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Somerset, Massachusetts

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Somerset, Massachusetts

Somerset, Massachusetts
Brightman Street Bridge, taken from the Somerset side of the Taunton River
Brightman Street Bridge, taken from the Somerset side of the Taunton River
Official seal of Somerset, Massachusetts
Location in Bristol County in Massachusetts
Location in Bristol County in Massachusetts
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Bristol
Settled 1677
Incorporated 1790
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 12.0 sq mi (31.0 km2)
 • Land 8.1 sq mi (21.0 km2)
 • Water 3.9 sq mi (10.0 km2)
Elevation 50 ft (15 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 18,165
 • Density 1,500/sq mi (590/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02725, 02726
Area code(s) 508 / 774
FIPS code 25-62430
GNIS feature ID 0619438

Somerset is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 18,165 at the 2010 census.[1] It is the birthplace and hometown of Clifford Milburn Holland (1883–1924), the chief engineer and namesake of the Holland Tunnel in New York City.


Somerset was first settled in 1677 on the Shawomet lands, and was officially incorporated in 1790. It was named for Somerset Square in Boston, which was, in turn, named for the county of Somerset in England. It was once a vital shipping point, and after the War of 1812 it was one of America's chief distribution points. In 1872, it became the site of a major coal port, and in the early 20th century a large cannery existed in the town. However, as neighboring Fall River's industry grew, it absorbed much of Somerset's, and the town took on more of a suburban character. In fact, the town's population grew during the Great Depression, as many people from Fall River and other localities moved to the suburb. Today, the town's major industry (other than suburban services) is power generation, with the Montaup Electric Company plant upriver (founded in 1923) and the Brayton Point Power Plant at the town's southern tip (founded in 1963). Brayton Point has been the target of much criticism for its pollution problems.[2]

Historically, the town has had a connective relationship with Fall River. Originally, Slade's Ferry ran across the Taunton River to connect the two towns since the late 18th century. In the late 19th century, the Slade's Ferry Bridge connected the two towns, from the current southern terminus of Brayton Avenue in Somerset to Brownell Street in Fall River, and was double-decked, with a railroad section on the top level. The bridge was dismantled after closing in 1970 due to its rapid deterioration and its low height. (The path of the old bridge is still somewhat visible; two large sets of power lines cross the river at the same point.) The Brightman Street Bridge just to the north was opened in 1908. A new bridge, named the Veterans Memorial Bridge, was partially completed prior to a dedication ceremony held on September 11, 2011. At first, only the westbound side of the bridge was open to traffic. Since then, both lanes of the bridge have been opened for traffic.[3]


Somerset is located at (41.748502, -71.153188).[4] According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 12.0 square miles (31 km2), of which 8.1 square miles (21 km2) is land and 3.9 square miles (10 km2), or 32.30%, is water. It borders on Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay, and its east border is formed by the Taunton River, an arm of that bay.

Somerset is bordered by Swansea on the west, Dighton on the north, Fall River on the east (across the Taunton River), and Bristol, Rhode Island, to the south. The border with Bristol is located in the middle of the bay. Cities close to Somerset include Fall River, New Bedford, and Providence, and the town is one hour's drive south of Boston.

The town is accessed via Interstate 195, which enters the town via the Braga Bridge from Fall River and has an exit at Route 103. It is also connected via the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the fourth bridge to cross the Taunton River between the town and city. The Veterans Memorial Bridge carries U.S. Route 6 and Route 138 across the river. Route 6 heads east-west towards Swansea, with several shopping plazas along the route. Route 138 travels north from the bridge along County Street, the town's main north-south thoroughfare, towards Dighton. Route 103's eastern terminus lies at the former intersection of Routes 6 and 138 just south of the new bridge. It heads south-southeast for three-quarters of a mile before turning west-northwest towards Swansea, crossing into that town at a bridge over Lee's River. Due to the controversy in Fall River over the proposed building of an LNG terminal, town officials have consider keeping the old Brightman Street Bridge open, as the tankers would not fit through it, and the terminal's proposed site is upriver of the bridges. However, as of the opening of the new bridge, the bridge is closed, as the old roads leading to it on the Fall River side have been removed to make way for the new bridge's ramp system.

Somerset has bus service along Route 6 provided by the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). The nearest regional bus service is in Fall River, and the nearest rail service is in Providence. There are plans in the works to bring commuter rail service to Fall River, which would give the town rail access to Boston. The town's nearest regional airport is in New Bedford, 18 miles (29 km) away. Until the late 1990s, the nearest airport was in Fall River; however, the airport closed due to various issues. The nearest national airport is T. F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, 27 miles (43 km) away. The nearest international airport is Logan International Airport, 55 miles (89 km) away in Boston.


