David C. Coe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 237 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1908, and was one of many upscale homes that were built on Longhill Street at the turn of the 20th century. It was originally the home of David C. Coe, a tailor who had a shop on Main Street here in Springfield. Originally from Kansas, where his father had been a merchant and a Civil War officer, David later came east with his father and settled in Springfield. In 1901, he married his wife, Laila Phelon, and they had three daughters, Mary, Carolyn, and Kathleen.

The Coe family was still living here into the 1930s, but Laila died in 1935 and David moved out soon after. By the time the first photo was taken a few years later, the house was being rented by Howard S. Stedman, the president and treasurer of the Dentists and Surgeons Supply Company. At the time, and his wife Marion paid $80 per month, and lived here with their two children, Barbara and John. In 1942, though, Howard purchased the house outright, and lived here for the rest of his life, until his death in 1958.

The house would remain in the Stedman family until it was finally sold in 1977. Since then, very little has changed, and the exterior of the house remains well-preserved as a good example of early 20th century Colonial Revival architecture. Like the other homes on Longhill Street and the surrounding neighborhood, the house is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Silas L. Kenyon House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 259 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This massive Colonial Revival-style home was one of many mansions built along Longhill Street at the turn of the 20th century. It was probably completed around 1906, when the address first appears in the city directory, and was originally owned by Silas L. Kenyon and his wife Ella. They were in their mid-50s when they moved into this house, and they lived here with several of their adult children, including their daughters Estella and Ruth. However, Ella died only a few years later in 1907, and in 1908 Silas married his second wife, Grace M. Pierce.

Silas Kenyon was the treasurer and manager of Fiberloid, a cellulose manufacturing company that had been founded in Newburyport in the late 1800s. This early type of plastic was used to manufacture a wide variety of consumer products, ranging from shirt collars to dolls’ heads to piano keys. Unfortunately it was also highly flammable, and the Newburyport factory was heavily damaged by a fire in 1904. The following year, the company moved to Springfield, where Kenyon and the other officers built a new facility in Indian Orchard, along the banks of the Chicopee River.

The Kenyon family moved to Springfield around the same time as Fiberloid, and Silas lived here in this house for the rest of his life, until his death in 1917. His company would go on to outlive him, and his son-in-law, Howard R. Bemis, would later succeed him as treasurer of Fiberloid. In the 1930s, the company was acquired by Monsanto, which operated the Indian Orchard facility until 1997. After several more ownership changes, the site is still used to manufacture plastics, although it is drastically different from when Fiberloid moved there over a century ago.

In the meantime, Kenyon’s house was sold shortly after his death, and by 1918 it was owned by Harold A. Ley, who lived here with his wife Anne and their four children. Harold was the president of Fred T. Ley & Co., a Springfield-based construction firm that he and his brother Fred had established in 1897. Early on, the company had primarily built trolley lines in and around western Massachusetts, but by the early 20th century the company had become one of the area’s leading building contractors, constructing prominent buildings in Springfield such as the Hotel Kimball, the old YMCA building on Chestnut Street, and the Masonic Temple on State Street.

By the time Harold moved into this house, the company had moved well beyond the Springfield area, with projects in Boston, New York City, and beyond. Among these was Canp Devens in Ayer and Shirley, Massachusetts, as well as the Boston Arena, an indoor ice rink that would go on to become the first home of both the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. By the mid-1910s, they were constructing luxury apartment buildings and other buildings in New York City, and by the end of the decade they were also involved in projects in Lima, Peru.

In 1919, the company moved its headquarters from Springfield to New York City, and went on to build a number of buildings there. Harold left the company two years later, though, in order to devote his time to the Life Extension Institute, a philanthropic organization that he had helped to found in 1913. As a result, he was not involved later in the decade when his brother’s firm took on its single most important construction project, the Chrysler Building, which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930.

Despite his growing ties to New York, Harold was listed in city directories as living here in this house until at least 1924. However, he subsequently moved to New York, and the 1930 census shows him and his family living in Yonkers. By 1927, this house was the home of Louis and Nell Bauer, who either owned or rented it until around 1929, when their own house was completed nearby at 386 Longhill Street.

The Bauer’s appear to have been the last residents of this house, because it is listed as being vacant in the 1929 city directory, as well as those of subsequent years. When the first photo was taken about a decade later, the house was still vacant, and it remained unoccupied for a few more years, until it was finally demolished in 1942. Nearly 80 years since then, most of the historic mansions on Longhill Street are still standing, but this house is one of the few exceptions. The property was never redeveloped, and today it remains a vacant lot within the Forest Park Heights Historic District.

Harold G. Duckworth House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 368 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


In the first half of the 20th century, the southern section of Longhill Street was one of the most desirable parts of Springfield, and was the home of many of the city’s wealthiest residents. Located just south of downtown Springfield, on a ridgeline above the Connecticut River, many of these homes enjoyed spectacular views, and were situated right next to Forest Park, the largest park in the city. In keeping with architectural tastes of the era, a number of the homes, including this one, had Tudor Revival-style designs, evoking the appearance of an aristocratic English country estate.

Nearly all of the mansions here on Longhill Street were built before the start of the Great Depression, and this house, completed in 1931, was among the last to be built. It was designed by the architectural firm of B. H. Seabury for Harold G. Duckworth, a chain manufacturer who had previously lived in a more modest home on Forest Park Avenue. He and his wife Alma had two children, James and Susan, and they were all living here when the first photo was taken later in the decade.

