Unlike most towns, Ludlow has never had a mayor. The town has been run by selectmen who are voted into office by the residents of the town since its creation in 1774. Although the same basic principle of how the town is run has remained the same for more than two hundred years, there is still much that has changed since 1774.
The first town meeting of the district of Ludlow was held on March 29, 1774 at the home of Abner Hitchcock (before a law in 1775, Ludlow was technically considered a district). The record of this meeting still exists today and lists the names of those elected to hold the varying positions in the town. These positions were; moderator, clerk, selectmen, assessors, constables, treasurer, surveyors, fence viewers, wardens, hog and deer reaves, and tithingmen (enforced church attendance until 1861, when the position was eliminated). All of these positions, except for tithingmen, still exist in one form or another in the Ludlow's government today. In April and June of 1774, the first committees of the town were appointed to carry out a specific objective and report back to the town on their findings, a practice which is still conducted today. For several years after the town was incorporated the houses of several citizens were used to conduct meetings and used as a place of worship. After many years of creating committees to find the center of the town so that a meeting house may be constructed there, the town had to get outside help to find the center. On August 3, 1784 the Meeting house, still unfinished, held its first town meeting. There were no clapboards or plaster on the walls, a very rough floor (if one existed at all), the pews were made of regular boards placed on blocks (an upgrade considering they used to have to stand) and there was no way of heating it during the winter. During church service the women had small boxes that had hot coals in them to warm their feet, while the men would just kick their boots together to keep their feet from freezing. The Meeting House seemed to be in constant need of repair and improvement over the years. In 1826 a stove was finally installed to heat the building and would remain in use for 125 years until central heating was installed. Although it was a very crude structure for many years and was in constant need of repair, nearly all of the construction of the meeting house was done by those that lived in the town at the time receiving no payment except that of rum, which was paid for by the town for the workers. In 1841 the New First Church building was created and the meeting house was never again used as a place of worship. It was at this time that the building was sold to Increase Sikes for about $50 and moved to where it stands today. He had intended to use it as a sheep barn but later changed his mind and sold it back to the town. After the building was moved it was usually referred to as the town house and would continue to hold town meetings until 1893. A plaque in the old meeting house describes its previous location:
This building was the first church erected in Ludlow, in 1783 and 1784, and stood on the ground where the Soldiers' Monument now stands. It was moved to its present location between 1841 and 1845, and used as a town house. It was turned one quarter way round. The present entrance faced the east. The west side faced the south and was the main entrance, and had large double doors. The north end faced the west and was the west entrance. One of the original pews is in the southwest corner of the building.
This building still exists today in the center of town. It is owned by the Town of Ludlow and sees regular usage as a meeting place for committees and organizations. The town used it as its meeting house for 110 years before it was retired from service.
In 1893, it was voted to use Joy's hall in Ludlow Village as the place for town meetings and use the basement for town offices. There was also a two cell steel cage here, used for detaining criminals. For the next 80 years the local government would work out of rented spaces, leading to Ludlow being labeled as the only town in the Massachusetts without a town hall by the media at the time. In 1949 the town bought the Stevens Memorial building but only used it for town meeting and kept the town offices at Joys Hall (At this time now called the Bartlett Building). In the same year it was decided to use 32 Chestnut Street for town offices but this did not provide enough space for the town as more space had to be rented elsewhere later on. IT was not until 1972 that the town finally decided to build a town hall on Chapin Street where it still stands today.
In 1899 the State of Massachusetts passed a law requiring each town to adopt an official town seal. For about ten years, this was just the words, "TOWN OF LUDLOW, MASSACHUSETTS" written around the circumference with "INCORPORATED 1774" written through the center. The current seal would first be seen in 1911, but would not become the official town seal until 1919. This seal depicts the clock tower of what was Mill 8 of Ludlow Manufacturing Associates on the left and the sun rising on a hill with farming equipment on the right. The sun is rising on the hill and farming area first to show that farming was Ludlow's first occupation, and later Ludlow was an industrial town.