As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 18,234 people, 6,987 households, and 5,261 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,248.6 people per square mile (868.1/km²). There were 7,143 housing units at an average density of 880.9 per square mile (340.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.22% White, 0.16% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.15% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.49% of the population.

There were 6,987 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.4% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.7% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 2.98.

In the town the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $51,770, and the median income for a family was $60,067. Males had a median income of $42,036 versus $29,851 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,420. About 3.2% of families and 4.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.8% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.


On the state level, Somerset is represented as part of the Fifth Bristol state representative district, which includes Dighton and parts of Swansea and Taunton. In the state senate, Somerset is part of the First Bristol and Plymouth district, which includes Fall River, Freetown, Lakeville, Rochester, Swansea and Westport. Senator Joan M. Menard, Assistant Majority Leader, (D-Fall River)represents Somerset in the state senate. On the national level, the town is part of Massachusetts's 4th congressional district, which is represented by Joseph Kennedy III. The state's senior Senator is Elizabeth Warren. The state's junior Senator is Ed Markey.

The town's library is located north of the town hall in the center of town, and was expanded for more resource and meeting areas in 2000. The town's historical society is located in the north end of town, and also operates a museum in that location (in the former Village School building). The old Town Hall, to the north of the library, is still in use for various public gatherings. The town is served by one centralized police and fire headquarters, along with a smaller branch fire station in the Brayton Point area which is also trained to handle emergencies at the Brayton Point Power Plant. The town's zip codes are 02725 and 02726, although both are now located in the central post office in the heart of town. The town maintains five parks (Buffington Park, Ashton Field, Waterfront Park, Rock Park, and South Complex Baseball/softball fields), as well as a town beach, Pierce Beach, located next to Pierce Playground along the Taunton River in the north end of town. A sixth park, Slade's Ferry Park, was closed by eminent domain for the right-of-way of the new Brightman Street Bridge being built.


Former Somerset Berkley Regional High School building

Somerset is served by its own public school system. It has four elementary schools, from north to south they are the North Elementary School, the Chace Street School, the South Elementary School and the Wilbur Elementary School. On January 23rd, 2014 there was a 4-1 majority vote by the school board to close the Wilbur Elementary School.Somerset Middle School (formerly known as Somerset Junior High School) is located adjacent to South Elementary along Brayton Avenue, and handles grades 6 through 8. Somerset Berkley Regional High School is located along County Street (Route 138). The school's mascot is the "Blue Raider", and its colors are dark blue and white. The school is known locally for having two former baseball players play professionally, Greg Gagne and Jerry Remy. The town is a member of the Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School system in Fall River, and high school students may also attend Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton.

Many students of all grades attend private schools in Fall River, including Bishop Connolly High School. There are no private schools in the town.

The new (and renamed) regional school opened in late August 2014.[16] Projected costs for the new Somerset-Berkley Regional High School are now at $81.5 million to $83.8 million, notably higher than earlier estimates after planners found that more costs than they had believed wouldn’t be reimbursed by the state. The school was built just behind the old high school, atop the former location of the soccer fields and tennis courts. The football field and running track were completely refurbished and completed before the start of the school year. The first graduating class will be the class of 2015. The original high school building was set to be demolished in late 2014, and on its former site will be a new series of fields for student use.


The Somerset Music Department became notable under the direction and leadership of Dr. Robert Perry in the late 1960s. At that time the town acquired its "Musictown" nickname. Musical groups at that time consisted of marching band, concert band, orchestra, chorus, glee club, show group, women's chorus, and string ensemble. The annual Musictown celebration also began in the 1960s. It consists of a Kiddies Day (when the kids come march with the marching band), a King and Queen Judging Day, Concert Night, a Pops Night, a Musictown Ball, and a Musictown Festival Grand Day that takes place on the last day. The final day starts with field show presentations by the invited bands and the Somerset Blue Raider Marching Band and a parade that commences at 2:00 PM and lasts approximately 3–8 hours. As of 2008, the Musictown Festival consisted of the King and Queen judging Day, the Musictown Ball, the Kiddies Day, the Pops Night, the Concert Night, and the Grand Day. Every five years Somerset invites Somerset High School alumni and alumnae to perform with the current students in various music groups. This last occurred in 2013.

