Warner House, Northampton, Mass

The Warner House hotel on Main Street in Northampton, sometime around the 1860s. Image from Northampton: The Meadow City (1894).

The scene in 2017:

The Warner House, seen on the left side of the first photo, had been perhaps the most prominent hotel in early 19th century Northampton. The wooden, three-story Federal-style building dated back to the 1790s, when it was built by Asahel Pomeroy, who operated it as a tavern. It was ideally located in the center of Northampton, where several major stagecoach routes crossed, including an east-west route from Boston to Albany, and a north-south route from New Haven and Hartford to Brattleboro and other points north.

In 1821, the tavern was purchased by Oliver Warner, and it continued to serve as both a stagecoach stop as well as a popular gathering place for locals. Probably its most famous visitor during this time was the Marquis de Lafayette, who stayed here in 1825 during his grand tour of the United States. The Revolutionary War hero arrived in Northampton to much fanfare, and attended a reception and dinner in his honor here at the Warner House. He later gave a speech from the balcony, and spent several days in Northampton before continuing on his journey east.

Another 1820s visitor was Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, a German prince who had fought for the Netherlands in the Seven Years’ War a decade earlier. He later published an account of his 1825-1826 visit to the United States, which included a stop here at the Warner House. In the English translation of the book, he gives a detailed description of both the hotel and Northampton itself:

About a mile from Northampton we passed the Connecticut river, five hundred yards wide, in a small ferry-boat, which, as the night had already set in, was not very agreeable. At Northampton we took lodgings at Warner’s Hotel, a large, clean, and convenient inn. In front of the house is a large porch, and in the first story a large balcony. The gentlemen sit below, and the ladies walk above. Elm trees stand in front of the house, and a large reflecting lamp illuminates the house and the yard. This, with the beautiful warm evening, and the great number of people, who reposed on the piazza, or went to and from the house, produced a very agreeable effect. The people here are exceedingly religious, and, besides going to church on Sundays, they go thrice during the week. When we arrived, the service had just ended, and we saw some very handsome ladies come out of the church. Each bed-chamber of our tavern was provided with a bible.

By the middle of the 19th century, railroads had supplanted stagecoaches as the primary means of intercity transportation, but the Warner House continued to be one of Northampton’s leading hotels. It was one of three Northampton hotels listed in the 1851 The Mt. Holyoke Hand-book and Tourist’s Guide; for Northampton, and its Vicinity, which wrote that:

Warner’s Hotel is in the centre of the town, and in the midst of the trading part of the community. The house was inadequate in size to its business, and a large and very handsome addition has just been made to it, the rooms of which are spacious, airy and pleasant. The venerable proprietor has made a spirited and liberal outlay, by which he has added much to the beauty of the town, as well as promoted to public convenience; and we trust he will receive that ample remuneration he so well deserves.

This “handsome addition” was likely the three-story brick building on the right side of the photo, which was built in the prevailing Italianate style of architecture, in sharp contrast to the 18th century tavern building. With this expansion, the hotel remained in business for the next two decades. However, the 1870s saw several disastrous fires in downtown Northampton, including one that started here in the Warner House. The fire burned for four hours, destroying the old hotel building, the newer brick addition to the right, and the Lyman Block on the left, and it caused about $125,000 in damage.

In the wake of the fire, the site was rebuilt as the Fitch House, a large four-story brick, Italianate-style hotel building that was completed in 1871. The hotel was later named the Mansion House, and then the Draper Hotel,and it remained in business until it finally closed in 1955. The eastern two thirds of the Draper Hotel was subsequently demolished, and the current one-story building was built in its place, but the westernmost section of the building is still standing, and can be seen on the left side of the present-day photo.

Main Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Main Street from near the corner of Pynchon Street in Springfield, sometime around 1900-1905. Image courtesy of the James Ward Birchall Collection.

