Lee, Massachusetts

Lee, Massachusetts

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Lee, Massachusetts
nickname =
motto = "Gateway to the Berkshires"

imagesize =
image_caption =

mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location in Berkshire County in Massachusetts

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Massachusetts
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Berkshire
established_title = Settled
established_date = 1760
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = 1777
established_title3 =
established_date3 =
government_type = Representative town meeting
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 70.0
area_total_sq_mi = 27.0
area_land_km2 = 68.4
area_land_sq_mi = 26.4
area_water_km2 = 1.6
area_water_sq_mi = 0.6
population_as_of = 2000
settlement_type = Town
population_total = 5985
population_density_km2 = 87.5
population_density_sq_mi = 226.7
elevation_m = 305
elevation_ft = 1000
timezone = Eastern
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = Eastern
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 42 |latm = 18 |lats = 15 |latNS = N
longd = 73 |longm = 14 |longs = 55 |longEW = W
website = http://www.lee.ma.us/
postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 01238
area_code = 413
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 25-34655
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0618268
footnotes =

Lee is a town in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 5,985 which was determined in the 2000 census. Lee, which includes the villages of South and East Lee, is part of the Berkshires resort area.


This was once territory of the Mahican Indians. It was first settled as Dodgetown in 1760, then incorporated in 1777 as Lee. Formed from parts of Great Barrington and Washington, it was named after General Charles Lee. In the autumn of 1786 during Shay's Rebellion, about 250 followers of Daniel Shays encountered state troops commanded by General John Paterson near the village of East Lee. The Shaysites paraded a fake cannon crafted from a yarn beam, and the troops fled.

Early industries included agriculture and lumbering, with lime made in kilns. Operated by water power from the Housatonic River, mills produced textiles and wire. But papermaking became the principal business, with the first paper mill, called the Eagle Mill, built in 1806 at South Lee by Samuel Church. The Columbia Mill was established in 1827, and would be the first to supply 100% groundwood newsprint to "The New York Times". By 1857, there were 25 paper mills in Lee. The Smith Paper Company discovered how to manufacture paper solely from wood pulp in 1867, and through the 1870s was the largest producer of paper in the country. Today, Lee has 3 large papermaking facilities owned by Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc., with another across the border in Lenox. The plants produce cigarette paper, candy wrappers and other specialty paper. But Schweitzer-Mauduit announced in 2007 that the mills would close in 2008, putting nearly 170 people out of work.

The town was also famous for the quality of its marble, with the first quarry established in 1852. Almost 500,000 cubic feet of marble was excavated and shipped in 1867 on the Housatonic Railroad. Buildings constructed of Lee marble include a wing of the Capitol in Washington and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

Lee's 19th-century prosperity left it with fine period architecture, including the town hall and library. South Lee has a historic district listed on the National Register. The former mill town is now a popular tourist destination, noted both for its considerable Victorian charm and number of bed and breakfast establishments. Lee was a filming location for "Before and After" (1996) and "The Cider House Rules" (1999).


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 27.0 square miles (70.0 km²), of which, 26.4 square miles (68.4 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (2.33%) is water. Lee is bordered by Lenox to the northwest, Washington to the northeast, Becket to the east, Tyringham in the southeast, Great Barrington to the southwest, and Stockbridge to the west. Lee is ten miles south of Pittsfield, 42 miles west-northwest of Springfield, and 125 miles west of Boston.

Lee is located in the southern section of the Berkshires, in a valley along the Housatonic River. The town lies to the west of October Mountain State Forest, with two sections of the forest in Lee. In the southwest corner of town lies a portion of Beartown State Forest, where Burgoyne Pass crosses the northern end of the mountain. Hop Brook, a marshy brook which flows into Tyringham, flows into the Housatonic in the south, and other bodies of water include Laurel Lake to the north, and Goose Pond to the southeast. The Appalachian Trail circumvents the eastern part of the town, passing through Tyringham, Becket and Washington.

