Sacred Heart Church and Rectory, Holyoke, Mass

The Sacred Heart Church (right) and rectory (left), seen from Maple Street in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1891).

The scene in 2017:

As mentioned in the previous post, the Sacred Heart Parish was established in 1878 as an offshoot of St. Jerome’s Parish, which had been the first Catholic church in Holyoke. Sacred Heart served the Catholics in the southern section of downtown Holyoke, and in 1876 construction began on the church building here at the corner of Maple and Sargeant Streets. The Second Empire-style rectory, on the left side of the scene, was built around the same time, but the church would not be completed until 1883.

The first pastor of the church was Father James T. Sheehan, although he died of tuberculosis two years later in 1880, at the age of 32. He was succeeded by Father P. B. Phelan, a Newfoundland native who had previously served as pastor of the church in West Springfield. Upon his arrival here in Holyoke, Phelan inherited the incomplete church building, along with a sizable debt of $40,000. However, he oversaw the completion of the church, paid off the debt, and went on to serve the parish for the next 39 years, until his death in 1919.

The church was built at a cost of $90,000 (almost $2.5 million today), and featured ornate Gothic-style architecture on both the exterior and interior. By the time the first photo was taken around 1891, the church and rectory had also been joined by a school and a convent, both of which stood just out of view on the left side of the scene. Together, these four buildings occupied an entire city block, surrounded by Maple, Sargeant, Chestnut, and Franklin Streets.

The spire was not added to the church until 1897, but otherwise this scene has not seen many changes since the first photo was taken. It is hard to tell because of the tree in front of it, but the exterior of the church has remained well-preserved, and it is still in use as an active parish. To the left, the rectory is also still standing, and still has its Victorian-era details, such as the corner tower, the ornate front entryway, and the curved front steps. However, both the 19th century school and the convent are gone, and the southern half of this lot is now vacant except for a parking lot.

Oren D. Allyn House, Holyoke, Mass

The house at 141 Locust Street in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1891).

The scene in 2017:

This house was built in 1890 as the home of real estate developer Oren D. Allyn, and, like many of the other elegant homes in Holyoke during this period, it was designed by noted local architect George P. B. Alderman. The house incorporated many Queen Anne-style elements, including an asymmetrical design, a complex roofline, a large front porch, and a tower on one corner of the house. It was accompanied by a matching carriage house behind it, and the property originally extended to Sycamore Street in the back and Hampshire Street on the left.

Oren D. Allyn was born in Holyoke in 1853, and as a young man he worked in his family’s meat market on High Street, with city directories variously listing him as a clerk, salesman, and bookkeeper. However, by 1885 he had entered the real estate business, and began developing much of the Oakdale neighborhood. This area, at the western end of downtown Holyoke’s street grid, had been laid out in the mid-19th century, but it was not until the 1880s that the city’s growth reached this neighborhood.

Allyn’s father, Anderson Allyn, owned a large plot of land in this section. The 1884 city atlas shows the property line running diagonally to the street grid, starting near the corner of Beech and Franklin Streets and ending near the corner of Essex and Pleasant Streets. The land covered much of the area now bounded by Beech Street, Franklin Street, Hampshire Street, and Magnolia Avenue, and in the coming years Oren Allyn built over 300 homes in the neighborhood, including his own house here on Locust Street.

Aside from his work in real estate development, Allyn also served on the city’s board of public works from 1899 to 1906. He supported the City Beautiful movement of the era, and during his time on the board he encouraged projects such as planting trees along the city’s streets. He put these ideas into practice in his own expansive yard as well, including cultivating a large rose garden here. The first photo was taken only about a year after the house was completed, but by this point the left side of the scene was already dotted with a number of recently-planted trees and bushes.

The completion of this house coincided with Oren’s 1891 marriage to Alice Ladd, and he lived here for the rest of his life. He and Alice did not have any children, but they shared the house with Alice’s family. By 1900, her mother Augusta and sister Mabel were both living here. Augusta died in 1904, and Mabel was no longer here by the 1910 census, but by that point Alice’s widowed brother Wilbur was living here with his three sons. Wilbur had moved out before the 1920 census, but his sons were still living here at the time. Oren died in 1929, at the age of 75, and Wilbur subsequently returned to this house in order to live with his sister. He died in 1935, and Alice moved out of the house in 1939.

