Gardner, Massachusetts is a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 20,228 as of the 2010 census. Gardner is home to Dunn State Park, Gardner Heritage State Park, Lake Wampanoag Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mount Wachusett Community College.
Named in honor of Col. Thomas Gardner, the community was first settled in 1764 and officially incorporated as a town in 1785 after receiving land grants from the surrounding towns of Ashburnham, Westminster, Templeton and Winchendon. Dating from about 1805, it became a center for lumber and furniture industries. Gardner is known as the "Chair City" and "The Furniture Capital of New England", due to its long history in furniture production. By 1910 it had 20 chair factories which produced 4 million chairs per year. It was also noted for silversmithing. The Gardner State Colony for the Insane pioneered the use of cottage residences. Gardner was incorporated as a city in 1923.
Gardner is the birthplace of Heywood-Wakefield furniture, dating from 1826 when the five Heywood brothers began to fashion furniture in a barn near their father's farm. Brothers Walter, Levi, Seth, Benjamin and William began that year making wooden chairs. In the early years, Walter fashioned chairs by hand, also using a foot lathe. He was soon joined by his brothers Levi and Benjamin, part-time, while running a nearby country store. A new store was built across the street from the original store. In 1831 Levi moved to Boston where he established an outlet store to sell the chairs, while Benjamin and William remained in Gardner to manufacture the chairs. A fire destroyed the Heywoods' chair shop in 1834. In 1835 the partnership of B. F. Heywood & Co. was formed, composed of Benjamin, Walter and William, with Moses Wood and James W. Gates. Gardner was also the home of the Conant-Ball furniture factory. Nichols & Stone Chair Company traces their origin to 1762 in Westminster, Massachusetts. The company moved to Gardner at the turn of the 20th century. As of July 2008, it was announced they would terminate production. The Nichols & Stone name, the intellectual property and the design rights were purchased by the L. & J.G. Stickley of Manlius, New York.