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Town of Franklin
Main Street in 2010
Main Street in 2010
Official seal of Town of Franklin
Industry Need Not Wish
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Franklin, Massachusetts is located in the United States
Franklin, Massachusetts
Franklin, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County Norfolk
Settled 1660
Incorporated 1778
 • Type Council-manager
 • Total 27.03 sq mi (70.00 km2)
 • Land 26.64 sq mi (69.00 km2)
 • Water 0.39 sq mi (1.01 km2)
300 ft (91 m)
 • Total 33,261
 • Density 1,248.5/sq mi (482.0/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 508/774
FIPS code 25-25100
GNIS feature ID 0611686

The Town of Franklin is a city in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Franklin is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of" in their official names. As of 2020, the city's population was 33,261. It is home to the country's first public library, the Franklin Public Library with its first books donated by Benjamin Franklin in 1790. It also contains the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese, St. Mary's Catholic church, with some 15,000 members.


Franklin was first settled by Europeans in 1660 and officially incorporated during the American Revolution. The town was formed from the western part of the town of Wrentham on February 16, 1778; its designated name at incorporation was to be Exeter. However, the town's citizens chose to be called Franklin in honor of the statesman Benjamin Franklin, the first municipality in the U.S. to be so named.

It was hoped that Benjamin Franklin would donate a bell for a church steeple in the town, but donated 116 books instead, beginning a debate over who should be allowed access to these books. On November 20, 1790, it was decided that the volumes would be lent to the residents of Franklin for free via its library, which has been in operation since then. The Ray Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1904. In 1990, on the library's bicentennial, its staff published a booklet, "A History of America's First Public Library at Franklin Massachusetts, 1790 ~ 1990" to commemorate America's first public library and book collection.

The town is also home to the birthplace of America's father of public education, Horace Mann. The town is also home to what may have been the nation's oldest continuously operational one-room school house (Croydon, New Hampshire's school dates to 1780, but there is debate as to whether it is truly "one room"). The Red Brick School was started in 1792, its building constructed in 1833, and was operational until 2008. St. Mary's Catholic Church, located in central Franklin and built by Matthew Sullivan, is the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese with some 15,000 members.

County v. Town

The town of Franklin is located in Norfolk County. Unlike the municipalities of Barnstable, Essex, Hampden, Nantucket (co-extensive with its namesake county), Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester, all of which are located in the similarly named county, the town of Franklin is not actually located in Franklin County.


Franklin is located at 42°5′N 71°24′W / 42.083°N 71.400°W / 42.083; -71.400 (42.0891, -71.4069). According to the U.S. Census Bureau the town has a total area of 27.0 square miles (70 km2), of which 26.7 square miles (69 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (1 percent) is water.

Most of Franklin lies within the Charles River watershed. Principal streams include Mine, Shepard's, Miller, Uncas, Dix and Miscoe Brooks. Much of the marshland along Mine Brook has been permanently protected by the Natural Valley Storage Project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The extreme southwest corner of Franklin is part of the Blackstone River watershed. The town has an impounded series of lakes known as the Franklin Reservoir, which is not used as a public drinking water supply. The lakes are now protected open space donated to the town by the late Ernest DelCarte. Beaver Pond also is a municipal recreation area and includes an artificial turf playing and recreation field, and playground. In the summer, it is a popular spot for swimming and fishing. The beach is also used for volleyball games. Significant public forests and parks include the Franklin State and the Franklin Town Forests.


