James A. Lakin House, Westfield, Mass

The house at 91 Court Street in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The house in 2018:

The first photo shows a large Queen Anne-style house that once stood here on the north side of Court Street, near the corner of Chestnut Street. It was constructed at some point in the late 1880s or early 1890s, and it was originally owned by James A. Lakin, a prominent local businessman and politician. Lakin was born in Boston, but came to Westfield after the Civil War and lived here for the rest of his life. He had previously lived in a house at 9 Pearl Street, but he had moved into this new, much larger house by the time the first photo was taken.

Lakin was a jeweler for many years, before becoming involved in a number of other businesses here in Westfield. He was a freemason, and he was involved in several Masonic organizations, including serving as the secretary of the Masonic Fraternal Accident Association of America, and president of the National Masonic Aid Association. In addition, he was the president of both the Woronoco Street Railway Company and the American Casket Hardware Company, and vice president of the Woronoco Savings Bank. Aside from his business interests, Lakin was also involved in state and local politics. He was elected to two terms in the state legislature in 1890 and 1891, and in the mid 1890s he served on the staff of Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge, holding the rank of colonel as an assistant adjutant general.

Lakin died in 1898 at the age of 57, leaving his wife Addie and their four children. The rest of the family evidently moved out of this house shortly after his death, because by the 1900 census they were again living in the house at 9 Pearl Street. In the meantime, this house on Court Street was sold to Thomas M. Hazelton, who lived here until hos own death in 1905. Hazelton’s wife continued to live here for several more years, but around 1909 she sold the property to Frederick L. Parker, an employee of the United States Whip Company.

Parker purchased this house around the same time as his marriage to his wife Mary. They were both about 35 years old at the time, and they spent their honeymoon in Enterprise, Florida and in Cuba, before returning to Westfield and moving into this house during the spring of 1909. Parker subsequently became president of the United States Whip Company in 1912, taking control of what was, at the time, the world’s largest whip manufacturer. By this point, the whip industry – which had formed such a large part of Westfield’s economy – was in decline, with the rise of automobiles eliminating the need for buggy whips. However, the company outlasted most of Westfield’s other whip manufacturers, and Parker remained its president until his death in 1951.

Around 1928, Frederick and Mary Parker drastically altered the appearance of their house, as shown in the present-day photo. The ornate Queen Anne-style details were removed, including the tower and the circular porch, and the exterior was remodeled with a very different French Eclectic-style design. As a result, the house now bears little resemblance to its appearance in the first photo. However, the interior of the house remained largely unchanged after the renovation, and today it still retains its original Victorian-era features.

During the 1930 census, the newly-remodeled house was valued at $50,000, equivalent to nearly $800,000 today, and the Parkers were living here alone except for a servant. A decade later, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, its value had dropped to just $20,000, but by this point the Parkers employed two live-in servants, whom they paid $572 and $780 in yearly salaries. This was fairly typical income for domestic servants of the period, equivalent to about $10,600 and $14,500 today, respectively.

Frederick Parker lived here until his death in 1951, at the age of 77. He left an estate that was valued at more than $1.3 million, or about $13 million today, and in his will he made a number of bequests to local charities. In addition, he left $250 to every employee who had worked at the United States Whip Company within the past two years. He left the bulk of his estate to his widow Mary, but she evidently had a sizable amount of property in her own name. She died a year later in 1952, and her estate was valued at over $7.2 million, more than $70 million today, which was described in the Springfield Union as one of the largest estates ever filed with the county’s registry of probate.

In 1953, the house here on Court Street – which had been valued at $24,000 after Mary’s death – was sold to Frederick’s cousin, Lewis C. Parker, Jr. He had recently become the vice president and treasurer of White Industries, a Westfield-based greeting card and stationery company, and he had previously served as city council president, the same position that his cousin Frederick had once held. He went on to live here until around the early 1970s, and the property has changed hands several more times since then.

Today, this house is still standing here. Although not as old as the original house from the first photo, it has become historic in its own right, and it is a relatively unusual example of French Eclectic architecture here in Westfield. Almost nothing remains from the first photo, but perhaps the only exception is the low granite retaining wall along the sidewalk, and the short posts on either side of the driveway. These were evidently added when James A. Lakin built the first house, and they are still here more than 125 years later.

Special thanks to current homeowner Donald Bazzurro for providing the information on the house’s 1928 transformation.

