Sarah A. Dale House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1119 Worthington Street, at the corner of Thompson Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1886, and was originally the home of Sarah A. Dale, a 70-year-old widow whose husband, brass foundry operator Lombard Dale, had died a decade earlier in 1876. She lived here with two of her unmarried daughters, Ellen and Lizzie, until her death in 1902, and the two sisters subsequently inherited the property. They remained here throughout the first two decades of the 20th century, but Ellen died in 1920. Lizzie was still living here as late as 1926, but by the 1930 census she was living in the Hotel Kimball, and she died later that year.

By 1929, this house was owned by investment banker Raymond L. Stratford, who lived here with his wife Carmen and their two young children, Raymond Jr. and Joan. However, they were only here for a few years, and had moved out by the mid-1930s. The house went through several more ownership changes during the 1930s, and by the end of the decade it was owned by Daniel A. Leary, an Irish immigrant who lived here with his sisters Anna, Katherine, and Mary. All four were unmarried and in their 60s or 70s, and they continued to live here until at least the early 1950s.

The first photo shows the house as it appeared in either 1938 or 1939, around the same time that the Learys purchased the property. However, at some point either during or soon after their ownership, the house underwent some dramatic changes. Like many other large homes in the McKnight neighborhood, it was converted into a boarding house in the mid-20th century. The exterior was also heavily altered, including the removal of the front porches and the installation of asbestos shingles on the walls. The house remained in this condition for many years, but it is now in the process of being restored to its original appearance. The first photo was taken in early 2018, and more work has been done since then, but it shows how the asbestos shingles have been restored, the clapboards have been painted, and the porches are being rebuilt.

Benjamin R. Stillman House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 97 Florida Street in Springfield, around 1910. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Queen Anne-style house was built in 1887 as the home of Benjamin R. Stillman, an insurance executive who was the general agent for the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company. He and his wife Jennie moved to Springfield in 1883, and lived at 212 Bay Street for several years before purchasing this property a few blocks away on Florida Street. He evidently tore down an earlier house that had stood on the site, and moved into this house upon its completion in 1887. At the time, he and Jennie had two young children, Daisy and Cyrus, and they lived here for about three years. However, in 1890 Stillman was appointed secretary of the Safety Car Heating and Lighting Company of New York, and the family relocated to New York.

In 1891, the property was sold to Homer L. Bosworth, a businessman who was originally from Otis, Massachusetts. He was born in 1834, and held a variety of jobs in his early life. He moved west in the late 1850s, selling subscription books in Missouri before moving to Illinois, where he taught school, worked in the county clerk’s office, and opened a store. None of these careers lasted long, and he eventually made his way to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed as a treasury clerk during the Civil War.

Bosworth remained with the Treasury Department until 1871, and the following year he moved to England, where he entered the condensed milk business. This proved highly profitable, and he became wealthy during his time overseas. He and his wife Delia, along with their two daughters, Mary and Anne, lived in England until 1885, when they returned to the United States. Homer was in his early 50s at this point, and was largely retired from active business. However, here in Springfield he served on several corporate boards, including those of the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, the Springfield Gas Company, and the Springfield Institution for Savings.

In addition to this house in Springfield, the Bosworths also owned a home in Hyannisport on Cape Cod, where they spent their summers, and a home in Orlando, where they spent their winters. In his semi-retirement, Homer enjoyed a life of leisure. He was an avid golfer, hunter, and fisherman, and he was also a member of the Colony Club, one of the city’s most exclusive social clubs of the era. The first photo was taken during his residence here, and it shows the house, along with the carriage house on the left side. In 1923, the upper floor of this carriage house was converted into an apartment, which was reportedly used by the family’s chauffeur.

Homer Bosworth died in 1924, and Delia died two years later. Their daughter Mary inherited the property, and the 1940 census shows her living here with her husband, Hinsdale Smith, and a housekeeper. However, she died later that same year, and in 1941 the house was sold to Violet Tiffany. She converted it into a boarding house, and rented rooms to tenants until her death in 1972. She made some minor cosmetic changes, including repainting and repapering the interior, along with repainting the exterior with a solid brown color. Otherwise, though, the house remained well-preserved despite becoming a boarding house.

In 1976, the house was purchased by Jim and Merry Boone, who restored both the exterior and interior. That same year, it became a contributing property in the newly-established McKnight Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Boones have carefully maintained the house ever since, and it stands as one of the best-preserved homes in the McKnight neighborhood. As a longtime resident of the area, Jim has also been a valuable resource for previous blog posts about McKnight homes, and he graciously provided the c.1910 photo for this post, along with much of the historical information about his house.

Francke W. Dickinson House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 141 Saint James Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

Most of the houses in Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood were built in the 1880s, and feature Queen Anne-style architecture, which was popular during that decade. However, trends had begun to shift by the early 1890s, and some of the later McKnight homes had a Colonial Revival design, including this house at the corner of Saint James Avenue and Thompson Street. It was built in 1894, and was originally the home of Francke W. Dickinson, a funeral director and local politician who lived here with his wife Katie and their two children, Ethel and Henry.

