Danvers is well known to North Shore residents for its shopping and restaurants along the Route 114 corridor, but there’s a lot of history here. Originally known as Salem Village, Danvers became a district in 1752 and finally a town in 1757. The origins of its name have been the subject of speculation for generations. What is known is that King George II commanded the repeal of the township. That news apparently never made it to the Colonies; residents didn’t find this out for generations. The mantra on the town seal, created in 1893, appears to thumb its nose at that order and take pride in the community’s resolve: “The King Unwilling.”
With a population of 26,493 as of the 2010 Census, Danvers is a suburban town in a prime location, about 20 miles from Boston, with a naturally protected harbor and direct access to routes 1 and 128 as well as Interstate 95. As the name “Salem Village” implies, Danvers was once part of Salem Town; as many locals are aware, most of the preliminary hearings in the Salem Witch Trials actually took place in present-day Danvers. An expansive memorial to the victims was dedicated here in 1992.
Danvers earned its nickname, “Oniontown,” for its history of agricultural production; during the Civil War, it was a major supplier of onions, carrots, and shoes to the Union Army. An influx of industry later made the town one of the state’s hubs for shoe and brick manufacturing. More recently, the bustling retail district has contributed to a diverse tax base.
By the Numbers
The age of the Endecott Pear Tree, believed to be the oldest cultivated one in North America (see poem)
Acres covered by Endicott Park, a varied parcel of recreational land that accommodates hiking, fishing, sledding, and many more activities. Plans are underway to add a fenced-in dog park.
Generations of the Clark family, whose farm is the town’s oldest, dating to 1728. The property is classified as one of “America’s Founding Farms.”
Reportedly the number of patients living by the 1960s at Danvers State Hospital, the notoriously overcrowded psychiatric facility that was constructed in the 1870s. The skyline campus was closed for good by 1992. Today, it’s home to new apartments.
Pros & Cons
Since the passage of Proposition 2½ in 1980, which limited property tax increases, the town has never had an override or debt exclusion. Several factors contribute to that rarity, including the town’s broad tax base, which is about one-third commercial/industrial, and the stability of having just two town managers over the past half-century(until the recent retirement of Wayne Marquis, who had held the job since 1979).
The commercial stretch along Route 114 that makes convenience a compelling factor toward choosing to live in Danvers also brings congestion, as car shoppers, fast-food consumers, and mall meanderers – in addition to the Liberty Tree Mall, the massive North Shore Mall is just over the town line in Peabody – roll into town from every direction.
The outlying areas of Danvers still feature plenty of the open fields, tranquil woods, and river access that once made the town a key farming community. Endicott Park attracts people of all ages and outdoor inclinations, and the four rivers that converge on Danvers Harbor help make a sheltered and exceptionally safe port.