100 Years…And Counting

  • Visit North Central

If you love parades, you’re in for a treat in September, as the City of Gardner celebrates a major milestone!

Settled in 1764, and designated as a town in 1785, this North Central Massachusetts community grew and blossomed—gaining fame as “The Chair City” in recognition of its manufacturing base—and in 1923 made the leap to incorporation as a city. That transformation is the subject of a year-long celebration, with special events that began in January and will run right through the end of the calendar year.

The festivities have included a flashback dance, essay contests, and a summer gathering that encompassed everything from kids’ activities to food trucks and music. The Gardner Museum hosted a special exhibition through the summer, “Celebrating Gardner’s 100 Years as a City,” showcasing memorable aspects of the City’s first 100 years. Highlighted in that exhibition were long-term, businesses that continue to serve the Chair City today.

gardner city hall

The highlight of the party, though, will be on Sunday, September 17—a two-mile long Centennial Parade through the center of the city. According to the Centennial Committee, even the parade route has meaning: It begins on Elm Street, where Gardner’s Giant Chair is located, and passes by the Gardner Museum on Pearl Street (a repository of Gardner’s history from its earliest settlement in 1764) and continues down Central Street near Monument Park—now known as the venue of popular summer concerts. The route continues through Gardner’s iconic downtown and ends on Waterford Street, where a new community center will open as the city begins its second century.

city of gardner 100 year centennial

The year-long Centennial party wraps up in December with a gala ball in City Hall.

Want to know more about this centennial city? Check out its Facebook page, 100Gardner, for a day-by-day look at the community, spotlighting people, places and events like the 1925 opening of the J. J. Newberry store on Parker Street, the date in 1935 when Gardner regained bragging rights as the home to the largest chair in the world (a 16-foot tall Colonial Hitchcock chair made by the Heywood Wakefield Company for Gardner’s sesquicentennial), the Gardner High School hockey team’s capture of the state championship in 1994, and the 2015 dedication of the new Police Station on Main Street — featuring an entryway that reflects the city’s “Chair City” designation.

Ready for a once-in-a-hundred years party? Gardner is the place to be in ’23!