The Maplewood, Pittsfield, Mass (2)

Another view of The Maplewood, seen from the corner of North Street and Maplewood Avenue in Pittsfield, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

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This view shows several of the buildings at The Maplewood, a resort hotel in the Berkshires that had once been a private school for girls. As mentioned in the previous post, a school was established here as early as the 1820s, with several of the buildings dating back to this time period. By 1884, though, the Maplewood Young Ladies Institute had closed, and the buildings were converted into a hotel.

The hotel closed in 1936, and most of the buildings were demolished by 1940. The property was redeveloped, and modern commercial building now stands on the site at the corner of North Street and Maplewood Avenue. The hotel’s only surviving building is one of the original 1820s Federal-style school buildings. It is partially visible in the distance of the first photo, on the eastern side of the property, and today it still stands on the other side of the trees in the distance. After having been used first as a school and then as a hotel, it has since been redeveloped into condominiums.

Park Square, Pittsfield, Mass (3)

Facing north across Park Square in Pittsfield, around 1900. Image from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Vicinity (1900).

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Park Square in 2016:

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It is hard to tell in the present-day photo because of the trees, but all three of these historic buildings on the north side of Park Square are still here today. In the center is Pittsfield’s old town hall, a plain brick Federal-style building that was completed in 1832. After Pittsfield became a city in 1891, it remained in use as city hall until 1968, when the city government moved a few blocks away to the old post office.

The old town hall is flanked on either side by stone Gothic Revival churches, both of which were designed by prominent architects. To the left is the First Church, which was designed by Leopold Eidlitz and built in 1853 on the site of an earlier 18th century church building. On the other side is St. Stephen’s Church, designed by the Boston firm of Peabody and Stearns. Although architecturally similar to the First Church, it is significantly newer, having been completed in 1889.

Today, all three of these buildings are well-preserved and relatively unchanged from when the first photo was taken. The two churches are both still in active use, and the old town hall is now an office building for the Berkshire Insurance Group. In 1975, the buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Park Square Historic District.

First Church, Deerfield, Mass

The First Church of Deerfield on Old Main Street, around 1891. Image from Picturesque Franklin (1891).

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The church in 2016:

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Deerfield’s Old Main Street is a remarkably well-preserved New England village, with a number of historic homes and other buildings dating back to the 18th and early 19th centuries. The entire village is included in the Old Deerfield Historic District, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the most prominent buildings in the district is the First Church of Deerfield, also known as the Brick Church. Although not as old as many of the nearby homes, the church has been at the center of the village for nearly 200 years.

It was built in 1824 and designed by architect Winthrop Clapp, although it was virtually a copy of the Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, which had been built in 1819 about three miles away. The Greenfield church had been designed by Isaac Damon, whose other works included churches in Springfield, Northampton, and Southwick. Although he did not actually design the Deerfield church, his influence is still evident, and it bears a strong resemblance his other churches.

Damon’s Greenfield church has long since been demolished and replaced with the present-day building, but the Deerfield church is still standing. Its interior was restored to its original appearance in 1916, and today the building still houses an active Unitarian-Universalist congregation. The brick exterior has remained essentially the same as it was when it was built, and its surroundings have also changed very little, with the village still retaining its appearance as a small, colonial-era community.

Old State House, Hartford, Connecticut

The Old State House in Hartford, seen from the Main Street side around 1907, during its time as Hartford City Hall. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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The Old State House in Hartford is one of the oldest existing buildings in the city. It was completed in 1796, and its design is generally credited to prominent architect Charles Bulfinch as one of his early commissions. Just a few years later, he would design the present Massachusetts State House, and he would later play a role in designing the US Capitol.

At the time, Connecticut actually had two capital cities, with the legislature meeting alternately between Hartford and New Haven. It may seem somewhat unusual for one of the smallest, most densely-populated states in the country to have two capital cities, each complete with its own capitol building, but the arrangement was not unheard of. Similarly-sized New Jersey had two capitals in colonial times, and, not to be outdone despite its small size, Rhode Island had five capitals in the early 19th century, with the legislature rotating through each of the state’s five county seats.

Here in Connecticut, ease of transportation thanks to railroads meant that it was unnecessary to have redundant capitals just 35 miles apart, but the location of the capital city still carried significant symbolic value. In the end, Hartford won out over New Haven. In 1875, it was designated as the sole capital city, and three years later a new, much larger capitol building was completed at Bushnell Park.

When its days as a capitol ended, the old building became Hartford City Hall. It served in this role until 1915, when the current Municipal Building was completed. Since then, it has been threatened with demolition several times over the years, but it remains standing as a relic of Connecticut’s history, and it is listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

South Congregational Church, Hartford, Connecticut

The South Congregational Church at the corner of Main and Buckingham Streets in Hartford, around 1911. Image from Some Old Time Meeting Houses of the Connecticut Valley (1911).

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The church in 2016:

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Hartford’s Second Church of Christ was established in 1670 following a disagreement over how the First Church should be governed. The new congregation built their own meeting house at the corner of Main and Sheldon Streets in the southern part of downtown Hartford, and in 1754 they relocated to a new building at present-day Buckingham Street, where George Whitefield preached the first sermon in it.

The current church building was completed in 1827, with a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architecture that is very similar to the First Church building, which was built in 1807 about a third of a mile north of here on Main Street. Like the First Church, this historic building is still standing, with few changes to the exterior over the years. The nearly 350 year old congregation, now known as the South Congregational Church, still meets here, and the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior of Old First Church, Springfield, Mass (2)

The interior of Old First Church from the balcony, around 1940. Image courtesy of the Springfield College Archives and Special Collections, Cliff Smith YMCA Postcard Collection.

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The church in 2015:

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The interior of Old First Church was shown in an earlier post, with a photo that was taken around 1915. At the time, the interior design was from an 1881 remodel, but in 1924 many of the Victorian changes were undone and it was restored to an early 19th century appearance. The c.1940 photo here reflects these changes, and it remains mostly the same today. There is a different organ, which was installed in 1958, the steps up to the pulpit have moved, and most of the pews to the left and right of the pulpit are gone, but there have been no major alterations since 1924.

The church was built in 1819, and after nearly 200 years it is the oldest church building still standing in the city. However, the First Church congregation itself no longer exists. With declining membership and high maintenance costs, they disbanded in 2007, and the city purchased the historic building. They regularly rent it out it out for special events, and since 2009 it has also been used by WellSpring Church for their Sunday services.