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At a glance ...

Updated:   02/27/2007 10:26:11 AM EST

Incorporated: 1765.

Population: 1,755 (U.S. Census, 2000); 1,786 (Town census, 2005).

Area: 46.3 square miles (land).

Elevation: 1,200 (average); 1,752 ft. (highest point).

Average annual snowfall: 86 inches (estimated).

Median resident age: 39.3.

Median household income: $46,806 (national: $41,994), (U.S. Census, 2000).

Median family income: $53,417 (U.S. Census, 2000).

Average house value: $229,900.

Unemployment rate: 4 percent.

Races: White, 1,710; Hispanic/Latino, 19; African-American, 12; American Indian/Alaska native, 3; Asian, 9; Mixed, 19; Other, 2 (U.S. Census, 2000).

Ancestries: Irish, 17 percent; English, 14 percent; French, 12 percent; Italian, 11 percent; German, 10 percent; Polish, 7 percent; French Canadian, 6 percent; Scottish, 3 percent; Russian, 3 percent; Swiss, 1 percent; Ukrainian, 1 percent; Swedish, 1 percent; Dutch, 1 percent; Austrian, 1 percent; Hungarian, 1 percent; Welsh, 1 percent; Scotch-Irish, 1 percent; Black or African American, 1 percent; American Indian tribes, 1 percent.

Town Web site: www.townofbecket.org

The town ...

... was settled in 1740. ... has a bell at the local Congregational Church made by Paul Revere in 1780. ...

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is home to the West Branch of the Westfield River, which forms part of the northern boundary of Becket and is highly regarded by trout anglers. ... has several major summer camps, including Camp Greylock, Camp Watitoh, Camp Becket and Camp Chimney Corners run by the YMCA. ... has the Becket Washington School, part of the Central Berkshire School District, serving 135 students from both towns, pre-K to grade 5. ... has a collection of more than 22,000 books at The Becket Athenaeum, which is open three half-days a week. ... maintains a virtually full-time police department, funds a professionally staffed ambulance service, since volunteers have become impossible to find, and has a volunteer fire department. ... has a town hall that is open five days a week during normal business hours.

Of interest ...

The town was named after the original "Beckett," an estate or "tithing" which once belonged to the Admiral Lord Barrington (as in Great Barrington). It is located at the southern tip of Berkshire, England. The origin of the name "Beckett" is still a puzzle. In early days it had been spelled "Becote" and is believed to be of Norman French derivation. There seems to be no known connection with the name or family of the famous Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas A'Becket. The name always went with the property, long before it was granted to Lord Barrington as one of his perks when he was raised to peerage.

Sir Francis Bernard, the royal governor of Massachusetts in 1765, was a close friend of Lord Barrington and was himself a native of Berkshire, England. It is said that he enjoyed many a happy restful holiday in the beautiful surroundings of Beckett, and that these pleasant memories influenced him in 1765 to give the name Becket to Township Number Four when he approved its incorporation.

In 1927, the Ballou Reservoir burst its earthen bank and poured a 25-foot wall of water down the narrow valley — and the settlement was nearly wiped out. The town's principal industry, a silk mill, was swept away; houses and shops floated downstream with the flotsam and the debris. This disaster marked the end of Becket's era of industrialism.

With only a handful of remaining businesses in the town, most residents commute significant distances to Pittsfield, Lee, Springfield and even northern Connecticut; average commuting time for all employed residents is 31 minutes, one of the longest in the state.



 
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