(pronounced "lemon-ster") is a city
in Worcester County
, United States
. The population was 41,303 at the 2000 census. Leominster is located north of Worcester
and west of Boston
. Both Route 2
and Route 12
pass through Leominster. Interstate 190
, Route 13
, and Route 117
all have starting/ending points in Leominster. Leominster is bounded by Fitchburg
to the north, Lancaster
to the east, Sterling
to the south, and Westminster
to the west.
Before European settlement, various divisions of the Pennacook
tribes inhabited the area, with a settlement nearby called Nashua. Leominster was first settled in 1653, was officially incorporated in 1740, and incorporated as a city in 1915. Leominster is now known as "The Pioneer Plastics City" because of its thriving plastics
industry from the early part of the twentieth century to present day and as "The Home of Street Hockey" due to its contributions to the game. Leominster and Fitchburg
are commonly known as the twin cities in the area because of their similar populations, their shared history of industry, and their location on the Nashua River
Leominster was also a major contributor in the Underground Railroad. The Emory Stearn Schoolhouse and the John Drake home, both on Franklin Street, led anti-slavery campaigns and helped house slaves on their journey to freedom.
The Plastics Industry
The city of Leominster has played a more significant role in the establishment and progress of plastics than any other city in the United States. The Plastics Industry started with the comb industry in 1770s which has flourished in Leominster ever since. Early combs were made of animal shell, horn, and hooves; by the mid 1800s, these supplies were dwindling rapidly. Everything changed when in 1868 John Wesley Hyatt invented a material made from cellulose nitrate, to which he gave the name "celluloid". Celluloid was hard, durable, and easy to shape and mold when heated to a certain temperature. Leominster's facilities for horn fabrication rapidly become the center for plastic fabrication in the United States. Leominster used celluloid not only for combs but also for toys, cutlery handles, optical frames, buttons, and novelties of all shapes and sizes. Most celluloid manufacturing was later changed to cellulose acetate which did not burn as quickly. The peak of the plastics industry in Leominster was between 1900 and 1920. The plastics industry was Leominster's largest employer. Unfortunately, in the late 1920s women's styles were changing rapidly; hair was worn shorter with no need for elaborate combs. With the advent of the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and did not end until the end of World War II, Leominster's plastics industry went into a decline.
In May 1919 Sam Foster Jr
. and his only employee, Grace Goodhue, started the Foster Manufacturing Company. The company started in a small laundry and adjacent house on Manning Avenue. The work the company did was subcontracted from the Viscoloid Company and other Leominster manufacturers. Sam Foster knew that he needed to manufacture his own products if he wanted his company to survive. The first product produced was jewelry
. Sam then decided he needed a salesman. Sam hired William Grant, who was made a partner in the business and was responsible for sales. The name was changed to Foster Grant
Company, Inc. Grant only lasted a couple months but, with no money left to legally change the name back, the company remained Foster Grant.
In 1920, Goody Hair Products
, a New York City
-based firm, started ordering products from Foster Grant. Foster Grant was getting national recognition and an increase in orders from various companies. The factory was moved to a three-building complex on Lancaster Street with a total in 1924. Sam Foster learned about the technique of injection molding and brought it to the United States via his Foster Grant factory. Mr. Grant quickly turning Foster Grant into one of the leading plastic manufacturers in the country. Due to the growth of the company, Sam Foster hired his son Joe to be the company's representative in New York. Joe Foster moved the company to national prominence with the sale of plastic notepads with attached crayons--one of Sam's inventions--to Woolworth's
. The order was for three thousand gross at about twenty-five thousand dollars, the largest order by far the company had filled. Sometime between 1927 and 1929 Sam Foster designed the first ever Foster Grant sunglasses
. The first sunglasses were sold for 10 cents, but were viewed as childish, until Hollywood movie stars were seen and photographed wearing the sunglasses in sunny southern California. The sunglasses industry exploded in the 1930s and expanded through the 50's, 60's, 70's. During World War II, due to the lack of consumer demand for plastic, Joe Foster began selling plastic to the military; during this period, 80% of the company's profit came from military contracts.
Foster Grant continued to grow, and eventually went international. Sam Foster retired from Foster Grant in 1942 at age 59 and Joe Foster died on November 10, 1971. The company was sold and moved from Leominster in 1986.
The Dupont Viscoloid Company
The Viscoloid Company was incorporated in 1901. Founded by Alexander Paton, the president of the company. He was accompanied by Ludwig Stross and his Secretary and Treasurer Bernard Doyle.
