Petersham was first settled by Europeans in 1733 and was officially incorporated on April 20, 1754. On February 4, 1787, it was the site of the second battle of Shays’ Rebellion. The town is noted for its common, part of the Petersham Common Historic District. About 45 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Country Store, an 1842 Greek Revival structure that has housed a general store on its main floor since its opening, sits just to the East of the common.
The town’s lands were expanded greatly by the building of the Quabbin Reservoir in 1938. When the towns of the Swift River Valley were disincorporated, Petersham and neighboring New Salem benefited the most, with Petersham receiving all of the former town of Dana, much of the town of Greenwich, and a small portion of the former town of Prescott east of the Middle Branch of the Swift River. Its modern southwestern borders lie along the former East and Middle branches of the Swift River, and includes lands that were once part of Hampshire County.
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