South Hadley is home to Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley High School, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, and the Berkshire Hills Music Academy.
South Hadley was an uninhabited area of Hadley from 1659 until 1721 when the first English settlers arrived from Hadley. A separate town meeting was held in 1753 (1733?), and the town was officially split and incorporated in 1775 (1773?).
The town is the home of the nation's first successful navigable canal as well as the oldest continuing institution of higher education for women.
The Civil War Monument (believed to be by Jerome Connor) in the center of the Commons was given to South Hadley by William H. Gaylord in the 1900s. The Gaylords also donated the Gaylord Memorial Library, located near the center of town.