Updated: Dec 1, 2022
First Congregational Church on the Longmeadow Town Green
When my husband and I first drove north on Longmeadow Street, we were drawn to the well-maintained antique homes and boulevard-like appearance of the street. By the time we reached the north end of town, we were intrigued enough by the physical beauty of the town to stop at Stearns & Yerrall to make an appointment with a realtor. The built environment and expansive vistas that caught our attention were not an accident; they were intentionally created and maintained by the Town of Longmeadow.
Longmeadow residents have been actively preserving it’s history for a long time. Longmeadow is fortunate to have so many older houses still standing; they are here today only because many early residents of Longmeadow valued and maintained their homes. As the town evolved and new streets and community buildings were required, residences which were standing in the way of development needed to either be relocated or torn down. To preserve these homes, residents moved them to new locations. For example, the Storrs House Museum was moved to its current location in 1932 when the Richard Salter Storrs Library was built. When Center School and Center School Annex were built in the 1920’s, existing homes on the property were moved to new locations. When the streetcar was installed on Longmeadow Street in the 1890’s, the Thomas Hale house had to be moved; it is now at 37 Birnie Road. For information on moving homes in Longmeadow, see Houses on the Move.
Residents of Longmeadow, many of whom were farmers, valued and wanted to preserve the town’s rural and agrarian aesthetic. In the 1800’s, most of the commercial enterprises and community buildings in the west village were located on the Green and neighboring Chandler Avenue. A beautification push to enhance the appearance of the west village and “restore” the Green to an open, green expanse began in the 1830’s. Shops located on the Green were given 40-year leases which were not renewed. By 1898, all commercial activity had been cleared from the Green.
The sanctuary of First Congregational Church, which was also located on the Green, was moved to its current location in 1874.
As part of this beautification movement, the Longmeadow Street Improvement Association was founded in 1876.
In 1899, interest in the history of Longmeadow spurred residents to organize the Longmeadow Historical Society. Now a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Longmeadow Historical Society operates and maintains the Storrs House Museum, curates and preserves extensive town archives, images, and artifacts, and serves as a resource for persons interested in Longmeadow history. Our archive of early town documents has provided researchers with the opportunity to re-evaluate existing narratives of Longmeadow's history, updating them to respond to today's queries. For 40 years, the Longmeadow Historical Society ran Long Meddowe Days, a history-celebrating community fair held on the Green. For more details on the founding of the Longmeadow Historical Society, please see Our History.
Springfield Republican, June 3, 1899
Over the years, Historical Society members have led town preservation efforts. For example, in the 1930s, ten volumes of the diary of Rev. Stephen Williams were transcribed as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). When WPA funds were fully expended and the project had not yet been completed, Historical Society members stepped in and finished the job. Rev. Stephen Williams, the first pastor of First Church, had kept a daily diary for the 66 years of his pastorate. The 4,000 page transcription, as well as the original handwritten diary, have been digitized and can be accessed through the Storrs Library website.
Oral histories of town residents have been preserved through at least two projects:
In the 1970s, Historical District Commissioners and Historical Society members audio-taped interviews of former selectmen, librarians, school headmistresses, and other long-time residents.
About 10 years ago, former Selectwoman Kathy Grady and Longmeadow Community TV created Living History, a series of video interviews of long-time Longmeadow residents. These interviews can be viewed at Living History.
One of the most important Longmeadow preservation efforts was the establishment of “The Green” historic district in 1973. A Massachusetts Local Historic District, it is governed by the Longmeadow Historic District Commission. In 1982, “The Green” also became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, "The Green" district was expanded and six neighboring houses were added.
Longmeadow Historic District "The Green"
In 1994, the “Longmeadow Street – North Historic District” was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike "The Green", The “North Historic District” is not also a Massachusetts Local Historic District, so the Historic District Commission is not responsible for it.