Agawam MA


The Town of Agawam is a city[1] in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 28,144 at the 2000 census. Agawam is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area and contains a subsection, Feeding Hills.

Name

The Indian village originally sited on the west bank of the Connecticut River was known as Agawam, or Agawanus, Aggawom, Agawom, Onkowam, Igwam, and Auguam. It is variously speculated to mean "unloading place" and "fishcuring place", perhaps in reference to fish at Agawam Falls being unloaded from canoes for curing on the flats at the mouth of the Westfield River.

Ipswich, Massachusetts was also known as Agawam during much of the 17th century.

 

History

On July 13, 1636, William Pynchon purchased land on either side of the Connecticut River from the local Pocomtuc Indians known as Agawam, which included present-day Springfield and West Springfield, Massachusetts. The purchase price for the Agawam portion was 10 coats, 10 hoes, 10 hatchets, 10 knives, and 10 fathoms of wampum. Agawam and West Springfield separated from Springfield to become the parish of Springfield in 1757 and themselves split in 1800.

In 1771, John Porter moved to Agawam and founded a gin distillery nine years later. After he died, his grandson, Harry, continued to work the business as the H. Porter Distilling Company. The plant was sold in 1917, and during Prohibition, the main products produced in the building were potato chips and cider. After the Volstead Act was repealed, the mill began producing gin again, but would later close for good in 1938. The building, on Main Street near River Road, served as Agawam’s Department of Public Works garage, until it fell into disrepair.

Agawam incorporated as a town May 17, 1855.

Agawam furnished 172 men who fought in the American Civil War, 22 of which died in battle or disease.[2]

The original town hall, built in 1874 at the corner of Main and School Streets, housed the town government divisions as the current one does today, as well as the original town library located in the building’s Tower Room. Also, a small school building was located near the premises, and held grades one through three. The building was demolished in 1938, and the property is now the site of Benjamin Phelps Elementary School.

The Feeding Hills town hall, built in 1906, was almost identical to the Agawam town hall and was located at the corner of Springfield and South Westfield Streets. The building was demolished in 1950, and the Clifford M. Granger Elementary School now occupies that piece of land.

May 29, 30 and June 1, 1931 saw the grand opening of Bowles Agawam Airport [1] with a visit from the United States Army Air Corps Eastern Air Arm. A scheduled air service operated out of Bowles for approximately one year, before ending. The airport continued to operate as a civil airport until about 1985. A parimutuel horse racing track, including a grandstand and stable was built adjacent to Bowles Airport. Seabiscuit won the Springfield Handicap at Agawam in track record time in 1935 [2]. The race track operated there for several years until parimutuel betting was outlawed. The airport and race track were demolished and have been turned into an industrial park.

Over 30 years ago, Marilyn and Dick Curry purchased glass negatives of photographs taken in Agawam in the late 1800s, assuming that they were the work of the Howes Brothers of Ashfield, Massachusetts. The negatives sat in the box they were purchased in, until 1991 when Dick Curry died, and they were then donated to the Agawam Historical Association. Local historians, including Kimball Howes of the Ashfield Historical Society, later revealed that the photographs were not the work of the Howes Brother. When a photograph album was donated to the Agawam Historical Association, it was compared to the negatives received from the Currys, and they were identical. This also revealed the true photographer as Reverend Hollis A. Campbell. David Cecchi, a member of the Agawam Historical Association published two “Images of America” books about Agawam and Feeding Hills[3], [4], which included many of the photographs previously mentioned.

 

Geography

View from Provin Mountain, the highest point in Agawam.

Agawam is located at 42°4′19″N 72°38′39″W / 42.07194°N 72.64417°W / 42.07194; -72.64417 (42.071961, -72.644097).[5] The city borders West Springfield, Massachusetts, to the north, Southwick, Massachusetts, to the west, Longmeadow, Massachusetts, to the east, Springfield, Massachusetts, to the northeast, and Suffield, Connecticut, to the south. Westfield, Massachusetts, also borders to the northwest.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.2 square miles (63 km2) of which, 23.2 square miles (60 km2) is land and 1 square mile (3 km2) (4.09%) is water.

The highest point in Agawam is the 640-foot (195 m)-tall Provin Mountain, a ridge that, along with the southern part of East Mountain, forms the western boundary of the city. Both are traversed by the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail and are part of the Metacomet Ridge, a mountainous traprock ridgeline that stretches from Long Island Sound to nearly the Vermont border.

Agawam’s ZIP code of 01001 is the lowest number in the continental United States (not counting codes used for specific government buildings such as the IRS).

Agawam has a subsection known as Feeding Hills that runs along the border of Southwick and Westfield, Massachusetts, and Suffield, Connecticut. Its border with Agawam was mainly determined by Line Street, and its ZIP code is 01030.

