Edwin L. Knight House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 50 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1877, in the early years of the development of the McKnight neighborhood. Unlike the more ornate Queen Anne-style homes that later dominated the neighborhood, this house has a more plain, Italianate-style design that is often seen in some of the older McKnight homes. It was originally the home of Asa M. Knight, a plumber from Brimfield, Massachusetts who had moved to Springfield in the 1850s. Here, he operated the plumbing supply firm of A. M. Knight & Son, with his son Edwin joining the company in the 1860s.

A veteran of the Civil War, Edwin Knight had served as lieutenant and later captain in the 10th Massachusetts regiment. He was badly wounded in 1864 in the Battle of Spotsylvania, but he survived and was later promoted to brevet major. Just two months after the war ended, he married his wife Harriet, and together they had five children. Edwin and Harriet did not initially move into this house with Asa, and the 1880 census shows him living here alone except for a servant. However, they were living here with Asa by about 1882, and they remained here even after his death three years later.

By the 1900 census, they were living here with two of their sons, Arthur and John, who were working as a draughtsman and a bank clerk, respectively. Long after moving out of this house, John would go on to have a successful career in the banking industry, including serving as treasurer and a trustee of Chicopee Falls Savings Bank. In the meantime, Harriet died in 1903, and the house was sold around 1907, a few years before Edwin’s death in Georgia in 1909.

The house was sold to Howard Baldwin, a butcher who owned a shop on State Street opposite the Armory. During the 1910 census, he was living here with his wife Fannie and his elderly father William, and they also rented a room to a boarder, Carrie Lyman, who worked as a dressmaker. Their only surviving child, Edith, was not living in the house at the time, but she was here by 1912, and would go on to have a long career in Springfield as a physician.

Both Howard and Fannie lived here until their deaths in the 1930s, and Edith was still living here at the end of the decade when the first photo was taken. By this point, the house had been covered in faux-brick asphalt siding, which was a popular exterior material in this era, much to the chagrin of historic preservationists later in the century. Edith continued to live here long after the first photo was taken, remaining here until she finally sold the property in 1969, more than 60 years after her father had purchased it.

By the time Edith moved out of here, the neighborhood had entered a serious decline. As affluent families left Springfield for the suburbs, many of the historic homes in McKnight were converted into rooming houses, nursing homes, and group homes, and many more were altered from their original appearance, as shown with this house. However, many of these homes began to be restored in the 1970s including this house, which had the old asphalt siding replaced with wooden clapboards. Around the same time, the house became a contributing property in the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Appleton B. Greenwood House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 44 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1876, as part of the first wave of development in the McKnight neighborhood. It likely would have looked different when it was first built, though, because some of the features did not come into common use until the Colonial Revival era of the early 20th century. If it was like the other 1870s houses in the neighborhood, it would have had an Italianate design with two stories and a flat roof, perhaps with a cupola in the center of the roof. The third floor was likely added about 20 or 30 years later, during the time when hip roofs and Palladian windows were in style.

The original owner of this house was Appleton B. Greenwood, a wholesale shoe merchant and partner in the firm of McIntosh & Company. He was 29 years old during the 1880 census, and he lived here with his wife Clara and their two young children, Grace and Roland. They were living in this house until the end of the decade, but had moved elsewhere by the early 1890s. Over the next two decades, the house saw a variety of residents, including James W. Stebbins, George W. Bristol, and Charles Hill. During this time, the house seems to have been used primarily as a rental property up until 1912, when it was sold to William and Carrie Blake.

Not to be confused with the English poet of the same name, William Blake was the treasurer of the Blake Manufacturing Company, which produced brass goods here in Springfield. He and Carrie had eight children, three of whom were still living here in this house during the 1920 census. William died during the 1920s, but Carrie was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, along with her daughter Mabel, Mabel’s husband James L. Hanchett, and their children. The 1940 census also shows four roomers living here, mostly young adults with jobs ranging from office clerk to church secretary to an electrical inspector.

