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Bellingham, Massachusetts
Bellingham Town Hall
Bellingham Town Hall
Official seal of Bellingham, Massachusetts
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County Norfolk
Settled 1713
Incorporated 1719
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 49.2 km2 (19.0 sq mi)
 • Land 47.9 km2 (18.5 sq mi)
 • Water 1.3 km2 (0.5 sq mi)
89 m (293 ft)
 • Total 16,945
 • Density 344.4/km2 (891.8/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 508/774
FIPS code 25-04930
GNIS feature ID 0618315

Bellingham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 16,945 at the 2020 census. The town sits on the southwestern fringe of Metropolitan Boston, along the rapidly growing "outer belt" that is Route 495. It is formally a part of the Boston–Cambridge–Quincy metropolitan statistical area, as well as the Providence metropolitan area.

For geographic and demographic information on the census-designated place Bellingham, please see the article Bellingham (CDP), Massachusetts.


The area of the town south of the Charles River constituted the southwestern corner of the Dedham Grant, which sprouted much of what has become Norfolk County. The land was swampy, and the town of Dedham did not believe it worthy of settlement. The area north of the river would be purchased by Edward Rawson, and due to the settlement of borders with the surrounding communities, these two areas would eventually merge. By 1713, there were enough citizens to warrant village meetings in the area. By 1718, the village petitioned for separation, and the town officially incorporated on November 27, 1719. The village was originally named "Westham" (short for "West Dedham"), but at the time of incorporation, its name was changed to Bellingham without record of the benefactor. The town is named for Richard Bellingham, an early governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The town was founded with a Pilgrim (Congregationalist) meeting house, like all the towns in the colony at the time. However, this church would dissolve before the middle of the century, replaced with a Baptist church. John Leland, a Baptist minister, who was a major supporter of James Madison and the First Amendment to the Constitution, was baptized in Bellingham's Baptist church in 1775. The town grew slowly, given the terrain and the limited resources. During the Industrial Revolution, several man-made ponds were constructed to support industry in land that had been swamp. Today the northern part of the town is part of the economic boom along I-495, with the southern being mostly suburban. Deborah Sampson enlisted as "Robert Shurtlieff" at Bellingham, near the end of the Revolutionary War, and disguised herself as a man, to become America's first woman soldier.

Geography and transportation

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 19.0 square miles (49.2 km2), of which 18.5 square miles (47.9 km2) is land and 0.5 square mile (1.3 km2) (2.58%) is water. The town's mean elevation is 293 feet (89 m) above sea level.

Bellingham is located at the southwestern corner of Norfolk County, just northwest of the northeast corner of Rhode Island. It is bordered by Medway on the north, Franklin to the east, Wrentham to the southeast; Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on the south; and Blackstone, Hopedale and Mendon to the west, and Milford to the northwest. Bellingham is 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Worcester, 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Boston, and 20 miles (30 km) north of Providence, Rhode Island.

Interstate 495 runs across the north end of town, with only one exit in the town itself, Exit 18 at Hartford Avenue (Rte. 126). Exit 17 in Franklin is just about 3 miles (5 km) from the town line leading to the town center. State Route 126 runs north to south from the town of Medway to the Rhode Island border. State Route 140 runs east to west from Franklin to Mendon. The town went from having no traffic lights in the late 1980s to well over a dozen in 2006.

The town currently has no mode of public transportation of its own. The nearest small craft airport is at the Hopedale Industrial Park Airport, just over the town line along Route 140. The Worcester Regional Airport is twenty-eight miles away, and the nearest national air service can be reached at T. F. Green Airport, thirty miles away. The nearest international airport is Boston's Logan International Airport, 35 miles (56 km) away. There is no rail service in town; however, the MBTA's Franklin Line terminates just 2 miles (3 km) from the town line at Forge Park/I-495 in Franklin, and approximately 5 miles (8 km) from the town center.

