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    About Rowley

    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).


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