Carrie and her family were still living here as late as the 1944 directory, but the house appears to have been sold soon after. At some point around this time, the exterior of the was covered in faux brick asphalt siding, which still remains on the house. Popular in the mid-20th century, this same type of siding can be seen on the house to the right in the first photo. Curiously, this situation is now reversed,  with the house on the right having a restored exterior, while its neighbor now has the artificial siding. Despite this, though, the house still retains most of its details from the first photo, and it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George H. Olds House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 146 Bay Street, at the corner of Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Bay Street is one of the oldest roads in Springfield, dating back to the early colonial era when it formed part of the Bay Path, connecting Springfield to Boston. However, it later fell into disuse when the route was straightened and the present State Street was opened. State Street would become one of the city’s principal east-west roads, but Bay Street remained sparsely settled until the late 19th century, when large-scale development began on what would become the McKnight neighborhood.

Most of the homes in McKnight have Queen Anne-style designs from the 1880s and 1890s, but some of the earlier homes featured an Italianate design, including this house at the corner of Bay and Westminster Streets. It was completed around 1874, and was described in the 1873-1874 city directory, which wrote that:

E. W. Shattuck is building for George H. Olds a two-story house, in the Grecian style, 24 by 30 feet, besides wing and ell. It has a two-story bay window, piazza and porch, and costing about $5,000 besides lot.

George H. Olds was an employee at Smith & Wesson, and was living here in the 1875 city directory. However, he moved out of the house just a year later, and by 1876 it was the home of Alfred G. Osgood. Described as a manufacturer of “asphaltum side-walks,” Osgood lived here with his wife Sarah and their son Roy, who was born around the same time that they moved into this house.

By the early 1880s, Osgood had apparently entered the soapstone business, because in the 1882 directory he was listed as the superintendent of the Springfield Soapstone Conpany. He and his family were still living here in 1890, at which point Osgood was working as agent for the Athol-based Pequoig Soapstone Quarry Company. However, the following year the family moved to Athol, and the house was sold.

At the turn of the 20th century, the house was being used as a rental property, and lumber dealer Edward C. Pease was living here with his wife Ella and a servant, who was also named Ella. A decade later, the house was rented by Seelye Bryant, the pastor of Springfield’s Olivet Church. He lived here from about 1908 to 1910, and by 1911 he had moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts to become pastor of a church there.

By 1920, the house was once again owner-occupied, with John Monroe living here. An elderly widower, Monroe had immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1850s, and worked for many years as a coachman for private families in Springfield. He lived here with his daughter, Annie Greeley, who was also a widow. She inherited the house after his death in 1921, and she was still living here by the 1930 census, along with her adopted daughter Josephine and a lodger, Gertrude McKoan.

Annie moved out of this house sometime before 1940, and the house appears to have been vacant during that year’s census. The first photo was taken around this time, as part of a WPA survey of all of the buildings in the city. Very little has changed since then, with the house retaining its original architectural details. It is one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Kibbe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1030 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This Italianate-style home is the oldest in the city’s historic McKnight neighborhood, predating the area’s large-scale development by two decades. It was built around 1850, at a time when this section of Springfield was sparsely settled. A few of Springfield’s wealthy residents built estates on large lots here, including George Kibbe, who was the original owner of this house. He and his younger brother Horace were the owners of the Kibbe Brothers Company, a Springfield-based candy company that was, for many years, located in the Union Block at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. From here, they distributed candy to retailers throughout the region, utilizing horse-drawn wagons that traveled on regularly-scheduled routes across New England.

George Kibbe lived in this house for many years, along with his wife Sarah and their daughters Sarah and Georgiana. A third daughter, Emily, died in 1853 at the age of six, only a few years after the family moved into the house. During the time that the family lived here, the area began to undergo significant transformation. Land that had once been on the outskirts of the city became one of Springfield’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, and by the 1880s a number of other large mansions were built along this section of Worthington Street. George only lived to see the very beginning of these changes, though, because he died in 1882, at the age of 64.

