Longmeadow Annual Town Report, 1960
Another week, another school visit! This week, Blueberry Hill School’s 3rd graders had a visit from the Longmeadow Historical Society to talk about local history. In the process, they learned a little about the history of their own school.
Springfield Republican, May 13, 1956
The mid-1950s was a whirlwind of school planning and building in town. Prior to 1955, Longmeadow junior high students finished 9th grade at the Junior High on the green (presently part of Center School) and boarded trolleys or buses headed to one of the high schools in Springfield to complete their education.
In 1955, Longmeadow responded to a boom in residential construction and population growth by constructing its own first high school on Grassy Gutter Road to house students in Grades 10-12. The 9th Grade soon joined them. Wolf Swamp Road School opened the next year in 1956 to relieve the overcrowding at the Norway Street School off Maple Road. And in September 1957, Blueberry Hill School welcomed students in Kindergarten through Grade 6. Imagine how busy town meetings and school committees must have been in those years as important decisions about budgets and school district boundaries were being made.
Blueberry Hill School was constructed to handle the overflow of elementary school students from the Converse Street School which had been built around 1918. The land east of Burbank Road had not been developed into neighborhoods yet, but would be after school construction had begun. Annual Reports from the time are filled with warrant articles about the naming of streets, paving of roads, and infrastructure related to water and sewer systems in the area off Bliss Road near the high school.
Longmeadow Annual Town Report, 1956
Blueberry Hill School opened its doors in September 1957 to 200 elementary school students under the leadership of Principal Ronald G. Billings, who had previously held the same role at the Converse Street School. As far as the name “Blueberry Hill,” it is hard to find any solid evidence pointing to an abundance of blueberry bushes in the area. Perhaps it’s true that the area was a great place for picking, but it is also possible that it was just a nice-sounding name.
Interestingly, the famous song of the same name by Fats Domino was released in September of 1956, and became a chart-topper after a November 1956 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Surely, workers on the school construction site and in households around town were humming along to the tune as they went about their work. The song was popular in other versions all throughout the 1940s as well, but it was Fats Domino’s take that had staying power.
Longmeadow Annual Town Report, 1957
Even as initial construction on all three new schools was occurring in the 1950s, it was already apparent that each building was going to need additions in the years to come to meet the needs of a rapidly growing town population. As a matter of fact, other sites were also being looked at as potential sites for additional school buildings, including an area of Emerson Road.
In time, the Converse and Norway Street Schools were turned over for other purposes in town and the additions to Center, Wolf Swamp and Blueberry Hill School have been sufficient to house Longmeadow’s youngest learners. Can we talk about those middle schools, though…..?
This week the Longmeadow Historical Society recognizes
M&T Bank for their support of History Notes