Methuen, Massachusetts

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Methuen, Massachusetts
Methuen City Hall - 2006.jpg
Methuen City Hall
Essex County Massachusetts incorporated and unincorporated areas Methuen highlighted.svg
Location in Essex County and the state of Massachusetts.
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Red pog.svg
Methuen, Massachusetts
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 42°43′34″N71°11′29″W / 42.72611°N 71.19139°W / 42.72611; -71.19139 Coordinates: 42°43′34″N71°11′29″W / 42.72611°N 71.19139°W / 42.72611; -71.19139
CountryUnited States
State Massachusetts
County Essex
IncorporatedDecember 8, 1725
Incorporated a city1917
Named for Sir Paul Methuen
  Type Mayor-council
  MayorNeil Perry
  Total22.99 sq mi (59.55 km2)
  Land22.21 sq mi (57.53 km2)
  Water0.78 sq mi (2.02 km2)
115 ft (35 m)
  Density2,388.75/sq mi (922.29/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code 351 / 978
FIPS code 25-40710
GNIS feature ID0612337

Methuen ( /mɛˈθɛn/ ) is a 23 square mile (60 km2) city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 53,059 at the 2020 census. [2] Methuen lies along the northwestern edge of Essex County, just east of Middlesex County and just south of Rockingham County, New Hampshire. The city is bordered by Haverhill to the northeast, North Andover to the southeast, Lawrence and Andover to the south, Dracut (Middlesex County) to the west, Pelham, New Hampshire (Hillsborough County) to the northwest, and Salem, New Hampshire (Rockingham County) to the north. Methuen is located 17 miles (27 km) southwest from Newburyport, 30 miles (48 km) north-northwest of Boston and 25 miles (40 km) south-southeast of Manchester, New Hampshire.



Methuen was first settled in 1642 and was officially incorporated in 1726. Methuen was originally part of Haverhill, Massachusetts. In 1724 Stephen Barker and others in the western part of that town petitioned the General Court to grant them permission to form a new town above Hawke's Meadow Brook. Although opposed by their fellow townsmen, the petition was approved the following year (December 8, 1725), and the General Court gave them an act of incorporation under the name of Methuen. The town was named for Sir Paul Methuen, a member of the King's Privy Council and friend of acting Provincial Governor William Dummer. The first town meeting was held March 9, 1726, in the home of a resident. Land was set aside for a meetinghouse, which was erected later in 1726 on what is now Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery. [3]

The residents in the northern part of the new town of Methuen soon petitioned to have their own meetinghouse (a combination of town hall and puritan church), and in 1736 the north parish was set off. Land for a meetinghouse was donated by descendants of the original proprietors of Haverhill, and in 1738 the second Methuen meetinghouse was raised. The structure survives to this day, as the Salem N.H. Historical Society building. In 1741, with the fixing of the Northern boundary of Massachusetts, most of this new north parish was removed from Methuen and placed in New Hampshire. It was incorporated as Salem, New Hampshire in 1750. [3]

Industrial growth in the 1800s influenced Methuen's development. Construction of the Methuen Cotton Mills at the Spicket River falls in the 1820s and the increased manufacture of hats and shoes in small factories along the Spicket spurred the centralization of Methuen's economic, residential and cultural activities within the area around Osgood, Broadway, Hampshire and Pleasant streets. Three wealthy and prominent families—the Nevins, the Tenneys and the Searles—played a significant role in Methuen's history and development. These families were instrumental in the founding of many of Methuen's landmarks, including the Nevins Memorial Library, the Searles building, Tenney Gatehouse, Nevins Home, Spicket Falls, and the Civil War monument between Pleasant and Charles streets. [4]


Methuen is located at 42°43′48″N71°10′46″W / 42.73000°N 71.17944°W / 42.73000; -71.17944 (42.730040, −71.179352). [5] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.1 square miles (59.7 km2), of which 22.2 square miles (57.6 km2) is land and 0.77 square miles (2.0 km2), or 3.42%, is water. [6]

Methuen lies alongside the northern banks of the Merrimack River and is bisected by the Spicket (originally "Spigot") River, [7] as well as many brooks and streams. There are several ponds dotting the area as well, and the town is home to a town forest, a bird sanctuary, and a small state park (Tenney State Park). Pine Island, near the southern end of town in the Merrimack River, is also part of the town's land.


Methuen lies at the northern end of Interstate 93 in Massachusetts, with three exits providing access. A portion of Interstate 495 crosses through the eastern side of town from Lawrence to Haverhill. Massachusetts Route 213, the "Loop Connector", provides highway access between the two, having three intermediate exits of its own, in addition to the exits for I-93 and I-495. The town is also crossed by Route 28, Route 110, and Route 113, the latter two meeting at I-93 Exit 43 (old exit 46). I-93 provides the town's only bridge across the Merrimack; there are several crossings in Lawrence, and several in neighboring Haverhill, but none for 7 miles (11 km) upstream from I-93 all the way to the eastern end of Lowell.