The neighboring city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island had proposed a plan to bring commuter rail service to the area which would require an extension of the MBTA Franklin line. Commuter rail service to the Greater Woonsocket area would essentially bring the rail line through the town of Bellingham, Blackstone, and terminating in Woonsocket, bringing an increased amount of tourism to the area, and increasing ridership in persons commuting to the city of Boston and Logan Airport. A study was conducted in 2007 on whether or not it would be feasible to expand the Franklin line westward; the results of which were determined that rehabilitating the old abandoned rail line would cost too much money and not bring enough benefit to the area. However, as the population grows in this general area, it is most likely that the MBTA will not drop plans for such an extension.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 1,281 —    
1860 1,313 +2.5%
1870 1,282 −2.4%
1880 1,223 −4.6%
1890 1,334 +9.1%
1900 1,682 +26.1%
1910 1,096 −34.8%
1920 2,102 +91.8%
1930 3,189 +51.7%
1940 2,979 −6.6%
1950 4,100 +37.6%
1960 6,774 +65.2%
1970 13,967 +106.2%
1980 14,300 +2.4%
1990 14,877 +4.0%
2000 15,314 +2.9%
2010 16,332 +6.6%
2020 16,945 +3.8%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,314 people, 5,557 households, and 4,284 families residing in the town. The population density was 827.8 people per square mile (319.6/km2). There were 5,642 housing units at an average density of 305.0 per square mile (117.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.93% White, 0.91% Black, 0.12% (U.S. Census) American Indian, 0.86% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.20% of the population.

65.53% of the people in Bellingham, Massachusetts are religious, meaning they affiliate with a religion. 54.17% are Catholic; 6.63% are Baptist; 0.19% are LDS; 0.87% are of another Christian faith; 2.98% are Jewish; 0.26% are an Eastern faith; 0.70% are affiliated with Islam. There are a number of meetinghouses in Bellingham; two Catholic churches, St. Blaise and St. Brendan's; three Baptist churches, Bellingham Bible Baptist, Milford Bible Baptist and First Baptist; and one Hindu temple the Boston Sri Kalikambal Shiva Temple. People of Buddhist, Jewish, Mennonite, Mormon, or Muslim faiths meet in neighboring towns for worship.

There were 5,557 households, out of which 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.6% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.9% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 26.8% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 34.6% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $64,496, and the median income for a family was $72,074. Males had a median income of $48,533 versus $33,476 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,047. About 1.6% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.


As of current, there are two elementary schools (Stallbrook, and DiPietro), one middle school (Bellingham Memorial), and 2 high schools (Bellingham High School and Keough Memorial Academy). The Clara Macy Elementary school was closed before the start of the 2015–2016 school year and was demolished the following year. The children that attended Clara Macy school in the 2014–2015 school year were divided geographically between the remaining two elementary schools. Joseph F. DiPietro Elementary School was formally known as South Elementary school for the majority of its history. In 2019 Bellingham High School ranked 205 in Massachusetts as a result many families elect to school choice to nearby towns of Medway and Holliston or go to private and technical schools, Tri-County in Franklin, Blackstone Valley Tech in Upton, and Mount St. Charles in Woonsocket, RI. Bellingham High's sports teams have competed in the Tri-Valley League since the leagues induction in 1966. Bellingham is known for producing good baseball, softball and football teams but are considered an easy win in other sports by the other members of the league.

Notable people

  • William Taylor Adams (1822–1897), author under the name "Oliver Optic" is from nearby Medway
  • Dale Arnold, New England sports announcer
  • Bathsheba A. Benedict, founder of Benedict College
  • Geoff Bodine, NASCAR Driver
  • Levi Cook, mayor of Detroit
  • John Leland, Baptist minister, baptized in Bellingham in 1774
  • Debbie Mueller, pioneer female road runner, winner of Dublin Marathon
  • Deborah Sampson, "America's first woman soldier" enlisted for service in the Revolutionary War at Bellingham
  • Ricky Santos, American football player signed by the Kansas City Chiefs but spent the majority of his career playing in the CFL
  • John Milton Thayer, Union Army general, US Senator from Nebraska
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