16 Old Town Pounds In Massachusetts To Explore

Table of Contents

If you have spent time driving around Massachusetts, you have likely passed a town pound or two. These are unique stone structures that were used many years ago. 

Town pounds originated from England and Europe. They are enclosed structures that were used to hold stray animals that got loose so that they would be safe and not damage someone else’s crops. The person who misplaced their animal would be able to retrieve them from the town pound and often needed to pay a fee to have it unlocked for the animal to be returned. Towns often had a Pound Keeper who would look after the animals while they were in the pound. Animals were also sometimes sent to town pounds when their owners did not pay land taxes. They could only be reclaimed when debts were paid off. Essentially, pounds were like a colonial alternative to a car repo lot.

Town pounds first appeared in Massachusetts in the mid-1600s. During much of the colonial period, town pounds were built using wood fencing. Stone-walled pounds started to replace wood pounds around 1750. By 1800, stone was the standard building material for town pounds. Oxen and horses were often used to pull the large stones into place. Town pounds were typically a few feet high on all sides so that animals like horses couldn’t jump out. The stones often extended down through the ground for a few feet also so that pigs couldn’t burrow their way out. 

While many town pounds have been lost over the years, over a dozen can still be found in Massachusetts. They can be found all around the state. Some have been restored, while others are in rough shape. Regardless, all of the town pounds are well worth seeking out because they are historic structures that tell a unique story of the past.

Here are 16 town pounds to check out in Massachusetts:

Sterling Town Pound (Sterling, Massachusetts)

Sterling Town Pound in Sterling, Massachusetts featuring a circle of stones

The Sterling Town Pound is a wonderfully preserved pound that can be found right near the center of town. It is a square structure made of stone. There is no exact construction date to be found for the Sterling Town Pound, but it was likely built in the early 1800s. It is said to have been used for over 100 years up until World War 1. The structure can now be found along the Butternick Nature Trail located behind the Butterick Building. When I visited in 2024, there were some fun wooden cows placed in the middle of the pound.

Olde Town Pound (Hopkinton, Massachusetts)

Many of the town pounds in Massachusetts are located along pretty low-traffic roads, but the Olde Town Pound in Hopkinton is an exception. This historic town pound can be found right along busy West Main Street and it is well marked with a large wooden sign. It has been reported that the Hopkinton Town Pound was built in 1850. It features a circular design made up of large stones. This town pound was not always easy to view. For decades, the town pound was overgrown and unknown by nearly all who passed it. It was not until 1994, that the Hopkinton Town Pound was made visible thanks to the work of a local teenager, Paul Healey. Paul decided to clear the land for his Eagle Scout Project. Another Eagle Scout Project in 1997 led to the creation of the sign. 

Fitchburg Town Pound (Fitchburg, Massachusetts)

The Fitchburg Town Pound is another historic town pound that was built way back in 1798. This square town pound can be found right along Ashburnham Hill Road and it features a small informational sign and an engraved stone. The town pound itself is in pretty good shape thanks to the many people and organizations that have helped restore it over the years. The pound was first restored in 1963 by Bigelow Crocker Jr and Jeanne Crocker. It was later made public when the Crocker Family donated the Crocker Conservation Area in 1994. The town has been restored several more times over the years by the Fitchburg Historical Commission, Fitchburg Department of Public Works, Philip Cacioppo Carpentry, Phillips and Lester Jordan, and Fitcburg Boy Scout Troop 41. Most recently, it was restored in 2014.

Lunenburg Town Pound (Luneburg, Massachusetts)

Adjacent to the city of Fitchburg is the town of Lunenburg. This is another town in Massachusetts with a wonderful town pound. The Lunenburg Town Pound dates back to 1750 and it is located along Highland Street adjacent to Marshall Pond. This pound features tall stone walls and a square design. There is a steel gate at the entryway. The pound sloops down towards the pond since the lot is uneven. A small sign on the wall of the pound features its name and the year it was built.

Leominster Town Pound (Leominster, Massachusetts)

The town of Leominster has had an animal pound since 1749 and the town pound that remains standing today was built in 1816. This town pound is in very good condition, despite its age. Its stone walls are well-packed and solid. The inside of the pound is sometimes mowed and other times it is overgrown. It also sometimes features painted cows which helps passersby understand what the structure was used for. Today, the pound can be found along Summer Street and adjacent to Carter Park.

Ashburnham Town Pound (Ashburnham, Massachusetts)

The Ashburnham Town Pound is a bit of a hidden gem. It can be found just off Cushing Road near the green space of Meetinghouse Hill which was the original town common. This town pound dates way back to 1772 and it was built by Captain Silas Whitney. The pound is marked with a pretty sign which helps visitors identify its location. Unfortunately, this town pound has not been looked after and lacks any restoration. It is in pretty rough condition, but still worth checking out if you are in the area and interested in town pounds.

Shirley Town Pound (Shirley, Massachusetts)

The Shirley Town Pound is one of the highlights of the Shirley Center Historic District which is reminiscent of the late 18th and early 19th-century agricultural community. The town pound was built in 1773 and it can be found right near the town common. It stands adjacent to the beautiful Shirley Meeting House and features a square design with a wooden gate. What is very interesting about this town pound is that it is surrounded by stone columns. At least a dozen stone columns surround it and some are connected with metal rods. It is believed that these are original and may have provided extra security and protection. 

