William Quinnell House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 131 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This house was built in 1886, at the height of the popularity of Queen Anne-style architecture, and the exterior shows a variety of common elements, including a polygonal turret on the corner. It was originally the home of William Quinnell, a merchant who sold “artistic household goods,” including stained glass, brass fixtures, china, pottery, chandeliers, and a variety of other household novelties. He had previously traveled across Europe as a buyer for Tiffany & Co., but in 1884 he opened his store on Main Street in Springfield. It was good timing, because he arrived just as the McKnight neighborhood was being developed, and his merchandise presumably made its way into his home and many other upscale houses that were built here in the following years.

Quinnell died in 1902, and by the 1910 census this house was home to two different families. It was owned by Almon Chapman, a contractor who lived here with his wife Lucy, but they also rented part of the house to Sarah Clark and two of her adult sons, Edwin and George. Both families would remain here for several more decades. Almon died in 1925, but by the 1930 census Lucy was still living in the house. During that year, it was valued at $10,000, and Sarah and Edwin paid $25 in monthly rent. Lucy died in three years later, and by 1940 the Clarks were no longer living here. The house remained a two-family home, though, and today it is essentially unchanged from its original exterior appearance. Like the other houses in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Herbert Myrick House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 151 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This house was built in 1886, and was originally the home of Herbert Myrick, who was for many years the president and editor-in-chief of the Phelps Publishing Company. He was born in 1860 in Arlington, Massachusetts, but at the age of 12 he and his father moved to Colorado, where Herbert worked in a newspaper office. Living in a primarily rural area, he gained a good understanding of agriculture as well as the printing industry, and his later career would reflect both of these interests.

Myrick returned to Massachusetts in 1877, and the following year he enrolled in the Massachusetts Agricultural College, the school that later became UMass Amherst. To help pay his tuition, he took on a variety of jobs, including writing a weekly column for the New England Homestead, which was published by the Phelps Publishing Conpany in Springfield. In exchange, he received a free copy of the paper, along with a salary of $1 per month. He soon advanced in the company, though, and upon his graduation in 1882 he became the agricultural editor of the Homestead.

In 1885, he married his wife Elvira, and a year later they moved into his house. Over the next eight years, they had three children, Christine, Helen, and Donald, and during this time Herbert’s career continued to advance. In 1890, he became the president and editor-in-chief of the company, and he oversaw the publication of a number of magazines. Along with the Homestead, other titles included Farm and Home, American Agriculturalist, and the Orange Judd Farmer. From 1900 to 1911, under Myrick’s leadership, the company also published Good Housekeeping.

By the first decade of the 1900s, the company was printing nearly two million periodicals per month at their facility on Worthington Street. From here, these publications were mailed to subscribers across the country, with the company generating more mail than the rest of the city combined. Myrick would remain as he president of the Phelps Publishing Company until his death in 1927, and during his career he also wrote a number of books on farming-related topics, along with advocating for the creation of the federal Farm Credit System.

Myrick and his family had moved out of this house sometime in the 1910s, and by 1920 they were living on Stony Hill Road in Wilbraham. Subsequent owners of their house here on Bowdoin Street included Jeremiah H. Jones, a lawyer who was living here with his wife Blanche and their two children in 1920. The first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and it is now one of many well-preserved and restored Victorian homes in the neighborhood. Its exterior looks the same as it did nearly 80 years ago, and probably not much different as it did when Herbert Myrick lived here. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hildreth House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 157 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Built in 1887, this house was originally owned by a Mr. Hildreth, although his first name seems to be difficult to track down in the historical record. By 1900, it was owned by William Nevins, who was the treasurer and eventual president of the Springfield Printing and Binding Company. At the time, he lived here with his wife Nellie and their two sons, although by 1910 they had moved elsewhere. The house was subsequently owned by another printer, Cummings Lothrop, who was the assistant manager of the Springfield Printing and Binding Company. He lived here with his wife Elnore, but they were also living elsewhere by the next census.

In 1920, the house was owned by Thomas and Mary Fitzgerald, and they lived here with their six children. Thomas was an engineer who was, at the time, the vice president of the Sturdi-Truck Manufacturing Company in Holyoke. A few years later, he and his brother started their own company, the Fitzgerald Forging and Heat Treating Company. He died sometime before the 1930 census, but Mary was still living here, along with most of the children, all of whom were adults by that point.

