Dr. Luke Corcoran House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 95 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

For many years, this site on Maple Street was the home of James Dwight Brewer, a local merchant and member of the prominent Brewer family. However the house in the first photo does not appear to be the same one that he lived in. Given the home’s architectural style, it was probably built after Brewer’s death in 1886, when his daughter Harriet inherited the property. Her husband, Dr. Luke Corcoran, was a leading physician in the city who also served as a trustee of the Northampton State Hospital. The Corcorans were also art patrons, and amassed a considerable collection here at their home.

Luke and Harriet Corcoran had two children, James and Sarah, although Sarah died in 1881 at the age of two.  James became an author and journalist who worked for the Springfield Republican, along with writing several books of his own. He married his wife Carolyn in 1901, and the couple lived here with James’s parents and their daughter Celeste. Both Luke and Harriet died in the 1920s, but James and his family continued to live here for many years. Carolyn died in 1953, but James was still living in this house until around 1963, when he sold the property to the Insurance Company of North America. The house was subsequently demolished, and the insurance company built the current building on the site. This building later became offices for Milton Bradley, and is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Eunice B. Smith House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 111 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

Eunice B. Smith was born in 1826, and grew up in Springfield’s prominent Brewer family. Her father James was a merchant who was one of the founders of Chicopee Bank, and her grandfather Chauncey was a distinguished physician in the colonial era. Likewise, her husband David P. Smith was also a physician. He served in the Civil War as a surgeon, first for the 18th Massachusetts Infantry and eventually as chief surgeon at the Fairfax Seminary Hospital in Alexandria, and after the war he became a professor of surgery at Yale.

David and Eunice’s only child, George, died in 1873 at the age of nine, and David died in 1880 at the age of 50. In 1890, Eunice had this house built on Maple Street, in between Union and Mulberry Streets. In the 1900 census, she was listed as living here with two servants, plus a woman who was identified as being her companion. Ten years later, she and her companion were still living here, along with four servants, which included a waitress, a cook, and two nurses.

After Eunice’s death in 1911, the house was sold to businessman Harry G. Fisk. He came from a family of successful industrialists, including his uncle, George C. Fisk, who was the longtime president of the Wason Manufacturing Company. Harry’s father, Noyes W. Fisk, was the clerk and treasurer of Wason, but in 1898 he and Harry established the Fisk Rubber Company in Chicopee. While Wason was one of the nation’s leading railroad car manufacturers, Fisk Rubber became a major producer of bicycle and car tires, and Harry served for many years as the company’s treasurer.

Aside from his involvement in the rubber company, which was later renamed the Fisk Tire Company, Harry Fisk was also the president of the Fisk Manufacturing Conpany, which made soap, and he was the president of the Knox Motor Company, a Springfield-based automobile manufacturer. He served as a director for several other area companies, including the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and he even owned a large farm in East Longmeadow, where he bred cattle.

Harry Fisk and his wife Alice had four children, one of whom died in infancy. The family lived in this house for many years, and their wealth can be seen in the census valuations of the property. In 1930, for example, the house was valued at $75,000, or around $1.1 million in 2017 dollars. This was substantially higher than the other nearby mansions, which were fine homes in their own right. By the 1940 census, however, the home’s value had declined to $40,000, or about $700,000 today. This was partially a result of the Great Depression, but it was probably also a reflection of changes in the neighborhood. By this point, many of the fine Gilded Age mansions on lower Maple Street had either been demolished to build apartments, or were converted into boarding houses. However, Harry Fisk remained here until his death in 1945, a year after Alice’s death.

Along with the other three mansions along this section of Maple Street between Mulberry and Union Streets, this house was demolished sometime in the two decades between Fisk’s death and the construction of the present building, which was completed in 1965. It was originally built as offices for the Insurance Company of North America, but was later used by Milton Bradley. In the mid-1990s, it was sold to the city and converted into the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Charles Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 Maple Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This Queen Anne-style mansion was built sometime in the 1880s, and was the home of Charles and Helen Marsh. Charles was the president of Springfield’s Pynchon National Bank, but he was also heavily involved in many nonprofit organizations in the city, serving as treasurer of Springfield Hospital, the School for Christian Workers, the Hampden County Benevolent Association, the Hampden Conference of Congregational Churches, and the Connecticut Valley Congregational Club. Along with this, he served in various capacities for other organizations, including teaching Sunday school at the nearby South Congregational Church. He even ventured into politics, and was twice the Democratic candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth, although he lost both times.

Their time at this house was relatively short, because Charles Marsh died in 1891, and Helen died in 1894. Subsequent owners included James F. Bidwell, a tobacco dealer who was living here by the 1910 census. Born in 1844, Bidwell served in the Civil War as a private in the 5th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Several years after the end of the war, he married his wife Frostine, and they had two children, Mary and Robert. Aside from his tobacco business, Bidwell was also involved in local politics. He served as a city alderman for several years, and he was also a water commissioner from 1894 to 1902.