The property was later subdivided, and today two houses stand on the left side of the house, on Hampshire Street. The carriage house is gone, along with Allyn’s rose garden and other landscaping, and in the mid-20th century the wooden clapboards were covered with green asphalt shingles. These shingles have since been removed, but other exterior changes have included enclosing the top of the tower and replacing the railing and posts on the front porch. A fire escape, only partially visible in the 2017 photo, has been added to the left side of the house, and the interior is now divided into eight apartment units. However, the house still stands as one of the many elegant mansions that were built in Holyoke during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Michael Cleary House, Holyoke, Mass

The house at 1137-1139 Dwight Street, near the corner of Pleasant Street in Holyoke, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

This two-family, Queen Anne-style house was built in 1891, shortly before the first photo was taken, and was designed by noted Holyoke architect George P. B. Alderman. The house was apparently numbered 287 Dwight Street at the time, before the current numbering system was adopted in the first decade of the 1900s, and was originally the home of carpenter and contractor Michael Cleary and his family. Michael only lived here for a few years, before moving to a house on Northampton Street, but other members of the Cleary family remained at this house for many years.

By the 1900 census, the house was occupied by five siblings: Thomas, Margaret, Dennis, John, and William Cleary. Their ages ranged from 29 to 42, and all were single except for the youngest, William, although his wife was not listed here on the census. All five of them were born in the United States to Irish immigrants, and both Thomas and Dennis were liquor dealers, in the firm of Thomas M. Cleary & Co. The company was located on Maple Street, and according to an advertisement in the 1905 city directory they were:

Wholesale Dealers in Foreign and Domestic Winds and Liquors. Also Agents for P. Ballantine & Sons’ Celebrated Newark Ales and Porter and Union Brewing Co.’s Boston Lager Beer. Agents Western Massachusetts for the well known Van Hook Whiskey. Also Gibson’s XXXX Whiskey. Also general line of fine Whiskey for Medicinal use.

The 1910 census shows Thomas and Margaret still living here. Margaret had married by this point, to dry goods store clerk Thomas Fitzgerald, and they lived here with their two young children, Claire and Thomas. Thomas Cleary was still in the liquor business, along with Michael Cleary, and he continued to operate his firm on Maple Street until his death in 1917. As it turned out, Prohibition went into effect only three years later, and by the early 1920s the company was evidently out of business.

Thomas and Margaret Fitzgerald were still living here in this house by 1920, along with their children and Margaret’s brother, John Cleary. Thomas died at some point in the 1920s, but the rest of the family was still living here during the 1930 census. The property was valued at $25,000 (about $380,000 today) and she rented the right side of the two-family home to Walter Shean, who lived here with his wife Rose and their son Joseph. They paid $100 in monthly rent (about $1,500 today), which was more than double what most of their neighbors were paying at the time.

Margaret and her children, Claire and Thomas, were still living here during the 1940 census, and the house would remain in the family for many more years. Both children lived here for the rest of their lives, until Claire’s death in 1978 and Thomas’s in 1985. The house was subsequently sold out of the Cleary-Fitzgerald family for the first time in nearly a century, but it is still standing today, with a well-preserved exterior that has not changed significantly in 125 years since the first photo was taken. The house further in the distance is gone, having been replaced by a modern apartment complex, but other elements from the first photo are still here, including the retaining wall and steps on the right side of the scene.

Leslie B. White House, Holyoke, Mass

The house at 56 Fairfield Avenue in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1891).

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1888, and was among the first houses to be built here on Fairfield Avenue. The street is part of the Highlands neighborhood, which was developed in the late 19th century after streetcar lines enabled residents to live further outside of downtown Holyoke. Fairfield Avenue, with its landscaped median and elegant homes, attracted a number of upper middle class residents, including Leslie B. White, a contractor and carriage dealer who designed some of the houses here on the street. He moved into this house upon its completion, and lived here until at least 1895. However, the 1896 city directory lists him further down the street at 31 Fairfield Avenue, and by 1897 he had moved to Westfield.

The house was subsequently owned by John F. Knightly, a slate roofer who was living here during the 1900 census. He and his wife Maria were both the children of Irish immigrants, and they had six children together, although only two were still living by 1900. They lived here for a few years, but later moved to 10 Fairfield Avenue, where Maria died in 1907. By 1911, this house at 56 Fairfield Avenue was owned by traveling salesman Charles H. Tower. He was later listed as a manager of an asbestos mill, and he lived here with his wife Jennie until his death in 1941.

The first photo was taken only a few years after the house was built, when Leslie White still lived here. At the time, the lot was evidently wider, since the carriage house was located further to the right, near where the house on the far right now stands. The carriage house appears to have survived, although at some point around the turn of the 20th century it was moved to its current location directly behind 56 Fairfield Avenue. Otherwise, this scene has not changed significantly in the past 125 years, and the house is still standing with most of its Queen Anne-style exterior decorations. It is now part of the Fairfield Avenue Local Historic District, which was established in 2007 as the city’s first local historic district.

