Plainfield, Massachusetts

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Plainfield, Massachusetts
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = A typical field in Plainfield, Massachusetts

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

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Massachusetts
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Hampshire
established_title = Settled
established_date = 1770
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = 1807
established_title3 =
established_date3 =
government_type = Open town meeting
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 55.1
area_total_sq_mi = 21.3
area_land_km2 = 54.5
area_land_sq_mi = 21.1
area_water_km2 = 0.5
area_water_sq_mi = 0.2
population_as_of = 2000
settlement_type = Town
population_total = 589
population_density_km2 = 10.8
population_density_sq_mi = 28.0
elevation_m = 511
elevation_ft = 1676
timezone = Eastern
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = Eastern
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 42 |latm = 30 |lats = 55 |latNS = N
longd = 72 |longm = 55 |longs = 00 |longEW = W
website =
postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 01070
area_code = 413
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 25-54030
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0618206
footnotes =

Plainfield is a town on the northwestern edge of Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States, about 25 miles east of Pittsfield and 30 miles northwest of Northampton. The population was 589 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Plainfield was first settled in 1770, primarily by settlers from the town of Bridgewater, and was officially incorporated as a district in 1785, and as a town on June 15, 1807.

In the 1800s, Plainfield was a thriving agricultural community, primarily producing sheep and leather for tanning. With the widespread adoption of the steamship, and the resultant globalization in the 1870s, the expense of importing both mutton and leather from Australia and New Zealand was greatly reduced. Consequently, the agricultural industries in Plainfield became less profitable, and the Population declined substantially over the following decades.

Sixty-one men from Plainfield joined the Union Army late in the American Civil War. Six were killed in battle, or died in consequence of their service. Of those who survived, many settled elsewhere after the war.

After almost two centuries of depopulation, modern Plainfield is experiencing rapid population growth (70% per year as of 2004).


The Town of Plainfield is situated in the scenic Berkshire Highlands [Egler, F. E. 1940. Berkshire plateau vegetation, Massachusetts. Ecological Monographs 10:147-192.] where Hampshire County merges into neighboring Franklin and Berkshire Counties. Plainfield is part of the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts.

Plainfield sits 1620' above sea level, and the peaks of West Mountain (at 2125') are the highest elevation in Hampshire county.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 21.3 square miles (55.1 km²), of which, 21.0 square miles (54.5 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (0.99%) is water.

Plainfield's waterways serve as the headwaters of the Westfield and Deerfield rivers.

Plainfield is bordered by the towns of Cummington, Ashfield, Hawley, Savoy, and Windsor.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 589 people, 243 households, and 166 families residing in the town. The population density was 28.0 people per square mile (10.8/km²). There were 311 housing units at an average density of 14.8/sq mi (5.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.13% White, 0.34% Native American, 0.17% Asian, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.68% of the population.

There were 243 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.9% were married couples living together, 4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 31.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $37,250, and the median income for a family was $46,042. Males had a median income of $31,625 versus $26,875 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,785. About 4.8% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.9% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


Plainfield is governed by a Town Meeting open to all registered voters in the town. Ongoing town matters are managed by an elected Board of Selectmen and other Boards and Commissions.

Notable residents

*John Brown, abolitionist who played a role in starting the civil war
*William Cullen Bryant, poet, philosopher
*Ralph Ellison, novelist, essayist
*James Naismith, inventor of basketball. At least one 19th-century encyclopedia in the possession of the Plainfield Historical Society documents that basketball was actually played in Plainfield before it was played in Springfield, MassachusettsFact|date=April 2007
*Tom Patti, an artist, working primarily with glass, whose work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan, the MFA Boston and other important collections worldwide. [William Warmus and Donald Kuspit. Tom Patti:Illuminating the Invisible. Tacoma: Museum of Glass,2004]
*Talcott Seelye, former United States Ambasador to Tunisia and Syria, Arabist

Points of interest

*Deer Hill State Reservation
*Dubuque Memorial State Forest


External links

* [ Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department]

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