Needham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. A suburb of Boston, its population was 31,248 at the 2018 census. It is home to the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.


Early settlement

Needham was first settled in 1680 with the purchase of a tract of land measuring by from Chief Nehoiden for the sum of 10 pounds, of land, and 40 shillings worth of corn. It was officially incorporated in 1711. Originally part of the Dedham Grant, Needham split from Dedham and was named after the town of Needham Market in Suffolk, England. In 1710, 40 residents of what was then known as the "North part of" Dedham suddenly petitioned the Great and General Court for permission to break away and form a separate community. They cited the usual concerns about being far from the church and distant from town government, but also, to preempt any objections, also listed "reasons why we desire to be a township rather than a precinct." Dedham officials asked for a delay of one year. In 1711, when the General Court took up the matter, they agreed to let that part of town break away but asked for a different boundary line that would have greatly reduced the amount of land the separatists were seeking. The General Court rejected this and granted autonomy with the border originally proposed. By the 1770s settlers in the western part of the town who had to travel a long distance to the meeting house on what is now Central Avenue sought to form a second parish in the town. Opposition to this desire created conflict, and in 1774 a mysterious fire destroyed the extant meeting house. Some time afterwards the West Parish was formed.

Growth and industry

In 1857 the City of Boston began a project to fill in the Back Bay with landfill by filling the tidewater flats of the Charles River. The fill to reclaim the bay from the water was obtained from Needham, Massachusetts from the area of present-day Route 128. The firm of Goss and Munson, railroad contractors, built of railroad from Needham and their 35-car trains made 16 trips a day to Back Bay. The filling of present-day Back Bay was completed by 1882; filling reached Kenmore Square in 1890, and finished in the Fens in 1900. The project was the largest of a number of land reclamation projects, beginning in 1820, which, over the course of time, more than doubled the size of the original Boston peninsula. In 1865, William Carter established a knitting mill company in Needham Heights that would eventually become a major manufacturer and leading brand of children's apparel in the United States. The site of Mill #1 currently houses the Avery Manor assisted living center, while Mill #2 stood along the shores of Rosemary Lake. By the 1960s, the company owned seven mills in Massachusetts and the south. The Carter family sold the business in 1990, after which Carter's, Inc. moved its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia. In the late 1860s William Emerson Baker moved to Needham. A notably wealthy man due to his having improved the mechanical sewing machine, Baker assembled a parcel of land exceeding and named it Ridge Hill Farm. He built two man made lakes on his property, including Sabrina lake near present-day Locust Lane. Baker turned part of his property into an amusement park with exotic animals, tunnels, trick floors and mirrors. In 1888 he built a sizable hotel, near the intersection of present-day Whitman Road and Charles River Street, called the Hotel Wellesley which had a capacity of over 300 guests. The hotel burned to the ground on December 19, 1891. In 1891, George Walker, Boston owner of a lithograph company, and Gustavos Gordon, scientist, formed Walker-Gordon Laboratories to develop processes for the prevention of contamination of milk and to answer the call by enlightened physicians for better babies' milk formulas. This plant was located in the Charles River Village section of Needham with another large facility in New Jersey. The scientific dairy production facilities of the Walker-Gordon Dairy Farm were widely advertised and utilized modern advancements in the handling of milk products.

Incorporation of Wellesley

In 1881 the West Parish was separately incorporated as the town of Wellesley. The following year, Needham and Wellesley high schools began playing an annual football game on Thanksgiving, now the second-longest running high school football rivalry in the United States (and longest such contest on Thanksgiving). Also the longest running public high school rivalry. In 2013 Wellesley broke a three-year Thanksgiving game losing streak to the Needham Rockets, defeating them 22–6. The Wellesley Raiders now hold a 60–57–9 advantage in the historic rivalry. With the loss of the West Parish to Wellesley, the town lost its town hall and plans to build a new one began in 1902 with the selection of a building committee. The cornerstone was laid by the Grand Lodge of Masons on September 2, 1902 and the building was dedicated on December 22, 1903. The total cost for the hall was $57,500 including furnishings. Because it was located on the town common, the cost did not include land as none was purchased. In 2011, the town hall was extensively refurbished and expanded. In the process, the second-floor meeting hall was restored to its original function and beauty.

Recent history

Needham's population grew by over 50 percent during the 1930s. In 2005, Needham became the first town in the United States to raise the age to legally buy tobacco products to 21.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 12.7 square miles (32.9 km2), of which 12.6 square miles (32.7 km2) is land and 0.1 square mile (0.2 km2) is water. Needham's area is roughly in the shape of an acute, northward-pointing triangle. The Charles River forms nearly all of the southern and northeastern boundaries, the town line with Wellesley forming the third, northwestern one. In addition to Wellesley on the northwest, Needham borders Newton and the West Roxbury section of Boston on the northeast, and Dover, Westwood, and Dedham on the south. The majority of Cutler Park is in Needham and is located along the Charles River and the border with Newton and West Roxbury. Needham's elevation is at sea level, but is a very hilly town.


