Originally part of “The Plantation of Groton”, Shirley was settled in 1720 and incorporated in 1753 and was named after William Shirley, then governor of Massachusetts. Shirley’s well-preserved town center is surrounded by gracious historic homes, and is the site of the First Parish Meeting House, erected in 1773. A center for cultural and community events, the Meeting House is now lovingly preserved by a private non-profit group.
In 1793, a utopian religious community, the Shirley Shaker Village was established in the town. Although its population had dwindled to just 15 people by the 1880’s it remained open until 1908. While its spiritual name was “Pleasant Garden,” it is now absorbed by the MCI Shirley and Sousa-Baranowski correctional institution.
Shirley is served by the commuter rail, with service to Boston’s North Station making it a convenient location for residential development.