Orrin L. Cowles House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 108 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This house was built around 1886, and it was originally owned by Orrin L. Cowles, an insurance agent who worked for the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. This company was based out of Newark, New Jersey, but Cowles was the general agent for their Springfield office. Cowles had previously lived on Jefferson Avenue in the city’s North End, but in 1886 he purchased this property from John D. McKnight, a real estate developer who was best known for creating the McKnight neighborhood about a mile to the east of here. This house, with its Queen Anne-style architecture, bears a strong resemblance to the many of the homes that were built in McKnight during this same period.

The 1900 census shows Orrin Cowles living here with his wife Harriet, their 26-year-old daughter Carolyn M. Rice, her five-year-old son Robert C. Rice, and a servant. Carolyn was listed as married on the census, but her husband was not living here, and subsequent censuses list her as divorced, so she and her husband were probably separated by this point. The four family members were still living here a decade later during the 1910 census, and Orrin was still working for the same insurance company, but he died the following year, at the age of 71.

Both Harriet and Carolyn continued to live in this house for the rest of their lives. Carolyn died in 1934, at the age of 61, and her funeral was held here in the house, with Rev. James Gordon Gilkey of South Congregational Church officiating the ceremony. Her mother Harriet outlived her by about five years, before her own death in 1939, around the same time that the first photo was taken.

The 1939 city directory shows that, by this point, Robert Rice had returned here to his childhood home, perhaps in order to care for his aging grandmother. After she died, he inherited the property, and the 1940 census lists him here with his wife Marie. No occupation is given for Robert in the census, and it notes that he did not earn any income during the previous year, but he is consistently listed as an author in city directories of the 1940s and 1950s.

Robert Rice lived in this house until around 1963, when he finally sold it more than 75 years after his grandfather had purchased it from John McKnight. He then moved to an apartment nearby at 286 Union Street, where he lived until his death in 1975 at the age of 81. In the meantime, at some point during the mid-20th century the exterior of this house was covered in shingles, obscuring many of the Victorian-era details that are evident in the first photo. Part of the front porch was also removed, and the rest of it was altered with the replacement of the original balustrade and columns. However, the house is still standing, unlike its former neighbor to the right at 102 School Street, and it is now part of the city’s Ridgewood Local Historic District.

National Savings and Trust Company Building, Washington, DC

The northeast corner of New York Avenue and 15th Street NW in Washington, DC, around 1910-1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The origins of the National Savings and Trust Company date back to 1867, when Congress chartered the National Safe Deposit Company. It was located in an earlier building here at this corner, and it housed safe deposit boxes for Washington residents to store their valuables, at a time when this type of service was still a relatively new concept. Three years later, this company was joined by the National Savings Bank, which was located in the same building.

The two companies enjoyed a prominent location, diagonally across from the Treasury Building and only a block away from the White House, and in 1888, they moved into a new building here on this site, as shown in the first photo. It was built in brick, was five stories in height, and it originally extended 130 feet along 15th Street to the left, and 65 feet along New York Avenue to the right. It featured a Queen Anne-style design, with a distinctive clock and cupola atop the corner, and it was the work of noted Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim.

In 1890, the two companies merged to form the National Safe Deposit, Savings and Trust Company, which was later simplified to the National Savings and Trust Company in 1907. As the name was getting shorter, though, the bank was continuing to grow. In 1911, probably soon after the first photo was taken, the bank purchased the adjacent Lenman Building, seen on the right side of the scene. It was subsequently demolished, and in 1916 the bank built a 50-foot addition on the site, followed by another 50-foot addition in 1925. However, these 20th century additions featured the same architectural style and building materials as the original building, so the three sections are nearly indistinguishable from each other.

The expanded building would continue to serve as the headquarters of the National Savings and Trust Company throughout the 20th century, although in 1987 it changed its name to Crestar Bank. The company has since been acquired by SunTrust Bank, but this building remains in use as a branch of SunTrust, more than 130 years after it first opened its doors to banking customers. Overall, aside from the early 20th century additions, the appearance of the building has not changed much during this time, and in 1972 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

42-44 Mattoon Street, Springfield, Mass (2)

The twin houses at 42-44 Mattoon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These two photos show the same houses as an earlier post, just from a different angle. As discussed in that post, these two adjoining houses were built in 1888 on Mattoon Street, a street that is noted for its elegant late 19th century townhouses. Both houses, along with the one at 36 Mattoon on the far left side of the scene, were originally owned by Lebbeus C. Smith. He lived in a house nearby at 77 Elliot Street, but he used these houses as rental properties. The 1900 census shows both 42 and 44 Mattoon being used as rooming houses, with ten residents in 42 Mattoon and nine in 44 Mattoon.

