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Dunstable, Massachusetts
The town hall
The town hall
Official seal of Dunstable, Massachusetts
"The Profit of the Field is for All"
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1656
Incorporated 1673
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 16.7 sq mi (43.4 km2)
 • Land 16.6 sq mi (42.9 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
224 ft (68 m)
 • Total 3,358
 • Density 202.3/sq mi (78.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-17825
GNIS feature ID 0618222

Dunstable ( DUN-stə-bəl) is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,358 at the 2020 census.


Dunstable was named after its sister town Dunstable, England. There are several theories concerning its modern name. In one version, legend tells that the lawlessness of the time was personified in a thief called Dun. Wishing to capture Dun, the King stapled his ring to a post daring the robber to steal it. It was, and was subsequently traced to the house of the widow Dun. Her son, the robber, was taken and hanged to the final satisfaction that the new community bore his name. Another theory is that it comes from the Anglo-Saxon for "the boundary post of Duna". A third version is that the name is derived from Dunum, or Dun, a hill, and Staple, a marketplace.


Map of old Dunstable 1846
Old map of Dunstable from 1846 showing the towns and the disputed state line with the original Dunstable tract line

Dunstable was first settled in 1656 and was officially incorporated in 1673. It is likely named after the town of Dunstable in Bedfordshire, England, home of Edward Tyng, the town's first settler. The original township of Dunstable, granted in 1661, consisted of two hundred square miles, including the Massachusetts towns of Dunstable, Pepperell, Townsend and Tyngsborough, the New Hampshire towns of Hudson, Nashua and Hollis, and parts of other towns as well. Increases in population leading to subsections becoming independent towns and the delineation of the northern boundary of Massachusetts in 1740 placed the northern part of Dunstable (present day Nashua) in New Hampshire, so the southern part remains the Dunstable of today.

Today, Dunstable, in the face of urban sprawl, has held onto a largely rural character.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.7 square miles (43 km2), of which 16.5 square miles (43 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.13%) is water. Dunstable is bordered by Pepperell to the west, Groton to the south, Tyngsborough to the east, and Nashua and Hollis, New Hampshire, to the north.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 590 —    
1860 487 −17.5%
1870 471 −3.3%
1880 453 −3.8%
1890 416 −8.2%
1900 427 +2.6%
1910 408 −4.4%
1920 353 −13.5%
1930 384 +8.8%
1940 447 +16.4%
1950 522 +16.8%
1960 824 +57.9%
1970 1,292 +56.8%
1980 1,671 +29.3%
1990 2,236 +33.8%
2000 2,829 +26.5%
2010 3,179 +12.4%
2020 3,358 +5.6%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 2,826 people, 923 households, and 798 families residing in the town. The population density was 171.0 people per square mile (66.0/km2). There were 944 housing units at an average density of 57.0 per square mile (22.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.49% White, 0.11% African American, 0.04% Native American, 1.52% Asian, 0.07% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.53% of the population.

There were 923 households, out of which 47.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 76.7% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 13.5% were non-families. 10.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 31.1% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $86,633, and the median income for a family was $92,270. Males had a median income of $61,425 versus $39,946 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,608. About 2.1% of families and 1.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

  • "The Little Red Schoolhouse" is a historical building located on route 113 near the Tyngsborough border. This school house originally came from Tyngsborough. Local students take field trips there to historically re-enact a school day. An annual Strawberry Festival is also held there. Boy Scout Troop 28 of Dunstable holds a Mother’s Day pancake breakfast there every year.
  • The "Sarah R. S. Roby" Town Hall in located at 511 Main Street (Rt. 113) was built in 1909 and renovated in 2003. Most town offices are located here as well as meeting rooms for various meetings and events.
  • The Town Commons across from the Dunstable Town Hall on Rt. 113 is the site of many town events including the Summer Fest Carnival sponsored by the Dunstable-Tyngsborough Lion's Club in June, the summer "Concerts on the Common" live performance series and the Grange Fair in August. This is also the site for the annual auto show in Dunstable.
  • The Dunstable Evangelical Congregational Church (DECC) is located at 518 Main Street, adjacent to the Town Commons and directly across from Town Hall. While the congregation was established in that location in 1831, the current building dates from the early 1900s. Because it is the only church in town, it is often called simply "the Dunstable Church".
  • The Dunstable Free Library is located at 588 Main Street. In addition to the collection of books, periodicals, movies, children’s activities and historic items (which include a collection of typewriters and misc. Girl Scouting materials), it is the site of many community activities as well as the site for town elections.
  • Blanchard Hill is a 39-acre conservation area and the site of a former ski resort.


District schools

  • Boutwell School
  • Swallow Union Elementary School
  • Florence Roche Elementary School
  • Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School
  • Groton-Dunstable Regional High School
  • Prescott Elementary School (Closed after the 2007–2008 school year due to budget cuts)

Other public schools

Notable people

Women's History Month on Kiddle
Women Scientists of Antiquity
Mary the Jewess
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