Westwood Town Pound (Westwood, Massachusetts)

The Westwood Town Pound is a celebrated landmark in the town of Westwood, Massachusetts. Construction of the town pound began in 1700 when Leuitenent Joseph Colburn was hired to build a pound in Westwood and he was paid 40 shillings to do so. It features walls about 4-5 feet tall made out of stone and a square shape. There is a wooden fence at the town pound entrance. Westwood used to be home to many dairy farms and cows were frequent visitors to the town pound. Additionally, it has been reported that the town pound in Westwood was also used as a general lost and found for any items.

In 1899, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law requiring all towns to have a seal. The town of Westwood decided to proudly show off their town pound on their seal. The seal has a drawing of the town pound along with the iconic oak tree that once stood inside of it. The 600-year-old oak tree toppled during The Hurricane of 1938. Westwood Town Pound has been restored over the recent years and today it is well-marked and can be found along busy Route 109. There is a small dedicated parking area for visitors. 

Phillipston Town Pound (Phillipston, Massachusetts)

Some town pounds are well cared for and others are not. The Phillipston Town Pound is a great example of one that is not well cared for. This historic stone structure can be found adjacent to the Phillipston Public Library on Templeton Road, just off the town common. The town pound is overgrown, crumbling, and unmarked. It is a unique location to check out, but there is hardly any information on it.

Wilmington Town Pound (Wilmington, Massachusetts)

The Wilmington Town Pound is a historic landmark that was saved from demolition. This town pound was built in 1814 on land given to the town by William Blanchard. It features a square design with walls about 15 feet long and 4 feet high. The original location of the town pound was 9 Glen Road which is private property. In 2009, the owner of the property had planned to remove the town pound. The Department of Public Works moved each numbered stone and moved them to a new town-owned location at the Old Burial Ground across from the Wildwood Cemetery. Stones were put back in their original positions and a new gate was added. Saving this historic town pound was a true community effort.

Charlton Town Pound (Charlton, Massachusetts)

The Charlton Town Pound is a wonderful roadside attraction in Charlton, Massachusetts. This town pound was completed in 1837 and it is made completely of stone. While the gate of the structure no longer remains, two quarried posts can be seen which signal to its past. This square town pound is in pretty good shape despite its age. The structure can be found along Muggett Hill Road adjacent to the Bay Path Cemetery. The Bay Path Cemetery is home to the Grave of Grizzly Adams which is well-worth checking out as well!

Essex Town Pound (Essex, Massachusetts)

The Essex Town Pound in Essex, Massachusetts is one of the oldest remaining town pounds in New England. It was constructed in 1725 and added on to in the 1800s when two quarried gate posts were mounted. This rectangular town pound was in use for over 200 years! Nowadays, the Essex Town Pound can be found along Route 133 (John Wise Avenue) right across from the Essex Fire Station. 

Leyden Town Pound (Leydon, Massachusetts)

Leyden, Massachusetts is a tiny town in Franklin County with a population of just over 700. But, it is well worth venturing into if you are looking for a historic and basically untouched town pound. The Leyden Town Pound can be found near the top of a hill on Middle County Road. The pound is said to have been built way back in 1764. It measures 34 feet square and is made of stone. Large stones make up the base and smaller stones are stacked on stop. Horses or oxen likely pulled the larger stones into place.

The Leyden Town Pound seems like it has not been touched since it stopped being used in the early 1900s. It sits unmarked off the side of the road and there is no gate. Some stones have tumbled down and vegetation is prevalent. 

Leverett Town Pound (Leverett, Massachusetts)

The Leverett Town Pound is another unique town pound in Massachusetts. This one features a circular design and has some pretty tall walls. Silas Ball was authorized by the Town to build the pound on land sold by Walter Graves. It was completed in 1822. A Pound Keeper was elected every year at a Town Meeting. Although not in use by the mid-1900s, the election of the Pound Keeper was a humorous part of Town Meetings until 1975. 

For decades after its abandonment, the town pound was decaying quickly and becoming overgrown. Recent restoration efforts have helped stabilize and beautify the structure. It can be found along Montague Road across from the Leverett Elementary School.

Medfield Town Pound (Medfield, Massachusetts)

The Medfield Town Pound is a beautiful stone structure located on Route 27 in Medfield, Massachusetts right across from the entrance to Homestead Drive. This town pound dates back to 1862. It features a rectangular shape and some pretty tall walls.

Sherborn Town Pound (Medfield, Massachusetts)

The Sherborn Town Pound is a historic town pound that was built in 1770. This town pound features a square design and it is made up of some very large rocks. The pound is pretty overgrown nowadays but there is a sign on its gate marking it. For town pound enthusiasts, this one can be found at 52 South Main Street (also known as Route 27) in Sherborn.

Conclusion:

Hope you enjoyed this blog post covering the 16 Old Town Pounds in Massachusetts to explore. The town pounds in Massachusetts are truly some of the coolest stone structures to check out. Next time you are cruising the backroads, be sure to look out for them!

Picture of Tom Riley

Tom Riley

Hi! I'm Tom. I am the creator of GoXplr. I started this website with a focus on helping people explore better and explore more. I am based in New England and obsessed with traveling. Here at GoXplr, you will find expert blog posts and also maps containing all of the best places to explore. These blogs and maps have taken thousands of hours to complete. I hope you enjoy this resource and it inspires you to get out and explore!

Support GoXplr

GoXplr is an expensive website to keep running. This is not a typical blog. We have a popular blog along with many popular maps. There is nowhere else online where you can find maps of every covered bridge, lighthouse, waterfalls, etc. in New England. Fees are high for website hosting, email marketing, mapping software, and additional plugins to keep things running. Please consider joining our Premium Substack. Thank you so much!

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *