Frelinghuysen House, Lenox, Mass

The house at the corner of Kemble Street and Walker Street in Lenox, around 1890. Image courtesy of the Lenox Library Association.

The scene in 2018:

This house is often identified as having been the summer home of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, a former U. S. Senator from New Jersey and the Secretary of State under President Chester A. Arthur. However, it appears that the house was actually built in 1888 – three years after Frelinghuysen’s death – by his widow and three of their adult children. Either way, though, the house is a very early example of Colonial Revival architecture, and it was the work of the Boston architectural firm of Rotch & Tilden, which designed several other grand summer homes here in Lenox.

The three Frelinghuysen children who owned this house were Frederick, Jr., Lucy, and Matilda. They lived here at various times, but they also rented it to other families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These included George and Sarah Morgan, the brother-in-law and sister of financier J. P. Morgan, who lived here in the early 1890s while their own house, Ventfort Hall, was being constructed nearby. About a decade later, the Alexandre family similarly lived here while awaiting the completion of Spring Lawn, which is located immediately to the south of here.

By about 1909, the Frelinghuysen house had been named Sundrum, and it was occupied by Thatcher M. Adams, a New York City attorney who served as president of the New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. Sources provide conflicting information about whether he owned it, or simply rented it from the Frelinghuysen family, but either way Sundrum was his summer home until his death in 1919.

Subsequent owners of this house included the Bassett family, who were here for many years during the mid-20th century. However, they would be the last private residents of the house, as by this point the era of grand Berkshire summer homes had passed. Like a number of the other estates in the area, it was converted into institutional use, becoming a dormitory for the Lenox School for Boys. This school closed in 1971, but the former Frelinghuysen house was subsequently acquired by the Bible Speaks College, used the property from 1976 until 1987.

In the early 1990s, the house was converted into a hotel, which opened in 1995 as the Kemble Inn. Although millionaires no longer built massive summer estates here in the Berkshires, the region remains a popular destination for tourists, with a number of hotels and resorts, particularly here in the Lenox area. The Kemble Inn is still in business nearly 25 years after it opened here in the former mansion, and the exterior of the house remains well preserved, with few noticeable differences between these two photos except for the missing balustrades on the roof.

Ives Memorial Library, New Haven, Connecticut (3)

The Ives Memorial Library on Elm Street, seen from the New Haven Green, around 1910. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The library in 2018:

This is another view of the Ives Memorial Library, which is the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. As discussed in two previous posts here and here, the building was the work of noted architect Cass Gilbert, who designed it to complement the two historic brick churches that stand diagonally across the street from the library. The library was constructed between 1908 and 1911 at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets, and it was named in honor of Mary E. Ives, who gave nearly $400,000 to help pay for the new building.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, much of the surrounding area has changed. The house that is partially visible on the right side has long since been demolished, and the New Haven County Courthouse now stands adjacent to the library. The library itself underwent a major renovation and expansion from 1987 to 1990, including a large brick addition that is partially visible on the far left in the rear of the building. However, the exterior of the original part of the library has been well-preserved over the years, with few noticeable differences between these two photos.

Ives Memorial Library, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

The Ives Memorial Library on Elm Street, seen from the New Haven Green, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The library in 2018:

As discussed in a previous post, the Ives Memorial Library was completed in 1911, at the northeast corner of Elm and Temple Streets. The library had previously been located in the former Third Congregational Church building, but the old church was inadequate as a library. As a result, Mary E. Ives donated $300,000 to the city in 1906, which was soon followed by another $90,000 bequest after her death, and in 1908 construction began on the library building that would be named in her honor. It featured a Colonial Revival-style exterior that was meant to harmonize with the early 19th century churches nearby on the New Haven Green, and it was the work of prominent architect Cass Gilbert, who later went on to design the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D. C.

The first photo was probably taken soon after the building’s completion. At the time, the library had a capacity of about 95,000 books, but it was designed with future expansion in mind, including an undeveloped back lot along Temple Street. The library nearly relocated in the 1970s, but the historic building was ultimately renovated instead. Starting in 1987, the library moved to temporary quarters, and the building underwent and extensive renovation, which included the addition of a large wing in the back. It reopened in 1990, and today it remains in use as the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, with hardly any noticeable differences between the two photos.

