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A Walk Through the Old Emerson Place

Cooley-Emerson House at 476 Longmeadow Street

image courtesy

It’s not every day you get a complete basement-to-attic tour of one of the beautiful 18th-century homes that make Longmeadow Street so special. But today was such a day.

Image courtesy Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society

You may have noticed the For Sale sign outside of 476 Longmeadow Street these past few weeks, right at the intersection of Bliss Road, Emerson Road, and Longmeadow Street. The house, known as the Cooley-Emerson house, was built c. 1760 for Josiah Cooley (1716-1778) and his family. It is possible to trace the house ownership from its original owner to his son, also named Josiah Cooley (1749-1824), who seemingly walked out the door of that house the day he enlisted as a minuteman in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He, in turn, passed the house to his daughter, Lucy (1789-1869) and husband, Luther Colton, and they to their son, Josiah Cooley Colton (1825-1895). In 1872 it sold to an Emerson, thus beginning its next phase of life.

Josiah Cooley's Will, 1772

Stipulating that House and Land Pass to his Wife & Son

from the Collection of the Longmeadow Historical Society

The Emerson name probably sounds familiar, especially as it relates to the famous, and often used “Emerson photos” that help us tell so many stories and learn so many details about life in Longmeadow c.1910-1920. It is at 476 Longmeadow Street where a widowed and aging Paesiello Emerson moved in with his much younger half-siblings, Henry and Annie Emerson, to spend his retirement years. The hundreds of images taken by Paesiello Emerson offer an extraordinary glimpse into life in Longmeadow, and occasionally inside some of its houses.

His own home and the corner on which he lived are among the most photographed places in town. Today, a few Longmeadow Historical Society Board members had the chance to walk through the home and we came prepared, eager to see if we could match up particular images with the places within the house they were taken. It was exciting to be in a house that has stood watching over Longmeadow Street since before the Revolutionary War. There are enough original 12-over-12 windows with original glass remaining, as well as other architectural details such as doors, hand-forged latches, fireplace hearths, and wood floors to allow the imagination to wander back to 18th-century Longmeadow.

Dr. Al McKee, of the Longmeadow Historical Society,

examines an original stone hearth

That same hearth as seen c. 1915

Image courtesy Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society

Annie Emerson and her brother, Henry, lived in the home until their deaths in the 1940s. Annie was a particularly devoted Longmeadow historian, and her notebooks and papers are still valuable resources for us today. Surely, she could feel the history all around her within the old house where she researched and wrote.

The realtor is running an Open House this Saturday, May 6, from 11-1. Stop by and take a walk through this extraordinary treasure. As they say, bring your imagination. Perhaps you will be the next steward of an important piece of Longmeadow history.

For more information, visit

-Contributed by Melissa M. Cybulski, Longmeadow Historical Society

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