As of the census of 2010, there were 28,886 people, 10,341 households, and 7,792 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,292.7 people per square mile (885.2/km). There were 10,846 housing units at an average density of 860.1 per square mile (332.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 92.3% White, 1.4% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 7.1% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population. There were 10,341 households, out of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.9% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present and 26.7% were non-families. Of all households 23.4% were made up of individuals, and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.20. In the town, the population was laid out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 24.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the town was $116,867, and the median income for a family was $144,042. Males had a median income of $76,459 versus $47,092 for females. The per capita income for the town was $56,776. About 1.6% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.


Needham uses the old style town government, with a representative town meeting. Also, the populace of Needham elects a Select Board, which is essentially the executive branch of the town government. The town is part of the Massachusetts Senate's Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex district.


Needham is primarily a bedroom community and commuter suburban district located outside of Boston. The northern side of town beyond the I-95/Route 128 beltway, however, was developed for light industry shortly after World War II. Many restaurants and food companies are based in Needham. More recently, Needham has begun to attract high technology and internet firms, such as PTC and TripAdvisor, to this part of town.


The Town of Needham operates one high school, Needham High School, which underwent a $62-million renovation that was completed in 2009; two middle schools: William F. Pollard Middle School, for seventh and eighth grade, and High Rock School, for sixth grade only; and five elementary schools for grades K-5: John Eliot Elementary School, Sunita L. Williams Elementary School, William Mitchell Elementary School, Newman Elementary School, and Broadmeadow Elementary School. Needham recently finished building the newest elementary school, Sunita L. Williams Elementary School, to replace the aging Hillside Elementary School. The newest school opened in the fall of 2019. Needham is also home to Catholic schools such as St. Joseph's Elementary School, and Monsignor Haddad Middle School, as well as St. Sebastian's School, a Catholic school for boys in grades 7–12. St. Sebastian's is part of the rigorous Independent School League. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is located in Needham.


The I-95/Route 128 circumferential highway that circles Boston passes through Needham, with three exits providing access to the town. Massachusetts Route 135 also passes through the town. Commuter rail service from Boston's South Station is provided by the MBTA with four stops in Needham on its Needham Line: Needham Heights, Needham Center, Needham Junction and Hersey.


Needham is part of the Greater Boston media market. In addition to ''The Boston Globe'' (and its Your Town Needham website) and ''Boston Herald'' newspapers, there are two local weekly newspapers, the ''Needham Times'' (published by Gatehouse Media, Inc.) and ''Needham Hometown Weekly'' (published by Hometown Publications, LLC), and a website owned by AOL called ''Needham Patch''. The studios of television stations WCVB (5 Boston, ABC), WUTF-TV (27 Worcester, UniMás), and WUNI (66 Marlborough, Univision) are located in Needham, as are the transmitters of WCVB, WBZ-TV (4 Boston, CBS), WGBH-TV (2 Boston, PBS), WGBX-TV (44 Boston, PBS), WBTS-CD (15 Nashua, New Hampshire, NBC), WFXT (25 Boston, Fox), WSBK (38 Boston, MyNetworkTV), WUTF-TV, WNEU (60 Merrimack, New Hampshire, Telemundo), and WFXZ-CD (24 Boston, Biz TV). The television towers are also the sites of FM radio stations WBUR-FM, WKLB-FM, and several backup facilities for other stations. The Needham Channel provides public-access television to cable TV subscribers in Needham. PEG Public, educational, and government access programming is produced and delivered through three channels—a community channel, a municipal channel and an educational channel. The three channels are available on the channel lineups of each of the three franchised cable TV providers provided—Comcast, RCN, and Verizon. Selected content is also available for streaming through The Needham Channel's web site. Programming on The Needham Channel includes: * Municipal meetings—Board of Selectmen, School Committee, Zoning Board of Appeals, Town Meeting * News, Public Affairs and Education - The Needham Channel News (a weekly live local news program), Needham Schools Spotlight * Sports—High school sporting events * Locally produced programs - Inside Talk, Clelia's Cucina Italiana, The Language of Business, What's My House Worth, services from Needham houses of worship * Programs from other Public Access Stations * Community Bulletin Board * Men of Constant Sorrow Boston radio station WEEI (850 AM) transmits from a three-tower site south of the town recycling transfer station. Needham has one radio station studio location, that of Concord-licensed WBNW (1120 AM) located at 144 Gould Street. Needham High School also released several forms of media to its students and members of the town, including it's student newspape
The Hilltopper
the students news video broadcast NHSN, and "NHS News from the Hill", which is released by members of the administration.

Notable people


* Ananda Coomaraswamy, art historian, philosopher, and Indologist, died in Needham. * Nelson Goodman, philosopher, died in Needham. * Thomas Huckle Weller, a Nobel Prize–winning virologist, died in Needham.


