Georgetown, MA

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Georgetown was incorporated in 1838 but its birth was 200 years before when a small group of Yorkshire families led by Rev. Ezekial Rogers set sail in 1638 from Rowley, England for Salem, Massachusetts on the ship “John”. Mr. Rogers and his party of about 100 men, women and children, having arrived late in the year, remained in Salem for the winter living in common houses.

In the spring of 1639, the group, now numbering over 200 individuals, purchased a tract of land between the villages of Newbury and Ipswich and named their plantation Rowley. This territory included the present day towns of Rowley, Georgetown, Groveland, Byfield and Boxford. Working together they erected shelters and prepared for the coming winter. They lived in common houses for about three years until they were able to help each family erect their own humble dwellings.

The community thrived and after a few years these settlers began to explore the rest of their plantation that extended to the Merrimac River. From the vantage point of Prospect Hill, named in anticipation of what lay to the west, they saw another hill, bare at its summit and surrounded with trees below. The image suggested a bald pate and today is still known as Baldpate Hill. It is the highest point in the county, and on clear days one could see the ocean from this Georgetown hilltop.

Central School served the town for seventy years from 1905 until June, 1974 when the structure housed the Town Hall with town offices and school departments sharing the facility. The Police Department moved into the former lunchroom in the basement area. Prior to finding a home in Central School, town offices and Police Headquarters were in the Masonic building, the present location of the Pingree Insurance Agency on East Main and Park Street.

Georgetown Junior/Senior High School was built in 1961 on Winter Street and an addition completed in 1969. Penn Brook School on Elm Street began classes for fourth through sixth graders in 1972. By the early 1990’s all three schools, Perley Elementary, Penn Brook and the high school were in need of extensive renovations and enlargement for the burgeoning student population. Funds were appropriated at the 1993 annual town meeting to begin the building process with a feasibility study. The official School Building Project groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 13, 1995. Classes continued during the renovations and construction and 1998 completed the projects.

By the 1980’s it was obvious that the Police Department, located in the basement of the Town Hall since 1975, and the Central Fire Company, still housed in the 1875 engine house on Middle Street, were in need of larger and more up-to-date quarters. The Town approved construction of a Public Safety Building at the 1985 Annual Town Meeting. Work by the building committee began immediately and by the November special town meeting of the same year a preliminary design was presented to the Town and approved. Funding problems and delays during construction kept the police and fire departments from their new home until 1988. The efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers made the completion of the building possible by conducting fundraising projects, seeking donations and obtaining volunteer construction workers.

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