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Harvard #2: Central MA’s Best Communities

Friday, June 29, 2012



# 2 Harvard is home to the Fruitlands Museum, which was originally the Harvard Shaker Village. Originally a farming community, the town remains rural, with woods, small rolling hills, fields and wetlands.

The town also has several apple orchards and a highly regarded school system.

Harvard is one of only two communities to claim the top rank in two categories: education and economic condition.  The town also ranks 10th for arts and culture, but it is 70th for affordability.  

Photo courtesy of Andrew Watson

Harvard by the numbers

Established: 1732
Population: 6,520
Median household income: $141,274
Median housing price: $586,000

2012 Best Communities rankings
Overall ranking: 2
Affordability ranking: 70
Education ranking: 1
Economic condition ranking: 1
Safety ranking: 14
Arts & Culture ranking: 10
Restaurant ranking: 52


History in a nutshell:
The town of Harvard was home to many various utopian and new-thought societies. Transcendentalist Amos Alcott, with young daughter Louisa May Alcott, and Charles Lane attempted to create a socialist farm called the Fruitlands, which only last seven months. In 1905 the town became home to the Harvard Shaker Village--a utopian society that advocated celibacy, self-denial and communal ownership of property. Another movement appeared in 1918 when Harvard resident Henry George attempted to create a single tax zone in the town which survived only 20 years.

Famous residents:  

Amos Bronson Alcott – teacher, writer Louisa May Alcott – novelist, daughter of Amos Alcott
Tabitha Babbitt – tool maker
Adam Dziewonski – geophysicist
Jonathan Edwards – musician
Fannie Farmer – cookbook author
Lynn Jennings – Olympic runner
Charles Lane –Transcendentalist
Ann Lee – Shaker founder
Keir O'Donnell – Australian actor
Clara Endicott Sears – founder of Fruitlands Museum
Ted Sizer – educational reform leader

Famous residents source: Wikipedia
Additional reporting by Grace Fenton


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