Fred E. Webb House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 33 Churchill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house was built in 1895, and was originally owned by milk dealer Fred E. Webb. He and his wife Mary had two children, Maude and Everett, who grew up here, and by 1900 they also lived here with Mary’s parents and three boarders. Both Maude and Everett remained here as adults, with Maude working as a teacher, while Everett had a variety of jobs listed on the different census records. In 1933, Maude married Merrill L. Clifford, a printer who was originally from Maine. The couple lived here with her parents, although Fred died in 1939, right around the time that the first photo was taken.

The house remained in the family until 1965, when Merrill sold it, four years after Maude’s death. Since then, very little has changed with the exterior of the house. For the most part, it looks the same as it did when the Webb family lived here, and it has retained its original Queen Anne-style appearance. It is one of many well-restored historic homes in the neighborhood, and in 1982 it became part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frank B. Morse House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 41 Churchill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1893, right around the time that the Forest Park neighborhood was beginning to be developed on a large scale. It was originally the home of Frank and Alice Morse, although they apparently only lived here for a few years, because by the late 1890s the house was owned by Wilbur C. Tracy. He was a meat dealer, and he lived here with his wife Charlotte, his son, his parents, and his sister.

The Tracy family did not live here long, either, and by 1901 the house was owned by George M. Stebbins, a traveling salesman who also served in the police department as the city marshal. He lived here with his wife Mary, and by the 1910 census they also had a boarder living here, along with an 18 year old servant, Olga Lindquist. Mary died in 1927, but George was still living here when the first photo was taken. Olga was also still here, although she does not appear to have been a servant anymore. Instead, she lived here with her husband, Frank Keeling, who was a commercial artist, and she worked as a clerk in his studio.

George Stebbins died in 1942 at the age of 93, and the house was subsequently sold. At some point in the mid-20th century, the second story porch was enclosed, and the house was covered in asbestos shingles, losing much of its original Queen Anne details in the process. However, the house has since been restored to its original appearance, with hardly any difference from the first photo except for the lack of shutters. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, the house is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Teske House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 268 Sumner Avenue at the corner of Churchill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1893, and was one of the earlier homes to be built in the Forest Park Heights neighborhood. It had a desirable location along Sumner Avenue, directly opposite Forest Park, and it was originally the home of Charles Teske. However, he did not live here long, because he sold the house around 1896. It does not appear to have been occupied during the 1900 census, but by 1910 it was owned by Icilius T. Alstrom, who lived here with his wife Carrie and their two sons, Albert and Harvey.

By 1915, the house had been sold again, to Bertram Craig. He lived here with his wife Catherine, their daughter Madeline, and, in later years, Madeline’s husband Richard Lovekin. During the 1930 census, they were also renting part of the house to another family for $48 per month. Catherine died later in 1930, though, and within a few years the rest of the family had moved. By the 1940 census, the house was owned by dentist Robert N. Cushman, who lived here with his sister, Emma J. Wilson. They were living here when the first photo was taken, and remained until Emma’s death in 1943 and Robert’s in 1949.

Over the years, this house has remained well-preserved, along with the houses in the background of both photos. The only significant difference is the enclosed second-story porch, but overall it is an excellent example of Queen Anne-style architecture in Forest Park. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frederick Ross House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 215 Forest Park Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


Springfield’s Forest Park Heights neighborhood was developed around the turn of the 20th century, at a time when architectural tastes were shifting from Queen Anne to Colonial Revival styles. The majority of the homes in Forest Park are Colonial Revival, but some of the older homes, including this one, have Queen Anne architecture. It is located on Forest Park Avenue opposite Maplewood Terrace, and it is one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood, having been built in 1892.

During the 1900 census, this house was owned by Frederick Ross, who lived here with his wife Anna and their daughter, Hazel. Born in Canada, Frederick immigrated to the United States in the late 1880s and married Anna a few years later. The 1900 census indicates that he was a traveling salesman, and subsequent censuses indicate that he sold, of all things, coconuts. He was still living here with Anna and Hazel in the 1920 census, and was still selling coconuts, while Hazel worked as a clerk for the city water department. However, Anna died in the 1920s, and by 1930 Frederick was living in an apartment nearby on Belmont Avenue.

