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Gardner, Massachusetts
Gardner, Massachusetts collage.jpg
Flag of Gardner, Massachusetts
Official seal of Gardner, Massachusetts
Chair City
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Worcester County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Settled 1764
Incorporated (town) 1785
Incorporated (city) 1923
 • Type Mayor-council city
 • Total 23.02 sq mi (59.61 km2)
 • Land 22.07 sq mi (57.15 km2)
 • Water 0.95 sq mi (2.45 km2)
1,100 ft (324 m)
 • Total 21,287
 • Density 964.52/sq mi (372.48/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 978/351
FIPS code 25-25485
GNIS feature ID 0610059
West Gardner Square Historic District
West Gardner Square Historic District now known as the Center of Gardner MA at sunset

Gardner is a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 21,287 at the 2020 census. Gardner is home to Dunn State Park, Gardner Heritage State Park, Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mount Wachusett Community College.


Named in honor of Col. Thomas Gardner, the community was first settled in 1764 and officially incorporated as a town in 1785 after receiving land grants from the surrounding towns of Ashburnham, Westminster, Templeton and Winchendon. Dating from about 1805, it became a center for lumber and furniture industries. Gardner is known as the "Chair City" and "The Furniture Capital of New England", due to its long history in furniture production. By 1910 it had 20 chair factories which produced 4 million chairs per year. It was also noted for silversmithing. The Gardner State Colony for the Insane pioneered the use of cottage residences. Gardner was incorporated as a city in 1923.

Gardner is the birthplace of Heywood-Wakefield furniture, dating from 1826 when the five Heywood brothers began to fashion furniture in a barn near their father's farm. Brothers Walter, Levi, Seth, Benjamin and William began that year making wooden chairs. In the early years, Walter fashioned chairs by hand, also using a foot lathe. He was soon joined by his brothers Levi and Benjamin, part-time, while running a nearby country store. A new store was built across the street from the original store. In 1831 Levi moved to Boston where he established an outlet store to sell the chairs, while Benjamin and William remained in Gardner to manufacture the chairs. A fire destroyed the Heywoods' chair shop in 1834. In 1835 the partnership of B. F. Heywood & Co. was formed, composed of Benjamin, Walter and William, with Moses Wood and James W. Gates. Gardner was also the home of the Conant-Ball furniture factory. Nichols & Stone Chair Company traces their origin to 1762 in Westminster, Massachusetts. The company moved to Gardner at the turn of the 20th century. As of July 2008, it was announced they would terminate production. The Nichols & Stone name, the intellectual property and the design rights were purchased by the L. & J.G. Stickley of Manlius, New York.

City seal

The seal of Gardner was designed in 1898 by native-born illustrator Walter Harrison Cady, at the age of 21. According to the city code, the seal shows a portrayal of Col. Thomas Gardner standing in front of Crystal Lake with Mount Monadnock in the background. Within five smaller circles we see a chair, representing the importance of the furniture industry to the city's economy, as well as the letters W, W, A, and T, representing the surrounding towns of Westminster, Winchendon, Ashburnham, and Templeton which all contributed land to the city at its founding.


Gardner is located at 42°34′26″N 71°59′27″W / 42.57389°N 71.99083°W / 42.57389; -71.99083 (42.573920, -71.990818).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.0 square miles (60 km2), of which 22.2 square miles (57 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), or 3.52%, is water. Gardner is situated on Crystal Lake. The highest point in the city is the summit of Reservoir Hill, close to the center of the city, with an elevation of over 1,280 feet (390 m) above sea level.

Gardner is bordered by Winchendon and Ashburnham to the north, Westminster to the east, Hubbardston to the south, and Templeton to the west, all in Massachusetts.