The music department at Somerset High School now contains concert band, symphonic band, orchestra, string ensemble, concert choir, treble choir, 'Blue Raider' marching band, winter percussion ensemble, winter guard, jazz band, chorale, and the 'Electrify' show choir. Most of these groups have been within the department for many years.

Under new director David Marshall, the 'Blue Raider' marching band made its return as a competing group in the Fall of 2007 with their field show of 'Wicked.' The group doubled in size in one year to about 60 members and traveled to Allentown, Pennsylvania, in November 2008, to compete in the USSBA Northeastern Championships. It received the title of Best Percussion in the 2A division and also won 3rd best color guard and 4th best music. The group tied for 5th overall in the division. The band also competes in the NESBA circuit of shows. In 2008-2009 it performed 'King Kong' and 'Hydrodynamics.' The following academic year it staged 'Heartbeat' and captured 2nd place with a score of 91.7, breaking the 90 mark for the first time since becoming an ensemble.

Tim Sepe instituted the Winter Percussion ensemble in 2007. Student members practice with percussion instruments such as xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones, drums, and other auxiliary percussion equipment with added guitar, bass, and keyboard parts. The 2007 group was a concert percussion group and played jazz classics such as 'Take the A Train' and 'Conga.' Matt Cavanaugh headed the 2008-2009 season, when the group transitioned to an indoor marching ensemble. It performed the show 'The Pursuit' and competed on the NESBA circuit during the winter of 2008 through 2009.

The 'Electrify' show choir was formed in the 2004-2005 year by Micheal Winslow. The group travels as a singing and dancing group much like the show group that was part of the department many years ago. As there is no established circuit, the group travels to many area schools and performs in competition. It even hosts its own show dubbed the 'New England Show Choir Classic.' Although currently headed by David Weeks and Samuel Bianco, Electrify garnered several plaques and trophies during the 2008-2009 season under the leadership of director Richard Sylvia. The pit band, directed by David Marshall, is also a crucial component of Electrify and has won several trophies. Other former directors include: Ramsey Kurdi, Richard Sylvia, and Andrew Arcello.

The current acting Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator is Ira Schaefer. He replaced Lori Anderson after she retired in June 2013. She also directed the Strings groups.

Somerset High School is also home to a drama department which overlaps the choral and band aspects of the music department. Past performances include Legally Blonde (2012), Fiddler on the Roof (2011), Little Shop of Horrors (2010), Side Show (2009), West Side Story(2008), and Grease(2007).

The current Music Teachers of SBRHS are Mr. David Marshall, Mr. Samuel Bianco & Ms. Audra Arruda.

Notable residents

  • Pamela Bustin, 1996 Olympic field hockey player
  • Shirley May France, attempted to swim the English Channel in 1949 and 1950, achieving world-wide fame
  • Greg Gagne, former major league baseball player and starting shortstop of the Minnesota Twins' who played on two world championship teams
  • Clifford Milburn Holland, chief engineer and namesake of the Holland Tunnel in New York City
  • Nancy Pimental, actress and screenwriter who wrote the script for the film The Sweetest Thing
  • Stephen Rebello, writer and screenwriter known for such books as Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho and for the screenplay of Hitchcock (film) based on that book.
  • Jerry Remy, "The RemDawg", former major league baseball player for the California Angels and Boston Red Sox, and current Red Sox color commentator for NESN
  • Janet L. Robinson, former president and CEO of the New York Times
  • Conor T. Murray, Author of "The Clancy Brothers With Tommy Makem & Robbie O'Connell; The Men Behind the Sweaters"
  • Eamon R. Murray, All American - Boxing 2002, Bronze Medalist Nationally 2002, Member of National Championship Team 2001 and 2002, United States Air Force Academy
  • Elizabeth Langfield, Artist featuring seascapes and local landmarks
  • Patience Brayton, 18th Century Quaker abolitionist
  • Captain James Madison Hood, 19th Century sea captain, shipbuilder, politician, and 4th Consul to Siam, appointed in January 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln. Hood served as Consul to the Court of Siam during the period when English Governess Anna Leonowens was governess to the King's children, popularized by the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The King and I".


  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Somerset town, Massachusetts". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Environmental groups protest operation of Brayton Point Power Station over health issues". Providence Journal. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  5. ^ "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010. 
  6. ^ "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  7. ^ "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  9. ^ "1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ "1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  12. ^ "1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ "1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ "1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  16. ^ "Officials and public celebrate new Somerset Berkley Regional High School at ribbon-cutting". Taunton Daily Gazette. 2014-08-25. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 

External links

  • Town of Somerset official website
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