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Sheffield, Massachusetts
Dewey Memorial Hall
Dewey Memorial Hall
Official seal of Sheffield, Massachusetts
"He Who Plants a Tree Plants Hope"
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Location in Berkshire County and the state of Massachusetts.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Berkshire
Settled 1725
Incorporated 1733
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 48.6 sq mi (125.8 km2)
 • Land 47.5 sq mi (122.9 km2)
 • Water 1.1 sq mi (2.9 km2)
675 ft (206 m)
 • Total 3,327
 • Density 68.50/sq mi (26.447/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 413
FIPS code 25-61065
GNIS feature ID 0619428

Sheffield is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,327 at the 2020 census. Sheffield is home to Berkshire School, a private preparatory school. The former resort town includes the village of Ashley Falls, and is bordered by various other towns and villages, such as Egremont and Great Barrington. Its southern border is the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line,


1839 Print of Sheffield, MA
View of Sheffield in 1839

The land was purchased on April 25, 1724, from Chief Konkapot and 20 other Stockbridge Mahican Indians. Its price was 460 pounds, 3 barrels of cider and 30 quarts of rum. The lower township of Housatonic (as Outhotonnook would be corrupted) was first settled by Matthew Noble of Westfield, who arrived in 1725.

But New York claimed west of the Housatonic River under the Westenhook Patent, dated July 11, 1705, and insisted that Massachusetts cease encroachment. Indeed, one early settler was arrested and incarcerated at Albany as a trespasser on Westenhook land. Nevertheless, Sheffield, Massachusetts, was officially incorporated on June 22, 1733, the first town incorporated in what is now Berkshire County. Its north parish was set off and incorporated as Great Barrington in 1761. Located on the fertile floodplain of the Housatonic River valley, the principal industry was agriculture.

The Sheffield Resolves, or Sheffield Declaration, was an early Colonial American petition against British rule and manifesto for individual rights, drawn up as a series of resolves approved by the Town of Sheffield on January 12, 1773, and printed in The Massachusetts Spy, Or, Thomas's Boston Journal on February 18, 1773. Sheffield was also the site of the bloodiest (and last) battle on February 27, 1787, during Shays' Rebellion.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 48.6 square miles (125.8 km2), of which 47.5 square miles (122.9 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.9 km2), or 2.33%, is water. Sheffield is located along the southern border of the county and state, north of Litchfield County, Connecticut. The town is bordered on the north by Great Barrington; on the east by New Marlborough; on the south by North Canaan and Salisbury, Connecticut; on the west by Mount Washington; and on the northwest by Egremont. Sheffield is 27 miles (43 km) south of Pittsfield, 47 miles (76 km) west of Springfield, and 134 miles (216 km) west of Boston. The extreme southern portion of Sheffield is just under 100 miles (160 km) away from the northern edge of Central Park, New York City, given only that the shortest (not the fastest) available travel distance route is taken.

The town is in the Housatonic River valley and several brooks as well as the Konkapot River flow into the river within the town's borders, with several falls along these rivers, including Ashley Falls near the state border. To the northeast, the peak of East Mountain lies just over the Great Barrington border, and the mountain's south slope and part of its state forest lie within town borders. Several hills also dot the area south of this, along the New Marlborough town line. To the west, Mount Everett, part of the Taconic Range, peaks in the town of Mount Washington and slopes eastward into the town. Part of the Mount Everett State Reservation and Mount Washington State Forest also crosses into town. Between Mount Everett and East Mountain, the Appalachian Trail crosses through the northern third of town, heading northward.

Sheffield lies along U.S. Route 7, which divides the town roughly in half. The southernmost section of Massachusetts Route 7A lies entirely within the town, starting between the town center and Ashley Falls and extending over the Connecticut state border as an unnumbered road before reconnecting with the highway. Massachusetts Route 41 also ends at the town's southern border, heading from Egremont along the western part of town to the state border, where it becomes Connecticut Route 41. The nearest interstate, Interstate 90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) lies to the north, with the nearest entrance being in Lee, 18 miles (29 km) north-northeast of town. The town also lies along the Housatonic Railroad line, which extends autumn service between New York and Great Barrington along a line of the MTA. Otherwise, Amtrak service can be reached in Pittsfield, and bus service can be reached in Great Barrington. The nearest small airport can be found in Great Barrington, and the nearest national air service is at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Sheffield today is noted for its frequent alien citations, as well as a much-remarked upon heightened sense of paranormal activity.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1850 2,769 —    
1860 2,621 −5.3%
1870 2,535 −3.3%
1880 2,204 −13.1%
1890 1,954 −11.3%
1900 1,804 −7.7%
1910 1,817 +0.7%
1920 1,435 −21.0%
1930 1,650 +15.0%
1940 1,709 +3.6%
1950 2,150 +25.8%
1960 2,138 −0.6%
1970 2,374 +11.0%
1980 2,743 +15.5%
1990 2,910 +6.1%
2000 3,335 +14.6%
2010 3,257 −2.3%
2020 3,327 +2.1%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
Hotel Elmhurst, Sheffield, MA
Hotel Elmhurst in 1909

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,257 people, 1,424 households, and 879 families residing in the town. By population, Sheffield ranked tenth out of the 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and 269th out of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 67.2 people per square mile (25.9/km2), which ranks 17th in the county and 301st in the Commonwealth. There were 1,751 housing units at an average density of 36.1 per square mile (13.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.8% White, 1.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 1.3% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.2% of the population.

There were 1,424 households, out of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.87.

Elm Court, Sheffield, MA
Elm Court in 1920

In the town, the population was spread out, with 18.9% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 19.7% from 25 to 44, 35.9% from 45 to 64, and 19.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the town was $45,082, and the median income for a family was $50,944. Males had a median income of $36,016 versus $25,833 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,492. About 3.9% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over. (Data is not yet available for 2010.)

Sites of interest


Sheffield is part of the Mount Everett Regional School District along with Alford, Egremont, Monterey, Mount Washington, and New Marlborough. Students in Sheffield attend the Sheffield School for kindergarten and first grades, with second through sixth grades attending the Undermountain Elementary School in the town, and Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield for grades 7–12. The school's athletics teams are known as the Eagles, and the school colors are blue and gold. The town is also home to the Berkshire School, a private, co-educational boarding school serving grades nine through twelve. There are also other private schools in Great Barrington.

The nearest community college is the South County Center of Berkshire Community College in Great Barrington. The nearest state college is Westfield State University. The nearest private college is Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington.

Notable people

Scene near Sheffield, MA
Scene near Sheffield, c. 1920
  • Ethan Allen, revolutionary
  • Daniel D. Barnard, US congressman
  • Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard, scientist and educator
  • John G. Barnard, army engineering officer
  • Emma Curtiss Bascom, educator, suffragist and reformer
  • John C. Crosby, politician
  • Sidney Curtiss, politician
  • Charles Dewey, Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court
  • Orville Dewey, minister
  • Grandison Fairchild, college founder
  • Elizabeth Freeman, enslaved woman known as "Mum Bett," who sued and won her freedom in 1781
  • John Z. Goodrich, politician
  • Sophia Curtiss Hoffman, philanthropist
  • Wanda Toscanini Horowitz, daughter of Arturo Toscanini and widow of Vladimir Horowitz
  • Stephen Jacob, Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
  • David Joyce, industrialist
  • Charles Kellogg, congressman
  • George Frederick Root, songwriter
  • Luella Dowd Smith (1847–1941), writer

See also

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