The next owner of this house was Horace E. Allen, a lawyer who was living here by 1930, along with his wife Mary, their three children, and Mary’s father, William Ballantine. A retired Congregational minister and college professor, Ballantine had served as president of Oberlin College from 1891 to 1896. He then came to Springfield and taught Bible at the International Y.M.C.A. Training School, which later became Springfield College. After his retirement in 1921, he wrote several books, including a translation of the New Testament.

Ballantine lived here with his daughter and son-in-law until his death in 1937 at the age of 88. The rest of the family was still living here a year or two later when the first photo was taken, but at some point in the 1940s they moved to Longmeadow. Since then, the house has remained well-preserved, and this scene has hardly changed in the past 80 years. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, the house is now part of the Forest Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 Maple Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


This Queen Anne-style mansion was built sometime in the 1880s, and was the home of Charles and Helen Marsh. Charles was the president of Springfield’s Pynchon National Bank, but he was also heavily involved in many nonprofit organizations in the city, serving as treasurer of Springfield Hospital, the School for Christian Workers, the Hampden County Benevolent Association, the Hampden Conference of Congregational Churches, and the Connecticut Valley Congregational Club. Along with this, he served in various capacities for other organizations, including teaching Sunday school at the nearby South Congregational Church. He even ventured into politics, and was twice the Democratic candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth, although he lost both times.

Their time at this house was relatively short, because Charles Marsh died in 1891, and Helen died in 1894. Subsequent owners included James F. Bidwell, a tobacco dealer who was living here by the 1910 census. Born in 1844, Bidwell served in the Civil War as a private in the 5th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Several years after the end of the war, he married his wife Frostine, and they had two children, Mary and Robert. Aside from his tobacco business, Bidwell was also involved in local politics. He served as a city alderman for several years, and he was also a water commissioner from 1894 to 1902.

James Bidwell died in 1917, and Frostine lived here until her death in 1934. The first photo shows a large “For Sale” sign on the front of the house, and at this point the neighborhood had changed. When the house had been built some 50 years earlier, lower Maple Street was lined with large mansions. However, by the early 20th century these were steadily being replaced or repurposed. In the late 1950s, this house was converted into doctors’ offices, and a few years later it was demolished to build an office building for the Insurance Company of North America, which was completed in 1965. This building was later used by Milton Bradley, and it is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Elizabeth Adams House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 28 Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house on Ingersoll Grove in Springfield was built for Dr. Nathan Adams, a physician who died in 1888, shortly before the house was completed. However, his widow Elizabeth moved into the house and lived here for nearly 20 years, until her own death in 1908 at the age of 90. During this time, she was hardly alone in this big house, though. The 1900 census shows her living here with her son Lathom, daughter Ellen, Ellen’s husband John Egbert, and their four children. John was an Episcopalian minister who had, many years earlier, served as a curate at Christ Church in Springfield, where Dr. and Mrs. Adams were prominent members.

John Egbert died in 1905 at the age of 60, with the death certificate indicating “general paresis” as the cause of death. This condition is a psychiatric disorder usually caused by late-stage syphilis, and seems like a rather unusual cause of death for a clergyman. Two of John and Ellen’s children also died relatively young; William died of tuberculosis in 1901 at the age of 18, and Nathan died of an intestinal obstruction in 1913, at the age of 35. Ellen lived here along with her brother Nathan and daughter Ellen, until her death in 1917.

After being owned by the Adams family for over 30 years, the house was finally sold in the early 1920s, to James M. Gill. He was the son of James D. Gill, a prominent publisher and art dealer who later moved into the house across the street from here. The younger James was a businessman who started his career in the paper industry. He then entered the ice business, eventually becoming the president of the Springfield Ice Company. From 1913 to 1916 he served as the city’s police commissioner, and this experience gave him insight into yet another business opportunity. Recognizing the need for better handcuffs, he started the Peerless Handcuff Company in 1914 and served as the company president for many years. The company quickly became a leader in the industry, and is still in business over a century later.

James M. Gill lived in this house with his wife Josephine and their three children, Barbara, Clyde, and Marjorie. The two older children moved out in the 1930s, but Marjorie was still living here along with her parents when the first photo was taken. After James’s death in 1949, though, the house was sold. Like many other large homes in the neighborhood, it was divided up into multiple units in the early 1950s, and it later became a group home for deinstitutionalized patients from the Belchertown State School. However, it was subsequently restored as a single-family home, and today it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.