Harold died in 1961, and Alma lived in this house until 1983, when she sold the property. She was in her 70s at the time, but she would go on to outlive both of her children, and she died in 2003, just a few weeks shy of her 104th birthday. In the meantime, her former house has remained well-preserved, with no noticeable changes between the two photos. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Clifford B. Potter House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 267-269 Longhill Street at the corner of Cherryvale Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Springfield’s Forest Park Heights neighborhood includes a number of elegant late 19th and early 20th century homes, but some of the finest of these can be found here on Longhill Street, where some of the city’s leading residents lived. This large house was built in 1898 for Clifford B. Potter, a manager for the Springfield Knitting Company. He lived here with his wife Caroline and their two young daughters, Gladys and Anna, and the family also employed a governess and a servant, both of whom lived here.

Potter remained with the Springfield Knitting Company for 16 years, but in 1906 he started his own company, the Potter Knitting Company. The firm specialized in “fancy knit goods,” and by the early 1910s they had become, of all things, the nation’s leading producer of infants’ underwear. Potter built a new factory on Main Street, just north of Mill Street, and he served as the company’s president and treasurer for many years. By 1920, the company was still growing, and was listed as manufacturing “infants’, children’s and ladies’ ribbed underwear and union suits.”

The Potter family continued living in this house during this time, but Caroline died in 1925. Clifford remarried to his second wife, Martha, and lived here until his death in 1935. Martha was still living here a few years later, when the first photo was taken, but she sold the property in 1947, to attorney Samuel Goodman and his wife Ruth. At some point over the years, the house was converted into a two-family home, but on the exterior it is essentially unchanged. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, the property is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Jonathan Cogswell House, South Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 1748 Main Street in South Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

Jonathan Cogswell was born in 1782 in Rowley, Massachusetts, and was the son of Dr. Nathaniel Cogswell, a local physician. He graduated from Harvard in 1806, followed by Andover Theological Seminary, and in 1810 he was ordained as pastor of the Congregational church in Saco, Maine. A year later, he married Elizabeth Abbott, whose uncle, Samuel Abbott, was a wealthy merchant who had been one of the founders of the Andover Theological Seminary.

The Cogswells lived in Saco for 18 years, until Jonathan resigned in 1828 because of the mental and physical strain of the ministry. He and Elizabeth moved to New York City with their four daughters, but the following year he accepted a position as pastor in New Britain, Connecticut, where he remained until 1834, when he left to join the faculty of the newly-established Theological Institute of Connecticut.

The school was located in what was, at the time, part of East Windsor, and in 1834 Cogswell built this elaborate Greek Revival-style mansion directly across the street from the school. With its massive columned portico, it stands out among the mostly Colonial and Federal-style homes in the village of East Windsor Hill, and reflected his wealth and social standing. He taught church history at the school, and served as the chair of the ecclesiastical history department for the next 10 years.

In 1837, a few years after moving to East Windsor, Elizabeth died, and later in the year Jonathan remarried to Jane Kirkpatrick, the daughter of the late Andrew Kirkpatrick, who had served for many years as the chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. They had two children together, and during their time in East Windsor his daughter Elizabeth was also married, to James Dixon, a lawyer from Enfield who went on to serve as a U.S. Representative and Senator.

Jonathan Cogswell remained in East Windsor until 1844, when he retired from teaching and moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey. He sold his mansion to the school, and it became the home of the president, Dr. Bennet Tyler. A year younger than Cogswell, he had graduated from Yale and served as a pastor in Connecticut before becoming president of Dartmouth College from 1822 to 1828. He subsequently returned to Connecticut, where he was one of the founders of the Theological Institute a few years later.

Tyler served as president of the school until his retirement in 1857, and he died a year later. Then, in 1865, the school moved to Hartford, where it eventually became the modern-day Hartford Seminary. The original campus here in East Windsor Hill has since been demolished, and today this house is the only surviving building from the school. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is now part of the East Windsor Hill Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Captain May House, South Windsor, Connecticut

The house at 1732 Main Street in South Windsor, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The house in 2017:

Like the neighboring Moses Wells House, this house dates back to the 1700s, although the exact date of construction seems unclear. Various sources indicate that it was built in 1700, 1740, 1750, and 1780, with perhaps the most authoritative of these sources, National Register of Historic Places inventory, dating it to 1700. This date is certainly plausible, as its saltbox-style design was common in New England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and if accurate it would make this house one of the oldest in South Windsor.

The original owner is identified as a Captain May, who was apparently involved in trade with the West Indies. Such merchants were not uncommon in 18th century East Windsor, which at the time included modern-day South Windsor. The town is about as far upstream as ocean-going ships can travel on the Connecticut River, and the trade helped to bring prosperity to the village of East Windsor Hill. The result was a number of fine 18th century homes along Main Street, many of which were far more elegant than this relatively modest saltbox home.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was in somewhat rough condition. On the interior, much of the paneling was original to the house, but by the 1930s it was not well-maintained. The exterior of the house also showed its age, as seen with the deteriorating and missing shutters, as well as the suspiciously warped roof. However, the house has since been restored, and now stands as an excellent example of an 18th century saltbox home. Along with the other homes in the village, it is part of the East Windsor Hill Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.