Adolphus F. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 36 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


This house was built sometime in the 1870s for Adolphus F. Chapin, a prominent local clothing merchant. He was living here during the 1880 census, along with his wife Caroline and their son Alfred, and he remained here until his death in 1895 at the age of 48. The house was subsequently sold to William W. Broga, who moved in around the same time that he married his wife, Sarah. They were living here during the 1900 census, along with Sarah’s three children from her previous marriage, and William was listed as working as a physician. However, he also appears to have been something of an inventor, receiving patents for inventions such as “Flushing apparatuses for water-closet bowls,” “Coin separating and packaging machine,” and “Resilient tire for vehicle wheels.”

It does not seem clear whether Broga ever profited off any of his inventions, but by the 1910 census he and Sarah were living in an apartment nearby on State Street, and by the following census they had divorced. In the meantime, their house was sold around 1911 to Newrie D. Winter, a businessman who had served as the city’s mayor in 1896 and 1897. Along with this, he also served as vice president and treasurer of the Northampton Street Railway, and by the early 1920s he was president of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank. At some point, during either Broga’s or Winter’s ownership, the house appears to have been altered from its original appearance, giving it more of a Colonial Revival style that matched contemporary architectural tastes.

Newrie’s wife Delia died right around the same time that he purchased this house, but by the 1920 census he was living here with his son Dwight, his wife Marguerite, Delia’s sister Kate V. Beach, and a servant. Like his father, Dwight also went on to become mayor of Springfield, serving from 1930 to 1933, while he was living in this house. He was only the third Democratic mayor to be elected since his father, more than 30 years earlier, and he was also the first Democrat in the city’s history to serve for more than three years. However, he lost the party’s nomination in 1933, and subsequently returned to his private business as a real estate broker.

Both Newrie and Dwight were still living here when the first photo was taken, but Dwight died a few years later in 1943. His father outlived him by five more years, before his death in 1947 at the age of 88. Their house was still here in the late 1960s, but it was demolished sometime before 1976, when the McKngiht Historic District was created. Today, the site is a parking lot, and the only trace of the house that once stood here is the tree in the foreground, which appears to be the same one that was in the first photo nearly 80 years ago.

Edward H. Goodrich House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 34 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


Most of the houses in Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood date back to the 1880s and 1890s, but this house is one of the exceptions, having been built around 1912. As a result, it has a simple Colonial Revival design that contrasts with the highly ornate Queen Anne-style homes that otherwise dominate most of the neighborhood. The house was built for Edward H. Goodrich, a teacher who worked as the head of the science department at the Technical High School, and he lived here with his wife Florence and their daughter Virginia for about 20 years.

When the first photo was taken in the late 1939s, the Goodrich family had only recently moved out, and the house was in the midst of a series of residents. In 1937, it was the home of sales manager William N. Howard and his wife Muriel, but by 1940 it was the home of John and Mary Butler, with John serving as the pastor of the nearby St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. They only lived in this house for a few years, though, because by 1943 it was the home of Kenneth L. Levensalar. He was living here with his wife Elizabeth, and according to that year’s city directory he was a methods engineer for a company called AmBCorp.

Today, the most noticeable differences between these two photos are the buildings to the right and behind this house. Both have since been demolished, but this house still stands, as a contributing property in the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now used as a daycare, but the building itself has remained in its original condition, and in 2016 the Springfield Preservation Trust recognized it with an award for the historically accurate restoration of the porch.

Henry B. Service House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 17 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house was built in 1896 for Henry B. Service, a bookkeeper who worked at the Springfield Envelope Company. He presumably purchased the house with his upcoming wedding in mind, because early the next year he married Alice M. Mullins, who worked as a dressmaker. The couple lived here in this house for about five years, and at some point Henry began working as a bookkeeper for a local fruit and produce company. However, he left this position during the summer of 1902, and evidently began using less scrupulous means of making money.

