1703…. Longmeadow Street Takes Form As A Wide Boulevard

When last we left our settlers, their petition to leave the "general field" and move to higher ground had been granted by the Springfield Committee in March of 1703. The same year, the main street was laid out. It was four miles long, extending from Pecowsick Brook to the Enfield Bounds. What is remarkable was its width…20 rods. A rod being 16-1/2 feet, Longmeadow Street was over 300 feet wide! Indeed, the first Meeting House sat right in the street itself, with plenty of room all around. Every half-mile or so, there were "highways" leading down to the meadow on one side, and into the woods on the other. One full acre, "God's Acre" was set aside as a "burying ground" at the intersection of the Main Road and the Central Road leading eastward into the woods. The petition granted lands to Longmeadow going eastward a half mile. This is just about the present distance from Longmeadow Street to Shaker Road, going down Williams Street.

Lots were assigned to the families on either side of the Main Street. The accompanying maps show the property assignments, the Main Street and collateral Highways, the major brooks, and the position of the First Meeting House and Burying Ground(which we shall get to next time). If you print out this article, you will have the two maps handy for future reference as we continue our journey of rediscovery!

Although the next few years were spent clearing lots and roads and building houses and barns, the families remained residents of the Meadows. It was not until 1709 that our settlers, in characteristic unity, collectively abandoned their lowland digs and moved upland into their new homes.

NOTE: It had been written of the period of occupancy of the lowlands, that "of this earlier period there are few if any relics…..the last vestiges of habitations, save bricks dug from the soil, have long since disappeared." And yet we have our "Johnny Appleseed House" [see Chronicle Archives], supposedly built in the Meadows right around the time of the Flood, and moved uphill around 1700 to stand next to Longmeadow Street.

An enigma, this house is. Was it built before the flood? Probably not. But why would they build it after the Flood if the colony was going to relocate? It would not be until 1703 that their petition would be granted. Would it have been worth moving up to the new hill top settlement? Perhaps just the main beams.

If walls could talk!