The first thing you need to know if you are moving to Leominster is how to pronounce the name! No matter how it is spelled, saying “Lee-O-Minster” will just make you stick out as the newbie on the block. Leominster is correctly pronounced “Lemon-Stir” or as the locals say it: “Lemon-Stuh.”
A Bit of History
The name comes from Leominster, Hereforshire, England and the region was originally inhabited by the Pennacook or Nipmuc Native American tribes who lived along the Nashua River as part of the town of Lancaster. European settlers began to settle in the mid-17th century. The Natives and the settlers lived peacefully together until the start of King Philip’s War in 1675. Many hundreds lost their lives and drove the inhabitants from the area.
After the war, the settlers negotiated with Chief Sholan of the Nashaway tribe for the land, the only parcel of land to be legally purchased from the Native Americans in Central Massachusetts.
During the Civil War, Leominster was a major contributor in the Underground Railroad. The Emory Stearn Schoolhouse, and the John Drake Home, led anti-slavery campaigns and helped house fugitive slaves.
An Economic Shift
Leominster was mostly a small farming community, but the beginning of the 19th century, brought a shift to manufacturing. A regional transportation hub by 1800, Leominster boasted several turnpikes and connector roads. The opening of the Fitchburg Railroad in 1808 made manufacturing possible with the rail running through North Leominster and into Boston. In addition, the Fitchburg and Worcester Railroad ran through the center of town and by the mid-1800s, paper mills, piano makers, and comb manufacturers were moving to Leominster and established factories along the Monoosnoc Brook and the Nashua River.
The earliest settlers in Leominster were of British ancestry, but soon immigrants were moving to Leominster to work in the factories from Ireland, Canada, and Italy. Leominster became the home of the Dupont Viscoloid Company (plastics), Foster Grant (combs and sunglasses), Tupperware, Standard Tool, and the Whitney Carriage Company (baby carriages), among others.
Perhaps the most famous company in Leominster (other than Tupperware) was the Union Products Company, maker of the popular pink flamingo lawn ornament. Although the Great Depression slowed the plastic industry in Leominster and in recent years manufacturing in general has moved out of the city, Leominster will always be remembered as Plastic Town.
The second largest city in Worcester County, Leominster in 2018 had a population of 41,823. The city is divided into several small villages known as French Hill, originally inhabited by French immigrants; Morse Hollow, North Leominster, Rice Hill, the Flats, the Bowery, the West Side, and the Car Barn area, located along the Fitchburg order. The Car Barn Area got its name because the Fitchburg & Leominster Railway trolley cars were stored in this area.
Leominster City Government
Leominster is governed by a Mayor and City Council. City Hall is located at 25 West Street and its operating hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Thursdays City Hall is open 8:30 am to 5:30 am. City Departments include the Assessor’s Office, Collector & Treasurer, Comptroller, Parking Clerk, Planning & Development, Purchasing, Weights & Measures, and the Retirement Board.
If you are moving to Leominster, you’ll want to visit the Leominster Public Library, located at 30 West Street. Because of Covid-19, the library is open for limited hours for browsing. Call 978-534-752 for updated information.
If you are moving to Leominster, the educational system there is important to you. There are thirteen public schools in Leominster. Bennett School and Lincoln School are Pre-school; Fall Brook, Frances Drake, Johnny Appleseed, Northwest School, and Priest Street School are Elementary schools; Samoset School and Sky View are Middle Schools; and the Center for Technology Education and Innovation as Leominster Center for Excellence are High Schools.
What to Do in Leominster?
Leominster is a bustling city with fine schools and lots to do. In Part II of our series on Things to Know if You Are Moving to Leominster MA will introduce Johnny Appleseed and why Leominster claims him as their own, as well as features on the culture, night-life, and happenings in Leominster.