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Columbia Town Green

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Columbia was settled as part of Lebanon known as Lebanon Crank or Lebanon North Parish by two dozen families who started the parish in 1716. The first mention of the meetinghouse in the town records is found in 1725 after its construction was underway. It was erected just northwest of the present Congregational Church. Plans were made in 1747 to build the second meeting house ten rods south of the first one. According to town records in 1751, a sign post was erected on its south side and in December 1753, it was decided to paint the second meetinghouse a "sky color" and to "pave around it with round stone or flat." The present Congregational Church was built in 1832 closer to the site of the first meetinghouse.

The road today known as Route 87 existed when Columbia was established, but most likely followed a more circuitous route and did not cut through the green exactly as it does today. The boundaries of the green were not formally established until 1896 when it came to a vote in a town meeting.

Many highways were upgraded by turnpike companies in the early 19th century and specifically, the Columbia Turnpike Authority was created in 1808. The intersection was probably upgraded at that time. A map of the four corners made in 1857 shows the four roads meeting in much the same manner as they do today except that the green is not defined but appears as part of the intersection. Assuming that the green takes up most of the intersection shown on the map, it would have been larger then than it is today encompassing the lot where the gas station on the southeast corner is now situated.

The last major change affecting the green and town center was the widening of Route 66 which took place in 1935 when a store and hotel were removed. Presently there is a plan to extend the green northwards 300 feet along Route 87, beyond Town Hall, to Rose Lane in front of the library. Thus, Town Hall would also be facing the green.

The Columbia Green dates from the establishment of the community as the site of the first meetinghouse. The civic, religious and residential buildings clustered around it and built primarily during the 19th century are evidence of the important role it has played in the development of the community. The layout of the Columbia Green is unusual in that there are no distinct boundaries separating it from the properties adjacent to it. It is not a fenced-off "square" but a flowing space that unites the public and private realms connecting cemetery and church with inn and library and town hall with the homes of private citizens.



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