About our Community – Brief History
As early as 1735 a long street, eight rods in width, was laid in a north and south direction in the northwesterly part of Athol, a little east of the top of West Pequoiag hill. On either side of this street small lots, called home lots, were laid out in regular form. Many of the lots were quickly occupied by settlers. The little community thus formed soon attracted other settlers to adjacent parts of Warwick and Royalston.
However, this compact settlement was located so far from the center of the nearest towns as to make it inconvenient for the people to gather with their fellow townspeople for religious service and management of municipal affairs. Then, between 1769 and 1780, the Ruggles Grant and the east end of Erving's Grant filled with settlers. This population increase led the isolated community decide to become a town.
As a result, on October 15, 1783, the area including the northwesterly part of Athol, the southeasterly part of Royalston, the southeasterly part of Warwick, the easterly part of a grant to John Erving, the Ruggles Grant and the Hasting farm, were all incorporated as the District of Orange. On February 24, 1810, the Town of Orange was incorporated.
The town was named after William, Prince of Orange.
Many of the early settlers were lineal descendants of the first settlers at Plymouth and vicinity, and of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They first settled in North Orange, which remains a scenic village.
From 1780 to 1840, Orange was primarily a farming town. Many of the farms were large and well managed. However, various industries eventually sprouted along the banks of the Millers River, including the New Home Sewing Machine Company, which in 1892 produced 1,200,000 sewing machines.
By 1879, the town had a population of about 2,000 people, many employed in industry. Orange was also the site of the first automobile factory in the United States, at the current home of Pete's Tire Barn on East Main Street, built in 1900.