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Wakefield, Massachusetts
Town of Wakefield
Veterans Field Wakefield 07 17 12 (cropped).jpg
Wakefield common 2011.jpg
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Upper Depot, Wakefield MA.jpg
Colonel James Hartshorne House.jpg
Elizabeth Boit House, Wakefield MA.jpg
Lake Quannapowitt, Wakefield, Ma, USA.jpg
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Wakefield Bandstand in the Winter.jpg
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Official seal of Wakefield, Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Country  United States
State  Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Region New England
Settled 1638
Incorporated 1812
Renamed "Wakefield" 1868
Named for Cyrus Wakefield
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 20.5 km2 (7.9 sq mi)
 • Land 19.3 km2 (7.5 sq mi)
 • Water 1.1 km2 (0.4 sq mi)
30 m (100 ft)
 • Total 27,090
 • Density 1,321/km2 (3,429/sq mi)
 • Demonym
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 339 / 781
FIPS code 25-72215
GNIS feature ID 0619410
Website http://www.wakefield

Wakefield is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, incorporated in 1812 and located about 12.5 mi (20.1 km) north-northwest of Downtown Boston. Wakefield's population was 27,090 at the 2020 census. Wakefield offers an assortment of activities around the local lake, Lake Quannapowitt.


Wakefield was first settled in 1638 and was originally known as Lynn Village. It officially separated from Lynn and incorporated as Reading in 1644 when the first church (First Parish Congregational Church) and the first mill were established. This first corn mill was built on the Mill River on Water Street, and later small saw mills were built on the Mill River and the Saugus River.

The old parish church became known as the Old or South Parish when in 1713 the North Parish was established. This North Parish later became the town of North Reading. In 1769 the West Parish was established. In 1812 the Old or South Parish of Reading separated from Reading and was officially incorporated as South Reading. At the time it was spelled South Redding, not South Reading.

The railroad was chartered and built in 1844 between Wilmington and Boston. This later became the main line of the Boston and Maine Railroad. The Boston and Maine Foundry was built in 1854 and was later reincorporated as the Smith and Anthony Stove Company. The Boston Ice Company cut and shipped ice from Lake Quannapowitt starting in 1851.

The Rattan Works (which made wicker furniture) was established in 1856 by Cyrus Wakefield. This later grew into the Wakefield Rattan Company and at one time had a thousand employees. In 1868 Cyrus Wakefield donated land and money for a new town hall, and in thanks the town voted to change its name from South Reading to Wakefield. The town hall, currently named for William J. Lee, is located at 1 Lafayette Street.

In 1856 the South Reading Public Library was established, which later became the Beebe Town Library. In 1923, the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library was built and established by Junius Beebe, the son of Lucius Beebe.

The first weekly newspaper in Wakefield was established in 1858.

One of the oldest and largest manufacturers of flying model airplane toys in the world, Paul K. Guillow, Inc. is located in Wakefield. The company is particularly notable for its extensive line of balsa wood model airplane kits.

Route 128 was built along the north edge of the town by 1958, and the American Mutual Insurance Company built its headquarters between Lake Quannapowitt and Route 128. American Mutual had over 1000 employees, most of them commuting to work via Route 128. By the late 1980s American Mutual was in liquidation due to the Woburn W. R. Grace litigation. The headquarters building was sold to the Beal Company and was home to Boston Technology Inc. which invented and manufactured corporate voice mail systems that operated on computer systems. Boston Technology merged in 1997 with Comverse Technology, a digital telecommunications equipment manufacturer, which later bought the building; Wakefield became headquarters of its eventual spinoff, Comverse.

Lake Quannapowitt Panorama
Panoramic view of Lake Quannapowitt from its eastern shore, looking westward — June 2016

The northeastern part of Wakefield was home to an amusement park, Pleasure Island, billed as "The Disneyland of the Northeast," but the park closed in 1969 after only ten years of operation due to unseasonably cold weather that brought diminishing returns among tourists. In April 1971, a fire burned down much of the amusement park. The area now consists of several office buildings and is called "Edgewater Park".