James Bidwell died in 1917, and Frostine lived here until her death in 1934. The first photo shows a large “For Sale” sign on the front of the house, and at this point the neighborhood had changed. When the house had been built some 50 years earlier, lower Maple Street was lined with large mansions. However, by the early 20th century these were steadily being replaced or repurposed. In the late 1950s, this house was converted into doctors’ offices, and a few years later it was demolished to build an office building for the Insurance Company of North America, which was completed in 1965. This building was later used by Milton Bradley, and it is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Henry J. Beebe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 143 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

The first photo was probably taken soon after this house was built, given the Colonial Revival-style architecture that was just coming into fashion at the time. The elegance of the house reflected the wealth of the owner, Henry J. Beebe, who was a woolen merchant. Originally from Monson, Massachusetts, Beebe and his father purchased a woolen mill in North Monson in 1870, which they operated until his father’s death in 1876. Henry then purchased another mill in Holyoke, and later sold the Monson mill. The Holyoke company became Beebe, Webber, & Company, and Henry owned it along with his brother-in-law, J. S. Webber. Along with his woolen business, Henry Beebe was also a director of a number of other local companies, including the First National Bank of Springfield and the United Electric Light Company.

Henry Beebe’s first wife, Othalia Vaughan, died in 1871, and he remarried in 1880 to Kate Glover, who was likewise a widow. They moved into this house around 1890, and lived here for the rest of their lives, until Kate’s death in 1912 and Henry’s in 1919. By this point, the lower Maple Street area was changing, and large apartment buildings were starting to replace many of the grand 19th century mansions. After Henry’s death, his house was sold to developers, and it was demolished in the early 1920s to build the four-story, 40-unit apartment building that now stands on the site. Like its predecessor, the apartment building has a distinctive Colonial Revival-style design, and its exterior has changed very little since the second photo was taken in the 1930s.

Maple Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Maple Street from the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, sometime around the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The scene in 2017:

In the second half of the 19th century, the section of lower Maple Street between State Street and Central Street featured some of the finest homes in the entire city. Most of these homes are now gone, but the first photo shows the street as it appeared around the turn of the 20th century, when many of Springfield’s prominent residents lived here. The four houses seen here, between Mulberry and Union Streets, were built in the late 1800s, and were, starting in the foreground, house numbers 127, 111, 95, and 89.

At the corner of Mulberry Street was 127 Maple Street, which was the home of Charles Marsh, the president of Pynchon National Bank. By the early 1900s, it was owned by James F. Bidwell, a tobacco dealer who held several municipal offices, including serving as a city alderman and as a water commissioner. To the left of his house was 111 Maple Street, the home of Eunice B. Smith, an elderly widow whose husband, David, had been a physician. The third house, 95 Maple Street, was the home of Eunice’s brother, James D. Brewer, and was later owned by his daughter Harriet and her husband, Dr. Luke Corcoran. The fourth house, 89 Maple Street, is barely visible at the corner of Union Street, and was the home of Henry A. Gould, a paper manufacturer.

All four of these homes survived well into the 20th century, but they were all demolished by 1965, when the current building was built on the site. It was originally offices for the Insurance Company of North America, but it was later sold to the Milton Bradley Company, who used it as their corporate offices. However, in 1984 Milton Bradley merged with Hasbro, and the following year its offices were moved to East Longmeadow, leaving this building vacant. In the early 1990s, it was sold to the city, expanded, and is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Robert G. Shumway House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 34 Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2017:

This house was one of many in Springfield that were designed and built by Simon Sanborn in the first half of the 19th century. Although not as grand in size or appearance as some of his other homes, such as the Alexander House, this house is one of his few surviving works. It was built in 1840, and features prominent Greek Revival-style portico, complete with four columns. The rear section of the house, with its Second Empire-style mansard roof, appears to have been added later, probably around the 1870s.

The original owner was John Bunker, who was a former ship captain. There is little available information about him or his time at this house, and by the late 1850s the house was owned by Robert G. Shumway, a jewelry manufacturer. He lived here with his wife Julia and their four daughters, Julia, Lucy, Helen, and Abby, until his death in 1880. However, the house remained in his family for many decades. His two younger daughters, Helen and Abby, never married, and they lived here together until Helen’s death in 1930. Abby was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and she remained here until her death in 1947 at the age of 87, some 90 years after her father had first purchased the home.

In the years since the first photo was taken, most of the surrounding homes have since been demolished, and the Milton Bradley School now takes up much of the block. The school’s parking lot surrounds the former Shumway property on three sides, but the old house still stands. Its exterior has not changed much in the past 80 years, and it still retains its unusual combination of a Greek Rrvival columned portico and a mansard roof. As the sign in the 2017 photo indicates, though, it is no longer a single-family home, and is instead used as a law office.