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Middlefield Green

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Middlefield, originally part of Middletown, was divided into east-west strips for settlement in 1671. In about 1700, three of the original settlers from Middletown moved to the area that would eventually become Middlefield. One of them was Samuel Wetmore who settled on his land in the present center of town nearly opposite the present day Federated Church northeast of the green. In 1747, four years after the settlers petitioned to become a separate parish, a meetinghouse was constructed on land originally owned by Wetmore. It was donated to the Ecclesiastical Society with the condition that the land would revert to the heirs of the donor if not used as a site for a meetinghouse.

It was erected on the present green at the juncture of Main and Center Streets (Jackson Hill Road) thereby establishing the area as center of Middlefield and the focus of civic and religious life. In fact, the Middlefield Green was the site of four major religions in the 19th century. The First Society disbanded in 1795 but reorganized in 1808 only to build a separate Conference House near the green; the meetinghouse was being used by the Universalist Church. In 1842, the first meetinghouse was razed and replaced by a second one on the same site. In 1862, St. Paul's Episcopal Church was constructed across Main Street facing the green (where it stands today, converted to a library with the help of a later addition). In 1866, a Methodist church was constructed just north of the Episcopal church. The Congregationalists abandoned their church on the green in 1921 to join the Methodists and become the Federated Church.

In 1942, one hundred years after it was erected, the second Congregational Church on the green was razed. The intention was to replace the old Congregational Church with a recreational hall but construction never began because of the restriction on the deed. As a result, the green remains free of buildings today.

The Conference House built by the Congregationalists in the early 19th century also functioned as the town hall until the end of the 19th century when a new town hall was built north of the green. Civic activities are now carried out in a building constructed c. 1960 across Jackson Hill Road near the northwest corner.

The green is used throughout the year, but because of limited parking, major activities and large gatherings are precluded. During Christmas, there is a tree lighting ceremony and carol sing. The Garden Club sponsors plant sales and tag sales, and on Old Home Day, some of the smaller activities take place on the green.

Middlefield Green is the site of the first meetinghouse and has been the focus of the town's civic and religious activities until present day. It has remained relatively unchanged since 1942 when the Congregational Church was removed from the green, although new trees have replaced the older ones that succumbed to age and disease. The buildings surrounding the green relate to it functionally but the visual dominance of the 20th century structures negatively impact its historic character.



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