Friday, June 19, 2015

The Brewer Young Mansion, Part II

The following article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.

Fifty-Five years ago, Mary Ida Young passed away.  She died at home , located at 734 Longmeadow Street at the age of 95.  In 1959 she had fallen and was recuperating in her residence for a year or so. Although married four times, it was her second husband who had the Young name, which she retained after her last mate died. I bet she is rolling over in her grave these days. I hate to think of her watching from the clouds as her beautiful mansion falls apart. So much for heavenly rest.

The colonial revival Victorian masterpiece, built in 1884, is deteriorating before our eyes.  Looking sadder and more lonely each day, our town leaders are trying to resolve the situation.  Who can we contact? The National Trust for Historic Preservation or the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities should come here and save this mansion, but even our local Longmeadow Historic District seems unable to take action in a complicated legal situation involving foreclosure.  Now owned by a bank, we hope and pray for an angel to restore the home to its former grandeur and glory. This significant local architectural wonder was recently featured in an article in the Springfield Republican. People are taking interest and it’s a topic of conversation in town.

The Wood Museum of Springfield History is a special repository of historic documents and images.  At the Longmeadow Historical Society’s booth during the Long Meddowe Days weekend celebration, I first gazed at some impressive images displayed of the Young House. Some of the photographs are illustrated here, showing the grounds and interior.

Mary Ida lived there from 1922 to 1960 as wife of the inventor of Absorbine Jr.  The liniment was initially created for horses, and she was a horse lover. She had a racetrack behind her home in the meadows near the river in the area now home to the Interstate I-91.  The event grounds and house provided an elegant backdrop for fundraisers, parties, benefits and various special gatherings. Her obituary describes teas, dances and bridge parties occurring at her home over the years.  As a gardener she tended to orchids in her greenhouse and also owned many animals. In addition to her horses, at various times she owned deer, raccoons, peacocks, geese, swans, doves, turkeys, chicken, pheasants, dogs and sheep. She helped establish the first Republican Club in Springfield and attended Springfield’s Trinity Methodist Church each Sunday driven in a horse drawn carriage.

After her death, her grandson and his wife and family moved into the imposing residence despite concerns that the estate might be sub-divided into a development.  The traffic had lessened at this point in time because the meadows was now bisected by the new highway. Cars and trucks no longer needed to come directly through town, enroute to Springfield and the north-south corridor.

The condition of this historic structure is of great concern, especially after such a bitterly cold winter.  Many older homes need special upkeep and caring for them could make them less desirable to potential buyers who lack vision.  It takes a special person, with an appreciation of history, to responsibly restore and renovate such a home.  Let’s hope it‘s not too late for the Young house.  The place is a gem, and its central location on the town green makes it a prominent landmark for future generations…if it lasts!

 submitted by Betsy Huber Port

Regionalization of Emergency Response Center

The following LTE was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Jeffrey Klotz/ Longmeadow

During my unsuccessful campaign for Selectman, one of my central tenants was utilizing regionalization to save money.  At the June 15th Selectboard meeting, the new Board was presented one such effort, namely a proposed Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC).  The purpose of the RECC is enable the member Towns to field their own cellular 911 calls, something I feel all can agree is needed as in a true emergency, seconds can be the difference between life and death.  The consultants asked to examine the issue, The Carell Group, identified the Greenwood Center as the best option for this project as it was most suitable to renovations.

As always, where an improvement is wanted, there is a cost.  And in this case, the cost has three components.  First, there is the financial cost projected to be $3.3 million in hard costs for the renovation of the proposed site, and an additional $2.4 million in soft costs.  Second, to residents of Longmeadow, there is the opportunity costs associated with the loss of the current use of the Greenwood Center.  And thirdly, there will be the costs of relocating the services currently provided within the Greenwood Center affecting both young and old in our community.

There are many unknowns regarding this project including (1) the number of communities who will join, and hence share the financial burden, and (2) whether the State can be relied upon to financially hold up to its promises (as it has not done so on the LHS project), and (3) the uncertainty of the long-term costs.

I am a big fan of regionalism.  I am a big fan of public safety.  But I am not a big fan of supporting projects that have not been thought out completely.  The funding is questionable, and there are no publicly available solutions as to what happens to the programs currently housed within the Greenwood Center.  With our Town's revenue approaching the legal upper mil rate limit, and with the community contemplating major overhauls for both our middle schools, public works, and seniors, this is not the time for our Selectman to support such a project.

I encourage our Selectboard to review the report from the Carell Group and explore the merits of the second and third place locations.


Jeffrey Klotz, CPA, MBA
487 Converse Street, Longmeaodow