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The Chapel

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


The First Church of Christ of Longmeadow is a truly historic town landmark. At one time there was an associated structure that stood for more than 75 years and has almost been forgotten, the Longmeadow Chapel. But look closely at old photographs of the church and you will likely notice the smaller, gothic revival era structure just next door.



In early New England, the building where worshipers gathered was called the meetinghouse. Longmeadow’s first meetinghouse was constructed in 1716. According to the First Church of Longmeadow’s website, “The building, which was relatively small (only 32 feet by 38 feet), was located where the flagpole is now standing on the Green. The nearly square unpainted building had a pyramidal roof with a central bell tower. In 1764 so many repairs were needed that it was voted to build a second Meeting House which was built in 1767-68. The old Meeting House was torn down on June 12, 1769. The second Meeting House was located on the Green, just north of the first Meeting House”.


For nearly a century, First Church stood directly on the green. A brick schoolhouse next door burned down in 1852. In addition to functioning as a town school, it was also used for prayer meetings and religious classes. When the new school was built further down the street, it was found necessary to build a chapel to continue to house some of those functions. On March 7, 1853, the Town granted the land west of the Burying Ground and north of Levi Taylor’s home to the First Church. The Chapel was constructed in 1853 just east of the church on the southern corner of the “lane to East Longmeadow,” now known as Williams Street. The minister's parsonage stood on the corner of Williams and Longmeadow Streets.


Location of First Church, Chapel and Parsonage 1870


The Chapel became a gathering place for community meetings and social events. In 1869 members of the congregation wanted to raise money for a new piano for the chapel. Apparently, they were tired of oyster suppers and ice cream festivals, common at the time, and residents of the town, Captain and Mrs. W. H. Seamans, came up with the idea of the Longmeadow May Breakfast. This was hosted at the Chapel and became a popular annual tradition in this town.


Interior of the Chapel, 1907

(image from the Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society)


Springfield Republican, May 3, 1869





In 1873, the Parish voted to move the church off the green to its current location and renovate it. The Chapel had to be moved south to accommodate this. The church renovations gave it a fashionable Gothic Revival appearance at that time.


First Church, post-1874 renovation


First Church, Chapel, Parker House, 1916

(image from the Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society)


Another change to the layout of the area around the green would come in 1921 when it was decided to build the Community House on the site of the Parsonage. This set off a series of moving structures within the small area at the corner of Williams Street and Longmeadow Street. The parsonage (today home to the Montessori School), moved to its present location next door to the church on the south side. The Chapel and the home adjacent to it were moved to new locations nearby on Williams Street.


The Parsonage, 1907

Today this building is the home of the Longmeadow Montessori School

(image from the Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society)


This required moving the Parsonage south to the site of the Captain Simon B. Parker House at 777 Longmeadow Street. It is incredible to conceive of moving these structures which at the time apparently was not uncommon.


Captain Simon B. Parker House

(image from the Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society)


(image from the Emerson Collection, Longmeadow Historical Society)



In 1930 the new town hall was constructed. This required demolition of the Chapel. A venerable structure within the community served its purpose and was no longer needed. Nothing remains of its existence today. This is an important part of town history that should be remembered.


-Contributed by Lenny Shaker, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member

Originally published November 17, 2022

Sources

1. https://www.firstchurchlongmeadow.org/

2. Springfield Republican

3. Longmeadow Historical Society

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