Hardwick is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States, about 20 miles (32 km) west of the city of Worcester. It had a population of 2,990 at the 2010 census. It includes the villages of Hardwick, Gilbertville, Wheelwright and Old Furnace. Hardwick was first settled in 1737 and was officially incorporated in 1739, named in honor of Philip Yorke, Lord Hardwicke, an English nobleman. In 1762, General Timothy Ruggles, one of the leading Tories of New England, introduced the Hardwick Fair, now the oldest annual fair in the United States. During the late 1800s, Hardwick experienced an expansion of its manufacturing industry, textile and paper mills, both of which left the area by the 1930s.
The town has retained its agricultural roots, a long-standing tradition in the region. Hardwick is the home of Eagle Hill School, founded in 1967. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 40.8 square miles (106 km2), of which 38.6 square miles (100 km2) is land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2), or 5.51%, is water. Hardwick was one of the towns which gained lands (though lost some land area) by the building of the Quabbin Reservoir. The reservoir’s waters extend into the town along the former East Branch of the Swift River, which once ran through the northwest corner of town. Thanks to the disincorporation of the towns which the Quabbin Reservoir and its reservation lands now lie on, Hardwick gained a small portion of the former town of Greenwich along the northwest corner of town, though it is the smallest portion of land gained by any of the towns surrounding the reservoir.
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