The bicentennial of the incorporation of Wakefield took place in 2012.


Wakefield is located at 42°30′4″N 71°4′16″W / 42.50111°N 71.07111°W / 42.50111; -71.07111 (42.501345, -71.071324).

Reading, Massachusetts (northwest), Melrose, Massachusetts (south), Stoneham, Massachusetts (southwest), Lynnfield, Massachusetts (northeast), and Saugus, Massachusetts (southeast) border Wakefield.

Route 129 runs through Wakefield as its Main Street. I-95 and Route 128 skirt the northwestern border of Wakefield as one road known as the "Yankee Division Highway".

Wakefield Common
View of Wakefield's Upper Common, with Civil War memorial at center right.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.9 square miles (20 km2), of which 7.5 square miles (19 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), or 5.56%, is water.

Wakefield has two lakes, Crystal Lake and Lake Quannapowitt. Crystal Lake is used as a reservoir for some of the town's drinking water. Lake Quannapowitt is used for a wide variety of recreational activities, including boating, windsurfing and fishing, and is the primary source of the Saugus River.

In 1847, Lake Quannapowitt was named for the Native American James Quannapowitt, one of the signers of the old Indian Deed of 1686. The earliest settlers referred to the lake simply as the "Greate Pond" or "Reading Pond."

Lake Quannapowitt is also home to the oldest inland yacht club in the United States, Quannapowitt Yacht Club, which was founded in 1886.

Long regarded as "Wakefield's greatest natural resource," Lake Quannapowitt covers an area of 247 acres (1.00 km2). Its outlet is the Saugus River to the Atlantic Ocean. Wakefield Common sits to the south of the lake, and is the site of many recreational activities and events throughout the year. In 1991, a group of local citizens formed "The Friends of Lake Quannapowitt" to advocate for the lake and to educate the public about this natural resource. The group has also raised money for projects that benefit the lake and the surrounding areas.


Wakefield harbors a climate typical to the Northeastern United States, with cold, snowy winters, cool, rainy springs, cool, sunny autumns, and hot, humid summers. The town received, along with many other parts of Massachusetts, 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m) of snow during a January 2011 Nor'Easter. Wakefield also received 27.5 inches (700 mm) or 2.29 feet (0.70 m) of snow during the February 2013 Nor'Easter known as Winter Storm Nemo, and snowfall in Wakefield was unofficially reported as 29.0 inches (740 mm) or 2.42 feet (0.74 m) following the January 2015 Nor'Easter known as Winter Storm Juno.

Climate data for Wakefield, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 35
Average low °F (°C) 15
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.36


2010 U.S. Census demographics

As of the census of 2010, there were 24,932 people, 9,994 households, 10,500 housing units, and 6,547 families residing in the Town of Wakefield.

Racial makeup, 2010

The racial makeup of the Town in 2010 was:

  • 94.5% (23,573) White
  • 0.9% (229) Black or African American
  • 0.1% (30) Native American and Alaska Native
  • 2.6% (660) Asian (the leading Asian nationalities being Chinese with 1.1% or 267 people and Indian with 0.7% or 174 people)
  • 0.0% (0) Pacific Islander
  • 0.6% (150) from other races
  • 1.2% (290) from two or more races.

Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% (575) of the population.

Household statistics, 2010

In the town in 2010, there were 9,994 households, out of which:

  • 28.3% (2,825) had children under the age of 18 living with them
  • 52.7% (5,265) were a husband and a wife living together
  • 3.2% (323) had a male householder with no wife present
  • 9.6% (959) had a female householder with no husband present.

The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.07.

