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Opinion: Let’s Save the Young Mansion

The Town Green has been the focal point of life in Longmeadow for a long time. Its landscape has undergone many changes from the late 1700s until today.

Here are a few highlights of the early history of the Green …

  • Prior to 1831 there were numerous shops ON the Green as well as a School House and the Meeting House.  Shop owners were granted 40 year leases ON the Green with the last lease starting in 1795.
  • An 1831 map showed only the School House and the Meeting House (–> First Church) remaining ON the Green.  There were no shops in 1831 since most of the leases had expired and town leaders had decided to remove them from the Green. The School House was later destroyed by a fire in 1852.

Opponents of the restoration efforts by the Longmeadow Historic Preservation Partners would have you believe that the proposed project to re-purpose the Brewer-Young mansion at 734 Longmeadow Street- built in 1885 would violate the trust given to town residents by Longmeadow’s founding fathers. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

It was the businesses located ON the Town Green that were removed prior 1831.  The land ON the Green had been leased to shop keepers and when their leases expired, they were required to remove the shops from the Green.

There were NO concerns expressed at the time about businesses such as the Cooley Store- (built in 1802) that were located AROUND the perimeter of the Green.

It is also interesting to take a look back at the Green during the 20th century.  

It turns out that in 1894 after the split with East Longmeadow, Longmeadow town leaders granted a franchise to the Springfield Street Railway to operate a trolley service from Springfield, MA to Enfield, CT with two sets of trolley tracks + electric power poles.  The path ran directly ON the Green.

During the 20th century there were at least 18 different businesses located in 8 different locations AROUND the Green (see figure).  Only two remain today- Dr. Brooks/Spa-on-the-Green and the Montessori International School. Remember… the Montessori School has been located for the past 20 years in the Old Parsonage that once stood at the location of the Longmeadow Community House.  This mid-19th century home was re-purposed from the First Church parsonage to a private residence and then as a private school.

There is one additional point that should not be overlooked.  The Community House built in 1921 by the First Church as a “community center” for all town residents was purchased by the Town in 1927.  In recent years the Town has utilized significant space in the basement of this building for conducting town business operations– quite different from the original intent of the building. You might say that a significant portion of the Community House was re-purposed.

WWI and WWII memorial monuments and a flag pole were added to the Green during the 20th century.  It was only after the trolley tracks were removed by the Springfield Street Railway in 1940 that the commercial character of the Town Green returned to its mid-19th century appearance.

Question:  How does the rezoning and re-purposing of 734 Longmeadow St cause any effect on the so-called “pristine” nature of the Town Green?

Answer: It doesn’t.

Vote YES on Jan. 25. Let’s SAVE an iconic structure in our town.

For additional information, visit www.SavetheMansion.net.

– Submitted by Jim Moran