Barbara B. Lee
Monument Street

Saving Heywood Meadow

Interviewed: February 13, 1986

Eyewitness to History

Barbara Lee is a member of the Friends of the Heywood Meadow, a citizens' coalition working to preserve the property as open space.

New England towns have an inherent charm. Why is this so? Because the people who settled them and spent their lives there cared about their communities. They built houses of classical proportions. They planned them around a village green -- a gathering place, and open space. They planted trees and were delighted by their environment. They established a lasting charm. They were people who cared.

Concord reflects this sense of order and relationship. And this was before the creation of historic commissions, planning boards and a myriad of governmental agencies. This was when ordinary citizens cared. If they prospered they were willing to share their success.

In Concord today, we are the beneficiaries of their concern. We have the village green and the roads with many of the handsome original buildings. The Emerson Playground was given to us by the heirs of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In addition to providing space for recreational and ceremonial activities it relieves the density of the late nineteenth century growth in the Hubbard Street, Stow Street and Sudbury Road areas.

We have the generosity of Hugh Cargill who came from Ballyshannon, Ireland, to Boston with the British troops, prospered there as a merchant and moved to Concord. The old Stratton Farm on Walden Street was bought by the town for the poor, using a legacy left by him to help the needy. The Hugh Cargill land is still open and farmed, as well as providing space for the Community Gardens. The trust bearing his name continues to provide for the needy of Concord.

The Town Forest at Walden and Thoreau Streets, consisting of 70 acres and known as Fairyland, was purchased in 1935 by the town with funds established in 1885 by Hapgood Wright to celebrate each centennial anniversary of the town. He was born in Concord in 1811, but lived much of his life in Lowell, working as a shoe-maker, then a banker. He endowed Concord, his birthplace.

In 1873 William Munroe joined with town officials to dedicate the library he gave to the town. He was a local businessman who prospered and made a lasting contribution. His gift included moving the Brooks house to Hubbard Street in order to clear the land and create the setting for the striking Victorian-Gothic building. This required the widening of Main Street to accommodate the average daily traffic of 2,418 pedestrians, 95 two wheeled vehicles and 558 four-wheeled vehicles. The present Georgian building evolved from three subsequent modifications and additions paid for by private subscriptions.

The Loring N. Fowler Library building was a gift under the will of Mr. Fowler and built about 1928 on land previously purchased by the town.

In 1969 the Chamberlin family gave land to the town on LowellRoad next to the Christian Science Church. Now known as Chamberlin Park, it has an attractive walkway and bridge connecting Lowell Road with Keyes Road. The gift includes a perpetual fund to assist in the landscaping and care of the property.

In 1977 the town received 3 1/2 acres and a barn abutting the South Meadow Playground as a gift from Mary Ogden Abbott. In that same year 12 acres off Barretts Mill Road from the estate of William J. Lee were given to the town, and Phil Davis added a 1acre lot on Lowell Road to the conservation land the town had previously purchased. Not many of us are in a position to make such gifts of land to the town. However, we can join these benefactors by making contributions toward the purchase of the Heywood Street lots at the corner of Lexington Road. We too can directly perpetuate this tradition of giving. If Concord citizens would give as they are able, our goal of raising $200,000 by Town Meeting, April 7 would be easily achieved.

It is imperative that this land remain open forever. It is an integral part of Historic Concord and the last remaining open space in the center. By participating in this joint effort with the town, we too can join the generations of Concordians who have preserved the quality of life so unique to Concord.

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Text mounted 14 March 2015.-- rcwh.