After George Kibbe’s death, part of his land was subdivided and developed. Bowdoin Street was extended north through the property,and a number of new homes were built here by the late 1880s. Kibbe’s old house remained, though, and was sold to Sigmund Levison, a businessman who owned a prosperous millinery company in Springfield. He was born in Germany and came to the United States as a young man, where he worked for his uncle’s millinery company. After his uncle retired in 1879, Levison purchased the Springfield branch of the business and operated it for many years.

In 1894, Levison made some alterations to the house, bringing it more in line with architectural tastes of the era by adding the classical details that are now part of the exterior. His first wife, Eleanore, died in 1916, and two years later he remarried to Edith Wilson, who was 24 years younger than him. After Sigmund’s death in the late 1920s, Edith remained in the house for another decade or so, and in the 1930 census she was living here with her 80-year-old mother and a servant.

In 1937, shortly before the first photo was taken, the house became an Odd Fellows lodge. In the 1970s, it became a VFW post, but this eventually closed as well. Today, its exterior appearance has changed little since the 1930s, and it stands as the oldest building in the McKnight neighborhood. Within the past few decades, several different owners have purchased the house with the intention of restoring it, but as of now it remains vacant.

James C. Ingersoll House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 79 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

The Ingersoll family has a long history here in the McKnight neighborhood, which predates the large-scale development of the area by many decades. In the mid-1840s, Major Edward Ingersoll purchased property on the north side of Worthington Street as his estate. He landscaped the property, which became known as Ingersoll’s Grove, and owned it for about 20 years. During this time, Major Ingersoll was the paymaster and storekeeper of the U.S. Armory, a position he held from 1841 to 1882. Near the end of his life, long after he had sold his estate on Worthington Street, the property was purchased and developed by William and John McKnight, and the street Ingersoll Grove was named in his honor.

Major Ingersoll and his wife Harriet had six children, including James C. Ingersoll, who moved into this house when it was built around 1874. It was only a short walk from his father’s old estate, although at this point the neighborhood was changing rapidly from what it would have looked like during his childhood at Ingersoll’s Grove. James Ingersoll’s house was part of the first wave of large-scale development in the neighborhood, and as a result its architecture is significantly different from most of the later homes. Unlike the highly ornamented Queen Anne homes that would follow, Ingersoll’s house had simpler Italianate architecture, and was built near the end of this style’s popularity.

James and Ellen Ingersoll moved into this house soon after their marriage in 1873, and they raised three children here, Robert, Elizabeth, and Raymond. They lived here for many years, and during this time James worked as a bookkeeper. Robert married Florence Bradley, the daughter of toy manufacturer Milton Bradley, and the couple later moved into the neighboring house at 69 Bowdoin Street. Raymond never married, and lived with his parents for the rest of their lives. According to the census records, he worked as a lithographer for a toy company, presumably Milton Bradley. Ellen died in 1925, and James in 1937, more than 60 years after he moved in.

When the first photo was taken, Raymond was still living here, and the 1940 census indicates that he also rented space in the house to two lodgers. He lived in this house for his entire life, until his death in 1960 at the age of 79. At some point in the mid-20th century, the house was covered in asbestos siding, but it otherwise retained most of its Italianate design, including the bracketed cornice. It was restored in the 1980s, though, and today it looks essentially the same as it did when the Ingersoll family lived here. Along with the other houses in the area, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

William B. Harris House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 39 Madison Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

This house dates back to the 1870s, and was the home of William B. Harris, a civil engineer who lived here with his wife Rebecca and their three children: Charles, Helen, and John. Both Charles and Helen lived here with their parents well into adulthood. William and Rebecca appear to have died between 1910 and 1920, because by the 1920 census Charles, age 51, and Helen, age 47 were living here alone.

Subsequent residents of this house included William and Gladys Langston, who were living here in 1930, followed by George and Ellie Chamberlain, who were living here in the late 1930s when the first photo was taken. In the nearly 80 years that have followed, very little has changed with the house. It still retains its distinctive features, such as the porch on the left, the bay windows, and the Italianate brackets under the eaves. Along with the rest of Madison Avenue, it is part of the city’s Maple Hill Historic District.