In 1884, the Northern Worcester District Registry of Deeds was established in the former Superior Courthouse Building.
The registry contains deeds and land records for the northern section of the county; Ashburnham, Fitchburg, Leominster, Lunenburg, and Westminster. Records date back to 1868.
The county commissioners in 1884 named Charles Rockwood of Fitchburg the first Register of Deeds. The office opened for business August 1, 1884, and received 31 deeds to be recorded on opening day. Mr. Rockwood died in 1892 and the Commissioners named David H. Merriam to the post. He retired in 1939. Prior to his retirement, the post was made an elective one.
In 1941, Mr. Bernard T. Moynihan assumed the position of Register of Deeds. In 1941, the number of deeds and mortgage registered was 4738 with revenues of $8,979. The post-war building boom saw these figures grow to 7925 in 1954 and revenues increased to $35,012. Mr. Moynihan died in 1987; however, by this time the registry was recording almost 27,000 documents per year and revenues had increased to over one million dollars per year.
During this time period, the Registry of Deeds had its own book bindery with as many as 350 books bound in a one month period. Books were bound for county district courts, court records for Worcester, deeds and old law books. All binding and impression work was done by hand, on hand operated presses under the supervision and work of Leon H. Hardy. Now considered a lost art, the bindery fell to modern technology and was dismantled in the mid 1980’s. Books were then sent out to be printed and bound off-site.
There was also a microfilming department operated by Mr. Walter Maynard. The department consolidated all old records onto film. This has continued into the present with each document filmed and then the film is stored off-site.
After the death of Mr. Moynihan, the County Commissioners appointed Mr. Bernard Chartrand to complete Mr. Moynihan’s term. John B. McLaughlin, took office in 1989. During Mr. McLaughlin’s term, the registry was completely computerized. Documents are scanned, stored, microfilmed and books are printed in-house with copies of documents and plans instantly available. 1999 saw over 28,000 documents recorded with revenues of close to $1,600,000.
July 1, 1998, Worcester County government was abolished. The Worcester North Registry of Deeds is now under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Secretary of State’s office may be accessed on the internet at www.sec.state.ma.us.
In June of 2005, the Registry relocated to Putnam Place, 166 Boulder Drive, Suite 202. This is the site of the former General Electric Co. and was newly renovated by the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority. The new office is state of the art and handicapped accessible. The public can readily access grantor/grantee indexes from 1957-present, registered land indexes and optical from 1899, optimal imagery from 1868–present, plan information and images available from 1849–present, and assessors' information and maps.
In 2006, Kathleen Reynolds Daigneault was elected as the first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in as Register of Deeds on January 3, 2007.
William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts