Updated: Dec 1, 2022
1831 Map of Longmeadow
The 1831 map of Longmeadow, the earliest map of our entire town, shows a Longmeadow that is both similar to and different from a map of today's Longmeadow. Geographically larger, it includes the land that is now East Longmeadow as well as land that is now in the Forest Park and Franconia sections of Springfield. And, note that, across the river, Agawam was still part of West Springfield.
Jonathan H. Goldthwait, a noted engraver from our town, drew the 1831 map. Jonathan was born in 1811 to Erastus and Rhoda Goldthwait of Longmeadow, so he was only 20 years old when he created this treasure.
Of particular interest is the line down the middle of the map which roughly mirrors the current division line between Longmeadow and East Longmeadow. Longmeadow and East Longmeadow did not separate into two political entities until 1894, so why is the town divided on the map? This "Division Line between Longmeadow and East Longmeadow" indicates different settlement areas of the town. It also shows the boundaries for the two Congregational Church parishes.
In looking at the map, it is clear than the two halves of town were settled in different patterns.
Longmeadow residents in the western part lived along Longmeadow Street and Williams Street, almost exclusively in the area between the Connecticut River and what is now Shaker Road. Housing was concentrated around the Longmeadow Green. The land east of Shaker Road to the division line was not arable and this part of town remained largely uninhabited into the twentieth century, a time when most Longmeadow residents were no longer farmers.
Most of the land land in the eastern half of Longmeadow was arable and farmers settled in a more scattered fashion throughout the community, primarily living on their farms.
As mentioned above, the division line also indicates the two Congregational parishes in town. In early Longmeadow, the church served as both the social hub and the religious center for the community. Weekly, residents from all parts of Longmeadow would gather together, socializing, sharing news (and gossip), and maintaining contact with friends who lived fairly far away.
First Congregational Church, established in 1716, was for over a century the only church in Longmeadow and it served all residents of the town. Located on the Longmeadow Green (and noted as “Meeting House” on the map), folks who lived in the western part of town could easily get to church.
First Congregational Church, West Village- Longmeadow
However, it was difficult for those who lived in the eastern half of the town to get to services in the western half of town – especially in inclement weather. So, in 1827, residents formed a second parish in the eastern part of town. This Congregational church was located on what is now Somers Road (noted as “Meeting House” on the map below).
Second Congregational Church, East Village- Longmeadow
When Longmeadow residents lost the frequent social contact of weekly gatherings with members of the entire town, they started to lose the sense of community that bound both halves of the town together. And this loss of social connectivity contributed to the push 57 years later to separate into two different political entities.
Today, the First Congregational Church of Christ in Longmeadow has moved off the Green and is at the corner of Longmeadow Street and Williams Street. The Second Congregational Church in East Longmeadow has moved up the road to the south end of the East Longmeadow rotary.
The 1831 map also shows a third church, the "Baptist Meeting House", in the southeastern portion of the map, located right next to the "7th D. School House". First Baptist Church is still located on what is now Parker Street.
Baptist Meeting House, East Longmeadow
The 1831 map is beautiful in it's detail and it shows streets, homeowners, businesses, schools, brooks, meadows, swamps, and other geographic features of both communities. Most streets, while unnamed on the map, can be easily connected to roads on today’s maps. Streams and waterways largely invisible to us today are prominently featured. And, the famous East Longmeadow rotary was already in place, though probably not yet a challenging traffic conundrum. We invite you to explore this wonderful map in greater detail by following this link to an expandable version (click here). Hover over the bottom left hand corner of the map shown on this link and you will see a drop down menu from which you can select the 1831 map. You can also explore our other Longmeadow maps at this link. And, please contact us if you would like to purchase a print of any of our maps.
Contributed by Elizabeth Hoff, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member
Originally published February 18, 2021