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Westbrook Green

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Westbrook was originally part of the Saybrook Colony. When it was divided into four parts in 1648, Westbrook fell within the Oyster River Quarter. It remained a part of it until 1724 when the people petitioned the General Assembly to become a separate parish. It was granted that year. The Saybrook West Society or Pochoug Society, as it was called, agreed at a meeting held in April 1727, that the new meetinghouse would be placed on the hill next to James Jordan's house "at ye lower most western part of it where it is thought most convenient." Both the Boston Post Road (Route 1) and Essex Road (Route 153) were in existence so it was a natural to locate the meetinghouse near the intersection. Apparently the property granted to the church by the proprietors was unclaimed land called "refuse land." The first meetinghouse was completed in 1729. Three more including the present church (1894) were erected on the same site.

Although the meetinghouse at the juncture of the two roads became the civic and religious center of the community, the green was not considered such until late in its development. In c. 1845 the land which is now the green, with the exception of a parcel at the northwest corner where a general store stood, was deeded to the Ecclesiastical Society by Nancy Lay. Her house on the property was used as a parsonage until about 1904. It was traded with a parcel across Route 1 from the green where the John Moore Tavern stood until c. 1964 when the present First Federal Savings and Loan building was constructed. The parsonage was removed from the green and the public library was erected in its place. It was used as such until c. 1990 when the new public library was constructed east of the green on Goodspeed Road. It is now used by the local historical society. The green was formally deeded to the town in 1921. When the general store that stood on the northwest corner was destroyed by fire in the mid 20th century and the property it stood on was deeded to the town, the green as we know it today was complete.

The Westbrook Green is a relatively new green, although the juncture of Routes 1 and 153 where it is located has been the civic center of the town since it was established. Many of the buildings around it relate to it visually and functionally, but a substantial number have been constructed recently and many of the 19th century buildings have undergone substantial alterations so the streetscape itself is not a major unifying element for the green it surrounds.

The present day green probably exists much as it did at the beginning of the 20th century when the library was constructed. The fact that there has always been buildings on it and for most of its history has been in private hands has precluded any formal landscaping of the space.

 

 
 

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