Franklin's climate is variable. Winters are typically cold, with frequent Nor'easters and occasional blizzards. Snowfall ranges widely from season to season, although the average is about 50 inches (150 cm). In the recent past, there has been as little as 14 inches (360 mm) of snow (in the 1988–89 winter season) to 126 inches (in 1995–96). The amount decreases dramatically eastward towards Boston because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Snowfall amounts can also decrease rapidly south of Franklin. Low temperatures below zero are not uncommon in winter, and the lowest recent temperatures have been 14 below in January 1994, 14 below in January 2011 and 16 below in February 2016. Average January high temperatures are in the low 30s. Average January low temperatures are in the upper teens. Snow depth can reach two feet or more during the winter season. The winter of 2010–11 was notable for snow depths of nearly 40 inches during January and February. Nearly 60 inches of snowfall was recorded in Franklin in January 2011 alone. The winter of 2014–15 saw a very cold February and March. Snow depths reached 45" by mid February. Snow cover lasted from late January until the first week of April. February 2015 was one of the coldest months on record. Snowfall for Franklin was 107.6" for the season. Spring temperatures can be mitigated by penetrating cold fronts originating from the Canadian Maritimes, known as "Backdoor Cold Fronts". Typically, high temperatures consistently above 70 degrees do not set in until late May. The last frost is usually in mid-May. Summers are generally comfortable, with periods of high humidity. Prolonged heat waves of three or more days with highs of 90 or above are uncommon but can occur. In July 2011 an unusually high temperature of 101 was reached. Average July high temperatures are in the low 80s and average lows are around 60. Severe summer weather is not as common as in areas to the west in Central Massachusetts. Fall is pleasant with the first frost usually around October 1, and the peak of the fall foliage season averages around October 12. Franklin can expect a "white" Christmas slightly under 50 percent of the time.


As of the 2010 census, there were 31,852 people, 10,866 households, and 7,877 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,105.4 inhabitants per square mile (426.8/km2). There were 10,327 housing units at an average density of 386.2 per square mile (149.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.8 percent White, 3.83 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 2.0 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.4 percent Black or African American, 0.15 percent Native American, 0.29 percent from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races.

There were 10,866 households, out of which 44.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.4% contained married couples living together, 22.4% were non-families, and 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present. 18.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.7% had someone living alone 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80, the average family size 3.29.

The population includes 28.5% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 35.1% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median household income in the town was $92,066, and the median income for a family was $81,826 (these figures had risen to $89,659 and $101,900, respectively, as of a 2008 estimate)). Men had a median income of $58,888 versus $36,557 for women; the per capita income for the town was $27,849. About 2.2% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under 18 and 5.2% of those 65 or over.

65.5% of Franklin residents claim to be religious, of that 54.2% are Catholic, 3.0% are Jewish, 2.2% are Presbyterian, 1.7% are Episcopalian, while members of Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Buddhist, Pentecostal, Mormon, Hindu, Mennonite, and Muslim faiths make up less than 1.0% of the population each.

Theme Song

The Town of Franklin has its own theme song composed by town resident and music teacher James H. Barrett. Entitled "The City Known as the Town of Franklin", the song reflects the many unique characteristics of Franklin. The lyrics discuss the library, the one-room schoolhouse, and the birthplace of Horace Mann.

Points of interest

As noted, the Franklin Public Library is the first public library in America. It is a 1904 building with granite and marble staircases, frescoed walls in its reading room and still houses the original books donated by Benjamin Franklin. Across the street from the library is Dean College, with Gothic architecture and a historic gymnasium.

According to a survey of the center of Franklin done for the historical commission of the town, the Franklin Common Historic District includes 74 historically contributing buildings. There are a number of houses prior to 1780, including a saltbox, kept as close to original as possible, from 1710. There is a house that dates to 1780 and was moved to Union Street in 1840. The next oldest house was built in 1830. There are 32 buildings that were built before 1900. The former town hall on West Central Street was built in 1842.

At one end of Franklin's Historic District is the little Red Brick School. Its classroom, believed to be one of the oldest still functioning as a public school in the United States, celebrated its 175th birthday in 2008. The Franklin Town Common features a gazebo, and several dedications located around the common. The brick bandstand on the Town Common was dedicated in 1917 and contributed by the Hayward family. Concerts and a Fourth of July celebration are held on the Common each summer. The Feast of St Rocco, a four-day family festival, is held each year in mid-August, sponsored by St. Mary Roman Catholic parish.