William H. Wilson House, Holyoke, Mass

The house at 67 Fairfield Avenue in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1891).

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1891 in the Highlands neighborhood of Holyoke. Located to the northwest of downtown, this area was developed in the late 19th century after streetcar lines made it easy to commute from here. Fairfield Avenue was one of the centerpieces of the neighborhood, with its landscaped median and elegant homes, and it attracted a variety of upper middle class residents. The original owner of this house was William H. Wilson, who worked as a foreman at the Hampden Glazed Paper and Card Company. The house was designed by prominent local architect George P. B. Alderman, and featured a Queen Anne-style design that was fashionable for houses of this period.

William Wilson only lived in this house for a few years, and by 1897 he had relocated to a house nearby on Lincoln Street. From around 1897 to 1899, this house on Fairfield Avenue was the home of Charles E. Walden, a publisher whose company produced a variety of trade journals and books relating to the paper industry, including U. S. Paper Maker, New England Stationer and Printer, New England Paper and Pulp Trade, and Walden’s ABC Pocket Guide for Paper Makers, Dealers and Stationers. However, by 1900 Walden had left this house moved to New York City.

The next owner of the house was its architect, George P. B. Alderman. Earlier in the 1890s, he had lived two houses away at 63 Fairfield Avenue – which he had also designed – but by 1900 he had purchased this house at 67 Fairfield. He was 37 years old when the 1900 census was taken, and he lived here with his wife Belle, their four children, and a servant. The couple had two other children who had died young, and they would go on to have one more child, who was born in 1901.

Alderman was originally from Connecticut, but came to Holyoke as a teenager and became a carpenter. However, he soon began working for local architect James A. Clough, and in 1885 he went into business for himself. His architectural career coincided with Holyoke’s height of prosperity, and in the ensuing years he designed a number of churches, schools, commercial blocks, and houses in the city and throughout the region. He designed many of the homes here on Fairfield Avenue, and some of his other important works in Holyoke included the First Congregational Church (1887 and 1893), the First Methodist Episcopal Church (1889), the former Steiger’s building (1899 and 1901), the recently-demolished Mater Dolorosa Church (1901), the William Whiting School (1910), the Strand Theatre (1920), the Masonic Temple (1922), and the Post Office (1933).

The Alderman family lived here in this house until around 1908. By the 1910 census, George and Belle had divorced, and George was was living with his parents in a house nearby on Pearl Street. He later remarried to Hortense Bacon, a young widow who was about 20 years his junior. They had three children together, and by 1924 they were living almost across the street from here, in a house at 52 Fairfield Avenue. It is not clear whether he was the architect of that house, but he and Hortense lived there until his death in 1942, at the age of 80.

In the meantime, his former home here at 67 Fairfield Avenue had several other owners in the subsequent decades. By 1911, it was the home of Dr. Arthur B. Wetherell, a physician who lived here with his wife Erminie until his death in 1927. The next owner was James J. Dowd, who was living here by 1930 along with his wife Clare and their four young children. Dowd was an insurance executive, and he also served as the city’s postmaster from 1933 to 1949, coincidentally working in the new post office building that Alderman had designed.

James Dowd lived here in this house until his death in 1960, and Clare sold the property in 1967. However, the exterior of the house has hardly changed since the first photo was taken more than 125 years ago, and it still retains its Queen Anne-style details. It is one of many well-preserved homes that still stand here on Fairfield Avenue, and today the street comprises the Fairfield Avenue Local Historic District, which was established in 2007 as the city’s first local historic district.

George W. Prentiss House, Holyoke, Mass (2)

The house at 1399 Northampton Street, opposite Fairfield Avenue in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1892).

The scene in 2017:


As discussed in more detail in the previous post, this house was built around 1884 for wire manufacturer George W. Prentiss and his wife Jane. They both lived here for the rest of their lives, and after George’s death in 1915 the property was inherited by their son William, who lived here until his death in 1954 at the age of 100. The first photo was taken around 1891, and shows the front elevation of the house, with its asymmetrical Queen Anne-style design. On the left side of the house is the driveway and porte-cochere, and to the right is a carriage house. In the foreground, the property features a large, landscaped front lawn, and in the distance a low hill rises beyond the house to the west.

Today, nothing in the present-day scene is recognizable from the 1891 view. Shortly after William Prentiss’s death, the property was sold to a contractor and subdivided. The old house was demolished around 1955, and Carol Lane was built through the property. Ten new houses were constructed here, but the carriage house was preserved and was converted into a house. Although not visible from this angle, it is still standing on the right side of the street as the only surviving remnant. Also hidden from view is Interstate 91, which now runs along the hill in the distance of this scene, cutting through part of what had once been Prentiss’s backyard.