Willis H. Sanburn House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 78 Riverview Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This elegant Tudor Revival house was built in 1912 for Willis H. Sanburn, a businessman who was originally from Illinois. He and is wife Maud moved to Springfield in 1894 when they were in their mid-20s, and Willis began working as a bookkeeper for the Strathmore Paper Company in West Springfield. He soon advanced in the company, becoming a superintendent, then assistant treasurer, and eventually treasurer in 1918. Along with Maud, he lived here with their son Justus, who graduated from MIT the same year that the family built this house. After graduation, he began working as a chemist for Strathmore, and in 1915 he married his wife, Marion.

By the 1920 census, Justus and Marion were living in their own house on Florentine Gardens. Willis died in 1924, but Maud was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s. She remained here until her death in the 1950s, and the house was subsequently sold. Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, though, very little has changed in the house’s appearance, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Yerrall House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 88 Maplewood Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


George Yerrall was born in England in 1860, but he immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1866. In 1882, he married Anna Wood, a Springfield native, and the couple had two children, George Jr. and William. They moved into this Tudor-style house after it was built in 1905, where they enjoyed a prominent location at the corner of Maplewood Terrace and Randolph Street. At the time, George worked as a banker and railroad executive, serving as clerk and treasurer of the Connecticut River Railroad.

George Yerrall, Jr. became a real estate broker, and he lived here with his parents until his marriage in 1915. His younger brother William became a lawyer, and continued living in this house into the 1930s. Anna died in 1938, right around the time that the first photo was taken, but George remained here until his own death in 1945, about 40 years after he first moved in. Since then, the house has remained well-preserved. It is an excellent example of early 20th century Tudor Revival architecture, and it is part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

John A. Hall House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 26 Ridgewood Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This area between Union and Mulberry Streets was once the home of Colonel James M. Thompson, who built a mansion here in 1853. It was situated on a large, beautifully landscaped lot that offered views of downtown Springfield, the Connecticut River, and beyond. Colonel Thompson died in 1884, and about a decade later his widow sold the property to William McKnight, the developer of the city’s McKnight neighborhood. He subdivided the lot, demolished the old mansion, and built a number of upscale houses along Union Street, Mulberry Street, Ridgewood Place, and Ridgewood Terrace.

The Tudor Revival-style house in these two photos was one of the finest in the development. Like almost all of the other Ridgewood homes, it was designed by G. Wood Taylor, an architect who was also McKnight’s son-in-law. It was completed in 1896, and its first owner was John A. Hall, the president of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. Born in New York in 1840, Hall had come to Springfield during the Civil War to work in the Armory. After the war, he began working for MassMutual, and despite no prior experience in the insurance industry he soon advanced in the company, eventually becoming secretary in 1881 and then president in 1895.

John Hall married his wife Frances while he was still working at the Armory, and they had two children, Clara and John, Jr. All four of the family members were living in this house during the 1900 census, along with three servants. However, John died in 1908 while traveling overseas in London, and this house was subsequently sold. Two years later, his son committed suicide at the Maplewood Hotel in Pittsfield, at the age of 30. According to contemporary newspaper accounts, he had called a barber to his hotel room for a shave, asked the barber to see the razor, and then used it to cut his throat.

In the meantime, the new owner of this house was Albert Steiger, the founder of the Springfield-based Steiger’s department store. Steiger had immigrated from Germany to the United States as young boy in 1868, and when he was a teenager he began working for a dry goods merchant in Westfield. At the age of 28, he opened his own store in Port Chester, New York. This business was successful, and in 1896 he opened a second store in Holyoke, followed by a third in New Bedford in 1903. Then, in 1906, he opened what would become his flagship store in Springfield, at the corner of Main and Hillman Streets.

Despite competition from other, more established nearby department stores such as Forbes & Wallace, Steiger’s became successful, and just a few years after opening the store Albert Steiger moved into this mansion on Ridgewood Terrace. He and his wife Izetta had five sons, Ralph, Phillip, Chauncey, Robert, and Albert, Jr. All of them went on to work for their father’s company, and the two youngest also served in World War I. In the meantime, the company continued to expand, opening a store in Hartford in 1919, and by 1924 his stores were bringing in some $15 million in annual sales, equal to over $200 million in today’s dollars.