In late August, 1902, Henry was discovered to have swindled $6,000 from four Springfield banks by cashing checks with the forged signatures of two prominent Springfield men, Frederick C. Bill and W. C. Taylor. The forgeries were done so well that even these two had initially believed that the signatures were authentic, and the fraud was only discovered after closer examination. According to some newspaper accounts, Alice was also involved in the forgery, and was described as being critically ill as a result of the discovery.

Henry, however, fled the city before he could be arrested. It seems unclear whether Alice joined him, but Henry made his way to Santa Ana, California. Using the alias of M. B. Maynard, he began working for a water company, where he was soon charged with forging receipts. Fleeing again in late 1903, he made it as far as Ogden, Utah, where he was arrested, returned to California, and convicted of forgery. Alice, in the meantime, appears to have avoided prosecution, and by the 1910 census she was living in a different house in Springfield with her mother and several of her siblings.

Following Henry’s hasty departure from Springfield, his house was sold, and by 1910 it was owned by Joseph N. Herrick, who lived here with his wife Eleanor, their daughter Ada, and Joseph’s aunt Caroline. Joseph died sometime before the next census, though, and by 1920 Eleanor and Ada were living elsewhere in Forest Park. In the meantime, this house was purchased by Clarence Bacon, the treasurer and co-founder of the Bacon and Donnovan Engine Company, which manufactured agricultural machinery. In 1920, he was 51 years old, and he was living here with his wife Rose and their three teenaged children, Doris, Rosalind, and Norval.

The revolving door of residents in this house continued by the 1930 census, when it was being rented to insurance agent Oliver Heyman, his wife Susan, and their four children. Originally from West Virginia, Heyman was general agent for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, and he lived here until sometime around the time when the first photo was taken. However, it was then sold again, to Thomas W. McCarthy, a salesman who lived here with his elderly parents, his sister, and his sister’s husband.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken, there have been a few changes to the house. Like many of the other homes in Forest Park, the decorative balustrade over the front porch is long gone, but the most significant change is the asbestos siding, which replaced the original wood clapboards in the mid-20th century. However, the overall appearance of the house has not changed significantly, and along with the rest of the neighborhood it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thornton W. Burgess House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 61 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house was built in 1896 on the street that was, at the time, named Hawthorne Place. Soon renamed Jackson Street and then Washington Road, it was one of the many new roads in the Forest Park Heights development, which was transforming a sparsely-settled section of the city into an upscale residential neighborhood. The first owner of this house was Faxon E. Nichols, a bookkeeper who purchased the property when he was in his early 20s, around the same time that he married his wife, Nellie. By the 1900 census, they were living here with another couple, William and Rose Baird, while also renting space to two young boarders.

Within a few years, the Nichols family had moved elsewhere in Forest Park, and this house was sold to Thornton W. Burgess, a 31-year-old editor who would go on to become a prominent children’s author. Born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, Burgess came to Springfield as a young man in the 1890s, where he became an assistant editor at the Phelps Publishing Company. For a time, he and his mother Frances were lodgers at 10 Cornell Street, but in 1905 he married Nina Osborne and purchased this house. They lived here with Frances, and like the previous owners they also rented part of the house to another family. However, Nina died just a year later, at the age of 24, from complications after the birth of their only child, Thornton Jr.

It was here in this house that Burgess began creating bedtime stories for his son. He subsequently began writing down these stories, which formed the basis for many of his children’s books. The first of these, Old Mother West Wind, was published in 1910, and introduced the character of Peter Rabbit. Many more books followed, along with thousands of newspaper columns that he would write over he next 50 years. He lived in this house for nearly his entire literary career, until finally moving out in 1955. During this time, he was also active as a naturalist and conservationist, and these themes were frequently found throughout his stories.

In 1911, a year after his first book was published, he remarried to Fannie P. Johnson. She was also a widow, and she moved into this house with two children of her own. They were still living here more than 25 years later, when the first photo was taken, but by this point Thornton’s literary success had enabled him to purchase a second home in nearby Hampden. Built in the early 1780s, his Hampden house was already nearly 150 years old when he bought the property in 1925, and it served as his secondary home for many years. However, Fannie died in 1950, and later in the decade Thornton left this house in Springfield and moved to Hampden permanently, where he died in 1965 at the age of 91.

