Theodore H. Nye House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 11 Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Colonial Revival home was built in 1905, and was originally the home of Theodore H. Nye, who worked for George Nye & Co., a wholesale meat company located on Lyman Street in downtown Springfield. The company had been established by his father George, who lived next door from here, in the house on the right side of the scene. George died in 1907, and Theodore went on to hold several positions within the company, including treasurer, vice president, and ultimately president. He lived here with his wife Mary and their two daughters, Gertrude and Harriet, until around 1916, when the family moved to West Springfield.

The house was subsequently owned by Charles H. Angell, actuary for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He and his wife Jessie lived here with their three sons: Irving, Theodore, and Charles, Jr. However, he died in 1926, and by 1929 Jessie and the boys were living in a more modest house nearby at 198 Saint James Avenue. In the meantime, this house on Ingersoll Grove was sold to William C. Taylor, a retired merchant who had previously owned Taylor’s Music House on State Street. He and his wife Emma were living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and he remained here until his death in 1942.

Today, some 80 years after the first photo was taken, not much has changed in this scene. In a neighborhood dominated by late 19th century Queen Anne-style homes, it is one of the few early 20th century Colonial Revival homes, and it stands as a well-preserved example of this architectural style. The neighboring George Nye house on the right side is also still standing, and both of these homes are now contributing properties in 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.

Ernest D. Bugbee House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 68 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1910 as the home of Ernest D. Bugbee, the treasurer of the D. H. Brigham clothing company on Main Street. He was about 36 years old at the time, and had already lived in several different homes in the Forest Park neighborhood. Until about 1907 he lived in the house next door to the right, a 64 Washington Road. Then, from about 1908 to 1910 he lived at 116 Fort Pleasant Avenue, before returning to Washington Road and moving into this house around 1910. He was living here with his wife Maud and two servants during the 1910 census, but they did not remain here for very long, and by 1913 they were living in another newly-built house at 208 Longhill Street.

This house on Washington Road was subsequently purchased by Harry L. Hawes, a businessman who owned a sporting goods store on Main Street. He and his wife Mary were both in their 40s at the time, and they continued to live here for many years. Harry died in January 1939, probably right around the same time that the first photo was taken. During the 1940 census, Mary was living here alone except for a servant, and she remained here until her death a decade later in 1950.

Today, this elegant Colonial Revival-style home has hardly changed in the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken. The second-floor shutters are gone, and there is a different design in the pediment above the front entrance, but overall the house has remained very well-preserved, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Jesse M. Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 44 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1901, and was originally the home of Jesse M. Marsh, the secretary and manager of the Commonwealth Securities Company. He lived here with his wife, who was, curiously enough, also named Jessie, and they lived here with their son Walter. During the 1910 census, they also lived here with Jessie’s widowed sister, M. Louise Dorsey, and her 26-year-old daughter, Agnes. However, around 1913 the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and this house was subsequently sold.

The house was purchased in 1913 by Henry and Mary T. Beach. Mary died a few years later in 1918, but Henry was still living here during the 1920 census, along with his daughter Della, his son Philip, his sisters-in-law Anne Brosnan and Josephine Holian, and Josephine’s two sons, John and Bernard. Henry died in 1928, followed by Anne two years later, and by the 1930 census only Josephine and Bernard were still living in this house. They were paying $50 per month to rent the property, and 21-year-old Bernard was working as a clerk in a broker’s office at the time.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was being rented by Edward S. Chase, an insurance agent for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He and his wife Dora were both in their mid-50s at the time, and they lived here with their son Phillip, Edward’s mother Emma, and a lodger. They remained here into the 1940s, and Emma died in 1943, but about a year later they left and moved into a house on Claremont Street in Springfield. Since then, the exterior appearance of the house has remained essentially unchanged, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dr. Seuss Childhood Home, Springfield, Mass

The house at 74 Fairfield Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1903, as part of the turn-of-the-century development of Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood. Previously a sparsely-settled area in the southern part of the city, the neighborhood was connected to downtown Springfield via trolley lines in the 1890s, and developers soon followed. Here in the western section of the neighborhood, known as Forest Park Heights, upper middle class families moved into these newly-built homes, including Henry B. Russell, the associate editor of the Springfield Homestead newspaper, who purchased this house after its completion.