Albert Steiger lived here until his death in 1938, right around the time that the first photo was taken. In the 1940 census, his son Ralph was living here, along with Robert and Albert, Jr. However, by the early 1950s it was sold and converted into the Ring Nursing Home. It was in use as a nursing home until the 1990s, and has since been converted into a group home for children. Despite all of these changes, though, both the house and the surrounding area have remained well-preserved. Nearly all of the homes that McKnight built here are still standing, and now form the city’s Ridgewood Local Historic District.

Edwin S. Gardner House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 250 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

Edwin S. Gardner was a lawyer who, for many years, lived in a fine house on Ridgewood Place. However, in 1928 he and his wife Harriet, along with their children Mary and Edwin, Jr., moved into this house. Designed by John Barnard and built at a cost of $48,000, it was a significant step up from their earlier home, not to mention the sweeping views of the city and the surrounding landscape. The Tudor Revival style was popular during this time period, and a number of such homes were built here on Maple Street. Many of them, including this one, are so well-designed that they seem as though they would fit in better on an English country estate than here in a New England city.

The Gardners did not remain in the house for to long, though. By the mid-1930s they had significantly downsized and were living elsewhere, perhaps as a result of the Great Depression. In their place, the house was owned by Ida Day, the widow of Robert W. Day, who had been the president of the United Electric Light Company. She lived here with her son Winsor and his wife Sarah, although Sarah died in 1938, around the time that the first photo was taken. Ida died in 1942, and Winsor left the house soon after and moved to the Forest Park neighborhood.

In 1977, the house became part of the Ames/Crescent Hill Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. Very little has changed with its exterior, and the house survived the June 1, 2011 tornado. Today, it stands among many other late 19th and early 20th century mansions that overlook the city from atop the hill.

Frederic M. Jones House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 327 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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Many of the early 20th century mansions on Maple Street were built in the popular Tudor Revival style of the era, including this one, which was built in 1914. At the time, Maple Street was home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents, and this house was the home of Frederic M. Jones, a banker who was the president of Springfield’s Third National Bank. By 1920, he was living here with his wife Florence and their six year old daughter Emily. The family of three was joined here by an equal number of servants, all of whom were immigrants from Sweden. A decade later in 1930, the family was still living here, this time with two servants, and the house was valued at $58,700, or over $850,000 in today’s dollars.

Frederic and Florence still lived in the house when the first photo was taken. He died in 1946, and Florence owned the property until her own death in 1964. Nearly 80 years after this photo was taken, very little has changed in the house’s exterior appearance. It remains a single-family home, and is an excellent surviving example of the early 20th century mansions on Maple Street. It provides an interesting contrast to the Julius Appleton House, its neighbor to the left. Although built only a few decades earlier, this stick-style mansion represents a dramatic difference in architectural tastes of the era. Today, both houses are part of the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

353 Maple Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at the corner of Maple and Pine Streets in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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This Tudor Revival mansion on Maple Street was built in 1899, and was the home of Henry G. Chapin, who lived here with his wife Susie, their children Katherine and Russell, and three servants. Henry was a Harvard graduate who worked as the secretary and later treasurer of the Chapin and Gould Paper Company. He lived here until 1917, when he was killed in a car accident on Allen Street, at the age of 57.

By 1920, the house was owned by Ambia C. Harris. She was the daughter of Daniel L. Harris, who had been a prominent civil engineer, railroad executive, and mayor of Springfield in the 19th century. Ambia never married, and spent much of her life at her parents’ house at the corner of Chestnut and Pearl Streets, but moved here to Maple Street when she was close to 60 years old. In the 1920 census, she was living here alone, except for two servants.

Ambia Harris died in 1925, and by 1930 her niece Corrine was living here with her husband, Frederick L. Everett, and their two teenage daughters, Jane and Sarah. Frederick was a physician, and their house was valued at $25,000, which was a considerable sum in the midst of the Great Depression. At the time, they also employed two live-in servants, Jane and Charles Long. They were a married couple who had immigrated from Scotland in 1907, and they worked as a butler and a cook.

Frederick and Corrine were still living here when the first photo was taken, but they died in 1948 and 1949, respectively. Their mansion is no longer a single-family home, although it still stands as one of the many historic 19th century homes on Maple Street. From this angle, the only significant change has been the front porches, which are now enclosed. Like the other houses in the area, it is located within the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the city’s somewhat overlapping Maple Hill Local Historic District.