Methuen is served by the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority's bus service. Daily intercity bus service to Worcester and New York City is provided by OurBus from the Methuen Park and Ride. The nearest rail station is in South Lawrence, which is part of the Haverhill/Reading Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail, providing service into Boston's North Station. Small plane service can be found at Lawrence Municipal Airport and the Merrimack Valley Seaplane Base, with the nearest national service being at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and the nearest international service being at Logan International Airport.


Historical population
1840 2,251    
1850 2,538+12.7%
1860 2,566+1.1%
1870 2,959+15.3%
1880 4,392+48.4%
1890 4,814+9.6%
1900 7,512+56.0%
1910 11,448+52.4%
1920 15,189+32.7%
1930 21,069+38.7%
1940 21,880+3.8%
1950 24,477+11.9%
1960 28,114+14.9%
1970 35,456+26.1%
1980 36,701+3.5%
1990 39,990+9.0%
2000 43,789+9.5%
2010 47,255+7.9%
2020 53,059+12.3%
* = population estimate.
Source: United States census records and Population Estimates Program data. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]
U.S. Decennial Census [18]

As of the census [19] of 2000, there were 43,789 people, 16,532 households, and 11,539 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,954.7 persons per square mile (754.8/km2). There were 16,885 housing units, at an average density of 753.7 per square mile (291.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.35% White, 1.35% African American, 0.22% Native American, 2.38% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 4.87% from other races, and 1.82% from two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos, of any race, were 9.64% of the population (8.4% Dominican, 5.7% Puerto Rican, 0.6% Guatemalan, 0.3% Ecuadorian, 0.3% Mexican, 0.3% Cuban).

There were 16,532 households, of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $49,627, and the median income for a family was $59,831. Males had a median income of $41,693 versus $31,864 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,305. About 5.8% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.


Historically, Methuen had a town meeting-selectmen form of government and was known as the Town of Methuen until it adopted a charter replacing its traditional town meeting and selectmen with a council and manager. Even with a form of government that had historically and legally been exclusive to cities, the community, in a gesture of traditionalism, retained the name Town of Methuen in its charter. [20] However, because Massachusetts cities have self-governing powers not available to towns, it became known for legal purposes as "The City Known as the Town of Methuen". A subsequent charter, which adopted a strong mayor form of government, officially changed the community name to the "City of Methuen".

Nevins Memorial Library Nevins Memorial Library.jpg
Nevins Memorial Library

Methuen's city government consists of a mayor, three Councilors-at-Large, two East District councilors, two Central District councilors, two West District councilors, and six School Committee members. The following are the current members of Methuen's municipal government: [21]

Methuen is part of the Massachusetts Senate's 1st Essex district. [22]

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 17, 2018 [23]
PartyNumber of VotersPercentage
Republican 4,03111.56%
Democratic 11,32232.46%
Libertarian 1240.36%


Methuen High School Methuen High School, Methuen MA.jpg
Methuen High School

Public schools

Private schools

Nicholson Stadium, home of the Methuen Rangers Nicholson Stadium.jpg
Nicholson Stadium, home of the Methuen Rangers


Methuen High School's athletic teams play in the Merrimack Valley Conference. Their big rivals are the Andover Golden Warriors, the Central Catholic Raiders of Lawrence, and the Haverhill Hillies. On Thanksgiving Day, the football team plays fellow Merrimack Valley foe the Dracut Middies. The teams first met in a non-Thanksgiving Day game in 1935 and did not play again until the Thanksgiving series started in 1963. The school colors are blue and white, and their mascot is the Ranger, named after Rogers' Rangers, the precursor of the U.S. Army Rangers, which was founded by town resident Robert Rogers.

Methuen Memorial Music Hall Methuen Organ Hall.jpg
Methuen Memorial Music Hall

Historic district

The Searles Tenney Nevins Historic District, established by the city in 1992 to preserve the "distinctive architecture and rich character of one of Massachusetts' most unique neighborhoods", is named after the three Methuen city fathers: David C. Nevins, Edward F. Searles and Charles H. Tenney.

From the City of Methuen:

Today, the trio's collective vision can be seen in mills, housing, schools, mansions, churches, monuments, playgrounds, the library, and the architectural fantasies that resulted from their artistic rivalry. The historic district boundaries were established to include properties and buildings constructed or used by the Searles, Tenney and Nevins families and the people who worked for them. [25]

The historic district is administered by the Methuen Historic District Commission, which protects the district from alterations that might compromise its historic integrity. Property owners within the historic district must obey the Rules and Regulations of the Historic District Commission. The rules and regulations specify general criteria for materials used, size and proportions of the buildings, colors, as well as other features. Any violation of the rules and regulations can result in fines and other possible legal action. [26]

Bounded within the Searles Tenney Nevins Historic District are the Spicket Falls Historic District and the Pleasant-High Historic District. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many of the other buildings within the area. [27]

Points of interest

Notable people

See also

Notable Court Cases:


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