Howard Reynolds House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 357 Maple Street, at the corner of George Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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This house is located in the small triangle between Maple, Pine, and George Streets. It was built around 1865 for George Reynolds, a landscaper and contractor who lived in the house next door at 355 Maple Street. Several generations of the Reynolds family lived here, starting with George’s son Howard. He worked for his father’s company, and lived in this house with his wife Martha and their son, George H. Reynolds.

After his father’s retirement, Howard took over the company, along with his brother-in-law Herbert A. Hastings. He lived in this house for the rest of his life, until his death in 1926. His son George carried on the family business, and also lived at this house, with his wife Edna and their daughter Madeline. They were still living here when the first photo was taken on the late 1930s, nearly 50 years after George had moved into the house as a teenager in the 1890s.

Today, the house stands as a reminder of the days when Maple Street was home to some of the city’s most prominent residents. It is a relatively modest home compared to many of the others on the street, but its Gothic-style architecture is somewhat unusual for homes in Springfield. The exterior remains well preserved from its appearance when the Reynolds family lived here, and the house is part of the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rufus Chase House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 5 Madison Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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In the late 1800s, the Maple Street area of Springfield became the home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents, and some of the finest homes. Here at the corner of Central Street and Madison Avenue, lumber dealer Rufus Chase built this large brick house. It was designed by Perkins and Gardner, the same local architectural firm that also designed many of the houses on Mattoon Street, and it was completed in 1872.

Chase did not live here long, though, and by 1880 it was owned by John C. Alden, who was listed in the census as a “manufacturer of woolen goods.” He was 34 at the time, and lived here with his wife Henrietta and an Irish servant, Helen Lynch.

John Alden died in 1900, but this house had already changed hands before then, and by the 1900 census it was owned by John S. Sanderson, who lived here with his daughter Carrie, her husband William O. Day, and their 18 year old daughter, Hazel. Day was a longtime employee of Morgan Envelope Company. In 1871, after his sophomore year in high school, he left school to work for the company, and two years later they achieved prominence as the first company to manufacture postcards. He eventually became a director of the company, and after it was absorbed by the United States Envelope Company in 1901, he became that company’s treasurer.

In 1910 the Days were still living here, although John Sanderson had died in 1903. Their daughter Hazel also lived here, along with her husband, George W. Pike, a stock broker. Like many other upper middle class families, they also employed a live-in servant, Rose Waramac, a 22 year old biracial woman from Virginia. Carrie Day died in 1918, and by 1920 William was remarried and living in a different house at 54 Ridgewood Place. Hazel and George remained here at this house, though, along with their eight year old daughter Hazel and a different servant, Mary O’Connell, a 32 year old Irish immigrant.

George Pike died in 1932 while still living at this house, and William O. Day died in 1939. By the time the first photograph was taken, George’s widow Hazel was still living here, and the only other resident in this massive house was Augusta Larson, a Swedish maid. The census records are unavailable after 1940, so it is unclear how long Hazel lived here, but she died in 1952. She and her husband are buried in Springfield Cemetery, which is located directly behind the house where she spent most of her life.

Now nearly 150 years old, this historic house has seen few significant changes to the exterior, aside from the enclosed front porch. No longer a single family home, it has been used for many years as the Marathon House, a group home for treating drug and alcohol addition, and is currently operated by Phoenix House.

First Church, Pittsfield, Mass (2)

Another view of the First Church at Park Square in Pittsfield, around 1893. Image from Picturesque Berkshire (1893).

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The church in 2016:

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As mentioned in a previous post on the church, Pittsfield’s original church building was built here in 1761, and was subsequently replaced by newer buildings in 1793 and, finally, in 1853. The current church is a granite Gothic-style building that was designed by prominent architect Leopold Eidlitz. It is still in use by the congregation today, and very little has changed in this view since the first photo was taken. Even the old 1832 town hall, its plain Federal architecture a sharp contrast to that of the church, is still here. Both buildings are contributing properties in the Park Square Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Stephen’s Church, Pittsfield, Mass

St. Stephen’s Church at the corner of East and Allen Streets in Pittsfield, around 1893. Image from Picturesque Berkshire (1893)

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The church in 2016:

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As seen in a previous post, St. Stephen’s Church is one of several historic 19th century buildings at Park Square, in the center of downtown Pittsfield. The Gothic Revival church was designed by Peabody and Stearns, a prominent Boston firm of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Completed in 1890, it replaced an earlier Episcopalian church that had been built on virtually the same spot in 1832, the same year as the old town on the left side of the scene. The town hall has survived to the present, but the old church had to be demolished to build Allen Street, seen in the center of the photos.

When the first photo was taken, St. Stephen’s Church was just a few years old. More than 120 years later, most of its surroundings, except for the old town hall, are different, but not much has changed with the church itself. The building underwent a restoration in 1999, which included repairs to the stained glass windows that had been designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Mary Elizabeth Tillinghast. The church is still in use as an active Episcopalian parish, and it is a contributing property in the Park Square Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

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, Pittsfield, Mass

The First Church at Park Square in Pittsfield, around 1865-1885. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

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The church in 2016:

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Pittsfield’s first church was built on this site in 1761, on the north side of Park Square. It was, in turn, replaced by a more substantial building designed by Charles Bulfinch in 1793. This second church building was among his early works, and Bulfinch would go on to become one of the most prominent architects in the early years of the United States. Many of his works still stand, but the Pittsfield churches heavily damaged in a fire in 1851, and was subsequently replaced with the present building.

Like its predecessor, the new building was also designed by a noted architect, Leopold Eidlitz. It was completed in 1853, with a Gothic Revival style that was becoming common in church architecture. Eidlitz’s design incorporates many Gothic elements, including the off-center tower, pointed arches, steep roof, and decorative trim along the eaves. However, several parts of the old church were preserved, including the bell and the clock, and were added to the new building.

Today, the historic church building is still standing, with few modifications from its original appearance. The clock from the previous church was removed in 1994 and donated to a museum, and a replica of the clock face was installed in its place. Otherwise, though, little has changed, and the church is one of many historic buildings around Park Square, including the Berkshire County Savings Bank Building on the left and the old town hall on the right.