 

Demographics

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 28,144 people, 11,260 households, and 7,462 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,210.9 people per square mile (467.6/km²). There were 11,659 housing units at an average density of 501.6/sq mi (193.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.71% White, 0.91% African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.98% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.43% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.83% of the population.

There were 11,260 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city, the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $49,390, and the median income for a family was $59,088. Males had a median income of $40,924 versus $30,428 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,562. About 4.3% of families and 5.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.7% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.[7]

 

Government

A Mayor is the elected leader of the City. The City Council consists of eleven members Elected at large by the voters and is the legislative branch of the town government.

Agawam is in the Massachusetts 2nd Congressional District and the First Hampden and Hampshire Senate district.

 

Commercial operations

1801 – E. Porter Peppermint distillery, later to became the "Agawam Gin" distillery.

1810 – A cotton mill was erected on the site of Six Flags New England.

1812 – Agawam Woolen Mill was established on Elm St. After a fire, the building was rebuilt in brick in 1889 and still exists. The Agawam Woolen Company folded in 1949.

Six Flags New England, formerly Riverside Amusement Park began as a picnic grove as early as 1840. It became a full fledged amusement park in 1940. Riverside Park Speedway, a NASCAR racing track, was part of Riverside park from 1948 to 2000. Riverside was sold to Six Flags in 1996.

1952 – Stacy Machine Co, came to a new plant located on Main St, is best known for producing specialized printing presses. Later known as Kidder-Stacy, the plant closed in the 1990s, but the Main St plant still stands.

1953 – WWLP an NBC affiliate television station began operation with studios and transmitting facilities on Provin Mountain in Feeding Hills.

 

Education

  • Benjamin J. Phelps Elementary School- 689 Main Street, Agawam – has a "Tempis Fugit" sundial on the auditorium facing south.
  • Clifford M. Granger Elementary School – 31 South Westfield Street, Feeding Hills
  • James Clark Elementary School – 65 Oxford Street, Agawam
  • Robinson Park Elementary School – 65 Begley Street, Agawam
  • Agawam Middle School – 68 Main Street, Agawam – Built in 1929, this was first used as the High School, then as the Junior High, now demoted to Middle School.
  • Agawam Junior High School – 1305 Springfield Street, Feeding Hills was built in 1973.
  • Agawam High School – 760 Cooper Street, Agawam – was built in 1955.
  • The police department was moved from the Town Hall to the former Faolin Pierce Elementary School on Springfield St in Feeding Hills
  • The former Katherine Danahey School on Maple St, Agawam is now a Senior Citizen Housing development.

 

Points of interest

Anne Sullivan Memorial, Feeding Hills, MA

  • Anne Sullivan Memorial – Marker and Statue dedicated to Helen Keller’s "Teacher", born in Feeding Hills. The memorial is on the corner of Springfield and South Westfield Streets.
  • The Agawam Historical Association shares space at the Agawam Historical and Fire House Museum at 35 Elm Street and maintains an extensive web site at Agawam-History.org.
  • The Massachusetts Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery is located off Main Street.
  • A series of plaques with the names of Agawam citizens who died in the Vietnam War, World War II, World War I, the Revolutionary War, or the Spanish-American War is displayed at Benjamin J. Phelps Elementary School.
  • Robinson State Park, a narrow, urban 852-acre (3.45 km2) park, has its entrance on North St.

 

Notable residents

 

References

  1. ^ Although it is called the "Town of Agawam," it is a statutory city of Massachusetts. See Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  2. ^ Agawam Centennial Committee (1955). Agawam, Massachusetts Over the Span of a Century. Agawam Centennial Committee. pp. 9–11. 
  3. ^ Cecchi, David. Images of America: Agawam and Feeding Hills. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.
  4. ^ Cecchi, David. Images of America: Agawam and Feeding Hills Revisited. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ "Massachusetts DHCD". http://www.mass.gov/dhcd/iprofile/005.pdf. Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  8. ^ Wilson, George C. (09-05), "“Creighton Abrams: From Agawam to Chief of Staff”", Washington Post: Section D, p. 4, http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost_historical/access/119877197.html?dids=119877197:119877197&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&date=Sep+5%2C+1974&author=By+George+C.+Wilson+Washington+Post+Staff+Writer&pub=The+Washington+Post++(1974-Current+file)&edition=&startpage=D4&desc=Creighton+Abrams%3A+From+Agawam+to+Chief+of+Staff 
  9. ^ "Annie M. Sullivan". http://anniesullivan.org/. Retrieved 2007-08-03.

 

 

 
 
from wikipedia

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