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Historic Home Closeup- The Widows at Number 734 (Longmeadow Street)
by Linda Abrams- Curator, Longmeadow Historical Society- May 2009

An old home once stood on this property; the home of Roderick and Charlotte (Williams) Burt. Upon Roderick's death in 1850, his widow forged on alone until finally persuaded to sell her home and large property.

Eventually two wealthy sons of a former minister, Rev. Samuel Wolcott, purchased the house and property in 1883 with a goal to update the old house as a retirement home for their parents who wished to return to Longmeadow.  Rev. Samuel Wolcott, recently of the American Missionary Society in Cleveland, had been the minister at First Church from 1843-1847. As workers were dismantling the old home, the adjacent barn caught fire and all structures were consumed; 30 April 1884. Therein began the construction of a larger and more grand home.

Rev. Samuel and Harriet (Pope) Wolcott moved into the new home once the living quarters were completed, but sadly, before the home was finished, Rev. Wolcott died in Feb 1886, less than two years after taking residence. Widow Harriet Wolcott forged on alone until her death in 1901.

The next owners were the family of Edward and Corinne Brewer. The Brewers made many improvements, with the biggest change being the appearance.  Edward Brewer had also owned the large hotel, Ocean House, in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and perhaps sought a lighter color for his new home. He had the old brown shingles replaced with white clapboards and it has remained white ever since. He died in 1911, having enjoyed only 10 years in this grand mansion. His widow remained there alone for a few years but then began dividing her time between Florida and her daughter's home in Boston. Eventually the home stood lonely and unoccupied.

Upon the death of the Widow Brewer in 1921, the home was purchased by another widow, Mary Ida (Stephenson) Young. The Youngs, Wilbur and Mary Ida, had been living in their large home on State Street in Springfield, where Wilbur died in 1918.  Mary Ida, having been friends with the Brewers, eagerly purchased the estate, which would provide ample space for the gardens and animals she desired to have.

The Widow Young moved into the mansion with many servants in 1922, which began the real glory days of the property. Although she took over the management of the company upon the death of her husband, she eagerly awaited the time when her only son, Wilbur F Young, Jr., would complete his education and assume control.  His brief period in charge ended suddenly with his accidental death in Bermuda at age 30. 

Meanwhile, Mary Ida had married a third time to a man named David Alexander (both she and Wilbur had had previous marriages without children), whom she divorced soon after the loss of her son. Mary Ida married a fourth time, in 1933, to Charles Denault. During their life together, their home, that she had named Meadowview Farms, became the site of many social activities, benefits, and horse shows, as well as a showcase for the black Persian sheep, cows, chickens, and even the creation of a deer farm on the 18 original acres of the estate. The grounds were extensively landscaped and the scene of many garden parties.

Upon the death of Charles Denault in 1948, Mary Ida (Stephenson) [Norton] [Young] [Alexander] Denault became a widow once again. At this time Mary Ida petitioned the court for a name change to be legally known as Mary Ida Young. The home, with the beautiful glass conservatory fashioned after the Crystal Palace Exposition in London, continued to be seen as the location for very visible high social events even when she had to give up many of the acres of her farm when Route 91 cut a wide swath through her property in the early 1950s. Even in her later years, she would host formal teas for the young ladies in town to assess their proper manners; a frightening experience for this writer.

The Widow Mary Ida Young passed away on Halloween, October 31, 1960, at age 95.   Sure wish we had her diaries!


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Longmeadow Historical Society

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