Spotlight on Ayer!

Freedom's Way and Tiny's Restaurant, our
Spotlight on Ayer! sponsor, encourage you to get out and experience the sites of Ayer. As you tour the sites, take photos and email them to us at or post them on our Facebook page. Download the This Place Matters sign from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and include the sign in your photos.

download a printable pdf version of this tour in the attachments section below

click here for a GoogleMap version of this tour

Sandy Pond Schoolhouse
Intersection of Sandy Pond Road, Willow Road
and Westford Road

Groton District School #11 was established in 1792. The present building was constructed in 1868. The average yearly enrollment in the ungraded school was 18, drawn from surrounding farms. The town closed the school in 1906, when pupils could ride the new trolley line to Ayer. In 1908, town meeting voted to convey the building to the newly formed Sandy Pond School Association, comprised of former teachers, pupils and their families. The work of the Association continues today, with periodic open houses and an annual character award to a Junior High School student.

Photo courtesy of Jason Holmes.

Nashua River Rail Trail
Rail Trail parking lot off Groton Street

“Groton Junction” was so named in 1848 when the north-south Worcester & Nashua railroad crossed the east-west Boston & Fitchburg railroad. The “Junction” quickly developed into a commercial center oriented around the rail industry, and by 1871 petitioned the State to be set off as a new town of Ayer. Passenger service ended on the Worcester & Nashua line in 1934; in 1987, the state DCR purchased the right of way. The 11-mile Rail Trail from Ayer through Groton Pepperell and Dunstable opened in 2002. For more information, visit The Nashua River Rail Trail

Photo courtesy of Jason Holmes.

Civil War Camp Stevens
111 Fitchburg Road, on right side of entrance

A granite monument marks the location of the Civil War training grounds Camp Stevens. The 53rd Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, which mustered here on October 17, 1862, was comprised of men largely from northern Worcester County and adjoining towns of Middlesex County. The 53rd participated in the capture and surrender of Port Hudson, Louisiana, in June 1863. The monument was erected in 1915 and eleven veterans of the 53rd regiment were present.

Photo courtesy of Jason Holmes.

Main Street and Town Hall
Main Street

Following the disastrous fire in April 1872 that destroyed the entire north side of Main Street, the merchants were quick to rebuild. The 3 and 4 story buildings reflect a variety of architectural styles. An agreement was reached with Dr. James Cook Ayer, of Lowell, for whom the town was named, that he would partially finance the construction of a new Town House. Dr. Ayer hired the architects Weston & Rand, and construction began in 1873 and the building was dedicated in October 1876.

Pine Meadow Conservation Area
Groton Harvard Road

Pine Meadow Conservation Area, located on Groton Harvard Road, is comprised of approximately 125 acres of forest and ponds open to the public. The area hosts a variety of wildlife including osprey, porcupines, deer, beavers, herons and several species of dicks. It is an ideal bird watching destination. Walking trails enable visitors to observe the ponds as well as other points of interest including porcupine dens, a heron rookery, and several geological formations from the last Ice Age.

Photo by George Bacon

Thomas Conroy,
May 11, 2011, 11:16 AM