In 1902, the partners started the Sterling Comb company which made dress combs and other hair ornaments. The men owned the Viscoloid Company, Harvard Novelty Company, and the Paton Company, but in 1912 the companies were consolidated under the name Viscoloid Company and later the Viscoloid Company Inc. By 1923, the company's capital reached three million dollars and had become the largest employer in Leominster. That same year, Alexander Paton resigned and Bernard Doyle became Chief Executive. He remained Chief until 1925 when the company merged with The Dupont company. The name was then changed The Dupont Viscoloid Company. The company was the largest in the city making dress combs, brushes, mirrors, toilet articles, hair ornaments, and other novelties.
Union Products first conceived the idea of plastic lawn ornaments in 1946. Unfortunately, the first ones were two-dimensional and not very well designed. In 1956, the company decided to hire an artist to correct the problem. They turned to the prestigious Worcester Art Museum
School in Worcester, Massachusetts
for candidates, ultimately hiring Don Featherstone
His first project was a duck named “Charlie the Duck"; it was modeled after a real duck that Mr. Featherstone kept at his studio. Charlie met with moderate success, but Mr. Featherstone was sure that he could do better. Using flamingo pictures from National Geographic, he created a clay sculpture of the famous bird. The company made aluminum molds and the pink flamingo
During the 1950’s, vast numbers of families were moving into ranch houses in new suburban developments. The new homes were affordable and comfortable, but employed a repetitive “cookie-cutter” design. The new homeowners now had lawns and a desire to publicly express their tastes. The sales of Leominster’s native bird took off. Since then, sales have had their ups and downs over the years, the birds occasionally being replaced in popular fashion by more tasteful rabbits or less tasteful gnomes. During the 1980s, sales increased dramatically because of the successful television show “Miami Vice
” where the birds gave a strong but understated and uncredited performance as show regulars.
Today, they are purchased for uses as varied as wedding decorations, house warming gifts, or to humorously mark a birthday.
Authentic Leominster pink flamingos have Don Featherstone’s signature under their tails, a yellow beak with black tip, and are only sold in pairs.
The city is divided into several small "villages
" such as French Hill, a large hill covered in planned blocks of "triple decker
" apartment houses
located from 1st Street to 12th Street. It is called French Hill because this is where the large immigrant French population took root. In the early 1900s, on Lincoln Terrace, immigrating Italian families began to arrive in the area and built a semi-closed society which existed for many years. The French population built a new church and moved closer to it. Other areas include Morse Hollow, North Leominster
, Rice Hill, the Flats, the West Side, and the Car Barn
area, located along the Fitchburg border. A granite marker showing the birth place of Johnny Appleseed
can be found on Johnny Appleseed Lane.
Leominster is commonly referred to as "Frenchtown" because of its large French Canadian
population. This name was coined by author Robert Cormier
(who grew up on French Hill) in his book, Frenchtown Summer
. Leominster is also called the "Pioneer Plastics
City" because of its early role in plastics manufacturing. It was also called the "Comb City". The National Plastics Center & Museum
is located in Leominster. One would be hard pressed to walk through a large department store or supermarket today and not find some plastic product from Leominster.
Leominster is named after the market town of Leominster in Herefordshire, England. The city name is not pronounced as spelled, "Leo" followed by "minster"; locals refer to the city as "Lemon-stah" in the Eastern New England dialect. However, it is commonly referred to in standard pronunciation as "Lemon-stir". It is also referred to as the "city of dreams." (Leominster, England is pronounced in fewer syllables yet, as if it were spelled Lemster.)
Leominster High School has had a long tradition of Massachusetts Division 1 sports. Basketball, baseball, tennis, and track have become popular sports. Football has emerged as the main competitive sport. Leominster has 10 State Championships second to only Brockton who has 11. Leominster High's football team has faced Fitchburg High School's team since 1894 and have met each other 125 consecutive years and 103 consecutive years on Thanksgiving, one of the longest Thanksgiving Day
rivalries in the state. Both teams have been very competitive, but Fitchburg leads the series 58-57-9. Leominster has lost three consecutive super bowls to Longmeadow, Massachusetts
. The last Superbowl win was by the dominating 2003 squad who crushed upon Minnechaug, MA.
Emile Johnson, the long-time Leominster High School baseball coach, has the most career wins in the state of Massachusetts; he is still coaching today. The Leominster High School Blue Devils baseball team has earned three Division 1 State Championships, most in the state of Massachusetts, and is a regular contender.
