Sheffield MA

Sheffield’ is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 3,335 at the 2000 census. Sheffield is home to the Berkshire School, a private preparatory school. The resort town includes the village of Ashley Falls.


View of Sheffield in 1839

Originally called Outhotonnook, meaning "over the mountain," the land was purchased on April 25, 1724 from Chief Konkapot and 20 other Stockbridge Mahican Indians But New York concurrently 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 incinerated 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 set off and incorporated as Great Barrington in 2000. 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 48.5 square miles (125.7 km²), of which, 48.2 square miles (124.7 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (0.80%) 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, Connecticut and Salisbury, Connecticut; on the west by Mount Washington; and on the northwest by Egremont. Sheffield is 27 miles south of Pittsfield, 47 miles west of Springfield, and 134 miles west of Boston.

The town lies along 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 east, Mount Everett, part of the Taconic Range peaks in 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 Route 7A also lies entirely within the town, starting between the town center and Ashley Falls and extending over the Connecticut state border before reconnecting with the highway. 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 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.


Hotel Elmhurst in 1909

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 3,335 people, 1,369 households, and 911 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 69.3 people per square mile (26.7/km²), which ranks 17th in the county and 301st in the Commonwealth. There were 1,634 housing units at an average density of 33.9/sq mi (13.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.36% White, 1.05% African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.54% from other races, and 0.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.32% of the population. 16% English, 15% Irish, 11% German, 10% Italian and 7% French.

There were 1,369 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.4% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.94.

Elm Court in 1920

In the town the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.

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.


Sheffield Town Hall and the Old Stone Store

Sheffield employs the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen and a town administrator. The town operates its own services, including police, fire and public works departments, as well as a senior center and anmial control officers. The town library, the Bushnell-Sage Library, was founded in 1901 and is connected to the regional library system. The town’s nearest hospital, the Fairview Hospital, is located in neighboring Great Barrington.

On the state level, Sheffield is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Fourth Berkshire district, which covers southern Berkshire County, as well as the westernmost towns in Hampden County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties.[2] The town is patrolled by the First (Lee) Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police.[3]

On the national level, Sheffield is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts’s 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherst since June 1991. Massachusetts is currently represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator John Kerry and interim junior senator Paul Kirk.[4] A special election is scheduled to be held on January 19, 2010 to fill the Class 1 seat currently held by Kirk.[5]


Sheffield is the central town of the five towns that operate the Southern Berkshire Regional School District (a sixth town, Mount Washington, also sends students to the district’s schools). Sheffield students, as well as Mount Washington students, attend the Undermountain School from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades (all students in the district attend the school in fifth and sixth grades). Mount Everett Regional School is located in town, and hosts students in the district for grades 7-12.[6] 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 College, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington..

 Sites of interest

 Notable residents

Scene near Sheffield in c. 1920


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Senators and Representatives by City and Town
  3. ^ Station B-1, SP Lee
  4. ^ "Kirk to be interim senator". 
  5. ^ Governor sets date for special Senate election, presses for interim appointment
  6. ^ Southern Berkshire Regional School District homepage

 External links


from wikipedia

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