Senior Center, Monson, Mass

The Edward Cushman House on Main Street in Monson, which later became the Monson Senior Center, probably around 1916-1920. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The building in 2015:

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The present-day Monson Senior Center was built around 1850, and it is one of the many historic Greek Revival homes along this section of Main Street.  It was originally a private residence, with maps in 1857 and 1870 showing it belonging to a Mrs. L. Keep and a Mrs. Flynt, respectively.  Later in the 1800s, it was owned by Edward Cushman, the son of local industrialist Solomon F. Cushman, who owned a woolen mill on Cushman Street.  Edward and his brothers took over control of the company when their father died in 1900, and they ran it together until 1912, when they sold it to a local hat manufacturer, the Heimann and Lichten Company.

Edward Cushman died in 1915, and as part of his will the house became Monson Home for the Aged, a boarding house for elderly residents in town.  According to the house’s listing on the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, the house was enlarged and the tower was added during this conversion in 1916; if accurate, it helps provide the earliest possible date for the first photo.

The building was a boarding house until 1975, and since then it has been used as the Monson Senior Center.  It was damaged in the June 1, 2011 tornado that passed directly over it, but today it is in excellent condition and it is still serving the elderly residents of the town, a century after Edward Cushman’s death.  Incidentally, his father’s factory on Cushman Street is also still standing, although it is in poor condition and has been abandoned for many years.

Post Office, Monson, Mass

The post office at the corner of Main and State Streets in Monson, around 1893. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The scene in 2015:

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The building in the first photo was built in 1855 for the recently-established Monson National Bank.  In 1872, Monson Savings Bank was also created, and the two companies shared the same counter, tellers, and vault within this small building until 1893, when a larger one was completed just a short walk down Main Street from here.  That same year, the nearby Central Block, which housed the post office, was destroyed in a fire, so the post office was moved to the recently-vacated bank building.  It later moved back to the Central Block location when a new building was completed on the site.

I don’t know exactly when it was demolished, but it would have been sometime before 1925, when the original Monson High School was built here.  The school building was converted into the town offices in the early 1990s, but it sustained heavy damage in the une 1, 2011 tornado, and it was demolished in 2013.  A new town office building, seen to the right in the 015 photo, was completed earlier in the year.

Southwick Congregational Church, Southwick Mass

Southwick Congregational Church on College Highway in Southwick, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The church in 2015:

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If this historic church in Southwick resembles a scaled-down version of Springfield’s Old First Church, there is good reason for that – both were designed by Northampton architect Isaac Damon, and out of all of his surviving work, Southwick is probably the closest thing to a twin of Springfield’s.  The belfry design on the two churches is nearly identical, and the rest of the steeple design here in Southwick looks like a miniature of the one on Old First Church.  Both churches also have a triangular portico supported by four columns, although again Southwick’s is on a smaller scale.  Some of Damon’s other churches included the old Northampton church, which burned in 1876, the First Congregational Church in Blandford, and Southwick’s Methodist Episcopal Church, both of which still exist.  Southwick’s church was founded in 1773, and the present-day building was built in 1824 to replace the first, which had burned the year before.  Nearly two centuries later, it has survived with few alterations, and it doesn’t look much different from its appearance in the early 1890s.

Old Church and Courthouse, Northampton Mass

Looking up Main Street from Pleasant Street in Northampton, toward the old church and courthouse in 1864. Photo from Reminiscences of Old Northampton (1902).

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The location in 2015:

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The 1864 photo is one of the oldest existing photographs of downtown Northampton, and none of the buildings from that scene survive today, 151 years later.  To the left in the 1864 photo is the old church, which was built in 1812.  It was Northampton’s fourth meeting house, and it replaced the 1737 building that had been built during the pastorate of Jonathan Edwards.  It was from here that the influential pastor and theologian helped to spark the Great Awakening revival that spread across the American colonies and in Europe, but by the turn of the century the town was in need of a new building.  The 1812 church was designed by Northampton architect Isaac Damon, who just a few years later would design Old First Church in Springfield, 15 miles to the south.  However, while Old First Church survives to this day, the Northampton church seen in the 1864 photo burned in 1876, and was replaced two years later by the current brownstone church.

On the far right of the 1864 photo is the old Hampshire County Courthouse.  I don’t know when it was built, but it is virtually identical to the 1821 Hampden County Courthouse, seen on the far left of the 1882 photo in this post.  Because of its similar appearance, the Hampshire County Courthouse was probably built around the same time, shortly after some major changes to the county’s borders.  Originally, Hampshire County included all of Western Massachusetts, but it was steadily broken up into multiple counties, beginning in 1761 when Berkshire County was established to the west.  Then in 1811, Franklin County was created in the northern part of the Connecticut River Valley with Greenfield as the county seat, and a year later Hampden County split off to the south, with Springfield as the county seat.  I don’t know what happened to the old courthouse seen here, but it was gone by 1886, when the present-day Hampshire County Courthouse opened on roughly the same spot at the corner of Main and King Streets.

In between the two prominent buildings in the 1864 scene is a relatively small commercial block, the Whitney Building.  The photograph was actually commissioned by George D. Eames, the owner of the building, and was probably intended to advertise the building’s prominent location in town.  Part of the building housed the offices of the Hampshire Gazette, and the newspaper was published in the basement.  This is evidently the reason for the large sign on the building that reads “Caloric Printing Establishment.”  The Whitney Building was demolished in 1876, and a bank building was put in its place.  Today, the 1916 Northampton Institute for Savings building occupies the site where the Whitney Building once stood.

Custom House, Boston

Boston’s Custom House, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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Although no longer used as a US Customs office, the Custom House still looks much the same as it did when it was completed in 1849, aside from the addition of a 32-story skyscraper on top of it.  When it was built, it was on the waterfront, roughly level with Quincy Market, which was also located along the water.  It was a convenient location, as it facilitated the inspection of ship cargoes.  Today it is several blocks away from Long Wharf, but it continued to be used by Customs for many years.

By the time the first photo was taken, the increase in shipping to Boston necessitated expanding the Custom House, which led to the construction of the Custom House Tower in 1915. At the time, Boston  restricted the height of buildings to 125 feet, but as a federal building it was exempt from these restrictions.  As a result, it was the tallest building in Boston until the completion of the Prudential Tower in 1964.  US Customs left the building in 1986, and it is now a Mariott hotel.

Quincy Market, Boston (3)

Quincy Market, facing west toward Faneuil Hall, sometime in the 1800s.  Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene in 2014:

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Another view of Quincy Market, showing the difference between the business-oriented market in the 1800s, and the tourist-oriented scene today.  In this particular 2014 view, it was taken during the Urban Raid, a 5k race and obstacle course that went through the City Hall area of Boston.