Gardner Center
Downtown Gardner, 2005

As of the census of 2000, there were 20,770 people, 8,282 households, and 5,085 families residing in the city. The population density was 936.0 people per square mile (361.4/km2). There were 8,838 housing units at an average density of 398.3 per square mile (153.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.13% White, 2.29% African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.37% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.22% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.08% of the population, while 19.6% were of French Canadian, 17.6% French, 12.7% Irish, 6.7% English, 6.3% Polish and 6.2% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 8,282 households, out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. Of all households 32.4% were made up of individuals, and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 31.8% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,334, and the median income for a family was $47,164. Males had a median income of $35,804 versus $26,913 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,624. About 7.0% of families and 9.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.

The town is home to Gardner High School, which has a student population of about 800.

A city with a historically large population speaking a second language, today approximately 5.6% of all residents speak Spanish at home while 2.8% regularly speak New England French.


1899 Gardner public library Massachusetts
Gardner Museum, formerly the public library, 1899

The public library in Gardner opened in 1885. The original library building is now a museum of Gardner's history. In fiscal year 2008, the city of Gardner spent 1.84% ($734,164) of its budget on its public library—some $35 per person.

Public transportation

Public transportation for Gardner is largely supplied by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART). MART operates local fixed-route bus services, shuttle services, as well as paratransit services within the Montachusett Region. MAX provides intercity bus service to Boston, Worcester, Fitchburg, and Brattleboro, Vermont with intermediate stops.

Beginning in 1871, the Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad provided rail service to the town. Gardner station was the terminus of the MBTA's Fitchburg Line from 1980 to 1986, but the line was cut back to Fitchburg at the beginning of 1987. MART began weekday van service from Gardner to the new Wachusett terminus of the Fitchburg line in 2016.


County-level state agency heads
Clerk of Courts: Dennis P. McManus (D)
District Attorney: Joseph D. Early, Jr. (D)
Register of Deeds: Anthony J. Vigliotti (D)
Register of Probate: Stephanie K. Fattman (R)
County Sheriff: Lew Evangelidis (R)
State government
State Representative(s): Jonathan Zlotnik (D)
State Senator(s): Jennifer L. Flanagan (D)
Governor's Councilor(s): Jen Caissie (R)
Federal government
U.S. Representative(s): Niki Tsongas (D-3rd District),
U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (D), Ed Markey (D)
  • For many years, the Gardner Municipal Golf Course has been home to the Central Massachusetts High School Cross Country District Championships. Every three years, it is also home to the Massachusetts High School State Cross Country Championships. The course record for the hilly 2.9-mile (4.7 km) course is 14:00 set by Andy Powell in 1998 while Lynn Jennings has the girls' record with a time of 15:50 from 1977.
  • Home of the largest Relay For Life event in New England.


Throughout its history Gardner was known for its furniture industry, earning its nickname as the "Chair City". While the city has undergone deindustrialization in recent decades a handful of manufacturers remain in Gardner and its neighboring towns, including Standard Chair of Gardner and the Saloom Furniture Company. The city is also home to a multinational paper and packaging manufacturer, Seaman Paper.

Notable people

  • Larry Alexander, Massachusetts state legislator
  • Red Blanchard, radio personality
  • Jacques Cesaire, former NFL defensive end for the San Diego Chargers and current assistant defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills
  • Oliver Drake, relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB
  • Mark Gearan, former head of the Peace Corps under President Bill Clinton, former president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and current director of the Harvard Institute of Politics
  • Levi H. Greenwood, President of the Massachusetts Senate from 1912-1913
  • Edward Hill, Late 19th century painter
  • Nicholas LaRoche, former professional American figure skater
  • Hadassah Lieberman, wife of U.S. Senator from Connecticut and 2000 Democratic nominee for Vice President Joseph Lieberman
  • Bob Menne, PGA Tour golfer
  • Frank Morze, Center San Francisco 49ers 1957-1961
  • Lucy Stone, women's rights activist, whose house still stands on Elm Street
  • George Clinton Sweeney, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 1935–1966.
  • William Henry Wilder member of the United States House of Representatives from 1911-1913
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