Springfield Municipal Group, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Municipal Group from across Court Square, probably around 1913.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The Municipal Group in 2014:

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The first photo was taken shortly before the Springfield Municipal Group was completed, perhaps even on the same day as the first photo in this post.  In this photo, the buildings are still surrounded by a fence, and a sign for A.E. Stephens Co, the contractors, can be seen on a temporary shed on the right-hand side of the photo. In the ensuing 100 or so years in between the two photos, not much has changed in this scene.  City Hall, Symphony Hall, and Campanile tower are all still there, as is the Civil War monument and the Miles Morgan statue, which is barely visible in the distance in front of the bell tower.  One thing that has changed, though, is the way people get to City Hall.  In the first photo, a trolley can be seen on the far left, and no automobiles are visible anywhere in the scene.  Today, there are no trolleys to be found in Springfield, and instead Court Square is surrounded by cars, as seen in the 2014 photo.

95-99 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 95-99 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2014:

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Known as the Edward B. Barton House, this duplex at the corner of Elliot and Salem Streets was built in 1887.  It was originally home to Edward B. Barton, a traveling shoe salesman, and William H. Wright, the owner of Massasoit Cigar Manufactory and Store.  Today, aside from a few minor changes with the porches, the house doesn’t look all that different from its appearance in the late 1930s.  Like other historic properties on Elliot Street, it is located within the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District.

85-87 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 85-87 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2014:

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This apartment building on Elliot Street, opposite Edwards Street, was built in 1907.  During this time, many of the single and two-family buildings that once lined many of the streets in the downtown area were being replaced by larger apartment buildings, as the downtown grew and demand for housing increased.  The building was built by Gagnier & Angers, two French Canadians who built many of the apartment buildings in this part of the city in the early 1900s.  Presumably, not much changed in the buildings exterior appearance between its construction and the first photo in the late 1930s, and not much changed in the ensuing 75 years.  All of the buildings from the 1930s photo are still there, including this apartment building, the wood duplex to the left, and the brick apartment building behind it.  Together, they make up part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Hampden Park from Round Hill, Springfield, Mass

The view of Hampden Park from the North End of Springfield, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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The view in 2014:

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The location of the second photo isn’t exact – the actual location would be somewhere in the southbound lane of Interstate 91, so I did the next best thing; I took the 2014 photo from a bridge over the highway.  Either way, not much remains the same today.  The railroad tracks are still there, as is the Connecticut River, but otherwise it’s a completely different scene.  Hampden Park is visible in the distance; this was home to bicycle races, minor league baseball games, and even the occasional college football game.  A more in-depth history of the park is explained in this post.

In later years, the part of Hampden Park closest to the North End Bridge became Pynchon Park, and was the home of several different minor league teams until the 1960s.  Today, the former site of Hampden Park is now primarily industrial, with warehouses and other facilities on the spot where Harvard and Yale used to play early college football games.  Pynchon Park is now a Pride station, and can barely be seen through the trees just to the left of the billboard on the right-hand side of the photo.

North Main Street, Springfield, Mass

Main Street in Springfield, looking toward the North End near Congress Street, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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The scene in 2014:

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The only readily identifiable building in the first photo is on the right side of Main Street, the Hooker School, which was a grammar school that opened in 1865.  In the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield, it is described as “the finest of the grammar-school buildings in external appearance,. for which it is indebted to its imposing tower (containing a clock with illuminated dial), as well as to the beautiful network of vines which in summer relieve the bareness of its brick walls.”

The building was still being used as a school by the time the 1910 atlas was published, but by 1920 the school had moved to a different location a few blocks away.  The old building was apparently still there, though, and it was labeled as “Old School Building.” Obviously, the school building is no longer there, although it was likely gone long before the interchange between I-91 and I-291 was built here.  Today, Main Street itself is the only thing left over from the first photo, although instead of trees in the median, it now has concrete supports for the elevated highway.

Court Square, Springfield, Mass

Court Square in Springfield, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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Court Square in 2014:

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The 1882 photo clearly shows Springfield’s old City Hall, which burned down in 1905 and was replaced in 1913 by the present City Hall, Symphony Hall, and Campanile tower.  On the far left of the old photo is the former Hampden County Courthouse, which by 1882 was being used by the Odd Fellows.  Today, the only constant between the two photos is Court Square itself; none of the buildings seen in the 1882 view are still there.  Even the Miles Morgan statue hadn’t yet been brought to Court Square, although it would within a year or so.