The town was first settled in 1666 as Niquag. Officially incorporated in 1713, the Town of Rutland was made up of Barre, Habbardston, Oakham, Princeton, and the northern half of Paxton. In Northern Rutland there are prison camps used during the revolutionary war used for captured Hessian (soldier) mercenaries hired by the British.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 36.4 square miles (94 km2), of which 35.3 square miles (91 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2), or 3.16%, is water.
Rutland is bordered by Princeton on the northeast, Holden on the east, Paxton on the southeast, Oakham on the southwest, and Barre and Hubbardston on the northwest.
Rutland is about 13 miles (21 km) northwest of Worcester, 52 miles (84 km) west of Boston, and 181 miles (291 km) northeast of New York City. Rutland is the highest town between The Berkshires and the Atlantic. The town common is 1,200 feet (370 m) above sea level. It is also the exact geographical center of Massachusetts.
As of the year 2008, there were approximately 8,257 people, 2,300 households, and 1,721 families residing in the town. The population density was 180.2 people per square mile (69.6/km2). There were 2,392 housing units at an average density of 67.8 per square mile (26.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.58% White, 1.04% Black or African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.44% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.32% of the population.
There were 2,253 households out of which 42.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.1% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.8% were non-families. 19.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the town, the population was spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 33.8% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $62,846, and the median income for a family was $70,689. Males had a median income of $45,824 versus $35,390 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,311. About 1.5% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.0% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.
Each year, Rutland holds a four-day-long Fourth of July celebration, beginning on July 1. Events include performances by area musicians, a lip-sync concert, chicken barbecue hosted by the local Fire Brigade, a Historical Society Lemonade Social, and an acclaimed fireworks show. On the Fourth, Rutland holds a parade with floats made by local organizations and special guests including local and regional politicians. Scott Bakula is slated to perform a spoken-word piece at the 2017 celebration.
August also brings in the Central Tree Chowder Chilli Challenge, an event hosted and sponsored by the Rutland Fire Brigade. Area restaurants compete for local bragging rights for having the best area clam chowder. With two ways to "win", restaurants compete for both the people's choice as well as the votes of their peers and competitors.
While the main draw to the day is the clam chowder, the event has evolved into a family-oriented day. There is no admission fee except for those who wish to sample the chowder. However, there are also pony rides, face painting, "exotic" animal exhibits, inflatable rooms for kids, a free "train ride" (a lawn tractor towing three cars around the local athletic track), as well as miscellaneous vendors, both local and from surrounding towns.
Proceeds go to the local Fire Brigade, which uses the money for restoration of the town's original fire station, and also to help supplement the expenses of the Fire Department by purchasing much needed equipment that would otherwise have to wait for town funding.
Rutland is a part of the Wachusett Regional School District.
There are two elementary schools: Naquag Elementary, for grades up to 2nd, (named after the tribe of Indians that once resided there), and Glenwood Elementary, grades 3rd through 5th.
The middle school is Central Tree Middle School.
The public high schools are Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, and Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School in Charlton.
The Rutland public library began ca.1865. In fiscal year 2008, the town of Rutland spent 1.16% ($159,360) of its budget on its public library—some $20.17 per person.