a border with Vermontmarker to the north and New Yorkmarker to the west. It is part of the Pittsfieldmarker, Massachusettsmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 8,424 at the 2000 census. A college town, it is home to Williams College, the Clark Art Institutemarker and the Tony-awarded Williamstown Theatre Festivalmarker, which runs every July and August.


Main Street in 1907
Originally called West Hoosac, the area was first settled in 1749. Fort West Hoosac, a blockhouse and stockade, was built in 1756. The town was incorporated in 1765 as Williamstown after Ephraim Williams, who was killed in the French and Indian War. He bequeathed a significant sum to the town on the condition that it were named after him and started a free school. In 1791, the school opened, becoming Williams College in 1793.

The primary industry was agriculture, particularly dairy farming, sheep herding and wool production. Sawmills and gristmills operated by water power at the streams. Eventually larger mills were added, including the Walley Mill and Williamstown Manufacturing Company (Station Mill), both of which produced textiles. The A. Loop & Company (Water Street Mill) produced twine. With the opening of the railroad, tourists arrived. Several inns and hotels were established, including the Idlewild Hotel and Greylock Hotel. In the late 1930s and 1940s, E. Parmelee Prentice and his wife Alta, the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, created Mount Hope Farm. With a mansion designed by James Gamble Rogers, it was one of the outstanding experimental farms in the country. Today, it belongs to Williams College.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 46.9 square miles (121.5 km²), of which, 46.9 square miles (121.4 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.04%) is water. Located in the Berkshiresmarker, Williamstown is drained by the Hoosic River.

Williamstown is the northwesternmost town in Massachusettsmarker. The town is bordered on the north by Pownalmarker, Vermontmarker, on the east by Clarksburgmarker, North Adamsmarker and Adamsmarker, on the south by New Ashfordmarker and Hancockmarker, and on the west by Berlinmarker, New Yorkmarker and Petersburgh, New Yorkmarker.

The town lies at the confluence of Green River into the Hoosac River. Several other brooks emanate from both, spreading out through town. To the west, the Taconic Rangemarker lines the state border, and is also where Taconic Trail State Park is located. Brodie Mountain rises to the south of town, and Mount Greylockmarker State Reservation occupies the southwest corner of town, with the peak being just over the line in Adams. The Appalachian Trail skirts the town twice, near the southeast corner of town and again along the North Adams border. To the northeast, Pine Cobble lies along the Clarksburg town line, and to the north lies Green Mountain National Forest.

U.S. Route 7 passes from north to south through the town, crossing into Vermont to the north and New Ashford to the south. Route 2 begins in the town, starting from New York State Route 2 at the Petersburg Pass, then combining with Rte. 7 for a stretch before heading east into North Adams. From Rte. 7 westward, it is known as the Taconic Trail; the road does not become the Mohawk Trail in the east until passing through North Adams. Route 43 also begins at Route 2 and heads southward towards Hancock, crossing Route 7 near the fork of the east and west branches of the Green River.

Town bus service is provided by Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. There is a freight rail which passes from the north to the east into North Adams and the Hoosac Tunnelmarker. The nearest small-craft airport is Harriman and West Airport in North Adams, and the nearest airport with commercial jet service is Albany International Airportmarker.


See also: Williamstown marker, Massachusettsmarker
The Greylock Hotel in c.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,424 people, 2,753 households, and 1,693 families residing in the town. Williamstown is the fourth-largest town in Berkshire County, and ranks 189th out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts by population. The population density was 179.7 people per square mile (69.4/km²), ranking it 7th in the county and 264th in the Commonwealth. There were 3,053 housing units at an average density of 65.1/sq mi (25.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.79% White, 2.72% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 3.12% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 2.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.77% of the population.

There were 2,753 households out of which 24.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.80.

Williams Inn garden c.
Road to South Williamstown c.
In the town the population was spread out with 15.3% under the age of 18, 27.5% from 18 to 24, 16.6% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 87.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $51,875, and the median income for a family was $67,589. Males had a median income of $50,011 versus $32,845 for females. The per capita income for the town was $26,039. About 1.7% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.3% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.


Williamstown is governed by the open town meeting form of government, and is governed by a board of selectmen and a town manager. The town has its own police department and a volunteer fire department. The town has its own library, Milne Public Library, and other public services. The nearest hospital, North Adams Regional Hospital, is located in neighboring North Adams.

On the state level, Williamstown is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by Representative Daniel E. Bosley of 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 Senator Benjamin Downing of 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, Williamstown 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. A special election is scheduled to be held on January 19, 2010 to fill the Class 1 seat currently held by Kirk.


The town has its own elementary school, Williamstown Elementary School, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. The town is home to Mount Greylock Regional High School, which also serves the neighboring towns of New Ashford, Lanesborough and portions of Hancock. The school's colors are red and white, and the sports teams are nicknamed the Mounties. Williamstown is also home to Pine Cobble School, a private school serving students from pre-kindergarten through ninth grade, as well as The Buxton School, a private boarding school serving high school students.

Williamstown is home of Williams College, an elite, private liberal arts college. The nearest community college is Berkshire Community Collegemarker, located in Pittsfield. The nearest public college is Massachusetts College of Liberal Artsmarker in neighboring North Adams, and the nearest university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sites of interest

Notable residents

First Congregational Church in c.


  1. Senators and Representatives by City and Town
  2. Station B-4, SP Cheshire
  3. Governor sets date for special Senate election, presses for interim appointment

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