Mattapoisett is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 6,045 at the 2010 census.
For geographic and demographic information on the village of Mattapoisett Center, please see the article Mattapoisett Center, Massachusetts.
The Mattapoisett area was originally purchased by Governor William Brenton from the Wampanoag chief Metacomet, also referred to as King Philip, in 1664. Brenton left it to his son Ebenezer, who sold it. The town of Mattapoisett was settled in 1750 and officially incorporated in 1857. Originally a part of Rochester, the area had most likely been visited by European traders and sailors. There is also evidence of prior Wampanoag Indian settlements, including burial grounds, throughout the town. In fact, the word Mattapoisett is Wampanoag for “a place of resting”.
Early industry included logging and farming, but Mattapoisett became best known for its role in the history of whaling. Some 400 ships were built in the town’s shipyards from 1740 until the 1870s, including the Acushnet, the ship that Moby-Dick author Herman Melville sailed on and later deserted. The town supplied many of the whalers used on the East Coast in the first half of the nineteenth century. The last one, the Wanderer, was built in 1878, shortly after the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, which led to the demise of commercial whaling in the United States.
With the decline of whaling and associated shipbuilding, Mattapoisett transitioned into a popular summer vacation spot for prominent New York and Boston residents, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Today, the town is largely a suburban community, with most residents commuting to jobs in greater New Bedford, Providence or Boston, or operating businesses targeting summer tourism.
A fictitious future Mattapoisett features largely in the 1976 novel Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.
Mattapoisett is a member of the 2,700-student Old Rochester Regional School District. The town, along with Marion and Rochester, operate a single school system with each town having its own school subcommittee. Mattapoisett operates the Center School for prekindergarten through third grade students, and the Old Hammondtown School for grades 4–6. Seventh- and eighth-grade students attend Old Rochester Regional Junior High School, and high school students attend Old Rochester Regional High School. Both regional schools are located on Route 6 in Mattapoisett, near the Marion town line. The high school, commonly known as “O.R.R.,” competes in the South Coast Conference for athletics. Their mascot is the bulldog, and their colors are red and white. The town’s Thanksgiving Day football rival is Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville.
In addition to public schools, high school students may also choose to attend Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, located in Rochester. The nearest private schools are Tabor Academy in Marion and Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth.
Prior to the opening of the Old Rochester Regional High School in 1961, students in grades 10–12 attended Fairhaven High School in Fairhaven
As of the 2010 census, there were 6,045 people, 2,505 households, and 1,740 families residing in the town. The population density was 380.4 inhabitants per square mile (146.9/km2). There were 3,262 housing units at an average density of 192.5 per square mile (74.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.1% White, 1.3% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races.
There were 2,532 households, out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.7% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. Of all households 25.5% were made up of individuals, and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.97.
Age distribution figures show 23.9% of the population under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $58,466, and the median income for a family was $68,246. Males had a median income of $48,100 versus $35,938 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,050. About 2.8% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over.