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Monroe Center Green (Town Hall Green)

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Monroe Center Green was formally established in 1784 when two adjacent property owners donated part of their home lots to the town for the green. However, the area had been used as a public gathering place and town center since 1762 when the General Assembly established a separate ecclesiastical society and a committee was appointed to choose a site for the meetinghouse. "Brushy Ring" was chosen, the highest point of land in the parish and the site of a crossroads. The construction of the first meetinghouse was completed in 1767. The area in front of it became the military parade ground or "the place of parade" and the public gathering place: the nucleus of today's green.

A drawing of Monroe Center in 1835 shows the green as a rectangular space with the town hall at the north end. Town Hall Road on the west is lined with houses set close to the road. A picket fence forms the southern border. A path (or road) cuts diagonally across the green from the southeast corner to the northwest, meeting Town Hall Road in front of the church.

The green was enlarged in 1847 when the Congregational Society erected a new meetinghouse, the one presently used, at the north end of the green set back from the site of the original meetinghouse. This allowed for expansion of the green on the northern end and realignment of the roads so they went around the green rather than passing through it.

Center Green grew again in 1872 when the Park Association raised funds to purchase an additional half-acre on the south end. It was deeded to the two churches to be used as a public park. Probably to ensure that it be used as a park and not as a pasture for animals, an iron fence was placed around the park and it was regularly mowed.

In 1972, the present town hall-library complex was built some distance back from Fan Hill Road, the western border of the old green. Several structures which stood near Fan Hill Road were removed to form the new green called the Town Hall Green in front of the new Town Hall. The two greens are contiguous with Fan Hill Road separating them.

The green itself was used for public gatherings, a pasture for animals and a militia training ground until the late nineteenth century. It is associated with the French Army's Legion and Rochambeau when six hundred of his troops under General Duc de Lauzen camped in the meadow just south of the green on their way to battle and victory at Yorktown. A dance was held on the green that evening of June 30, 1781 in honor of the troops. Today the green serves a commemorative function and is still a public gathering place for Fourth of July celebrations, school and church picnics, auctions, fairs and art shows.

Monroe Green has served as the visual focal point and civic center of the community since it was first established in the 18th century. It continues to serve as such with the construction of the new Town Hall and the addition to the older green on its west side. Center Green and the surrounding streetscape retain much of their 19th century character. The exception of course is the new Town Hall, the siting of which required the demolition of older buildings facing the green.



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