Downtown there is a series of restaurants and bars. The street lines on Union Street used to be painted red, white, and green to reflect the extensive Italian heritage in the city. The Zeotrope was an old fashioned movie theater that was a trademark of Franklin lore until it was torn down.

At Beaver Pond, there is an AstroTurf playing and recreation field, and playground. In the summer, it is a popular spot for swimming and fishing. The beach is also used for volleyball games.

The town also contains remnants of its Industrial Revolution background. Until recently, abandoned mills existed along the railroad tracks. One old mill building was turned into residential condos and a nearby building consists of a variety of multiple-use commercial businesses, including the Franklin Mill Store. The Brookdale Mill on the other side of Franklin was converted into Incontro, an upscale restaurant. A fourth mill on Hayward street was converted for upscale shopping.


Franklin has easy access to major cities like Boston and Providence with its two exits along I-495 at Route 140 and King Street. Commuter rail service from Boston's South Station is provided by the MBTA with the Forge Park/495 and Franklin/Dean College stops on its Franklin Line.

Franklin is part of the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) service region, which operates the Franklin Area Bus. Its route includes stops to the Municipal Building, Senior Center, Franklin Public Library, and the Franklin Village Shopping center.


The Franklin Public Schools have five elementary schools serving K–8, and one high school serving 9–12.

Elementary Schools K–8:

  • John F. Kennedy Memorial School
  • Gerald M. Parmenter Elementary School
  • Oak Street Elementary School
  • Hellen Keller Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School

High School 9–12:

  • Franklin High school

Franklin High School constructed a new high school building and tore down the old one in 2014.

The Red Brick School is a historic school in the town. It was used at various times for kindergarten through 4th grade students; sometimes for multiple grades simultaneously. It was one of the longest running one-room schools in America.

Franklin is also home to Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School and one charter school (grades K–8).

The Town of Franklin is also home to Dean College, founded in 1865, a private residential college with over 1,100 students. The college grants associate degrees in a number of subjects (98% of the students are accepted for transfer to four-year schools) and also offers bachelor's programs in Arts and Entertainment Management, Psychology, Sociology, History, English, Business, Marketing, Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Management, Sport Management, Sport Fitness, Recreation and Coaching, Dance, Liberal Arts & Studies, and Theater.

Notable people

  • Charles Partridge Adams, born in Franklin, 1858; landscape painter, Gold Medal of National Mining and Industrial Exposition, Denver, for landscape
  • Asa Aldis, Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
  • Maria Barrett, US Army Major General; older sister of US Army General Paula Lodi
  • Edward Reed Blake, born in Franklin; Wisconsin state legislator and businessman
  • Oliver Dean, MD, born in Franklin, 1783; physician and educator, benefactor and founder of Dean Academy
  • George Warren Fuller, born in Franklin, 1868; responsible for important innovations in water and wastewater treatment
  • Richard Grieco, Class of 1983, actor and former fashion model
  • Eddie Grant (baseball), born in 1883 and grew up in Franklin; baseball player, killed in WWI
  • Murray Hill (performer) a.k.a. Betsey Gallagher; comedian, drag king
  • Peter Laviolette, born in 1964 and grew up in Franklin – NHL hockey coach
  • Paula Lodi, US Army Brigadier General; younger sister of US Army General Maria Barrett
  • Horace Mann, born in Franklin, 1796; educator
  • Theron Metcalf, born in Franklin, 1784; Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Robbie O'Connell, Irish folk singer, former resident of Franklin
  • Jen O'Malley Dillon, campaign manager
  • Albert D. Richardson, born in Franklin, 1833; journalist, spy, and author
  • Bobby Santos III, born in Franklin, 1985; NASCAR driver
  • Ilario Zannino, mobster, former resident of Franklin

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