Age classifications, 2010

In the town in 2010, the population was spread out agewise with:

  • 5.6% (1,401) under the age of 5 years
  • 5.9% (1,478) between the ages of 5 and 9
  • 6.2% (1,534) between the ages of 10 and 14
  • 5.5% (1,365) between the ages of 15 and 19
  • 4.7% (1,176) between the ages of 20 and 24
  • 6.1% (1,530) between the ages of 25 and 29
  • 6.2% (1,534) between the ages of 30 and 34
  • 6.8% (1,705) between the ages of 35 and 39
  • 7.9% (1,981) between the ages of 40 and 44
  • 8.6% (2,137) between the ages of 45 and 49
  • 8.3% (2,066) between the ages of 50 and 54
  • 7.3% (1,816) between the ages of 55 and 59
  • 6.2% (1,538) between the ages of 60 and 64
  • 4.2% (1,039) between the ages of 65 and 69
  • 3.3% (811) between the ages of 70 and 74
  • 2.5% (633) between the ages of 75 and 79
  • 2.4% (607) between the ages of 80 and 84
  • 2.3% (581) aged 85 years or older.

The median age was 41.9 years, 40.6 for males and 43.0 for females.

2007–2008 demographics

The population of Wakefield was 24,915 as of July 2007. The town's population was composed of 11,814 (47.4%) males and 13,101 (52.6%) females. The median resident age was 38.9 years, higher than the Massachusetts median age of 36.5.

In 2008, the median household income was $85,011, about $20,000 above Massachusetts as a whole. The estimated income per capita was $39,918. The estimated median property value in 2008 was $416,592, up from $240,300 in 2000, representing a $176,292 increase.

Racial makeup, 2007–2008

Racially, Wakefield broke down as:

  • 96.4% White
  • 1.4% Asian
  • 0.8% Hispanic
  • 0.4% African American
  • 0.01% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
  • 0.8% from two or more races.
Wakefield Beebe Library jazz and Main Street Panorama
A jazz concert on the steps of Lucius Beebe Memorial Library on June 26, 2014, with Main Street in Downtown Wakefield in the background.

Ancestry breakdown, 2007–2008

Ancestries in Wakefield broke down thus

The cost of living index was listed as 121.4, 21.4 points above the U.S. average.

2000 U.S. Census demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 24,804 people, 9,747 households, and 6,608 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,321.6 people per square mile (1,282.0/km2). There were 9,937 housing units at an average density of 1,330.7 per square mile (513.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.94% White, 0.45% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 1.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races.

Wakefield common
Wakefield Lower Common as seen on July 9, 2010

Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.82% of the population.

There were 9,747 households, out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.1% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 22.6% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $66,117, and the median income for a family was $77,834. Males had a median income of $51,591 versus $39,327 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,369. About 1.7% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.

Photo gallery

See the top of the page for additional photos.


"Greenwood, Massachusetts" redirects here.
"Montrose, Massachusetts" redirects here.

Wakefield is roughly composed of the following neighborhoods:

This commuter rail station in Wakefield bears the name of Greenwood, one of its neighborhoods.
  • Greenwood consists of nearly all of Southern Wakefield, bordering the Melrose Highlands neighborhood of Melrose to the south, the Horace Mann neighborhoods of Melrose and Saugus to the south and east, and Stoneham to the west. Although a part of Wakefield, Greenwood is often labeled as a town separate from Wakefield on maps and in atlases.
  • Woodville consists of much of central-eastern Wakefield.
  • The Downtown/Wakefield Square area extends from just north of the immediate north shore of Crystal Lake to the southern shores of Lake Quannapowitt.
  • The West Side encompasses nearly all of Wakefield which is west of Lake Quannapowitt and Crystal Lake.
  • The East Side, in spite of the name, is not in extreme Eastern Wakefield. Rather, the East Side is about the geographical center of the town, bordering the northeastern shore of Crystal Lake. Woodville is in fact to the east of the "East Side".
  • Lakeside encompasses northern-central Wakefield and borders the entire eastern shore of Lake Quannapowitt. Lakeside borders Reading to the north.
  • Montrose consists of much of northeastern Wakefield, bordering Lynnfield. Aside from Lake Quannapowitt and Crystal Lake, many of Wakefield's smaller ponds and lakes, such as Heron Pond, can be found in the Montrose region.


