Star on the Storrs House Museum
Have you ever noticed the plaques on many of the antique houses in Longmeadow? The markers feature a white star and a many also have a number in the middle of the star. Why do these houses have markers and what do the symbols mean?
The house marker project was part of Longmeadow's celebration of the country's bicentennial. The numbers on the markers correspond to the numbers on a brochure created by the Longmeadow Bicentennial Commission in 1974 entitled “Colonial Longmeadow: A Brief History and Guide to the 18th and Early 19th Century Homes”. The brochure features a map of Longmeadow Street drawn by Longmeadow resident Wallis H. Sturtevant. Designed to be a walking tour of historic Longmeadow, 80 historic homes were assigned a number and they were briefly described. Numbering began at the north end of Longmeadow Street and continued south to the Connecticut border. Houses #78, #79, and #80 are on Williams Street.
Colonial Longmeadow: A Brief History and Guide to the 18th and Early 19th Century Homes
The markings on each plaque also provide information on each house.
If a house was built in the 18th Century, the star is on a red background.
If a house was built in the 19th Century, the star is on a blue background. There are 10 homes for which the build date could not conclusively be determined and these homes have both red and blue backgrounds.
If the marker also includes a tri-cornered hat, someone who lived in the house fought in the Revolutionary War. Stars with the hat indicate how many soldiers from the house fought as Minutemen.
If an “A” is on the plaque, the house is of architectural interest.
Legend of Symbols
The Bicentennial Commission asked homeowners for permission to install the wooden markers on their homes for the duration of the Bicentennial Celebration (April 1975 - December 1976); at the end of the celebration, the markers were to be removed. But, in December 1976, almost all homeowners requested that the markers remain on their homes, so most of these markers, which were designed to be temporary, stayed in place.
In 1988, these 80 homes were featured in Historic Homes of Longmeadow, a book written by Longmeadow residents Chris and Susan Hall and Jeff and Nancy Hayes. The authors further researched each of the houses in the “Colonial Longmeadow” brochure and included an image of each house. Historic Homes of Longmeadow is out of print but a copy can be found at Storrs Library.
Historic Homes of Longmeadow
The wooden plaques, which were intended for limited use, weathered over the years and the Longmeadow Historical Commission fielded many requests for replacement signage. In 2003, Alex Bistran of Boy Scout Troop 90 earned his Eagle Scout award for a project that replaced weathered house signs with new signs. The replacement plaques do not include a number, just the white star on a blue or red background. A sample replacement sign is the one on the Storrs House Museum which is shown at the top of this article.
Since 1988, new online databases and other research tools have enabled researchers to uncover additional information, and sometimes correct erroneous information, about these homes. Judy and Jim Moran provided updated research on many of these homes and the families that lived in them through the “Throw Back Thursday” articles that the Longmeadow Historical Society sent out from 2016 through 2020. Ongoing research will further illuminate the stories of the homes and their owners.
Today, the map in the “Colonial Longmeadow” brochure is available online as an interactive walking tour. Links to each home provide a history of the house from Historic Homes of Longmeadow.
Further information about houses, as well as information about other Longmeadow houses, can be found at our interactive online map, Through the Lens- Longmeadow 100 Years Ago.
Take a walk down Longmeadow Street, either virtually or on foot (getting your steps in!), and help celebrate our town's rich architectural heritage.
Historic Homes of Longmeadow
“Colonial Longmeadow: A Brief History and Guide to the 19th and Early 19th Century Homes”
Longmeadow Historical Society Archives
Contributed by Elizabeth Hoff, LHS Board Member
Originally published March 7, 2022