Scituate () is a seacoast town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States, on the South Shore, midway between Boston and Plymouth. The population was 18,133 at the 2010 census.
For geographic and demographic information on the village of North Scituate, which is a part of Scituate, please see the article North Scituate, Massachusetts.
The name Scituate is derived from “satuit”, the Wampanoag term for cold brook, which refers to a brook that runs to the inner harbor of the town. In 1710, several residents emigrated to Rhode Island and founded Scituate, Rhode Island, naming it after their previous hometown.
European settlement brought a group of people from Plymouth about 1627, who were joined by immigrants from the county of Kent in England. They were initially governed by the General Court of Plymouth, but on October 5, 1636, the town incorporated as a separate entity.
The Williams-Barker House, which still remains near the harbor, was built in 1634. Twelve homes and a sawmill were destroyed in King Philip’s War in 1676.
In 1717, the western portion of the original land grant was separated and incorporated as the town of Hanover, and in 1788, a section of the town was ceded to Marshfield. In 1849, another western section became the town of South Scituate, which later changed its name to Norwell. Since then, the borders have remained essentially unchanged.
Fishing was a significant part of the local economy in the past, as was the sea mossing industry. The sea was historically an integral part of the town with occasional incidents such as that described February 13, 1894, in which eight men clinging to the vessel’s rigging on a schooner grounded off Third Cliff apparently died before a large crowd watching from shore “literally frozen to the ropes” while unsuccessful rescue efforts continued through the day and their apparently lifeless bodies were covered by nightfall. A small fishing fleet is still based in Scituate Harbor, although today the town is mostly residential.
In 1810, a lighthouse was erected on the northern edge of Scituate Harbor. This lighthouse is now known as Old Scituate Light. During the War of 1812, a British naval raiding party having landed on the beach near the lighthouse was deterred by the two daughters of the lighthouse keeper. The young girls, Abigail and Rebecca Bates, marched to and fro behind sand dunes playing a fife and drum loudly. The British invaders were duped into thinking that the American army was approaching and fled. The girls and this incident became known as the “American Army of Two” or “Lighthouse Army of Two”. Descendants of the Bates family still remain in Scituate.
Another notable lighthouse, Minot’s Ledge Light, stands approximately one mile off Scituate Neck. The Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse (also known as Minot’s Light) has been nicknamed the “I Love You Lighthouse” due to the 1–4–3 pattern that its light repeatedly emits.
Samuel Woodworth’s Old Oaken Bucket house is located in Scituate. The town is also home to the Lawson Tower, a water tower surrounded by a wooden façade, with an observation deck with views of most of the South Shore from the top.
Financier and muckraker Thomas Lawson built his Dreamworld estate in Scituate. The Lawson Tower remains and the Dreamworld condominium complex pays tribute.
During World War II the Fourth Cliff Military Reservation defended the Scituate area with a battery of two 6-inch guns. It is now a recreation area for Hanscom Air Force Base.
Scituate used to be the site of international broadcasting radio station WNYW, which broadcast on the shortwave bands in the late 1960s.
Scituate’s public schools provide co-ed classes for grades K–12. Hatherly Elementary School, Cushing Elementary School, Wampatuck Elementary School and (the most recently opened) Jenkins Elementary School serve grades K–5, the newly opened Lester J. Gates Middle School, which bears the same name as the old Intermediate school, serves grades six through eight and was opened just in time for the 2017–18 school year. Scituate High School serves 9–12. Scituate High’s teams are known as the Sailors, and their colors are blue, white, and black. The teams compete in the MIAA’s Divisions 2 and 3, in the Patriot League. Their chief rivals are Norwell and Cohasset, whom they border, and Hingham, whom they play in their annual Thanksgiving Day football game.
High school students may also choose to attend South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover free of charge. Also, many students, specifically in high school, commute to private schools in and around Boston, most commonly, Thayer Academy and Archbishop Williams in Braintree, Boston College High School (boys only) in Dorchester, and Notre Dame Academy (girls only) in Hingham. B.C. High enrolled 61 young men from Scituate in the 2005–06 school year.
As of the census of 2010, there were 18,133 people, 6,694 households, and 4,920 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,039.6 people per square mile (401.5/km2). There were 7,685 housing units at an average density of 447.3 per square mile (172.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.1% White, 0.8% Black or African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.4% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.83% of the population.
There were 6,694 households, out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.5% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.5% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 26.1% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $70,868, and the median income for a family was $86,058 (these figures had risen to $86,723 and $108,138 respectively as of a 2010 estimate)16. Males had a median income of $60,322 versus $40,200 for females. The per capita income for the town was $33,940. About 1.4% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.5% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.