Maple Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Maple Street from Union Street in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892)

Maple Street in 2017:


These two photos, taken 125 years apart, show he changes that Maple Street underwent in the early 20th century. For most of the 1800s, the lower part of Maple Street was an upscale residential area, primarily with large, single-family homes. Several of these can be seen in the first photo, including one in front of the church, and another one just beyond it. However, as the city grew, these homes were steadily replaced with large apartment buildings. The building just to the left of the church, at the corner of Maple and Temple Streets, was built in 1906, and was followed about 20 years later by the apartment building on the right side of the photo. The most recent building in this scene is Chestnut Towers, visible on the far left. This 240-unit, 34-story apartment building was completed in 1976 at the corner of State and Chestnut Streets, and it is the tallest residential building in the city.

Today, the only surviving building from the first photo is South Congregational Church. It was designed by prominent architect William Appleton Potter, and was completed in 1875, replacing an earlier South Congregational Church that had stood several blocks away on Bliss Street. Some of Springfield’s most prominent residents attended this church, including many of those who lived in the nearby mansions. Despite the many changes to the neighborhood over the years, though, the church has remained as an important landmark. It is one of the city’s finest architectural works, and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

23-25 George Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 23-25 George Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2016:

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This apartment building was built around the 1880s or 1890s in Springfield’s Maple Hill neighborhood. At the time, the area mainly consisted of large, elegant single-family homes for some of the city’s most prominent residents. This building was an exception, though, and its early 20th century tenants were predominantly blue collar workers. From the 1910 through 1940 censuses, the building appears to have had four apartments, and housed a variety of families. Some were immigrants, including people from Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Turkey. Many worked as skilled laborers in the city’s factories, including some who worked at the Armory.

By the 1940 census, shortly after the first photo was taken, there were four families living here. There were two married couples who lived alone, another couple who lived here with the wife’s brother, and an older widow who lived here with her personal nurse. Three of these families paid $30 in monthly rent, while the fourth paid $65. The four occupations listed, aside from the nurse, were a toolmaker in a radio factory, a machinist in a factory, a president of a life insurance company, and a president of a lumber company.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, the building now consists of six apartment units. However, the exterior is remarkably unchanged. The front porch is probably not original to the building, although it looks basically the same as it did in the 1930s, aside from the addition of a satellite dish. The house, along with the rest of the east side of George Street, is just outside the boundary of the Ames and Crescent Hill Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is located within the city’s Maple Hill Local Historic District.

The Linden, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking south on Main Street from the corner of Sheldon Street, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

The scene in 2016:

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This view shows some of the same buildings as an earlier post, just from a different angle a block away. The building in the foreground here is The Linden, a Romanesque-style apartment building that was completed in 1891. Most of the other buildings in the distance beyond it are still standing, including the Hotel Capitol, built in 1875 a block away, and the South Congregational Church, completed in 1827. The only building not still standing from the first photo is the South Baptist Church on the far right. It was built in 1854 and demolished to build the present Central Baptist Church. Today, most of the buildings in this scene are part of the Buckingham Square Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Main Street and Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut

Looking north on Main Street from near the corner of Capitol Avenue, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.

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The scene in 2016:

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Very little has changed along this section of Main Street, which is part of the Buckingham Square Historic District. It consists of a number of historic buildings from the late 1800s, including several in this view. On the left is the Hotel Capitol, which was built in 1875, and on the other side of Capitol Avenue, in the center of the photos, are two slightly newer buildings. The yellow brick one to the left was built in 1895 by hotel owners Gilbert and Louis Heublein, and the one on the right is the Linden, which was built in 1891 as an upscale apartment building. The only building from the first photo that is no longer standing is the South Baptist Church in the distance on the right. Built in 1854 at the corner of Main and Elm, it was demolished in the 1920s after the congregation merged with another Baptist church. They formed the Central Baptist Church, which opened the present-day building on the same location in 1926.

Cushman Hall, Monson, Mass

Cushman Hall on Main Street in Monson, around 1904-1920. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The building in 2015:

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This former dormitory is the last surviving purpose-built structure from the old Monson Academy, which operated here in Monson from 1804 until it merged with Wilbraham Academy in 1971 and moved to their campus.  Its construction in 1904 was funded by Thaddeus L. Cushman, and it was named in honor of his nephew, Frank Chapin Cushman, who died the year before at the age of 16.

After the school merger, the former dormitory became an apartment building, and it remains in use today.  The 2011 tornado destroyed two of the last three surviving academy buildings, and directly across the street from Cushman Hall the Town Hall/former Monson High School building was damaged beyond repair.  However, Cushman Hall sustained minimal damage, and today it is still an excellent reminder of the town’s educational history.

25 Mattoon Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 25 Mattoon Street, seen around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is a little different from the rest of the houses on the south side of Mattoon Street. It was built in 1891, making it the newest on that side of the street. Unlike all of the others, it was built as an apartment building, and its Romanesque architecture is very different from the rest of the street. It is also known as the Yadow Building, because of the somewhat enigmatic “Yadow” inscription in the center of the parapet, and it is part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.