878 Longmeadow Street- #52 (see additional information)

This year's cover painting by Peggy Godfrey is a reproduction a watercolor of the home built for Lucy Colton who married Benjamin Stebbins in 1795. It is located in the Historic District on the Town Green. In the Spring a grand array of rhododendron blossoms appear on the bushes, which extend across the front of the house. Located at 878 Longmeadow Street, the house is presently owned by the George Lantz family.

The first story remains the only original section of the house dating from 1795.  The upper two floors date from the late 19th century. This house was originally all brick, painted red.  It is higher and larger now than the original. It has a gambrel roof, five chimneys and there are now three fireplaces.

Dr. Benjamin Stebbins, son of Gideon Stebbins and Mary Hinsdale was born in Belchertown, October 23, 1769.  He was a physician who married Lucy Colton of Longmeadow on January 29, 1794.  She was a daughter of Samuel ("Marchant") Colton and Lucy Colton. Whenever a daughter of "Marchant" Colton was married, she was given a home from her father's estate. Benjamin and Lucy had three children.  She died in 1804 at the age of 31 and he died in Longmeadow in 1835.

Their only son, Samuel Colton Stebbins, born June 25. 1796, spent his life in Longmeadow. He was a teacher, miller and farmer who had a large farm and was a dealer in lumber.  He owned a sawmill on the Connecticut River banks.  Being a nature lover, he planted over one hundred large shade trees in Town. "He was considered the wealthiest man in Town in his time until the hard times of 1837 when he lost all of his property."

Dr. Oliver Bliss, also a physician, lived in this house for several years and the home was later called the "Doctor Place". He was the son of Aaron and Miriam Bliss of Longmeadow.  He married Mrs. Clarinda Blanchard, a widow, on September 24. 1809.  He died on August 3, 1840, and she died in 1841.

Mr. W. Beebe owned the home in the 1850's, as shown on the old Longmeadow maps and Mrs. W. Coomes lived here in 1870.  In 1872, Dr. Lester Noble, a noted dentist, came to live here for a time.  He was born in the Blandford Hills and first came to Longmeadow in 1839 as an apprentice for his uncle, Jacob Colton in the Spectacle Manufactory.  He was married to Mary Burbank of Longmeadow, and after living in Washington, D.C., came to Longmeadow to be near his wife's family.   He had resumed his practice in Springfield from 1869 to1 896 and his office was on the corner of West Street and Main Street.  He also had a dentist chair in this home.   Later, he became a storekeeper and postmaster in Longmeadow for a time at the corner of Chandler Avenue.  He later owned and lived in the Nathaniel Ely horne which had been moved to the East side of Longmeadow Street.

Owner of this home in 1894 was J. S. Carr, the cracker baker of Springfield who bought the house and made numerous changes.  He intended to take the house down and build anew but when Mrs. Carr saw the fine old woodwork and the chimney cupboard in the north room, she wanted it saved.  The upper part of the rear had already been taken away but the two lower front rooms were saved. These rooms still have the thick outer brick walls which were part of the original structure, while the remainder of the house is still modern. An interesting shuffle of the floors in the house took place.  The second story is now the third story and a new second story was built. The third story has 9-foot ceilings.  Also, a long front porch has been added. Mr. Carr's granddaughter, Rebecca Carr Stone of Springfield, remembers as a child, that he moved some paneling from the walls of the music room (northeast room).  She recalled attending picnics in a pine grove overlooking the bluff, and the horses in a barn where the garden is now.

In 1904, the next owner was Mr. Henry L. Bowles, a prominent public figure. He was a Congressman for four years. Hoping to do something for aviation, he built Bowles Airport in Agawam, and expected the Government to take it over, but Westover was chosen.  He also owned Bowles Lunch on Main Street in Springfield.  This was one of a chain of restaurants, and some patrons remember their good chicken pies.