* Edwin McDonough, actor, resided in Needham. * Harold Russell, actor, lived in Needham. * Sarah Saltzberg, actress/singer and star of Broadway's ''The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee'', is originally from Needham. * Arnold Stang, actor, lived in Needham at time of his death. * Tom Virtue, actor, attended High Rock Elementary School in Needham.


* Edmund H. Garrett, prolific 19th- and 20th-century book illustrator, lived in Needham. * Pietro Pezzati, portrait artist, lived in Needham for about 30 years. * Michael John Straub, artist, was born in Needham. * Walter E. Ware, architect, was born in Needham. * N.C. Wyeth, artist, was born in Needham.


* Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.com, attended Needham High School.


* Niia Bertino, Columbia recording artist featured on Wyclef Jean's "Sweetest Girl" single, grew up in Needham. * John Boecklin, drummer/guitarist/songwriter for the metal band Devildriver, grew up in Needham. * Robert Freeman, pianist, musicologist, and longtime director of the Eastman School of Music, lived in Needham. * Mia Matsumiya, violinist of the avant-rock band Kayo Dot, grew up in Needham. * Joey McIntyre, singer-songwriter and actor, was born in Needham. * Marissa Nadler, singer, grew up in Needham. * Tiger Okoshi, jazz trumpet musician, lives in Needham. * Richard Patrick, founder of industrial band Filter and former member of Nine Inch Nails, was born in Needham.


* Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, was raised on Cleveland Road in Needham and graduated from Needham High School in 1975. * Peter DeFazio, United States congressman from Oregon, was born in Needham and graduated from Needham High School. * Cheryl Jacques, first openly lesbian member of the Massachusetts Senate and later president of the Human Rights Campaign, lived in Needham and represented its district as state senator. * Phil Murphy, governor of New Jersey, was born in Needham and graduated from Needham High School in 1975.


* Edward T. Barry, ice hockey player and coach, lived in Needham until his death. * Dave Cadigan, offensive lineman in the NFL, was born in Needham. * Mike Condon, goaltender in the NHL, was born in Needham. * Robbie Ftorek, NHL coach and star player in both the NHL an WHA, was born and raised in Needham and attended Needham High School. * Pete Gaudet (born 1942), college basketball coach. * Mike Grier, retired player of the NHL, resides in Needham. * Noah Hanifin, defenseman with the Calgary Flames and NHL All Star, went to high school at Saint Sebastian's School in Needham. * Steven Hauschka, Buffalo Bills kicker, attended Needham High School. * Eric Johnson, New Orleans Saints tight end, was born and raised in Needham and played football, basketball, and volleyball for Needham High School. * Mike Lalor, former defenseman and Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens, lives in Needham. * Kristine Lilly, former US women's soccer player, lives in Needham. * Frank Malzone, former third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, lived in Needham until his death. * Rachel Mayer, US Olympic figure skater, lived in Needham. * Mike Milbury, sportscaster and former member of the Boston Bruins, lives in Needham. * Tom O'Regan, former forward for the Boston University Terriers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, lives in Needham. * Aly Raisman, US women's artistic gymnast and six-time Olympic medalist, grew up in Needham. * Karl Ravech, ESPN ''Baseball Tonight'' anchor, was born and raised in Needham and attended Needham High School. * Derek Sanderson, former Boston Bruins player, lives in Needham. * Milt Schmidt, ice hockey player and manager for the Boston Bruins, lived in Needham until his death.


* Marsha Bemko, executive producer of ''Antiques Roadshow'', is a lifelong resident of Needham. * Lee Eisenberg, writer for ''The Office'', was born in Needham. * Steve Hely, writer of ''American Dad!'', is a native of Needham. * Allison Jones (casting director), who cast The Office (US) and The Good Place, along with many other critically acclaimed TV shows and films, was born in Needham. * Ben Karlin, executive producer of ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart'' and ''The Colbert Report'', grew up in Needham. * Scott Rosenberg, screenwriter, was born and raised in Needham.


* Janet Tashjian, the author of ''The Gospel According to Larry'' and the ''My Life as a Book'' series, lived with her family in Needham.


* Khassan Baiev, a Chechen surgeon who treated Russian soldiers and Chechen rebels, most notably Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev, author of ''The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire'', lives in Needham. * James S. Gracey, Commandant of the Coast Guard, lived and attended high school in Needham. * Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a reformist member of the Iranian Parliament who teaches women's studies at UMass Boston, lives in Needham. * Jen Kirkman, stand-up comedian, television writer, and actress, grew up in Needham. * Chester Nimitz, Jr., a retired United States Navy rear admiral and World War II submarine hero, lived in Needham. * Sunita Williams, NASA astronaut, considers Needham her home. The Sunita L. Williams Elementary School is named for her. * William G. Young, United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts judge, lives in Needham.


Works cited


External links

Town of Needham

Needham Free Public Library

Needham Historical Society
{{Authority control Category:1680 establishments in Massachusetts Category:Populated places established in 1680 Category:Towns in Norfolk County, Massachusetts Category:Towns in Massachusetts