This was the beginning of a steady decline for the houses on Mattoon Street, most of which had been designed as single-family homes before devolving into rooming houses. The house was long past its prime by the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and by the 1960s most of the street was in poor condition. Some of the houses were demolished in the early 1970s, but most were ultimately restored, thanks to efforts by residents and preservationists. Today, Mattoon Street survives as the only street in Springfield that is lined by historic townhouses on both sides, and it is a part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Nathan Adams House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1135 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Queen Anne-style house was built in 1887 as the home of Dr. Nathan Adams, his wife Elizabeth, and their son, Nathan, Jr. An 1834 graduate of Yale, Dr. Adams came to Springfield in 1838, where he practiced medicine for many years. Later in life, he lived in New Haven for some time, but ultimately returned to Springfield. He was in his mid-70s when he and his family moved into this house, and he was only able to enjoy it for about a year before his death in 1888. Soon after, Elizabeth moved around the corner to a new, even larger house at 28 Ingersoll Grove, where she remained until her death in 1908.

By 1890, this house on Worthington Street was the home of Emily Jacobs, the widow of another noted physician, Dr. Horace Jacobs. She lived here until her death in 1898 at the age of 77, and her daughter Mary inherited the property. She was unmarried, but early 20th century census records show her living with several other family members, including her nephew Horace Rice, who was here in 1910, and her brother Chauncey A. Jacobs, who was here in 1920. Like his father, Chauncey was a physician, but he was 76 years old and evidently retired by this point. Both siblings lived here for the rest of their lives, until Chauncey’s death in 1923 and Mary’s in 1927.

The next owner of this house was David E. Tebo, a former woolen mill manager who had previously lived in Enfield, Massachusetts. He came to Springfield in the late 1920s, and his relocation was likely spurred by the imminent construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, which would flood Enfield and three other neighboring towns. The 1930 census shows him here in this house, along with his daughter, Anne T. Blair, who was an attorney. Both were still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and David Tebo died a few years later in 1945, when he was about 90 years old.

Anne Blair continued to live here until 1969, when she finally sold the property about 40 years after she and her father had moved in. The house has remained well-preserved since then, on both the exterior and interior, and it stands as an excellent example of the many fine Queen Anne-style homes that were built in the McKnight neighborhood during the late 19th century. Along with the other houses in the area, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Sarah A. Dale House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1119 Worthington Street, at the corner of Thompson Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1886, and was originally the home of Sarah A. Dale, a 70-year-old widow whose husband, brass foundry operator Lombard Dale, had died a decade earlier in 1876. She lived here with two of her unmarried daughters, Ellen and Lizzie, until her death in 1902, and the two sisters subsequently inherited the property. They remained here throughout the first two decades of the 20th century, but Ellen died in 1920. Lizzie was still living here as late as 1926, but by the 1930 census she was living in the Hotel Kimball, and she died later that year.

By 1929, this house was owned by investment banker Raymond L. Stratford, who lived here with his wife Carmen and their two young children, Raymond Jr. and Joan. However, they were only here for a few years, and had moved out by the mid-1930s. The house went through several more ownership changes during the 1930s, and by the end of the decade it was owned by Daniel A. Leary, an Irish immigrant who lived here with his sisters Anna, Katherine, and Mary. All four were unmarried and in their 60s or 70s, and they continued to live here until at least the early 1950s.

The first photo shows the house as it appeared in either 1938 or 1939, around the same time that the Learys purchased the property. However, at some point either during or soon after their ownership, the house underwent some dramatic changes. Like many other large homes in the McKnight neighborhood, it was converted into a boarding house in the mid-20th century. The exterior was also heavily altered, including the removal of the front porches and the installation of asbestos shingles on the walls. The house remained in this condition for many years, but it is now in the process of being restored to its original appearance. The first photo was taken in early 2018, and more work has been done since then, but it shows how the asbestos shingles have been restored, the clapboards have been painted, and the porches are being rebuilt.