The scene in 2017:

When the first photo was taken in the early 20th century, Springfield was a prosperous, rapidly-growing city, and this section of Main Street was the heart of its downtown shopping district. Major department stores included Forbes & Wallace – whose original building is seen second from the left in the first photo – and W. D. Kinsman, located further in the distance at the corner of Bridge Street. In 1906, a few years after the first photo was taken, these stores would also be joined by another competitor, Steiger’s, which opened its flagship store a couple blocks north of here at the corner of Hillman Street.

Along with large department stores, this scene also included smaller, specialized retailers. On the far right was D. H. Bingham & Co., a clothing store that had opened here in 1867 in a building previously occupied by the offices of the Springfield Republican. Other early 20th century stores in the foreground included Johnson’s Bookstore, which was located next to D. H. Bingham, and the W. J. Woods Co., another clothing store located further in the distance at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. The scene also featured several hotels, including most prominently the Haynes Hotel on the left side in the foreground.

Most of the buildings in the first photo were built in the late 19th century, during a period of rapid growth that saw Springfield’s population double roughly every 20 years. However, very few of the buildings along this section of Main Street are still standing today, aside from the Haynes Hotel on the left and several of the buildings on the right in the foreground. The old Forbes & Wallace building is gone, along with its early 20th century replacement, and today Monarch Place occupies the site. Further in the distance, the Tower Square skyscraper now fills the entire block between Boland Way and Bridge Street, and there are no other 19th century buildings on the left side until the Fort Block, which is barely visible more than four blocks away, in the distant center of the photo.

Forbes & Wallace, Springfield, Mass

The Forbes & Wallace department store on Main Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

For just over a century, Forbes & Wallace was one of Springfield’s leading businesses, with its department store located here at the corner of Main and Vernon Streets. The company was established in 1874, when Scottish immigrant Andrew Wallace formed a partnership with Alexander B. Forbes, a dry goods merchant here in Springfield. They rented space in an earlier building that stood at this same location, and within a decade the two men had built the company into, as described in the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield, “the largest and most prominent wholesale and retail dry-goods house in Massachusetts, excepting only some of those in Boston.”

By this point, Forbes & Wallace had purchased the entire building, modifying it to meet the needs of the company’s growing business, but around 1905 the old building was demolished and replaced with a new Classical Revival-style building that is seen in the first photo. Only a portion of this massive building is visible in this scene, though. The eight-story, L-shaped structure extended for a significant length along Vernon Street (today Boland Way), and wrapped around the Haynes Hotel so that part of the building fronted on Pynchon Street. Over time, the company’s complex would come to fill almost the entire city block, including its own parking garage on the western side, and the department store remained a Springfield landmark for many years.

Alexander Forbes has retired from the business in 1896, but Andrew Wallace remained with the company until his death in 1923, nearly 50 years after he had established it. His son, Andrew B. Wallace, Jr., and later his grandson, Andrew B. Wallace III, both succeeded his as president of the company, which remained in the Wallace family for many years. The first photo was taken in the late 1930s, during the time when downtown department stores still dominated retail shopping. Aside from Forbes & Wallace, this section of Main Street also feature its largest competitor, Steigers, along with a variety of smaller stores. The scene in the first photo shows Main Street lined with parked cars, and the blurred figures on the sidewalk and in the street give the impression of a busy shopping district.

In the decades that followed, though, suburban malls began to eclipse downtown stores, and Forbes & Wallace followed this trend, opening satellite stores at the Eastfield Mall on Boston Road and the Fairfield Mall in Chicopee. Around the same time, downtown Springfield underwent several large-scale projects aimed at urban renewal, including the construction of the 371-foot, 29-story Baystate West building, which was located directly opposite Forbes & Wallace on the north side of Vernon Street. Now known as Tower Square, this project was completed in 1970, and included a shopping mall that was connected to Forbes & Wallace via a skywalk.

The Baystate West mall evidently did little to revive Forbes & Wallace, though, and the store ultimately went out of business in 1976. The building sat vacant for the next few years, and it was finally demolished in the early 1980s to make way for Monarch Place, a skyscraper that is just out of view on the left side of this scene. Completed in 1987, it is currently the tallest building in the city, and the original site of Forbes & Wallace at the corner is now a small plaza. There is a small replica facade on the left side, partially visible from this angle, but otherwise there is no trace of the old department store. Today, the only building left from the first photo is the Haynes Hotel, which stands as the only 19th century structure amid a variety of 20th century urban renewal projects.

