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Route 62



Sometimes, it’s the little things that make for greatness. By Jack Morris // photographs by Robert Boyd


“Middleton? Where’s that?”


If you were to take a survey of residents in and around Boston, those three words, accompanied by a puzzled look, would more often than not be the response, as if to say, “Are you sure you don’t mean Middleborough?”


We’re sure, and for the residents of this quiet but active suburb located within putting distance of I-95, the seeming anonymity of the town makes it a great place to live and raise a family. The rolling landscape and vast farmland that surround Middleton could have served as the backdrop for a classic Pepperidge Farm commercial. In fact, it’s the agrarian history of Middleton that brought this town to prominence back in the mid-1600s. Today, however, it’s the low tax rate, good schools, and multitude of land options that make Middleton one of the fastest-growing towns on the North Shore. It has also attracted plenty of interest, not just from neighboring communities, but also from professional athletes, a fact that Town Administrator Ira Singer is happy to point out. Former Celtics great Jo Jo White calls Middleton home, as are a handful of basketball and hockey players.


“We have a high quality of life and still have a small town feel. People really like living here,” White says. “Plus, the proximity to Boston is our own little secret. I once made it to the Tobin Bridge in 19 minutes without speeding!”


Middleton is a hit with families, thanks to its focus on education. The town recently opened the new

Howe-Manning Elementary School

, a three-story, 84,500-square-foot facility. Ground has been broken for a new high school that will combine Essex Agricultural & Technical High School with North Shore Technical High School to serve 1,500 students from 17 surrounding towns. In addition, a new private school is also being built near Farmer Brown’s Farm Stand on Maple Street.




Howe-Manning Elementary School, Middleton

Howe-Manning Elementary School



Having a strong school system is certainly a major draw for residents, but visitors flock to Middleton for its culinary delights and outdoor recreation. A good meal isn’t hard to find with a dozen or more top choices all within a few miles of each other—Maggie’s Farm, Bluefin, Siam Grill 88, and Dailey’s Restaurant & Pub. Shopaholics need look no further than the southern stretch of Rt. 114, where popular national stores mix with local home goods and gift shops.


When the weather is nice, sometimes the best way to see Middleton is by turning off the engine, grabbing a canoe and a paddle, and floating down the Ipswich River, which meanders south through town. Another option is to lace up the hiking shoes, head to the northern part of town, and follow the trails into Boxford State Forest. If two-wheeled activity is more your style, John Stanwood, owner of Woody’s Cyclery, advises biking over to check out the abandoned rail line. The town has formed a Rails-to-Trails committee in hopes of turning the old Essex Railway—which extends from the North Andover Town line on Sharpners Pond Road to the Danvers line behind Essex Agricultural high school—into a non-motorized pedestrian hiking/biking trail. “The trail runs through prime bird watching terrain,” says Stanwood. “It’s a great place for the kids, and it runs through the middle of town, but most people don’t know it’s there.”



Farm, Middleton A farm in Middleton



Seasonal events also make Middleton an attractive destination, especially in the fall, when the annual Pumpkin Festival attracts thousands of people from surrounding towns with treats like pumpkin carving contests, hayrides, and plenty of great local food.


While those unfamiliar with Middleton might not know where it is or confuse it with that “other” town, it’s clear that the residents here are onto something special. So, the next time someone asks about Middleton, consider saying, “Never heard of it.” Let’s just keep this place our own little secret.


The Details


Date of Settlement: 1659. Date of Incorporation: 1728. Area: 14.4 square miles. Population: 8,987. Zip Code: 01949. Median Household Income: $81,395. Schools: Fuller Meadow Elementary School,

Howe-Manning Elementary School

. Notable Residents: Radio host Norm Nathan; former Boston Bruins players Lyndon Byers, P.J. Axelsson, Sergei Samsonov, Kyle McLaren, and Tim Thomas; former Boston Celtics player Jo Jo White.



Planning your trip to Middleton? Add these businesses to your must-see list.