Francke Dickinson was the son of Springfield undertaker Elijah Dickinson, and he and his brother Arthur joined the family business in 1872. Arthur left after just two years, but Francke stayed, and took over the company after his father’s death in 1885. In 1910, he formed a partnership with George W. Streeter, establishing the Dickinson-Streeter Company, which would remain in business in Springfield for over a century. During this time, Dickinson also held several different political offices, including serving on the city’s common council from 1888 to 1890, on the board of alderman from 1903 to 1904, as mayor from 1905 to 1906, and as a state senator from 1908 to 1909.

Their son Henry died in 1896 from heart disease at the age of 19, and Ethel left home after her marriage in 1900, so Francke and Katie were living here alone during the 1900 census, except for one servant. They were still here in 1907, but by the following year they had moved to a house on Chestnut Street, and then to Sumner Avenue a few years later. However, by the 1920 census they had returned to the McKnight neighborhood, and were living at The Oaks, a hotel a few blocks away from here on Thompson Street. They lived there until 1922, when they died only three months apart from each other.

In the meantime, by 1910 their former house here on Saint James Avenue was the home of Elizabeth A. Rice and Helen S. Stratton. The two women were sisters, and both were widows who were in their 70s at the time. Helen died in 1916, but Elizabeth was still living here during the 1920 census, along with her nephew Samuel F. Punderson. He was 50 years old and unmarried, and was the treasurer of the R. W. Rice Coal Company, which had been established by Elizabeth’s late husband Richard. Punderson subsequently inherited the house after his aunt’s death in 1923, and in 1930 he was living here with his wife May, whom he had married a few years earlier.

May died in 1931, and Samuel remained here until his death in 1938 at the age of 75. The first photo was taken around this same time, and it shows the west side of the house as seen from Saint James Avenue. Very little has changed since then, and the exterior of the house has remained well-preserved. Perhaps even more remarkable, though, is that the two trees from the first photo are also still there. They do not seem to have grown much, and aside from a few missing limbs, they look almost the same as they did when the first photo was taken some 80 years ago.

Andrew L. Fennessy House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 29 Buckingham Place in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This ornate Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884, and was originally the home of banker Andrew L. Fennessy. At the time, he was cashier for J. G. Mackintosh & Co., but in 1886 he started the banking firm of Fennessy, Armstrong & Co. This business evidently prospered, because within just a few years he was building a new, much larger home on Maple Street. The house was completed in 1888, but his stay there was also short-lived, because in 1891 he moved to Boston and sold his Maple Street residence to paper manufacturer and philanthropist Nathan Bill.

In the meantime, his former home here on Buckingham Place was purchased by Edward H. Phelps, the treasurer and editor of the Phelps Publishing Company. This Springfield-based company had its origins in 1878, when Phelps left his position with the Springfield Union newspaper in order to purchase the New England Homestead. Phelps revived this moribund agricultural journal, and subsequently expanded his company’s holdings to include Farm and HomeAmerican Agriculturalist, and the Orange Judd Farmer. He remained with the company until 1890, when, shortly after purchasing this house, he decided to retire from publishing because of poor health. However, his ailments did not prevent him from starting the Phelps Music Company, which he ran until his death in 1897 at the age of 55.

Following his death, this house remained in the Phelps family for about 20 years. The 1910 census shows his widow, Harriet, living here with their son Walter, his wife Flora, and their daughters Harriet and Dorothy. Walter carried on the family tradition by publishing the Springfield Weekly Guide, and he lived here with his mother until her death in 1914. By 1917, though, he and Flora had moved to a newly-built house on Trinity Terrace in the Forest Park neighborhood, and this house on Buckingham Place was subsequently sold.

The next owner of this house was G. Fred Estey, the treasurer of the H. W. Carter Paper Company. A native of New Brunswick, Estey came to the United States as a teenager. He held a variety of jobs in Boston during the late 19th century, eventually working for many years in the accounting department of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company before coming to Springfield in 1908 to work for H. W. Carter Paper. He and his wife Geneva had two children, Helen and Roger, who were born during the family’s time in Boston, but Geneva died in 1909, shortly after the move to Springfield. The 1920 census shows Estey living here along with Helen, Roger, his aunt Ester Sutherland, and a servant. They would remain here until the mid-1920s, but by 1926 Estey had moved to a house on Westford Circle.

Subsequent owners of this house included Henry G. Miller,a phonograph salesman who was living here during the 1930 census along with his wife Carrie and their four children. By 1933, though, the house had changed hands again, and was the home of Elwin O. Rowell, an engineer for the Boston & Maine Railroad. He and his wife Dell were still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and the 1940 census shows them renting a room to Horace G. Clark, a city police officer.

