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Norwell, Massachusetts
Jacobs Farmhouse, Norwell Historical Society
Jacobs Farmhouse, Norwell Historical Society
Official seal of Norwell, Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Plymouth
Settled 1634
Incorporated February 14, 1849
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 21.2 sq mi (54.8 km2)
 • Land 20.9 sq mi (54.1 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
81 ft (25 m)
 • Total 11,351
 • Density 535.4/sq mi (207.14/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 339/781
FIPS code 25-50145
GNIS feature ID 0618347

Norwell is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 11,351 at the 2020 Census. The town's southeastern border runs along the North River.


Norwell was first settled in 1634 as a part of the settlement of Satuit (later Scituate), which encompassed present-day Scituate and Norwell. It was officially created in 1849 and soon became known as South Scituate. The town changed its name by ballot to Norwell in 1888, after Henry Norwell, a dry goods merchant who provided funds for the maintenance of the town roads. Early settlers were attracted to Norwell for agricultural reasons, with the town later developing a major shipbuilding industry, based on the North and Northwest rivers. Shipbuilding was a major industry in the 18th through the early 19th centuries. Some of the finest frigates, schooners, whalers, and merchant vessels were produced in Norwell. The Norwell Village Area Historic District is in the center of the town.

Today, Norwell is an affluent residential community with over 10,000 residents that has modern schools, shopping, churches, libraries, health facilities, a wildlife preserve, and other support facilities as well as three industrial parks.

Bryant-Cushing House Norwell Massachusetts
Bryant-Cushing House, built ca. 1698


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 21.2 square miles (55 km2), of which 20.9 square miles (54 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 1.37%, is water. Some 30% to 38% of the town is wetlands. Located on the South Shore of Massachusetts, Norwell is bordered by Hanover and Rockland on the west, Pembroke on the south, Marshfield and Scituate on the east and northeast, and Hingham on the north. Norwell is about 14 miles (23 km) east of Brockton, 17 miles (27 km) north of Plymouth and 20 miles (32 km) south of Boston.

Much of Norwell's eastern border lies along the North River, where many shipbuilding companies once stood. There are many other brooks and ponds throughout the town, including Third Herring Brook, which constitutes much of the town's border with Hanover, Accord Pond at the junction of Norwell, Rockland and Hingham, and Jacobs Pond, along Route 123. The northern half of the town is hilly, and the southern end of Wompatuck State Park juts into the town.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 1,770 —    
1860 1,774 +0.2%
1870 1,661 −6.4%
1880 1,820 +9.6%
1890 1,635 −10.2%
1900 1,560 −4.6%
1910 1,410 −9.6%
1920 1,348 −4.4%
1930 1,519 +12.7%
1940 1,871 +23.2%
1950 2,515 +34.4%
1960 5,207 +107.0%
1970 7,796 +49.7%
1980 9,182 +17.8%
1990 9,279 +1.1%
2000 9,765 +5.2%
2010 10,506 +7.6%
2020 11,513 +9.6%
* = population estimate. Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,765 people, 3,250 households, and 2,710 families residing in the town. The population density was 467.8 inhabitants per square mile (180.6/km2). There were 3,318 housing units at an average density of 158.9 per square mile (61.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.58% White, 0.37% African American, 0.05% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.63% of the population.

There were 3,250 households, out of which 42.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.6% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.6% were non-families. 14.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 28.6% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 28.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $113,944, and the median income for a family was $122,222. Males had a median income of $66,406 versus $40,625 for females. The per capita income for the town was $48,440. About 1.4% of families and 1.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.9% of those under age 18 and 2.2% of those age 65 or over.


Massachusetts Route 3 passes through the town twice, across the southern portion of the town and another short portion near the west of the town. There are no exits in the town off this freeway, but there are exits, 13 and 14, in the interim space between the two portions and just north of the second portion. Both exits access routes which immediately enter the town. The major route through the town is Route 123, which passes from east to west through the town, just before its end at Route 3A in neighboring Scituate. Routes 53 and 228 also pass through the town, with Route 228 ending just over the town line in Rockland at its intersection with Route 3.

Norwell has no rail or air service within the town. The nearest rail service is the Greenbush line of the MBTA's commuter rail in neighboring Scituate, just one mile from the Norwell town line. The nearest regional airport is Marshfield Municipal Airport; the nearest national and international service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Norwell began construction of their "pathways" in the summer of 2015. These mixed use pedestrian and cycling paths were designed to connect the high school, middle school, and the town center. The pathways were intended, according to the former town planner, to allow residents and students to travel without walking on the side of Norwell's busiest roads. "Pathway" planning in Norwell has not been without controversy between town boards and residents. Ironically, Norwell after a successful ten-taxpayer lawsuit that prohibited the use of Community Preservation funds from building what one town official called, instead of a sidewalk, a "pathwalk," along Norwell's busiest road (Route 123) only 600' parallel north of the pathway, voters regardlessly approved the necessary appropriations to build a portion of it. The pathway stretches from South Street to the town center near the state police barracks. Today. Norwell residents have the choice of walking along the preferred, beautifully serene and forested pathway or the less frequented, traditional sidewalk along Main Street. Main Street remains the only road in the town for which taxpayers have provided funding for both a pathway on one side and a sidewalk on the other for the convenience, safety, and enjoyment of its users.


Norwell has a school department for its approximately 2,200 students. There are two elementary schools for students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade—the Grace F. Cole Elementary School in the western part of town and the William G. Vinal Elementary School in the east. The Norwell Middle School, near the Town Hall on Route 123, serves grades 6 to 8. It has two teams (sets of teachers) for each grade: Orange (6th), Purple (6th), Green (7th), Gold (7th), Red (8th) and Blue (8th).

Norwell High School is near Assinippi and serves students from ninth through twelfth grade. All high school and middle school students are provided with iPads by the district for school use. Norwell High School is a competitive school, known for its academic excellence.

Norwell High's teams are known as the Clippers, and their colors are blue and gold. The school's major rival is Hanover High School, whom the football team plays in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. At the high school, Norwell is very well known nationwide for their FIRST robotics team 348, which consistently performs well and won second place overall at the Florida Regionals in March 2015 in addition to other awards in the past few seasons. Norwell is also known for its extremely successful math team and award-winning theater company, the Fourth Wall Players. Norwell girls' lacrosse is well known on the South Shore, having won three Division II state championships.

Norwell's girls soccer team and boys soccer team also perform consistently well, with the boys team finishing as finalists in the Division III state tournament in 2017, and the girls soccer team winning their first Division III Massachusetts state title in November 2018. In 2021, both the Girls and Boys soccer teams won the Division III state championship title.

Norwell is also home to the South Shore Charter Public School, a charter school that serves students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. There are no private schools in the town. High school students have the option of attending South Shore Regional Vocational Technical High School in neighboring Hanover free of charge. The nearest college is Massasoit Community College in Brockton.

Notable people

  • Gleason Archer, summer resident, Christian theologian
  • Gleason Archer, Sr., summer resident, founder of Suffolk Law School
  • Jan Brett, children's author/illustrator
  • William Penn Brooks, American agricultural scientist
  • John Cheever, author of Falconer and The Wapshot Chronicle, is buried in Norwell
  • Drew Commesso, hockey player
  • Jennifer Coolidge, actress
  • Jeff Corwin, naturalist, television show host on Animal Planet
  • Charles N. Gardner, Medal of Honor recipient during the American Civil War
  • Eric Maleson, Olympic Bobsled Athlete, 2002 Olympics
  • Les Sampou, folk singer and songwriter
  • Susan Tedeschi, blues musician
  • Dan Wetzel, sportswriter
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