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Established in 1715 by a grant from Edward Hopkins to Harvard University, the town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts demonstrates key transitions in the New England and American history, including the transition from agriculture to manufacturing and the more modern post-industrial trends. The town’s claim to fame is its hosting of the start of the Boston Marathon each April.


In 1715, the trustees of Harvard University incorporated the town of Hopkinton with funds donated by Edward Hopkins. The town began with an agricultural economy focused on grains. This is different than the typical New England town as most of New England farmers were sharecroppers who farmed for their family and their individual needs, as the rocky soil in New England did not sustain large plantations. In 1840’s shoe making factories began opening in the town and by 1850 eleven factories were open, transitioning the town to an economy based on manufacturing. Through the rise of factory towns and a series of fires in 1882 the industry left the town. 

In modern times Hopkinton became a typical suburban town in Massachusetts with most occupants being employed in metropolitan areas like the neighboring city of Boston, although it is becoming a tech hub, hosting the corporate headquarters for Dell EMC, a business software solutions company. The towns racial makeup is 90% white, serving as a reminder of the complicated racial issues that not only faced the south, but northern towns and cities as well. 

The towns system of government is in an open town hall style where residents input solutions for big issues facing the town in a system of quasi-direct democracy. The day to day decisions are made by a group of Town Selectmen. The only major change to the towns system of government since its founding was the adding of a Town Manager in 2007 to serve as an executive. 

Hopkinton Historical Property Survey Reports - Center Historic District. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://sites.google.com/hopkintonma.gov/historical-properties/HCHD

This website provided a list of properties listed under the Hopkinton Historical District, including many historic homes, a school building, and local businesses and churches. The district also includes an old city hall building which is now home to many local businesses. Also, through Hopkinton’s town website, I found information pertaining to the initial economy and the transitions since its inception. I also found a thumbnail image on their website.

Hopper, G. E. (1997). Hopkinton. Dover, NH: Arcadia.

Through this source, a visual history of Hopkinton, Massachusetts told through images and historical anecdotes, I was able to glean a better understanding of the history of Hopkinton, specifically the era after photography was invented. There were pictures of a schoolhouse when it first opened in 1911, several stories about community activism, and some notable fires in the town. This book allowed for a different perspective on Hopkinton’s history and provided images of the buildings now preserved in the historical district when they were new and in their initial intended use.