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Wolf Swamp Road and School

Wolf Swamp Road School c. 1956

Longmeadow Historical Society Archives

Who among us has not wondered about the name “Wolf Swamp?” In preparation for a visit to Wolf Swamp Road School’s third-grade class for a presentation on Longmeadow history, I thought it would be the perfect time to look into the origins of the unusual moniker.

Spoiler: I couldn’t find any compelling stories about marauding packs of wolves inhabiting that area of Longmeadow. I really, really tried. Most newspaper database searches from the 18th century onward only mentioned a similarly named part of West Springfield. There was no mention of it in the earliest town records nor in Stephen Williams’ diaries either.

There was a brief June 1883 legal notice in The Springfield Republican about an estate auction that included a parcel of land in Longmeadow whose eastern boundary was “the land called Wolf swamp.” I had to jump forward to a 1947 Annual Town Report record of a warrant article about renaming Rowe Road to Wolf Swamp Road. It did reference a 1757 plan for the laying out a road there three rods wide. A road in that area can be seen on the 1831 town map with a house owned by “N. Rowe” clearly identified. A 1939 map shows the road was labeled “Rowe Road.”

Warrant Article 26 at Longmeadow Town Meeting, February 1948

"N. Rowe" 1894 map of Longmeadow

1939 map of Longmeadow showing Rowe Road

And there is a transfer of deed from Josiah Cooley to David Ferry in 1805 mentioning “a lot of land called Wolf Swamp lot”. The document explicitly mentions that Cooley received the land from his “Mother Cooley.” It is telling that Mother Cooley was the daughter of Thomas Hale and an early map of Longmeadow shows an area near the East Longmeadow border named “Hale’s Meadow.” Perhaps Hale’s Meadow contained an area that had colloquially been known as Wolf Swamp.

1805 land transfer of "Wolf Swamp lot" from Josiah Cooley to David Ferry

As for the school, land for a new school was set aside by a town vote in 1947 in anticipation of the need. Two important factors led to a need for a new school in the vicinity of Wolf Swamp: a post-war baby boom and a post-war housing boom. Since the beginning of the turn of the 20th century, Longmeadow’s population was increasing at an incredible rate. Per census data, the town’s population in 1910 of 1,084 residents jumped to 6,508 in 1950. This meant an increased demand on every possible town service, from sewers and roadways, to the library and schools. Also, the shift from public trolley transportation to private automobile ownership meant that neighborhoods could expand beyond the Longmeadow Street side streets.

The area around Maple Road had been served by the Norway Street school since 1918, but that building was struggling with issues of overcrowding. Planning and construction for the new Wolf Swamp Road School began in 1954 and it opened its doors to serve 188 students in 1956. The first principal, Miss Dorothy Gilman, served as principal for 21 years until her retirement in 1977. Today Wolf Swamp Road School serves approximately 444 Longmeadow students from Pre-K through Grade 5.

Springfield Union, October 8, 1954

Springfield Union, August 19, 1956

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