Haynes Hotel, Springfield, Mass

The Haynes Hotel building at the corner of Main and Pynchon Streets in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2017:

The Haynes Hotel was named for its original owner, Tilly Haynes, a prominent Springfield businessman of the mid-19th century. Originally from eastern Massachusetts, he came to Springfield in 1849 to manage a men’s clothing store. He was just 21 at the time, but within a few months he purchased the business from his employers, and he quickly built it into a prosperous enterprise. However, he did not confine himself just to the clothing business, and in 1857 he built a commercial block at the southwest corner of Main and Pynchon Streets, just to the left of this scene. The building consisted of two stores and a music hall, but it only stood here for a few years before being destroyed in a fire in 1864.

The fire was a serious setback for Haynes, but despite the losses he was able to secure a loan for $100,000 – no small sum in 1864 – and rebuilt on the same site. In addition, the fire provided an opportunity for him to further diversify his business interests. Several wood-frame buildings on the north side of Pynchon Street had also been destroyed, and the landowners were more than happy to sell their burned-out properties to Haynes. He promptly built the brick, five-story Italianate-style Haynes Hotel, which opened in 1865 as one of the finest hotels in the city. The building featured a central courtyard that was topped with a skylight, and the first floor had several storefronts, including one at the corner that housed Springfield’s post office until the 1880s.

Haynes retired from the hotel business after the death of his wife in 1876, and sold the property to Calvin H. Goodman and Emerson Gaylord. A few years later the post office vacated its location on the first floor, and the new owners used the opportunity to renovate the building. Haynes had already made some improvements, most notably the installation of the city’s first hydraulic elevator in 1874, but Goodman took further steps to make it one of the area’s leading hotels. King’s Handbook of Springfield, published in 1884, described the hotel upon completion of these renovations:

The floors are of marble, the wainscoting of party-colored marbles and slates, while the walls and ceilings are richly frescoed. The toilet accommodations are most conveniently located; and the barber-shop, bar-room, and billiard-room have been given new and richly furnished quarters. These improvements cost somewhat over $15,000. The dining-room, seating 150, is still on the second floor; and the admirable arrangement of kitchen, store-rooms, and servants’ quarters in a separate building, connected with the hotel proper by a half dozen bridges at different floors, is not disturbed. The parlors are on the second and third floors, and handsomely furnished. The house numbers 108 large, completely furnished rooms; and other accommodations, held in reserve, make the number of guests provided for on special occasions not far from 300.

The hotel was still in operation when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, but it closed in the mid-1940s and the former hotel rooms were converted into offices. Since then, the surrounding neighborhood has undergone even more dramatic changes, with several large-scale redevelopment projects in the second half of the 20th century. The Forbes & Wallace department store, which encircled the hotel and filled much of the block between Pynchon and Vernon Streets, was demolished in the early 1980s in order to build Monarch Place, the skyscraper that is visible behind in the background of the present-day photo. Around the same time, the Haynes Hotel was somewhat altered, including the addition of elevator shafts on the left side, but overall it has remained well-preserved, and it survives as one of the oldest commercial buildings in downtown Springfield.

Thames Street at Touro Street, Newport, RI

The east side of Thames Street, just south of Touro Street in Newport, around 1885. Image courtesy of the Providence Public Library.

The scene in 2017:

Thames Street is a major north-south street that runs along the waterfront in downtown Newport. It has long been a major commercial center in the city, and the first photo shows parts of three 19th century commercial blocks here on Thames Street, just south of Washington Square. All three have similar Italianate-style architecture, and they were probably built around the 1850s or 1860s. By the time the first photo was taken, the buildings housed several different businesses, including John H. Martin’s sporting goods shop on the far left at the corner of Touro Street, as well as the Young Brothers grocery store in the center of the photo.

