Town Farm, Farm Street, 1930

  • Town Farm, Farm Street, 1930
  • "The Town Farm, also referred to at different times as the Town Almshouse, Town Infirmary, and Town Home, was located on Farm Street where Wakefield High School now stands. Shortly after Farm Street was accepted as a street in 1853, the Town Infirmary was built at a cost of $3766. In 1861, an out building was erected to house the 'insane inmates' at a cost of $174. During that same year, 224 'tramps' received care. By 1888, those numbers had increased to 1094 and a 'lock-up' in the Town Hall was used to house the tramps in 1889. According to reports, the Town Farm cared for more than 2,300 tramps in 1898. As a result, the 'Poor Department' built a tramp house in the rear of the Wakefield Block (Taylor Building), where they were given a night's lodging and breakfast for which they were required to saw a certain amount of wood before leaving in the morning. The Town Farm was enlarged several times over the years. A major fire on March 6, 1902 destroyed one of the new additions, with the main building saved by the fire department. At the start of World War I in 1917, the Board of Selectmen offered several acres of land at the Town Farm as its contribution to the nationwide movement to utilize all available ground for agricultural purposes. Over 100 local residents applied to use the land for farming. During the early 1920s, the Town Farm became a working farm, with a 'pig business, dairy business, poultry business, slaughterhouse and farm' on the 50-acre site, 12 acres of which were cultivated. The Town also entered into the garbage collection business to feed the pigs. In 1933, Town Meeting voted to discontinue the farm business, instead opting to 'provide adequate and proper care of the needy...and pay more attention to the infirmary.' This meant selling the livestock and farm equipment, but not the hay and manure which would be used for the garden. Town meeting also voted to get out of the garbage collection business, and against selling or leasing the easterly side of Farm and Nahant Street, excluding 'the premises retained for public welfare purposes.' An ERA project enlarged the dining room in 1935, and in 1940, the Town Report noted that 'here are gathered dependents not otherwise provided for. The purpose and effort of the Board and those in charge is to make it as real a home as possible.' At that time, there were 12 permanent residents and 12 residents who lived there during a portion of the year. The Town Home was closed somewhere around 1950. A special Town Meeting voted to maintain ownership of the land in 1955. In 1956, control of the home was transferred to the School Department and test borings were made to make a high school athletic field. In December 1960, the land housed the new Wakefield Junior High School, now Wakefield High School." -- Text from calendar by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 2003
  • Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Daily Item.
  • 1930
  • Wakefield, Mass. : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Town Farm, Farm Street, 1930,” Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Mass., accessed June 23, 2021,



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