Ives Memorial Library, New Haven, Connecticut

The Ives Memorial Library on Elm Street, seen from the New Haven Green, around 1918. Image from A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918).

The library in 2018:

The New Haven Free Public Library opened in 1887, and it was originally located in the second floor of a building a few blocks away on Chapel Street. Although most of the major cities in New England already had well-established public libraries by this point, New Haven’s library started strong, with 3,500 books at its opening and a circulation that, by the end of its first year, was the fifth highest in the country. It did not take long for the library to outgrow its initial location, and there were several proposals for a new facility. These included a push to convert the vacant former State House into a library, and in 1887 the voters of New Haven even approved a referendum to spend $30,000 to repair the old building. However, the city council ignored this decision, and ordered the building demolished in 1889.

Ultimately, instead of appropriating $30,000 to repair the State House, the city spent around $71,000 in 1890 to purchase the former Third Congregational Church on Church Street, which was then converted into a library. Once again, though, the building became too small for the library’s growing collections. The former church building was also poorly-suited to be a library, with the Hartford Courant describing it in 1911 as “the dingy library which until now had its home in the old church building,” and noting that “The dim recesses and dark winding ways of that building were mysterious enough to one acquainted with its ins and outs.”

Because of this situation, Mary E. Ives, widow of prominent New Haven businessman Hoadley B. Ives, donated $300,000 to the city in 1906, for the construction of a new library building. She died soon after, and in her will she left an additional bequest of some $90,000, for a total contribution that would be equivalent to about $11 million today. The city purchased this lot here at the northeast corner of Elm and Temple Streets, and construction began on the new building in 1908. It was designed by the prominent architect Cass Gilbert, whose later works included the Woolworth Building and the U. S. Supreme Court Building, and it featured a Colonial Revival-style design that was intended to match the historic character of the New Haven Green.

The new library, shown here in these two photos, was completed in 1911, and was named in honor of Mary Ives. The dedication ceremony, held on May 27, featured speeches by dignitaries such as noted author and Yale professor William Lyon Phelps, and Connecticut governor and New Haven native Simeon E. Baldwin. Cass Gilbert’s design received praise from newspapers such as the Courant, which contrasted the new building with the old. In a June 23 article, published about a month after the dedication, the newspaper declared it to be an “artistic structure, in keeping with historic surroundings,” and remarked on its “Perfection of Interior Decorations and Arrangements.” The article further described:

The whole effect of the exterior with its brick walls and white trimmings of marble and wood and large windows with their many small panes of glass is one of cheerfulness, and on entering the building this is found to be the effect of the interior, which is striking with its white marble floors, stairways, its white walls and light mahogany fittings. . . . The contrast between the library to which New Haven has been used to and the one to which New Haven will get used is striking.

At the time, the library had a collection of some 95,000 books, although only about a third of these were directly accessible to the public. The rest were in the closed stacks, and patrons had to specifically request these materials. Other features of the newly-completed library included a periodical room, an art and technology room, a map room, and several study rooms. It also included a children’s room that, according to the Courant, was among the largest in the country, and a story hour room adjacent to the children’s room. Overall, according to architect Cass Gilbert, the building had a capacity of 256,300 books. In the event, though, that more space was eventually needed, the rear of the building lot was left undeveloped, to allow room for future expansion.

The first photo shows the library only a few years after its completion. More than a century later, it is still standing, although it has undergone some significant changes. The library was nearly relocated to a new building in the 1970s, but these plans ultimately fell through. Instead, the old building was renovated and expanded, with a significant addition to the rear of the building, just as Gilbert had intended. The work began in 1987, and the following year the library moved to a temporary location for the duration of the project. This building reopened in 1990, and it has continued to serve as the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library. It is also an important architectural landmark in downtown New Haven, and it is one of the many historic buildings that line the New Haven Green.

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.