Visually, the most spectacular group to come out of Leominster High School is its award-winning Blue Devil Marching Band (www.bluedevilmarching.com) The band, under the direction of Barry Hudson, plays at more than thirty school and municipal events each year. With over seventy members, the marching band is an organization of the school's most talented and respectful students. The Music Department also boasts a Jazz Band, known to play throughout the city at both public and private events.
Doyle Field: Leominster plays at Doyle Field dedicated to the city by Mayor Bernard W. Doyle in 1929. The original stadium included a press box, bleachers for 6,200 people, and additional portable bleachers that could be placed in the end zone making seating for nearly 10,000 fans. Doyle field was dedicated on October 10, 1931. Doyle had spent $200,000 on the project. 2005 was the start of the Doyle Field Renovation Project. The project consists a three-phase plan to update the complex. Phase One will cost an estimated $4 million The Phase includes improving the bowl land form, replacing bleachers, installing new turf, constructing an Entertainment Plaza and Pavilion for cultural events, building new locker rooms, providing concession stands and restrooms, replacing the media box, and installing new ticket booths.
In 1988, the Leominster High School Blue Devils football team defeated the USA Today top ranked high school team in the nation, the Brockton Boxers by a score of 27-12 before a crowd of 11,000 at a noisy and jubilant Doyle Field.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 29.8 square miles (77.1 km²
), of which, 28.9 square miles (74.8 km²) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it is water. The total area is 2.96% water.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 41,303 people, 16,491 households, and 10,900 families residing in the city. The population density
was 1,430.3 people per square mile (552.2/km²). There were 16,976 housing units at an average density of 587.9/sq mi (227.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.50% White
, 3.70% African American
, 0.15% Native American
, 2.44% Asian
, 0.06% Pacific Islander
, 4.32% from other races
, and 2.21% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 11.00% of the population.
There were 16,491 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.05.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,893, and the median income for a family was $54,660. Males had a median income of $41,013 versus $30,201 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,769. About 7.2% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
- 1940 - 22,226
- 1950 - 24,075
- 1960 - 27,929
- 1970 - 32,939
- 1980 - 34,508
- 1990 - 38,145
- 2000 - 41,303
- 2005 - 42,000
- St. Anna's Elementary School
- St. Leo's Elementary School
- Bright Beginnings Preschool
Approved Special Education School:
- Lipton Academy
- North Leominster Community College for The Blind and Deaf
- Mount Wachusett Community College - Leominster Campus
Points of interest
(which currently houses a branch of the local fire department
) and City Hall
are two major landmarks in the city. Others can be seen in this slide show
of local places.
Other than the triangle-shaped common
in downtown, and the various parks
like Barrett and Carter, Leominster is home to two large forest parks. One, the Doyle Reservation
, is home to the local branch
of the Trustees of Reservations
. The other large forest park is the Leominster State Forest
. This is a large state forest
and is home to hiking and multi-use trails, some of which connect with the Midstate Trail
. Leominster is a hilly city and provides plenty of hiking with great views.
The renovations at Doyle Field have given the teams of Leominster High School some of the best playing fields in the area. However, the track is not being resurfaced and will be torn up in the next few years. This will leave the Leominster High School track team, which already cannot have home meets because of the poor condition of the track, without a practice track. Over the years, Leominster has provided some of the state's best runners.
Sholan Farms is the latest tourist attraction to the city. This apple orchard offers a large variety of apples, a great view, and a historic and scenic look into the area's agricultural history. This orchard is home to festivals and functions and is a source of local pride. Sholan Farms is 123 years old, purchased from Chief Sholan of the Nashaway (Nashua) tribe in 1701.
service from Boston's North Station
is provided by the MBTA
with a stop in North Leominster on its Fitchburg Line
Extensive Bus transportation is also provided by the Montachusett Area Regional Transit Authority or MART. This service operates specifically in Leominster, Fitchburg, and Gardner
- Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx
- John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, American pioneer nurseryman
- Robert Cormier, author of The Chocolate War
- David I. Walsh, Former Governor of Massachusetts and U.S. Senator
- James Nachtwey, award-winning war photographer
- Mark Osowski, former NBA assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, and the Cleveland Cavaliers
- R. A. Salvatore, fantasy/science-fiction author
- Paul DiGiovani, guitarist of popular rock band Boys Like Girls