Coincidentally, Burgess is not the only world-renowned children’s author who lived in the Forest Park neighborhood. A year after Burgess purchased this house in 1905, two-year-old Theodor Geisel and his parents moved into a house about a half mile away from here, on Fairfied Street. The future Dr. Seuss was much younger than Burgess, and their writing careers would only partially overlap, but they did both live here in the Forest Park neighborhood until 1925, when Geisel left to enter college. Today, both houses are still standing, and are now contributing properties in the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frank L. Brigham House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 73 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


The Forest Park neighborhood features a number of large mansions from the early 20th century, most of which are located along Longhill Street. On the side streets, the houses tend to be more modest in size, but one of the exceptions is this house, which was built in 1902. Its architecture is a combination of Colonial Revival and English Revival styles, and it was designed by G. Wood Taylor, who was one of the city’s leading architects of the era. Aside from being far larger than most of the other homes in the neighborhood, it also enjoys an idea location at the corner of Washington Road and Pineywoods Avenue, far removed from the busy Sumner Avenue and directly across from Forest Park.

The house was built for Frank L. Brigham, a clothing merchant who was the president of the Springfield-based D. H. Brigham & Company. The store specialized in women’s clothing, and for many years it was located in the old Springfield Republican building, which is still standing at 1365 Main Street. Frank Brigham began working for the store in the late 1890s, and he served as president until his retirement in 1915, when he sold his interest in the company. During this time, he lived here in this house with his wife Frances, and their two daughters, Frances and Dorcas. Frances’s mother, Euretta, also lived here, and the family also employed two-live in servants.

The family sold the house soon after Brigham’s retirement, because by 1916 it was owned by attorney James L. Doherty, who lived here with his wife Harriet and their two sons, James and Louis. He died in the early 1920s, but by the 1930 census Harriet was still living in this house. Both of her sons were also still here, with James working as a stock broker and Louis following in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer. However, the family sold the house just a few years later, and by the time the first photo was taken it was the home of Jacob and Eva Fisher, Russian immigrants who lived here with their two adult children, Milton and Anita, along with Anita’s husband, Abbott Brunelle.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken, there have been some minor changes, including the removal of the patio at the front of the house and the balustrades atop the porches. Overall, though, the house has been well-maintained, and it still stands today as one of the largest homes in the neighborhood. Along with the rest of the area, it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

David J. Bordeaux House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 82 Pineywoods Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house was built around 1907, at the same time as the similar-looking house next door at 76 Pineywoods Avenue. It was originally owned by David Bordeaux, a photographer who, along with his wife Elizabeth, had previously lived in a different home in Forest Park, at 19 Churchill Street. They had only lived in their Churchill Street home for about 10 years, but they lived here in this house for an even shorter time, because by 1911 they had sold it to another couple who were, coincidentally, also named David and Elizabeth.

David and Elizabeth Birkett were married in Springfield in 1908, and for a few years they had rented a home on Dickinson Street near the “X” in Forest Park. However, by 1911 they had purchased this house, and a year later their daughter Jean was born. David was originally from Scotland, but immigrated to the United States in 1894 and went on to become a buyer for the Forbes & Wallace department store. However, like the previous owners of the house, they did not live here for very long, because by the end of the decade they had moved to Minneapolis.

The house was subsequently sold to Wilson and Lona Hodgdon, who moved in a few years after their marriage in 1915. They were both in their late 40s when they were married, and it was the second marriage for both of them, after having been widowed. Lona soon became widowed for a second time, though, after Wilson’s death in 1918. She continued living in this house afterwards, and worked as a jeweler for True Brothers, a Springfield jewelry store that had been founded by her first husband, Fred L. True, and his brother Harry.

Lona was still living in this house when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, but she died a few years later in 1942. However, the house has remained well-preserved since then, and it is one of the many turn-of-the-century homes that form the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.