Since then, the exterior of the house has remained well-preserved, and looks essentially the same as it did when the first photo was taken in the 1930s. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lydia T. Conner House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 163 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939 and 2017. Historic image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Lydia T. Conner was the widow of William Conner, a businessman who worked in the insurance industry for many years, including 15 years as the first secretary of the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company. He died in 1880, and in 1887 Lydia had this house built in the new, fashionable McKnight neighborhood. She lived here with her only child, also named William, until her death in 1903. William never married, and died in 1914 at the age of 65, with “chronic alcoholism” being listed as a contributing factor in his death certificate.

By the 1920 census, the home was owned by Thomas and Harriet Downs, who lived here with three adult children, three grandchildren, and Harriet’s sister. Thomas worked as a pressman for a printing company, and his son Frank also worked as a printer, while his daughter Madeline was a stenographer. He was still living here in 1930, although the house was far less crowded at this point. Harriet had died in 1928, and by 1930 the only other residents were Madeline, who at this point was on a different career path as a dietitian, and his 21 year old grandson Robert, who was continuing the family tradition as a printer.

In 1940, shortly after the first photo was taken, the house was crowded again. It was owned by Katherine Leonard, a 60 year old Irish immigrant who lived here with four of her siblings and her brother-in-law, plus a lodger. Since then, almost nothing has changed in the exterior of the house. It is still a single-family home, and is well-maintained on the outside, with a multicolor paint scheme that emphasizes the Queen Anne details. Like the other houses in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Loring House, Springfield, Massachusetts

The house at 175 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This house, completed in 1885, is about a decade older than most of the surrounding homes of Bowdoin Street, and both the house and the lot itself are much larger than many of the neighbors. It was originally the home of Charles and Elizabeth Loring and their two daughters, Violet and Ethel. Elizabeth died in 1894, and Charles remained here until 1903, when the house was listed for sale in the Springfield Republican. It was sold to Horatio and Carrie Bellows, who by 1910 were living here with their three children, plus Carrie’s mother Melissa and two servants.

Carrie, Melissa, and two of the children were still living here in 1920, but by the 1930s the building had been converted into a convalescent home for children. Several decades later, it became a nursing home, and was used as such for many years. At some point after hevfirst photo was taken, the exterior of the house underwent some changes, including the one-story addition to the right side. Along with this, much of the Queen Anne detail was lost when the original clapboards were replaced with asbestos shingles, although the front porch remains mostly unchanged. Despite these alterations, though, the house still stands as one of the oldest houses in this part of the neighborhood, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jesse Bailey House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 181 Bowdoin Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Built in 1894, this house was the home of Jesse H. Bailey, a bookkeeper who was originally from West Brookfield, Massachusetts. He and his wife Eliza were in their mid-30s when they moved into the house with their three children, Roscoe, Fred, and Clifford. However, Jesse did not live here for very long, because within a few years he found himself in the far less elegant accommodations of the York Street Jail. During his time as a bookkeeper, he had been the assignee of Spalding & Pepper, a bankrupt bicycle manufacturer in Chicopee, but was fired in early 1900. It was soon discovered that he had embezzled over $4,200, and after pleading guilty he was sentenced to five years in the county jail.

Eliza and the children were living in the house during the 1900 census, but the family’s troubles continued a year later, when 17 year old Fred died of heart disease. According to the 1910 city atlas, she still owned the house in 1910, but was apparently renting it to Arthur A. Birchard, who is listed here in that year’s census along with his wife Grace and their eight children, who ranged in age from 2 to 20. By 1920, it was owned by Mary Harrigan, a 49 year old widow who lived here with her three adult daughters. The house became a little more crowded by 1930, when two of her daughters were still here, plus her son-in-law and two grandchildren.

Mary Harrigan and her family were still living here when the first photo was taken, and very little has changed in the house’s appearance since then. It does not have the same multi-color paint scheme that it would have had in the 1930s, but most of the Queen Anne-style details are still there. The only significant difference is the first floor porch, which has lost its original posts and railings. Along with the other homes in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.