At the time, Mr. Bowles owned this house, there was a sizable tract of land connected with it.  On the property were two large barns and a carriage house.  Mr. Bowles did not live here, as he bought the home for his mother, Mrs. Julia Leland Bowles, who lived here until her death in 1923. She was responsible planting the rhododendrons mentioned above. She also added the two sleeping porches and removed the upper barn. Mr. Bowles died in 1932, and his wife, Edna Howard Bowles, survives him. She lives on Lake Sunapee, N. H., and is 94 years old.

Mr. Bowles' sister Angie and her husband Reverend Albert Hammatt, and their two children, Julia and Sebastian, came to live here with Mrs. Bowles. At the time of Reverend Hammatt's death in 1940, his daughter Julia. and her husband, Raymond H. Strople, and their three children were living here in an apartment made of some rooms on the second floor.

When the house was sold in 1945, the Stroples retained some land north of the house, including that part of the circular driveway and the buildings and extensive acreage in the rear of the house. The driveway became Farmlea Road, now leading to the present home of Mrs. Strople,

The Frank Longley family who bought the old house in 1945 first painted it white. They made some interior alterations in an attempt to restore it to its original design, and removed the "gingerbread" from around the fireplaces. They lived here until 1953 when the Charles Puffer family bought the house and lived in the place for twenty years, and made many alterations.

On the first floor in the northeast room or music room, there is the handsome fireplace wall and cupboard. According to Mrs. Puffer, "the carving of the columns, with the lines of the fluting tapering to give the illusion of height, was the mark of a real craftsman." She added that there probably was no mantel, as it was not typical of that design. The present mantel was cut in later.

In the southeast room, or living room, the fireplace is obviously Victorian and probably done over. There were boxed-in sections with pillars to the ceiling. These, no doubt, had been put in when the original floors were replaced with the present ones. The Puffers made a cupboard from a closet in this room.

The Puffers changed the dining room fireplace, behind the music room. The fireplace was dark brown glazed tile, floor to plate rail, edged with black forged iron, a set-in portion in the center, and black iron side lights. The tile is still behind the facade the Puffers made. The woodwork in there was dark brown stain, the walls aged brown burlap, the ceiling tan canvas, four dangling ceiling lights, and a Tiffany center hanging lamp, which the Puffers removed. The beautiful part of this room now is the charming cupboard with leaded glass, and the north bay window giving a beautiful view of the west across the river and of the Green looking north.

They removed the soapstone sink in the kitchen and took the enameled wall board off the walls. On the north and south walls were two long windows which went down behind the sink and cabinets. The Lantz family have changed the windows which the Puffers put in on the north, making another bay window with a good view. The Puffers removed a wall from the apartment kitchen to the backstairs, which forms a hall. They also built on the garage and carport after tearing down a shed-type dirt-floor structure.

The double Victorian front doors with curtained glass upper section were removed by the Puffers, and the present entrance was installed.

Mrs. Puffer commented that "no place ever seemed so much like home - or ever will again, as that very different, very loveable old ark of a house." She and her husband put their "heart and soul and much affection in the old place." and call themselves the "original do-it-yourselfers."

Mr. and Mrs. Lantz and their three children have resided here since December, 1972. Mrs. Lantz remarked that the first time she saw the big house, she knew that this was the house she wanted for a home. She had four rooms in the rear addition made into one very large kitchen. The old brick wall between the dining room and kitchen has been uncovered on the kitchen side, and the old beam over the kitchen doorway is now exposed.  At present, the house is made up of 14 rooms, a laundry and three baths.

With the many alterations over the years, it appears the home remains on its original foundation. 

/s/ Peggy Leete Godfrey

Information on the earliest owners of this home was found in the genealogy room at Springfield Public Library. Further material came from Storrs Library. the Longmeadow Centennial book, Robert Bitters (maps). Mrs. Strople, Mrs. Condon. Mrs. Puffer and Mrs. Lantz.


a website of LongmeadowBiz, LLC