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The City of Gardner is an urban/industrial center. The city was settled late and showed a dispersed, small scale woodworking industry in the 1800's. By the early 19th century, however, this had become concentrated in a large number of chair manufacturing shops. Between 1830 and 1870 the expansion had brought in immigrants mostly from England, Ireland and Canada. Russian Finns, Swedes and Poles joined them in the 1890's as the chairmaking industry expanded. The Heywood-Wakefield chair factory complex was created and expanded between 1870 and 1897 and remained for the whole of the 19th century a major factor in the city's economy. Mt. Gardner Seminary, a college for women, was formed in 1884 and the free public library was created in 1886, but the Gardner Light Infantry, a voluntary military troop, was formed as early as 1813. In 1896, the evening naturalization classes established in the city to help immigrants become citizens were commended by the state. The Gardner State Colony for the Insane, built in 1904, was a pioneer in the then innovative dispersal of patients in cottage residences rather than one huge building, a model that has since been copied around the country. (Seal supplied by community. Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission)
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