Henry H. Skinner House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 303 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2016:

This shingle-style mansion at the corner of Maple Street and Maple Court was built sometime in the 1880s or early 1890s, and was the home of Henry H. Skinner, a prominent banker and businessman. His lengthy resume included serving as a director for a number of manufacturing companies and railroads, and starting in 1920 he was also the president of the Hendee Manufacturing Company, the makers of Indian motorcycles.

Henry married Gertrude Parsons in 1886, and the couple probably moved into this house soon after. They never had any children, but they were certainly not alone in the house, regularly employing multiple servants. In the 1900 census, three Irish servants lived here, and confusingly enough, all were named Mary. Gertrude died in 1907 at the age of 42, and was buried in a large plot in Springfield Cemetery, with Henry hiring the famous Olmsted Brothers, the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the landscaping. Following her death, Henry continued here on Maple Street until his own death in 1923, and was buried alongside her in their cemetery plot.

Henry’s sister Jennie inherited the house, and she lived here with her husband William A. Baldwin, an educator who had served as principal of the Hyannis State Normal School on Cape Cod. He died in 1936, and Jennie owned the property until 1951, a few years before her death in 1954. However, she does not appear to have lived in the house since the 1930s, and it seems to have been vacant by the 1940 census. It was demolished sometime before 1971, when the current apartments were built on the site. Today, the only remnant left from the first photo is the rusty fence on the right side of the property.

Maple Street Homes, Springfield Mass

Several homes on Maple Street in Springfield, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same view in 2014:


Around the turn of the last century, Maple Street was one of the best places in Springfield to live. This side of the street was particularly desirable, because of the view looking toward downtown Springfield and across the Connecticut River. Today, that isn’t the case. Although the view is still there, it is no longer one of the city’s premier residential areas, and the two mansions in the first photo no longer exist.

Located directly across the street from the former MacDuffie School campus, this area was right in the path of the June 1, 2011 tornado that tore across western Massachusetts. These houses, however, were gone long before then.  The one on the right was at the time the home of businessman and city library president Nathan D. Bill, and was built in the 1880s as the Andrew Fennessy House. It was destroyed in a suspicious fire in 1969, after having been vacant for several years. Today, only the concrete driveway is still there, and can be seen better on Google Maps. The house just beyond it was built in 1882 and belonged to Walter H. Wesson, the son of Daniel Wesson, co-founder of Smith & Wesson. In 1982, this historic house was also heavily damaged in a fire, and was subsequently demolished.