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About Westminster

Town History
The Town of Westminster is a suburban hill town which was originally the six-square mile Narragansett Township Number 2, granted to veterans and heirs of veterans of King Philip's War in 1728. The initial grants to settlers were of 60-acre parcels, and in the Colonial period the town fit the description of a poor agrarian community.

Formerly used by Indians for hunting and fishing, the town was actually founded in 1733, although the first permanent settlement of the town didn't take place until 1737. Westminster was incorporated as a town in 1759, but the community wasn't accepted as a town until 1770. The community had been garrisoned as an outpost in the French and Indian Wars during the 1740's.

Every homeowner was a farmer in those early days and some set up sawmills, grain mills and shops to provide other necessities.

By 1820, Westminster's diversity of religious affiliation was great enough to force the town to stop supporting a single minister with public taxes. There were Armenians, Unitarians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists and Universalists in the town.

The community took a moderate position during Shays Rebellion, recommending release of the insurgents who had been captured but registering its opposition to the court system.

The "new" road to Fitchburg was built in 1835, and the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad reached town in 1848.

By 1900 East-West electric streetcar service was established from Fitchburg to Gardner through Westminster center.

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Local Industry
Early on, Westminster became a bustling industrial community with chair manufacturing the chief occupation, in addition to paper and textile mills and brickmaking. When the railroad constructed their tracks only in the northern part of town, most businesses needing access moved to Gardner or Fitchburg leaving the town without major industry and enabling the center of Westminster to remain much as it was at the turn of the century, and thus to maintain its quaint New England country charm and flavor.

In the early 20th century, townspeople made chairs and manufactured paper while an unusually large influx of Finnish immigrants took over the old farms in town and settled into an agricultural lifestyle.

Today's industries are diverse -- from small family owned businesses to large corporations.

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Recent Growth
Suburban development of the town on attractive lakeside sites and in sections of town with views of Wachusett Mountain has been a key focus of Westminster's modern day growth.

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