An MBTA Commuter Rail station on the Haverhill/Reading Line is located near the center of town as well as a second station in the Greenwood section. A former Boston and Maine Railroad station located east of this line is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Several MBTA buses on Route 136 and Route 137 run to surrounding communities, including the nearby Oak Grove stop as well as Malden Center, both rapid transit stations on the Orange Line. The route 428 bus from Oaklandvale in nearby Saugus to Haymarket in downtown Boston stops on Farm Street in front of Wakefield High School; this bus route runs express to Haymarket. Rt. 128/I-95 runs through Wakefield with exits at Albion Street, North Avenue, Water Street, Vernon Street, New Salem Street, and Salem Street. State Route 129 also passes through Wakefield. US Route 1 runs through nearby Saugus and Lynnfield, while I-93 runs through neighboring Stoneham.

Points of interest

  • Lake Quannapowitt is a popular recreation area for walkers, joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers.
  • Lucius Beebe Memorial Library.
  • The town common is the central park of Wakefield, on the southern edge of Lake Quannapowitt. Events such as summer concerts and the Fourth of July festivities take place there.

Annual events

  • Town Day
  • Independence Day Parade / Home Town March (July 4)
  • Festival Italia (typically 3rd Saturday in August)
  • Homecoming Celebration in Autumn
  • Concerts on the Common (July–September)
  • Tis the Season Holiday Stroll (1st Saturday in December)


Veterans Field (Wakefield, MA) Softball 07 17 12
Softball at one of Wakefield's most popular sports venues, Veterans Field — July 17, 2012.

Wakefield has a strong local sports fan base and a robust youth sports culture. Wakefield High School has popular football, baseball, softball, hockey and basketball programs. Wakefield High's football team earned a Division II "Super Bowl" title in 1999, and its men's and women's basketball teams won Division II state championships in 1997. Baseball is a popular spring and summer sport in the town, with two men's semiprofessional teams: the Wakefield Merchants, a member of Boston's Intercity Baseball League (and champions of that league in 1978 and 1994), and a team representing the local American Legion post.

Wakefield has many active youth sports leagues. Young athletes in Wakefield can choose to play baseball, basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer, hockey, dance, cheerleading, and softball, among other team sports. The following is a list of the volunteer organizations that maintain these leagues.


Wakefield High School, Wakefield MA
Wakefield High School, as seen in December 2012.
Nazareth Academy, Wakefield MA
The former Nazareth Academy, as seen in December 2012.
Northeast Metro Regional Vocational School, Wakefield MA
Northeast Metro Regional Vocational School, as seen in December 2012.
WakefieldMA WoodvilleSchool
Woodville Elementary School, as seen in November 2011.

Wakefield is home to two high schools: one public school (Wakefield High School), and one regional vocational school (Northeast Vocational). Wakefield contains one middle school, Galvin Middle School, and four elementary schools, Greenwood, Walton, Woodville, and Dolbeare. Doyle School serves as the town’s public preschool.

The Little Red School House is a former one-room school house building that was last used by kindergarten students on the West Side until the 1990s. It has been preserved and now houses the Wakefield Historical Society.

School Committee

The Wakefield School Committee oversees Wakefield Public Schools, which is currently headed by superintendent Doug Lyons as of January 2021. Lyons' Assistant Superintendent is Kara Mauro. The School Committee, as of August 2021, is composed of the following elected members: Chairman Susan Veilleux (2022), Vice-Chair Thomas Markham (2022), Amy Leeman (2024), Kevin Piskadio (2024), Stephen Ingalls (2024), Mike Boudreau (2023), and Ami Wall (2022). The School Committee controls the majority of municipal spending.