However, Russell did not live here for very long, because in 1906 the house was purchased by Theodor R. Geisel, a brewery manager who had previously lived on Howard Street in the South End. He was about 26 years old at the time, and he worked for the Liberty Brewing Company, which was owned by his father, Theodor Geisel. He and his wife Henrietta had been married in 1901, and by 1906 they had three young children: four-year-old Margaretha, two-year-old Theodor (“Ted”), and newborn Henrietta. However, Henrietta, who was born the same year that the family moved in, died of pneumonia in 1907, when she was just 18 months old, and her funeral was held here in this house.

Aside from Theodor and Henrietta Geisel, several other members of the family moved to the Forest Park neighborhood around this time. Theodor’s parents, Theodor and Christine, had moved to a house nearby on Sumner Avenue in 1901, where they also lived with their two youngest children, Adolf and Christine. Henrietta’s mother, Margaretha Seuss, moved to Forest Park around 1908, purchasing a house just down the street from here at 20 Fairfield Street, and she lived there with her daughter Bertha and Bertha’s husband, William H. Klein.

It was in this setting that young Ted – who would grow up to become the author Dr. Seuss – spent all but the first two years of his childhood. He often visited nearby Forest Park, and he attended the neighborhood schools, including the Sumner Avenue School for elementary school and the Forest Park School for middle school, both of which were within easy walking distance of the family home. He subsequently attended Central High School from 1917 to 1921, and lived here with his parents until leaving for Dartmouth College in the fall of 1921.

In the meantime, Theodor Geisel continued to work for Liberty Brewing Company, which later merged with the Springfield Breweries Company in 1913. He became the general manager of the company, and in 1920 became president. However, by this point there was serious doubt about the long-term viability of the brewery, since Prohibition went into effect in January of that year. Geisel tried to adapt to the new law by producing nonalcoholic beer, root beer, and other soft drinks, but none of these were able to save the company, which went out of business several years later.

It was around this same time that Ted enrolled in Dartmouth, where he graduated in 1925. He subsequently attended Lincoln College at Oxford, although he did not graduate, and he returned to the United States in 1927. Ted lived here with his parents for a short time in 1927, where he drew cartoons and submitted them to magazines. One of his cartoons was ultimately published by the Saturday Evening Post on July 16, 1927, making it his first nationally-published work. He received $25 for it, and used the money to leave Springfield and travel to New York, where he found work with the humor magazine Judge.

While Ted’s literary career was just beginning, tragedy struck in his family in 1931, when his mother died at the age of 52 from a brain tumor. That same year, though, his father Theodor began a new career when he was appointed as the city parks superintendent. He had been involved in the city’s park system since 1909, when he began serving on the parks commission, and he would go on to serve as superintendent for 30 years, until his retirement in 1961.

At the time of Henrietta’s death in 1931, Theodor was still living in this house, along with Margaretha and her daughter, Margaretha “Peggy” Dahmen. Margaretha had an accomplished academic career that included an undergraduate degree from Smith College, a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, and a doctorate (she, unlike her more famous brother, actually earned the title of doctor) in German from Radcliffe College. She married her husband, Lloyd Dahmen, in the 1920s, and they had one child, Peggy, but they divorced soon after and Margaretha and Peggy were living here in Springfield by 1930.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, Theodor, Margaretha, and Peggy were still living here in this house. Ted was still in New York at this point, along with his wife Helen, and he had just begun to publish children’s books. His first, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, had been published in 1937, and it was also the first of many of his books that drew inspiration from his childhood here in Springfield. He also wrote several other books around this time, including The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, The Seven Lady Godivas (which was most certainly not a children’s book), The King’s Stilts, and Horton Hatches an Egg, before the outbreak of World War II led him to focus his efforts on drawing propaganda cartoons.

The Geisel family continued to live in Ted’s childhood home until 1943, and since then the exterior has not changed significantly. The balustrade on top of the roof is gone, and the roof of the front porch appears to be in poor condition, but overall it has retained its historic appearance. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is a part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is now owned by the Springfield Museums, which purchased the property in 2015.