Rich in history and culture, diverse in recreational opportunities, and convenient to shopping and highways, South Hadley is an inviting and charming community.
Location, Geography, and Climate
Centrally located in the scenic Pioneer Valley, our location and abundant natural resources have shaped our community and formed the character of the town. South Hadley is situated along the eastern bank of the Connecticut River and southern slope of the Mount Holyoke Range. Situated 14 miles north of Springfield and and 90 miles west of Boston, South Hadley has easy access to other major cities via the convenient Interstate routes of I-91 and I-90 (Mass Pike).
South Hadley's 18.3 square miles of land area ranges from a lowlying elevation of approximately 78 feet at Town Hall in the Falls area to 1,002 feet atop Mount Hitchcock at the east end of the Mount Holyoke Range. The latitude/longitude of Town Hall are 42 12’50” N and 72 35’40” W, respectively.
Situated in central New England, South Hadley has a pleasant climate with an average annual rainfall of 42.5 inches. Winter to summer temperatures are typically in the mild range as reflected by the average January temperature of 23.6 degrees and average July temperature of 71.9 degrees.
Continuing the uniquely New England tradition of participatory government, South Hadley maintains a Representative Town Meeting form of government. Its legislative body, Town Meeting, consists of 120 elected members (24 from each precinct for 3-year terms). A five-member Selectboard (also elected for 3-year terms) provides the Administrative governance with an appointed Town Administrator. To view organizational chart, please click here
Members of Town Meeting hold their Annual Meeting on the second Saturday of May and Special Meetings as called by the Selectboard. The Town Budget and the Town Bylaws (General and Zoning) must be approved and adopted by Town Meeting.
South Hadley also has other independent elected boards and officials which provide governance/administrative oversight over specific functions of the Town. Among these independent boards and officials are:
Board of Assessors (3 members)
Board of Health (3 members)
Planning Board (5 members)
School Committee (5 members)
Municipal Light Board (3 members)
Library Board of Trustees (9 members)
Town Meeting Moderator
Fire protection and water services are provided by special districts governed by independently elected boards:
To view a list of the current locally-elected officials, please click here
For a directory of current National, State, and County officials, please click here
A glance at the Town's fiscal status can be gathered by viewing the Department of Review fact sheets at:
Settlement began in 1725 as some of the younger men and families began making homes in this area south of the Mount Holyoke Range. In 1732, this "settlement" became the "South Precinct of Hadley" with limited self-government. Formal creation of the Town of South Hadley occurred in 1753 by action of the General Court (legislature).
The Nation’s first commercially successful navigable canal began operation in South Hadley in 1795. This canal provided the route for much of the commerce along the Connecticut River for many decades until 1862 when development of the railroads made the canal less profitable. Remains and remnants of the canal are still visible and efforts are underway to enhance their historic character.
Mount Holyoke Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) opened its doors in 1837 under the stewardship of Mary Lyon. One of the “Seven Sisters” all women’s colleges in New England, Mount Holyoke College continues to operate as an all-women’s institution (for more information on Mount Holyoke College,click here).
Our community celebrates its rich history through Federal designation of historic districts (such as the Woodbridge Street District), preservation of buildings (such as the Sycamore House), and community celebrations (such as the 2003 celebration of the Town’s 250th birthday). South Hadley Historical Society has undertaken efforts to restore and preserve two of the oldest homes in the community - The Sycamores and the Rawson Home on Woodbridge Street. Walk along Woodbridge Street and enjoy the rich history of some of the oldest structures in the area; take a stroll along the Canal Park and enjoy the Connecticut River; or using the “Old Homes of South Hadley” prepared by Know Your Town and The South Hadley Historical Society as a guide, drive through the community and explore the styles reflected in many of our older homes.
Historical Links of Interest:
Museums and Cultural Venues
Museums also celebrate South Hadley's heritage and culture. The Firehouse Museum, located in South Hadley Falls on North Main Street and operated by the South Hadley Historical Society, presents the community's long history and commemorates the firefighters who have served the community for decades. This facility is itself a historical landmark as it served the community from 1899 to 1973. Housed in the museum are displays of firefighting equipment and a gallery with exhibits that change yearly.
Mount Holyoke College also maintains and manages two museums: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and Joseph Allen Skinner Museum. Both are located on the college campus in South Hadley Center. The Mount Holyoke Art Museum has a wide-ranging teaching collection of more than 14,000 objects including art from around the world reflecting a diverse collection of art eras and media (for more information, please visit the website: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/offices/artmuseum/). Less expansive, but no less significant, the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum was donated to the college by Holyoke industrialist Joseph Allen Skinner. It has housed his wide-ranging collection of American and European furniture, decorative arts, crafts, tools, and geological specimens. For more information, please visit the website:
A variety of entertainment options are offered throughout the year. The Village Commons hosts free musical concerts on Thursday nights on the Town Common opposite Mount Holyoke College. Black Cat Theater, a local community theater group, performs plays at different times during the year at the South Hadley High School. Mount Holyoke College has several venues for concerts, dances, and other performances which are held throughout the school year. While many events are for students, many others are available for the general public.
