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Gardner #55: Central MA’s Best Communities

Monday, June 25, 2012

 

Gardner

The city of Gardner is today's highest ranking community, coming in at #55.

Dubbed the "Furniture Capital of New England" and "Chair City," Gardner is still home to a number of furniture outlets.  One of the few cities on the list, Gardner also is home to Dunn State Park, Gardner Heritage State Park, Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary, the Greater Gardner Municpal Golf Course and Mount Wachusett Community College, which provide a variety of educational and cultural options for both residents and visitors.  

Gardner scores very well in the affordability category, ranking 17th, and in the top half of Central Mass for arts and culture (#29), but the city's low safety (#68) and economic condition (#61) ranks pull down the overall ranking.  

 

This painting of Gardner's Largest Chair in the World is a tribute to the town's manufacturing history.

Gardner by the numbers

Established: 1785
Population: 20,228
Median household income: $48,333
Median housing price: $110,000

2012 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 55
Affordability ranking: 17
Education ranking: 58
Economic condition ranking: 61
Safety ranking: 68
Arts & Culture ranking: 29

History in a nutshell:

Known as "The Chair City," and the "Furniture Capital of New England, Gardner has a thriving furniture industry. The town, settled in 1764 and then incorporated in 1785, benefited from the surrounding natural resources and, as a result developed its lumber and, more importantly, its furniture industry. Led by B.F. Heywood & Co., Gardner was home to 20 chair factories in its heyday, which produced 4 million chairs per year.
 

Famous residents:  

Jacques Cesaire, NFL defensive end
Mark Gearan, Head of Peace Corps under President Bill Clinton
Lucy Stone, Women's rights activist

Notable residents source: Wikipedia 
Additional reporting by Grace Fenton

 

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