Captain James B. Hatch House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 210 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Most of Springfield’s wealthy 19th century residents earned their money through manufacturing, banking, insurance, or similar businesses. In this sense, James B. Hatch was somewhat of an exception. He was born in Springfield in 1815, but when he was 15 he left to become a sailor, starting out as a third mate before eventually becoming a ship captain and owner. On one of his early voyages as a third mate, one of the crew members was Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who later wrote his famous memoir, Two Years Before the Mast, based on this journey. Dana mentioned Hatch several times throughout the book, writing that:

The third mate, Mr. Hatch, a nephew of one of the owners, though only a lad on board the ship, went out chief mate the next voyage, and rose soon to command some of the finest clippers in the California and India trade, under the new order of things,— a man of character, good judgment, and no little cultivation.

As a ship captain, Hatch made a number of voyages to and from California. The discovery of gold in 1848 was particularly profitable for Hatch, whose clipper ships transported prospectors and supplies to San Francisco in the ensuing years. There were challenges to captains like Hatch, though. The tantalizing lure of instant riches caused many sailors to desert upon reaching San Francisco, making it difficult to find enough crew members for the return voyage.

Captain Hatch retired in the early 1870s, and in 1874 he moved into this house on Maple Street. It was designed and built by Chauncey Shepard, a prolific master builder who was constructing the Loomis House next door at around the same time. Although its architecture is not a distinct as that of the Loomis House, the Hath House definitely matches its neighbor, with a similarly brick exterior and Gothic-style appearance.

Along with his wife Clarissa, Captain Hatch also lived here with their only child, Mabel. In 1879, she married Charles Tremain, a paper manufacturer from New York, but she died of complications from a pregnancy just two years later. To add to the tragedy, Clarissa died the following day. Her cause of death was listed as pneumonia, but her daughter’s untimely death was probably a contributing factor as well.

Captain Hatch lived here until his death in 1894, and the house was inherited by Charles Tremain. In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, it was owned by Clifford D. Castle, a grocer who also served on the Board of Aldermen for several years. Another former alderman, H. Goodman Waters, owned the house by 1930, but died shortly after the census was taken. His family continued living here for some time, but by 1940 it was being rented out for $75 per month.

When the first photo was taken, the house still had much of its original Gothic detail, including the decorative bargeboard under the gables of the roof. The bargeboard now gone, and there have been several other exterior alterations, including a one-story addition on the left side of the front. Like the rest of the neighborhood, the house was damaged in the June 1, 2011 tornado, but it survived and still stands as one of many 19th century mansions on Maple Street. Along with the other houses in the area, it is a contributing property in the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Loomis House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 220 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Since the 1880s, Springfield has been known as the “City of Homes,” and features hundreds of historic late 19th and early 20th century houses with a variety of architectural styles. Despite this, though, very few of these were designed by nationally-recognized architects. One of the exceptions was this house on Maple Street, which was designed by the Boston firm of Ware & Van Brunt. Their works were primarily Gothic in style, and the two men had previously designed Harvard’s Memorial Hall, which is considered one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture in the country.

While Memorial Hall was still under construction in Cambridge, Ware & Van Brunt was hired by Frances Loomis to design a house for her on Maple Street, near the top of the hill that overlooks downtown Springfield and the Connecticut River. The actual construction was done by Chauncey Shepard, an architect and builder who, nearly a half century earlier, had designed and built the nearby David Ames, Jr. House. Shepard built the Loomis house from 1873 to 1874, and he died the following year, at the age of 78.

Frances Loomis was the widow of Calvin Loomis, a cigar manufacturer who had moved from Vermont to Springfield in 1853 and opened a business along with W.H. Wright, who later took over the company. Calvin Loomis died in 1866, and Frances died in 1877, just three years after moving into this house. The house was subsequently owned by Frank L. Wesson, the son of Smith & Wesson co-founder Daniel B. Wesson. He lived here with his wife Sarah and their children, but he was killed in a railroad accident  in Hartford, Vermont on February 5, 1887. He was 34 at the time, and was one of more than 40 people killed when his train stuck a broken rail and fell off a bridge over the White River.

The house remained in the Wesson family for many years, although it does not appear to have been occupied in either the 1900 or 1910 censuses. By 1920, though, it was the home of Frank’s oldest son Harold, who was living here with his wife Helen along with a servant. The couple’s only child, also named Helen, was born in 1908, but died when she was just three days old. Harold eventually became the president of Smith & Wesson, and was still living here in 1930, although by the 1940 census he and Helen had moved to Longmeadow.

The house appears to have been vacant again in 1940, but was later owned by Joseph Loeffler, who added the two-car garage to the front of the house in 1946. Otherwise, the exterior has seen few changes. Like most of the neighboring homes, it sustained heavy damage from the June 1, 2011 tornado, but it was restored. It is an excellent surviving example of the city’s grand 19th century mansions, and is part of the Ames/Crescent Hill Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.