In more than 130 years since the first photo was taken, Thames Street has undergone some significant changes. These buildings survived the large-scale redevelopment projects that took nearly all of the historic buildings on the opposite side of the street, but they have had major alterations over the years. The one on the far left, known as the Henry B. Young Building, lost its top floor sometime in the 20th century, and the building in the middle might be the same one from the first photo, with a new facade and without its top floor. Only the building on the far right, which is just partially visible in these photos, has remained relatively unaltered.

Like it was in the first photo, Thames Street is still lined with shops, although they are very different from the ones in the 1880s. The storefront at the corner, once the home of John H. Martin’s sporting goods shop, is now a Banana Republic, and the rest of the Street is similarly lined with  boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants that cater primarily to Newport’s tourists. Compared to the rest of downtown Newport, the buildings on Thames Street does not remain as well-preserved, but overall the Street still retains a similar appearance, and his section of the street is now part of the Newport Historic District, a National Historic Landmark district.

Josiah Wright House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 78 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Josiah Wright was originally from Plympton, Massachusetts, but in 1849 he moved to Springfield, along with his wife Sarah and their young children. Here, Josiah formed a partnership with Henry Webster and began manufacturing axles for railroad cars. They later sold the firm to Norman W. Talcott, who continued to operate it for many years, but Josiah Wright remained in the metallurgy business, eventually purchasing the Agawam Foundry on Liberty Street (present-day Frank B. Murray Street), where the current Union Station is now located. He and his business partner, Warren Emerson, formed the firm of Wright & Emerson, which was described in the 1871 city directory as manufacturing “Cast Iron Fences for Cemetery Lots, Balconies and Verandas, also Machinery and Building Castings of all descriptions.”

Josiah’s son Andrew also had a successful business career, becoming treasurer of the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company in 1872. Three years later, Andrew moved into a new house here on Bowdoin Street in the fashionable McKnight neighborhood, and Josiah followed soon after. This house was completed around 1877, and was located just up the street from Andrew’s house. Josiah retired a few years after moving here, and in 1882 he sold his business to the Springfield Foundry Company. He and Sarah continued to live in this house for the rest of their lives, until his death in 1890 and her death three years later.

By the end of the 19th century, the house was owned by Andrew’s son Fred, who lived here with his wife Emily. Fred followed his father into the insurance industry, working as an agent for the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and by the 1900 census he and Emily had two young children living here, along with two nurses and a servant. However, they did not live here for very long, because by 1905 they had moved closer to the center of Springfield, to an apartment at 97 Spring Street.

Around 1905, this house was sold to Fred S. Morse, a lumber dealer who was originally from Maine. He came to Springfield in 1889, and over the next decade he worked for several different wholesale lumber companies before going into business for himself in 1899. A year later, he married his wife, Nellie Gloyd, and in 1905 he established the Fred S. Morse Lumber Company. He and Nellie had one child, Samuel, who was born in 1907, and the family lived here until around 1915, when they moved to a house nearby on Bay Street.

By 1918, this house was the home of Ellen T. Hyde, the widow of prominent local businessman and politician Henry S. Hyde. He had, for many years, served as treasurer of the Wason Manufacturing Company, and held positions in a variety of other companies, along with serving as a city councilor, alderman, state senator, and delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1884 and 1888. Ellen was also from a prominent family, with her father, Eliphalet Trask, having served as mayor of Springfield and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. She moved into this house shortly after Henry’s death in 1917, and she lived here until her death in 1923.

The house was subsequently owned by Fred C. Brigham, a physician who lived here with his wife Emma and their three children. They moved in around 1924, and by the 1930 census they were living here with their daughter Alice, her husband James McClelland, and their two young children. By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, James and Alice had moved out, but Fred and Emma were still living here, although he died in 1940.

Emma would go on to live here until the mid-1940s, when she moved to State Street, but the house has remained well-preserved over the years, with few changes from the first photo nearly 80 years ago. It stands as a good example of one of the older homes in the McKnight neighborhood, and it now forms part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.