Wareham (WAIR-ham) is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 21,822.
Wareham was first settled in 1678 by Europeans as part of the towns of Plymouth and Rochester. It was officially incorporated in 1739 and named after the town of Wareham in England. Because of its geography, Wareham’s early industry revolved around shipbuilding and the related industries. It also served as a resort town, with many smaller resorts scattered around the town, especially in Onset. Like Sandwich, its waterways, especially Buttermilk Bay, were considered as possible pathways for the Cape Cod Canal. Although the canal proper goes through Bourne and Sandwich, the southern approach to Buzzards Bay passes just south of the peninsulas that make up the topography of the town.
Wareham is home of the Tremont Nail Factory, the oldest nail manufacturer in the United States. The factory was established in 1819.
For years the town was known by its slogan “Gateway to Cape Cod,” but in January 2020 adopted a new slogan: “It’s Better Before the Bridges.” The intent was to draw attention to the appeal of Wareham as a tourist destination itself, rather than as a conduit to somewhere else.
Wareham has a public school system. There is one elementary school—John W. Decas. Minot Forest Elementary—was closed in 2018 and absorbed into the middle school until a new building is erected for Minot.; Wareham Middle School; and Wareham High School. The East Wareham Partnership houses the former West Wareham Academy and the Cooperative Junior-Senior High School.
Wareham High competes in the South Coast Conference for athletics. Its nickname is the Vikings, and its colors are Blue, White, and Gold. Wareham competes with Bourne High School in an annual Thanksgiving Day football game.
The town also sends students to Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical High School
High school students may also choose to attend Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne.
There are no private schools in the town, with the nearest being Tabor Academy in Marion. The nearest Catholic high school is Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth.
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,335 people, 8,200 households, and 5,338 families residing in the town. The population density was 568.1 people per square mile (219.3/km2). There were 10,670 housing units at an average density of 298.1 per square mile (115.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town as of July, 2019 was 57.42% White, 32.92% African American, Asian 0.9%, 5.20% from two or more races, 4.0% Hispanic or Latino and 0.9% American Indian.
There were 8,200 households, out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.4% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.02.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 24.5% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $40,422, and the median income for a family was $45,750. Males had a median income of $37,601 versus $28,306 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,312. 10.7% of the population and 8.1% of families were below the poverty line. Of those 16.6% under the age of 18 and 13.5% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.