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North Haven Center Green

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Settlement of the North Haven area began about 1650 but a separate society, the North East Society in New Haven, was not created until 1716. In 1714, Reverend James Pierpont of New Haven gave the Society "eight or ten acres" for the meeting house, burying ground, and military parade ground thereby establishing the town center. The first meetinghouse was erected a little northwest of the center of the green which at that time was called the "Market Place." The second meetinghouse was built south of the first one c. 1718. Town records show that several Sabbath Day houses were erected on the green during the early period. In 1834, property was purchased at the southwest corner of Linsey and Church Streets and the third church was constructed on it.

In 1880, Pierpont Park Commission (as the green was then named) was established to "improve the green." Initial plans which included removal of the headstones and ridding the green of the evergreens by replacing them with trees and shrubs was a bit too extreme, and as a result, support was weak from the beginning. The first step was to construct a road around the green which would "turn highway travel from its surface." When this was completed, the green was graded, fertilized, and seeded, and elms were planted. The Commission then turned its attention to the cemetery which had received no maintenance over the years and was unsightly. Some trees were removed, others pruned, and it was generally cleaned up. The entire process was aggravated by disputed ownership over the green and support for the work of the Commission waned over the years. The cemetery remains largely intact although over one-third of the grave stones were relocated to Elm Street Cemetery.

The issue of ownership was not completely resolved until 1972 when the question came up again when efforts were made to build a new bandstand on the green. It was decided in favor of the town.

Major changes were made to the green in 1987 in honor of the bicentennial. The layout was altered with the addition of new walkways as well as formal plantings and furnishings. A plaza area was created to accommodate a summer concert series. Over the summer, approximately 20,000 people participate in activities on the green.

The North Haven Green is and always has been the civic and religious center of the community and provided a large open space where the public has gathered for almost three centuries to celebrate special happenings and acknowledge important events. While the streetscape is not as historically intact as it might be, the buildings around it are generally cohesive in scale, and provide a comfortable enclosure for the open space.



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