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EAST/WEST VILLAGES  


The East Village of Longmeadow

The "East Village" of Longmeadow East Longmeadow was settled in the 1740's as a new village within the Longmeadow precinct of Springfield. The pattern of settlement-widely scattered farms and homesteads-reflected the concern of the pre-Revolutionary period with greater individual freedom. This major change contrasts with the earlier emphasis upon Puritan communalism reflected in the side by side home-lot pattern of the meadows farmers when they moved up onto the hill in the early 1700's.

Known first as "Inward Commons" because herdsmen brought their livestock here for pasture, this section was later named "East Village". Here the fertile soil lent itself to market gardening, poultry and dairy farming and the development of apple orchards, and the outcroppings of brown and red sand-stone proved a source of ready cash for the small landowners who quarried it.

The first settlers in the East Village came from the West Village (Longmeadow Street) and were of Puritan stock. Jonathan and Elijah, sons of Davjd Burt, and Silas, son of Thomas Hale, settled here about 1740. After them came Lathrops, Hancocks, Ashleys, Hunns, McCregorys, Swetlands, Pratts, Billingses and others. Roads which bear the names of early settlers include Cooley, Hall, Markham, Porter, Pease, Crane, Calkins, Taylor and Dwight.

In the early years, families walked or went by wagon to the First Church in Longmeadow, traveling through three and a half miles of wilderness each way. As part of the Longmeadow precinct and parish within Springfield, they attended Sunday services and town meetings there until a Congregational meeting house was built in the East Village in 1829. This was known as the Second Congregational Church and Third Religious Society of Longmeadow.

Town meetings were then held alternately in East and West Village churches until the Town Hall in the center of the East Village was completed in 1882, providing a second floor auditorium for the gatherings. The structure was of native stone donated by the Norcross Brownstone Company. The first town meeting here was held on April 3, 1882.

The Baptist Church, known as the Second Religious Society of Longmeadow, organized in 1818 and built a meeting house in southeastern Baptist Village. The Methodists organized in 1853 and constructed a church in the center of the East Village, named the "Church of the Seven Roads" because of the seven main roads converging in the center

For many years, the sandstone of the East Village was considered public property and any person had a right to it. But from 1800, the business was carried on by owners of the land or by quarrying companies leasing it.

During most of the 1800's there were 50 or more quarries in operation. By 1894 there were 12. The major ones were the Worcester Quarry which produced brownstone, the Kibbe Quarry, reddish brownstone, and the Maynard Quarry, real red sandstone of unequaled color, texture and durability. These quarries, with three distinctive shades of stone, were separated by only a mile.

The stone was removed in huge blocks of 10 to 20 tons each, then cut and finished before being shipped to all parts of the country. It was used on buildings at Wesleyan, Yale, Princeton and other universities, on Trinity Church in New York City and many other famous structures.

As the quarrying work grew in scope and volume, Canadians from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia began to come to the East Village for the stone-cutting season, sometimes as many as 50 or 60 on a single train. (Railroad service for this community was inaugurated in 1876 when the Connecticut Central Railroad was completed.) Later there was an influx of Swedes, who settled here and became U.S. citizens, then a few Poles, then the Italian settlement came into being.

This economic and ethnic diversity of the East Village both reflected and fostered a growing divergence of the two villages that made up Longmeadow. The two villages had been close for a number of years. Despite the distance between them, they were connected by intermarriages and indentified in the same precinct and town and, until 1829, in the same church. However a gradual separation came about as the population of the East Village increased and that of the West Village decreased.

The East Village required more expenditures and improvements as it had many more miles of roads, more inhabitants, more schools, more industry and business, and a busy railroad. Yet the West Village was paying half the total tax bill.

There was dissatisfaction on both sides over the valuation for taxation of the stone quarries and the tenement houses lodging the quarry workers and their families.

These and other factors led to the eventual division of Longmeadow into two parts, with East Longmeadow incorporated as a separate town in 1894.

Jeanne P. Goodlatte/ East Longmeadow
    


Longmeadow Historical Society

697 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 567-3600
LongmeadowHS@gmail.com
 
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