South Hadley is known worldwide as the home of the Mount Holyoke College with an enrollment of approximately 2,100 students from nations around the world. The college is one of the five members of the "Five College" network which also includes Smith College in Northampton; Amherst College, Hampshire College, and University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst. South Hadley also has other fine public and private educational institutions (see map of educational institutions click here). The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School is located off Alvord Street. Berkshire Hills Music Academy is located in the former Skinner House on Woodbridge Street.
Our public school system, with a total enrollment of approximately 2,350 students, has two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. The recently renovated and expanded high school on Newton Street graduates nearly 200 students annually. Planning is underway to develop a new elementary school and renovate the Mosier Elementary School.
Educational Links of Interest:
With mild and diverse weather and ease of access to the Connecticut River and the Mount Holyoke Range, it is no surprise that South Hadley residents and visitors enjoy a variety of year-round recreational activities. The Connecticut River affords residents and visitors boating and rowing opportunities via several access points including a public boat launch south of the Holyoke Dam and Brunelle’s Marina off Alvord Street. With many conservation areas and the state parks (Skinner State Park and Mount Holyoke Range State Park) situated along the Mount Holyoke Range, the community offers many miles of hiking and walking trails. Some of these same resources provide opportunities for skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating during winter. Hunting and fishing opportunities are also abundant in and around South Hadley. Similarly, residents and visitors also enjoy bird watching and wildlife photography.
Two golf courses offer a diversity of golfing opportunities. The Ledges Golf Club (visit the website at: http://www.ledgesgc.com/) located off Alvord Street is a new municipal 18-hole course with great views and a driving range and a modern club house. This course is also available for passive recreation througout the year, particularly during winter. The Orchards Golf Course, a private club managed by Arnold Palmer Golf, and site of the 2004 US Women’s Open, is situated on the Mount Holyoke College campus.
South Hadley’s Council on Aging and the Recreation Commission provide year-round recreational programming. Visit their websites to choose a program of interest.
Recreational Links of Interest:
Retail/Office Centers and Districts
With its central location and proximity to major thoroughfares, South Hadley offers easy access to many regional shopping destinations. However, it also offers a diversity of shopping, entertainment, eating, and office destinations ranging from the Village Commons in the Town Center to the South Hadley Falls Business District (see map of Principal Retail/Office Centers and Districts click here). Many retail shops are located in these centers and districts as well as a dozen restaurants and a two-screen cinema which provides access to first run movies.
Consumer Links of Interest:
While South Hadley offers a wide range of opportunities and services, the people make the community a a warm and welcoming place to live and to visit. With a population of approximately 17,300, the community has a density of only 945 persons per square mile. Some areas are more developed than others, but South Hadley has considerable open space for its residents and visitors to enjoy.
Over the past several decades, South Hadley has grown at a steady pace of approximately 500 persons per decade. We are projected to continue this steady growth.
Reflecting the shifting demographics in the country and the state, South Hadley also has an aging population. From 1980 to 2000, the elderly population (65+) grew from 12% to 17.4% of the population. At the same time, the school age population (under 20 years of age) experienced a decline as a share of the total population.
Economically, South Hadley is diverse. While residents generally have an income above that of the Springfield Metropolitan area, some neighborhoods have median incomes exceeding that of the state yet other neighboroods have incomes below the Springfield area. With a household poverty rate of less than 6% in 2000, the community does not have chronic poverty issues.
For more statistics and sources of data on the community's population, please see the Community Profile.
With 92% of the tax base derived from residential property, the business sector does not comprise a large portion of the community, but it does contribute significantly to the community's character. The businesses offer a variety of employment and business opportunities as well as goods and services for consumers.
As diverse as the manufacturer of specialty papers and films to a world reknowned educational institution, the principal employers in South Hadley are wide ranging (a list of these employers is provided in the Community Profile). With proximity to employment centers throughout New England, it is no surprise that South Hadley residents have usually enjoyed a relatively low unemployment rate.
South Hadley has a Chamber of Commerce which promotes the local business interests and offers information on the community (to visit their South website for more information and news, please click here).
South Hadley is readily accessible via I-90 (Mass Pike) and I-91 as well as a variety of surface highways (Route 47, Route 116, Route 202, and Route 33 traverse the community). Town Hall is located in South Hadley Falls at the corner of Bridge Street and Main Street - view the Town Hall map, click here or to obtain directions to the Town Hall, please click here.
The Pioneer Valley Regional Transit Authority operates a 24-community public transportation service. As part of this service the PVTA provides scheduled bus service through and to destinations in South Hadley (to see service map click here). This service also incorporates services to and from the 5 colleges of Smith College in Northampton; UMass, Amherst, and Hampshire Colleges in Amherst; and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. For more information on the services provided by the PVTA visit their website at http://www.pvta.com/.