Whitman, Massachusetts

Whitman is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, notable in part as being the place where the chocolate chip cookie was invented. The village of Auburnville is located at the southwest edge of Whitman. Whitman was first settled by Europeans in 1670 and was officially incorporated in 1875. Prior to becoming Whitman, it was formally the southern parish of the town of Abington. The new name, Whitman, was taken from Augustus Whitman, whose family grew up in South Abington, and who was adopted in 1886. Before taking on the name Whitman, the small town was known as Little Comfort.

Whitman has a rich history, deeply rooted in the shoemaking industry. Regal Shoe and Bostonian Shoe are perhaps the most notable of the shoemakers associated with Whitman’s history. At one time, there were more than 20 shoe factories and related factories making metal shanks in town. A number of abandoned factories remain, with some having been turned into condominium projects. In the late 1930s, Ruth Graves Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies at the Toll House Inn on Bedford Street.

The former Whitman Savings Bank was the first in the country to offer savings bank life insurance (SBLI). Whitman is the home of the famous Peaceful Meadows Ice Cream house, as well as the former home of Saftler’s Inc., one of the oldest and largest independently owned fabric stores in the country, prior to its closure in June 2011.

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