Not one stop light here! Hampden is a small country town captured by the gentle hills and sloping mountains that surround it. The Scantic River meanders through town and brings reminiscences of the old plowshops, tanneries and blacksmith shops that once edged its shores. The Historical Society, housed in Old Academy Hall, displays the Sunday-go-to-Meeting clothes, diaries and yellowed letters that tell poignant stories of those who once called Hampden home.
Today, new homes dot the hillsides but the population has hovered under 5,000 for many years. This is due in part to its topography and in part to its wetlands, and it is this very feature that has brought to Hampden the Audubon Society's Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, built around the former home of Thornton W. Burgess, well-known storyteller and author of children's nature books. Young people are very important to Hampden and the town's schools reflect that fact.
Hampden has a volunteer fire department, a town meeting form of government with three elected selectmen, a small post office where people call each other by name and residents or visitors can walk its unsidewalked roads at any hour in complete safety and without fear. All in all, town residents feel it is a place one is reluctant to leave in the morning and relieved to find waiting at the end of the day. Hampden, its citizens feel, is changing yet changeless, quiet yet alert, remembers its past yet ensures its future. The town is a true bit of Americana, residents feel, an oasis in a driven world.
Southwestern Massachusetts, bordered by East Longmeadow on the west; Wilbraham on the north; Monson on the east; and Somers and Stafford, Connecticut, on the south. Hampden is 10 miles southeast of Springfield, 48 miles southwest of Worcester, 82 miles southwest of Boston, and 152 miles from New York City.
Narrative compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).