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Information for the
City of Rowley, Mass
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Rowley was founded in 1639 by the Reverend Ezekiel Rogers and a band of
20 families from Rowley, Yorkshire, England. The group sailed on the ship
"John of London" bringing with them the first printing press to
be used in America, the famous "Daye Press" which was to be set
up in Cambridge. The land area of Rowley originally included what is now
Boxford, Bradford, Georgetown, Groveland, and a part of Middleton.
The town has a varied terrain, and is situated between two rivers, the
Muddy Creek on the north and the Rowley River to the south. With a section
of Plum Island bordering the Atlantic, the main land mass fronts Plum
Island Sound with an extensive salt marsh area that eventually gives way
to rolling uplands. Heavily forested, there are several working farms with
numerous single-family house lots and a few apartments and condominium
complexes. Bradstreet Farm, owned by the Jewett family since the 1600's is
the nation's second oldest working farm to be continuously owned and
occupied by the same family.
Rowley is home to the nation's oldest stone arch bridge and the
"Turning Place" (now the Rowley Common) where in 1775 a
battalion of Benedict Arnold's musket men encamped enroute to Quebec. The
Revolutionary War cannon, "Old Nancy", is one of the town's most
prized possessions. The cannon was taken by Rowley soldiers from the
British ship "Nancy", which was captured off Gloucester.
In 1643, the first fulling (wool) mill in the colonies was established in
Rowley, which later proved to be a contributing factor to the War of
Independence as the mill was perceived as a threat to England's dominance
in supplying wool to the colonies. Rowley's only other major industry was
the Foster Shoe Company that began operations in 1850.
Today, Rowley is in a transition from its historical farming roots to that
of a residential community. The town maintains its historical charm,
however, and may be the quintessential New England hometown with its 350th
anniversary commemorative bandstand sited on the town common green,
numerous stately, colonial era homes lining Main Street, and several tall
white steeple churches standing nearby.
It is located in northeastern Massachusetts, bordered by Boxford and
Georgetown on the west, Newbury on the north, Ipswich on the south, and
the Plum Island River on the east. Rowley is about 10 miles southeast of
Haverhill, 14 miles north of Salem, 28 miles north of Boston, and 250
miles from New York City.
Narrative compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and
Community Development (DHCD).