Post Office, Monson, Mass

The post office at the corner of Main and State Streets in Monson, around 1893. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The scene in 2015:

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The building in the first photo was built in 1855 for the recently-established Monson National Bank.  In 1872, Monson Savings Bank was also created, and the two companies shared the same counter, tellers, and vault within this small building until 1893, when a larger one was completed just a short walk down Main Street from here.  That same year, the nearby Central Block, which housed the post office, was destroyed in a fire, so the post office was moved to the recently-vacated bank building.  It later moved back to the Central Block location when a new building was completed on the site.

I don’t know exactly when it was demolished, but it would have been sometime before 1925, when the original Monson High School was built here.  The school building was converted into the town offices in the early 1990s, but it sustained heavy damage in the une 1, 2011 tornado, and it was demolished in 2013.  A new town office building, seen to the right in the 015 photo, was completed earlier in the year.

Methodist Church, Monson, Mass (2)

Another view of the Methodist Church on Main Street in Monson, around 1900-1920. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The church in 2015:

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As explained in the previous post, this church at the corner of Main and Cushman Streets was built in 1850, and it is the oldest of Monson’s four church buildings.  The only major change in the church’s appearance between the two photos is the steeple.  The top of the steeple above the belfry was removed in 1952 because of damage caused by the 1938 hurricane, and it was replaced in 2010.  Aside from that, though, the rest of the historic church is essentially unchanged, and it is an excellent example of mid 19th century New England church architecture.

Methodist Church, Monson, Mass (1)

The Methodist Church on Main Street in Monson, probably taken around 1900-1920. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The church in 2015:

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The Methodist church in Monson was first established in the 1820s, and in 1827 its first permanent church building was built about a mile south of here, at the corner of Main and Maple Streets.  However, the congregation outgrew that building, and in 1850 they moved to this much larger, more centrally-located church in downtown Monson.  As seen in the two photos, it is still standing today, and it is the oldest active church building in town.

Architecturally, the church strongly resembles the traditional New England churches of the early 1800s, but there are also some elements of Gothic Revival architecture, such as the arched windows and the quatrefoil window on the tower.  Since its completion, there have not been many major changes to its appearance.  Aside from an expansion around 1860, the only major change has been the steeple.  The 1938 hurricane weakened its supports, so in 1952 the spire was removed, and was not replaced until 2010.  Just a year later, a tornado caused severe damage to downtown Monson, and destroyed the steeples of two nearby churches, but this church survived largely unscathed.

Monson Savings Bank, Monson, Mass

Monson Savings Bank on Main Street, around 1893-1910. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The building in 2015:

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Monson’s first bank was Monson National Bank, which opened in 1854. It was a commercial bank, so it primarily served the business community in town, rather than on individual checking and savings accounts. So, in 1872, Monson Savings Bank was established, which enabled middle class workers in town to open savings accounts.  The two banks were officially separate, but they shared the same building, and the same vault, counter, tellers.

This arrangement continued until 1893, when this building was completed.  Although still located in the same building, they were separated, with Monson National on the left and Monson Savings on the right.  Monson National merged with the Springfield Safe Deposit and Trust Company, which in turn merged with Shawmut Bank.  Shawmut continued to operate a branch in this building until the 1960s, when Monson Savings Bank acquired the entire building.

Over 120 years after this building was completed, Monson Savings Bank is still here, although the building itself has undergone dramatic changes.  The two upper floors were removed at some point, and in the 1960s the front facade was completely rebuilt.  Another renovation in 1985 added office space in the back and a drive-up teller window to the left, so today the only surviving parts of the original exterior are the walls on the left and right.

Nora’s Variety Store, Springfield, Mass

A mixed-use commercial and residential building on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is probably best known as the longtime home of Nora’s Variety Store, but on a more personal note it is also where my grandmother was born, in 1917.  According to city records, it was built in 1910, which was around the time that Pine Point was being developed as a residential suburb.  My great grandparents moved into this building around 1914, and they lived here until around the early 1920s, when they moved to a house on nearby Coleman Street.

The first photo shows two storefronts, which appear to have been added sometime after 1920.  To the right was a shoe store, which is now a beauty salon, and to the left was the Boston Road Variety Store.  This later became Nora’s Variety Store, which remained a fixture in Pine Point for many years.  Nora’s closed in the early 2000s, and the storefront was most recently used by another variety store, although it now stands vacant as of 2015.

153-157 Boston Road, Springfield, Mass

A commercial block on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood was developed in the early 1900s, and consisted primarily of middle class, single-family homes.  This section of Boston Road was the commercial center of the neighborhood, and the first photo shows a variety of businesses here, including two grocery stores, a dry goods store, and a dry cleaners.  Just out of view to the left was the first Friendly’s restaurant, which opened a few years before the photo was taken.  These buildings were probably built around the 1920s or 1930s, and although the stores have changed, the buildings themselves are still standing.