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.

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.