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PURITAN VILLAGE
PATTERNS


The distinctive layout of the traditional seventeenth-century New England village--with its central, grassed common and its meetinghouse surrounded by homes built close together--can be traced to the needs and customs of the earliest settlers. Houses were grouped around the common (where all residents could graze their cattle) for, among other reasons, mutual protection against the Indians and because this was how villages were laid out in rural England. Outside the village itself, strips were allotted for cultivating crops, the larger strips often going to the more affluent residents. Although most early New England villages were laid out this way, the practice was largely abandoned after the American Revolution as the region became more densely settled.

Forested

Cemetery

Pasture

Meetinghouse

Communal Lots

 

Private lots with house

 

Example of one farmer's holdings

 

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Most of the early towns of New England were laid out using patterns from the towns of England and modified for the needs of the New World. For most of them, the houses were clustered together and mostly in sight of each other, useful for both defense and social control. The lots were long and narrow. In an ideal circumstance, lots like this gave farmers a portion of the rich bottomland near the water, a portion of intermediate land, and a portion of wooded upland. Failing that, narrow strips were allocated in those different environments: bottomland for farming some crops; intermediate for others; and the woodland for lumber and wood for cooking. The commons initially was used for pastureland and grazing, not, as many believe, for mustering the militia: that use was much later and rarely done.

 

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Puritan Village patterns from "Historical Atlas of Massachusetts"

publisher   University of Massachusetts Press
author   Jack Tager
author   Richard W. Wilkie
date   1991
location   Amherst, Massachusetts
height   12.25"
width   16.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Books/Book
accession #   #L01.119


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See Also...

Lot Survey of Deerfield

Plate:"Landing of the Fathers at Plymouth"

"The History of New England.."


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