Today, this house is one of the many fine Victorian-era homes that still stand in Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood. At one point during the 20th century, the house was covered in aluminum siding, but this has since been removed and the exterior has been restored to its original appearance. As a result. the present-day view shows very few changes since the first photo was taken some 80 years ago, and the house is now part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Brewer-Young Mansion, Longmeadow, Mass (2)

The Brewer-Young Mansion at 734 Longmeadow Street in Longmeadow, in July 1911. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society.

The house in 2018:

As discussed in the previous post, this house was built in 1885, and was originally the home of noted Congregationalist pastor and hymn writer Samuel Wolcott. Subsequent owners included businessman, farmer, and former state legislator Edward S. Brewer, who was living here when the first photo was taken in 1911. The photo shows the front of the house, with its large gambrel roof and distinctive portico, and there is a group of three unidentified men standing on the well-landscaped front lawn.

Brewer died later in 1911, and his widow Corinne lived here until later in the decade. By the early 1920s, the property was sold to Mary Ida Young, the co-founder of W.F. Young, Inc., an animal care product company best known for developing the horse liniment Absorbine. She lived here for the rest of her life, until her death in 1960 at the age of 95, and the house remained in the Young family until 1989, when it was sold because of the high cost of upkeep.

The house changed ownership many times over the next few decades, but the 11,000 square foot, 130-year-old mansion proved impractical as a single-family home. It steadily deteriorated and was finally foreclosed in 2015, but it was purchased two years later, a few months before the second photo was taken. Thanks to a zoning change to the property, the new owners are currently in the process of restoring the house and converting it into professional offices, which will help to ensure the long-term preservation of this important local landmark.

Brewer-Young Mansion, Longmeadow, Mass

The Brewer-Young Mansion at 734 Longmeadow Street in Longmeadow, on July 7, 1908. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Colonial Revival-style mansion was built in 1885, and was originally the home of Samuel Wolcott, a noted Congregationalist pastor and hymn writer. Born in South Windsor in 1813, Wolcott spent the early years of his ministry as a missionary in the Middle East, before returning to the United States and serving as pastor of a number of churches, including here in Longmeadow from 1843 to 1847. He subsequently served in churches as far away as Cleveland and Chicago, but eventually returned to Longmeadow after his retirement.

Two of Reverend Wolcott’s sons, Henry and Edward Wolcott, had this house built for their father. Both sons had gone west to Colorado, where they both prospered, with Edward later serving as a U. S. Senator from 1889 to 1901. Their father’s mansion reflected their wealth, but he did not get to enjoy it for very long. He died in 1886, at the age of 72, only about a year after the completion of the house, although his widow Harriet continued to live here until her death in 1901. The 1900 census shows her here along with her daughters Clara and Charlotte, and two servants.

After Harriet’s death, the property was sold to Edward S. Brewer, a businessman and farmer who had previously lived in Springfield. He had represented the city in the state legislature in 1892 and 1893, and he later became a member of the Longmeadow board of selectmen after moving to this house. He extensively renovated the house in 1906, and this was evidently when the house acquired its distinctive Colonial Revival appearance. The first photo was taken only two years later, and shows both the ornate exterior and the landscaped lawn in the front of the house.

The 1910 census lists Edward Brewer living here with his wife Corinne and three servants. He died a year later, but Corinne remained here until at least 1918. However, by the 1920 census she was living in Boston with her daughter Maud, and she died in 1921. The house was then sold to Mary Ida Young, a widow who, along with her late husband Wilbur, had co-founded the animal care product company W.F. Young, Inc. back in 1892.

The W.F. Young company is best known for developing the horse liniment Absorbine, along with the related product Absorbine Jr., which was intended for human use. At the time, the company was headquartered in Springfield, and the Young family lived in a house on State Street. However, Wilbur died in 1918, and Mary subsequently moved to this house in Longmeadow a few years later. Their son, Wilbur F. Young II, became company president after his father’s death, but he died in 1928 at the age of 30, leaving Mary to assume control of the company.

Mary ultimately outlived her husband by more than 40 years, and ran the company into her 90s, until she handed it over to her daughter Sally and grandson, Wilbur F. Young III in 1957. She continued to live in this house throughout this time, and remained here until her death in 1960, at the age of 95. The house stayed in the Young family for several more decades, although the high costs of upkeep eventually led the family to sell the property in 1989.

Today, W.F. Young, Inc. is still in business, and still produces Absorbine. It is now headquartered in nearby East Longmeadow, where it is still owned by the Young family. However, the former family home has not fared so well over the years. Since being sold in 1989, it has gone through a revolving door of ownership, and has steadily deteriorated. It was foreclosed on in 2015, but was purchased two years later, shortly before the second photo was taken. The house is now undergoing restoration, and the interior is in the process of being converted into professional offices.