Lee is located along Interstate 90 (also known as the Massachusetts Turnpike), and is home to Exit 2, the westernmost full exit on the turnpike (Exit 1, in West Stockbridge, is only a turnaround exit) as well as the first service area along the Pike. (The exit is also well-known because if a driver misses Exit 3 in Westfield, it requires a 60-mile round trip through Exit 2 to get back to Westfield.) Lee lies along U.S. Route 20, the "old Mass Pike," which was the main route to New York State prior to the interstate. A small section of U.S. Route 7 crosses through the northwest corner of town before meeting Route 20 in Lenox. Additionally, Route 102's eastern terminus is located at Route 20 at the Exit 2 toll plaza.

Lee lies along the Housatonic Rail Road line, which travels between Pittsfield and Great Barrington. The town is also covered by the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) bus line, which travels between the same two communities. The nearest regional bus service can be reached in Great Barrington, and regional air service can be reached at Pittsfield Municipal Airport. The nearest national air service can be reached at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.


"See also:" Lee (CDP), MassachusettsAs of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 5,985 people, 2,442 households, and 1,606 families residing in the town. By population, Lee ranks seventh out of the 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and 227th out of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The population density was 226.7 people per square mile (87.5/km²), which ranks sixth in the county and 241st in the Commonwealth. There were 2,927 housing units at an average density of 110.9/sq mi (42.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.93% White, 0.62% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.95% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.74% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.49% of the population.

There were 2,442 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.7% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $41,556, and the median income for a family was $49,630. Males had a median income of $35,565 versus $26,232 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,799. About 2.5% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.


Lee uses the representative town meeting form of government, and is led by a board of selectmen and a town administrator. Lee has its own police, fire and public works departments, as well as a post office. The town's library is a member of the regional library networks.

On the state level, Lee is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Fourth Berkshire district, which covers southern Berkshire County, as well as the westernmost towns in Hampden County. In the Massachusetts Senate, the town is represented by the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin district, which includes all of Berkshire County and western Hampshire and Franklin Counties. [ [http://www.mass.gov/legis/citytown.htm Senators and Representatives by City and Town] ] The town is home to the First Station of Barracks "B" of the Massachusetts State Police. [ [http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eopsterminal&L=5&L0=Home&L1=Law+Enforcement+%26+Criminal+Justice&L2=Law+Enforcement&L3=State+Police+Troops&L4=Troop+B&sid=Eeops&b=terminalcontent&f=msp_divisions_field_services_troops_troop_b_msp_field_troop_b_station_b1&csid=Eeops Station B-1, SP Lee] ]

On the national level, Lee is represented in the United States House of Representatives as part of Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, and has been represented by John Olver of Amherst since June 1991. Massachusetts is represented in the United States Senate by senior Senator Ted Kennedy and junior Senator John Kerry.


Lee operates its own school department, which also serves the town of Tyringham. Lee Elementary School serves students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grades, and the Lee Middle and High School serves students from seventh through twelfth grades. Lee's athletics teams are nicknamed the Wildcats, and their colors are black and orange. Additionally, Lee is home to Saint Mary's School, a school which serves students through eighth grade. Other private schools can be found in Great Barrington and other surrounding towns.

The nearest community college is the South County Center of Berkshire Community College in Great Barrington. The nearest state college is Westfield State College, and the nearest state university is the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The nearest private college is Bard College at Simon's Rock.

ites of interest

* [http://www.mambor.com/animagic/museum.htm Animagic -- Museum of Animation, Special Effects & Art]
* [http://www.festivallatino.org/ Festival Latino of the Berkshires]
* [http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/octm.htm October Mountain State Forest]

Notable Residents

* Martha Coakley, attorney general
* Edith Wharton, novelist
* Debra Jo Rupp, actress


* [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Lee,_Massachusetts History of Lee, Massachusetts (1911)]
* [http://www.schweitzer-mauduit.com/locations/USCanada/lee.asp Lee Paper Mills -- Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc.]

External links

* [http://www.townoflee.com/ Total-LEE for You.]
* [http://www.lee.ma.us/ Town of Lee, Massachusetts]
* [http://www.leelibrary.org Lee Library]
* [http://www.leechamber.org/ Lee Chamber of Commerce]

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