Notable people

Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown hails from Wakefield.
John Galvin was born in Wakefield and is the namesake of Wakefield's Galvin Middle School.
  • Lucius Morris Beebe, author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist born December 9, 1902 in Wakefield (died 1966)
  • Elizabeth Boit, textile manufacturer
  • Bruce Brown, born in Dorchester but moved to Wakefield to attend Wakefield Memorial High School, where he starred in basketball for two seasons. He was selected by the Detroit Pistons in the 2018 NBA Draft following a successful college basketball career with the Miami (FL) Hurricanes. Brown currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets
  • Scott Brown, Massachusetts State and US Senator (2010–2013) preceded by Ted Kennedy; defeated in 2012 reelection bid by Elizabeth Warren and in 2014 bid in New Hampshire by Jeanne Shaheen
  • Joe Cannata, Merrimack College goalie and 2009 Vancouver Canucks draftee, current Colorado Eagles goaltender
  • Carleton S. Coon, anthropologist
  • David Dellinger, radical pacifist and member of the Chicago Seven, born in Wakefield and graduated from Wakefield Memorial High School in 1932
  • Anthony Fabiano, NFL center for the Cleveland Browns. Attended Wakefield Memorial High School and Harvard University prior to entering the NFL
  • John Galvin, US Army general and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
  • Kayla Harrison, Two time Olympic gold medalist (2012 and 2016) and world champion in Judo. Kayla was the first American (man or woman) to win an Olympic medal in the sport
  • Israel Horovitz, playwright and screenwriter born March 31, 1939 in Wakefield. His oeuvre includes several plays about Wakefield, collected in a book known as The Wakefield Plays. Horovitz passed away on November 9, 2020 at the age of 81. Beastie Boy Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz is the son of Israel Horovitz
  • Mark Kumpel, member of the 1984 US Olympic ice hockey team and former NHL player with the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques, and the Detroit Red Wings
Buffy Sainte Marie spent part of her childhood in Wakefield.
John Anthony Volpe was born in and lived in Wakefield.
Rachel Levine, incumbent United States Assistant Secretary for Health, grew up in Wakefield.
  • Dave Lapham, former NFL player with the Cincinnati Bengals, former USFL player with the New Jersey Generals, current member of the Cincinnati Bengal radio broadcast team
  • Rachel Levine, pediatrician who served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health from 2017 to 2021, and who is currently Assistant Secretary for Health in the Biden administration. Levine is the first openly transgender four-star officer in the nation's eight uniformed services
  • John Lilley, member of the 1994 US Olympic ice hockey team and former NHL player with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
  • Buffy (Beverly) Sainte Marie, folksinger and composer, born in Canada but raised in Wakefield, graduating from Wakefield Memorial High School in 1958
  • James Massone, former contestant on season 2 of the NBC program The Voice
  • A. David Mazzone, Judge for the U.S. District Court in Boston from 1978 until 2004. He is best known for the 1985 court decision mandating the cleanup of Boston Harbor, which ultimately cost $3.8 billion and resulted in the construction of the Deer Island wastewater treatment plant. Mazzone lived in Wakefield from 1959 until his death in 2004
  • Charlie Moore, host of NESN's Charlie Moore Outdoors
  • Marcia Pankratz, member of the 1988 and 1996 Olympic field hockey team and former head coach of field hockey at the University of Michigan
  • Jimmy Pedro, multiple Olympic medalist in judo and former world champion
  • Louis Sullivan, architect considered the father of modernism, born in Boston but lived in Wakefield with his grandparents during his school years
  • Richard Tisei, former Massachusetts State Senate Minority Leader and former candidate for Lt. Governor
  • John Anthony Volpe, three-time Republican governor of Massachusetts, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Ambassador to Italy; born in Wakefield in 1908

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