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Learning Through Places
Neighborhood Subdivision: The Beman Triangle, Middletown
This lesson plan focuses on how neighborhoods are developed and highlights the earliest known subdivision in Connecticut laid out by a free black man for black homeowners. The Leverett Beman Historic District is listed on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
Recommended Student Reading
Recommended Teacher Reading
See additional resources below
Components of the Lesson Plan
- Connections to the state’s social studies frameworks
- Introductory discussion guide
- Lesson Plan – Neighborhood Subdivision: The Beman Triangle, Middletown
Images and text written at grade level
List of possible activities
This lesson plan is adapted from Neighborhood Around Hawthorne, Exploring the Neighborhood around Your School by Joanna Walden, The Built Environment, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Lesson Plans for Educators, 2012, at www.umfa.utah.edu.
Begin with an in-class conversation about communities. Here are some questions to help guide the discussion.
- What is a community? A: It is a group of people sharing a common space or interest. Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion. A community is a group or society helping each other. There are different types of communities which have various purposes. For instance, a community can be defined by geographic boundaries. This can be further divided into categories such as rural or urban. Or a community is defined by people who share the same interest or passion. Another type of community is one where people work in the same profession or undertake the same activities. What types of communities do you belong to?
- What is a neighborhood? A: It is a geographically localized community within a larger city, town, or suburb. Neighborhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. Where is your neighborhood? Where do you live?
- What do we do in neighborhoods and communities? A: We make friends, work, go to school, eat, shop, and play
- Where do people interact with each other? A: work, stores, churches, schools, houses, parks, streets, sidewalks, etc.
- What do we need? What resources can we find in our neighborhood? A: Food , Safety and protection (fire, police), Health (hospitals), Recreation (parks, gyms, swimming pools), Businesses (places where we work) Stores (food, clothing, etc). Religious institutions. Economics and government, Communication (Post offices, phones, internet)
- Why do places change? What evidence do you think you could find in your neighborhood to show it has changed over time? What do you think your neighborhood looked like 50 years ago? How about 100 years ago?
- How can you find out about these changes? A: Research on the internet, librarians and/or historians, ask a grandparent or someone who has seen your neighborhood or community change, look at old photographs and maps.
- How do we share space? Who or what do we share space with? A: people, animals, natural and built environment. What do you see in your neighborhood that lets you know people share space? A: sidewalks, community gardens, shared driveways, streets, lights, telephone/cable poles, parks, etc. Why should we share our spaces?
LINK TO STUDENT MATERIAL
Next, pass out the student materials or have them go to it online. Have them look closely at the three maps and answer the questions provided. Some prompts are provided below.
Learning Through Places: The Beman Triangle in Middletown
What do you see on the map?
Look at the first map.
Is the City of Middletown on a river or the ocean?
Is it a large city with many buildings or a small town with only a few buildings?
Do you think there is one neighborhood or many neighborhoods?
Look at the second map. Can you find the Beman Triangle?
Is the Beman Triangle close to the river and Main Street? Or far away?
Is there a college close by?
Can you find a cemetery on the map?
Look at the third map.
Are the lots small or large?
Whose name is on the largest lot?
Next, the students will read about the Beman Triangle.
Complete the lesson by having the students choose one of the activities to complete.
Connections to State Frameworks
GEO 3.7-3.9 Human Population: Spatial Patterns and Movement
- Why do you live where you live?
- Who controls the use of land and resources?
- What factors, besides economic ones, cause a person to move to a certain location?
- What attracts a person to a town or city today? How is that different from what may have attracted them there in 1800?
See “A Family of Reformers: The Middletown Bemans,” African American Connecticut Explored (Wesleyan University Press, 2014)
For an illustrated history of the Beman Triangle and its residents go to:
For more information about Wesleyan University’s Beman Triangle Archeology Project, go to:
For more about Middletown, go to:
Middlesex Historical Society https://mchsct.org/
For more about Amos Beman’s abolitionist work, go to:
Connecticut Explored https://www.ctexplored.org/site-lines-black-abolitionists-speak/