Trinity Methodist Church, Springfield, Mass

Trinity Methodist Church on Bridge Street in Springfield, probably sometime in the 1870s. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

Trinity Methodist Church was established in 1844 with about 40 members, many of whom had left the Union Street Methodist Church. The following year, the congregation moved into its first building, which was located on Pynchon Street, across the street from where City Hall is now located. However, as the city grew in the mid-19th century, so did the church membership, and within less than 25 years the Pynchon Street building had become too small for the church.

In 1869, Trinity Methodist relocated to this building here on Bridge Street, as shown in the first photo. Its exterior featured a Romanesque-style design, which was the work of local architectural firm Perkins and Gardner, and it measured 122 feet long and 74 feet wide, with a steeple that rose 185 feet above the street. The entire cost, including the land, was $73,000, which is equivalent to about $1.4 million today. By 1883, the membership had grown to 447 people, and the church also had a Sunday school that was staffed by 38 teachers, and had 377 students.

However, for such a large, elegant church, this site was a rather unusual location, tucked away on a side street with commercial buildings on one side and modest houses on the other. As downtown Springfield continued to grow, the church would become increasingly out of place here on Bridge Street. By the turn of the 20th century, it was the only church on or near Main Street in the mile between Court Square to the south and Memorial Square to the north, with the rest of this corridor becoming almost exclusively commercial.

Around the same time, residents were beginning to move away from the city center. Trolleys, and later automobiles, made it easy for people to live on the outskirts of the city and commute into downtown, and by the mid 20th century many of the downtown churches had followed their parishioners into the suburbs. Among these was Trinity Methodist, which moved out of this building on Bridge Street in the early 1920s, and into a new Neo-Gothic church that still stands on Sumner Avenue, in the city’s Forest Park neighborhood.

The Bridge Street church was demolished in 1922, barely 50 years after its completion, and it was replaced by a three-story commercial block. Named the Trinity Block in recognition of its predecessor, it still stands today, and it is visible on the right side of the 2018 photo. The only other historic building in the present-day scene is the Fuller Block, on the left side of the photo. It was completed in 1887, and both it and the Trinity Block are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

68-76 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The houses at 68 and 76 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These two houses were both constructed in 1871, and although they were originally separate buildings, they have since been joined by a one-story walkway that is partially visible in both photos. The house on the left, at 68 Elliot Street, was the work of local architect James M. Currier, and it is perhaps the finest surviving Gothic-style house in the city. It was originally the home of Warner F. Sturtevant, a merchant who was a partner in the wholesale grocery firm of Downing & Sturtevant. The 1880 census shows him living here with his wife Julia and their three children, along with two servants.

In the meantime, the house on the right, at 76 Elliot Street, was built around the same time, but with a somewhat different architectural style. Designed by the firm of Perkins and Gardner, it had some Gothic-style details, such as the steeply-pointed dormer windows, but it also featured a Second Empire-style mansard roof. The original owner of the house was William L. Wilcox, a stove manufacturer and dealer. The 1875 city directory includes an advertisement for his business, W. L. Wilcox & Co., which was located at 140 State Street and was described as “Manufacturers and Dealers in Stoves, Ranges and Furnaces, Iron Sinks, Farmers’ Boilers, Refrigerators, and Housekeeping Goods generally. Dealers in the celebrated Richmond Range and Vindicator Cook Stove, Hydraulic Cement Drain and Sewer Tubing, all sizes.” During the 1880 census, he was living here with his wife Emma, their daughter, and a servant.

Both families continued to live in these houses for many years. William L. Wilcox died in 1890, but the other members of both families were still here during the 1900 census. By this point, Warner F. Sturtevant was still a wholesale grocer, this time with the firm of Sturtevant, Merrick & Co., and he was living here with Julia, two daughters, a granddaughter, and two servants. On the right, the widowed Emma was 67 years old, and she lived here with her daughter, E. Lillian Kirkham, and Lillian’s husband J. Stuart Kirkham. Stuart had evidently taken over his father-in-law’s business, because he was a stove merchant of the firm of Whitcomb, Kirkham & Gray, which was located at the same address at 140 State Street.

Emma Wilcox died later in 1900, and both families appear to have moved out of these houses by 1902. The Sturtevants subsequently moved into a house in the McKnight neighborhood, at 1064 Worthington Street, and the Kirkhams moved to Forest Park, to a new house at 107 Maplewood Terrace. Around the same time, these two houses were acquired by the Diocese of Springfield. They were adjacent to the church property, which by this point had grown to include St. Joseph’s Normal School, St. Michael’s School, a high school, a rectory, St. Luke’s Sanitarium, and St. Michael’s Cathedral, all on the south side of Elliot Street between here and State Street. The former Wilcox house on the right was converted into the diocesan chancery, while the Sturtevant house became the residence of the bishop.

The first to occupy the house was Thomas D. Beaven, who served as bishop from 1892 until 1920. At some point during his time here, he added the walkway between the two houses. Otherwise, though, the exteriors appear to have undergone few changes in the early 20th century. By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, 68 Elliot Street was the home of Beaven’s successor, Thomas M. O’Leary, who served from 1921 until 1949. The house still had its Gothic-style ornamentation at the time, although some of this would be lost later in the 20th century.

Today, these two buildings remain in use as the bishop’s residence and the chancery office. Aside from losing some of the exterior details, there have been some minor changes to 68 Elliot Street, including the enclosed porch on the left side. Overall, though, the building have remained well-preserved, and they are contributing properties in the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Third Congregational Church, New Haven, Connecticut (2)

The former Third Congregational Church, on Church Street in New Haven, in 1903. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The Second National Bank of New Haven on the same site, around 1918. Image from A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918).

The scene in 2018:

As discussed in the previous post, the Third Congregational Church was established in 1826, and was located in several different buildings over the next three decades. In 1856, the church moved into this new building on Church Street, opposite the New Haven Green. It was designed by architect Sidney Mason Stone, and the exterior featured a Romanesque-style design that would become popular for churches during the second half of the 19th century. The congregation worshiped here until 1884, when the church merged with the nearby United Church, which still stands on the Green.

In 1890, the vacant church was purchased by the city, and the interior was converted into the first long-term home of the New Haven Free Public Library. At some point before the first photo was taken, a new, much shorter steeple was also added to the building, although it does not seem clear whether this happened before of after it became a library. Because it was designed as a church, though, it proved inadequate as a library. At the time, most libraries had closed stacks, which required patrons to specifically request materials at the circulation desk. However, the limitations of this building resulted in open stacks. This allowed the general public to browse all of the collections, but it also meant that a number of books went missing during the two decades that this building was in use.

The city finally completed a new library building in 1911, which is still standing today at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets. Around the same time, the old building here on Church Street was purchased by the Second National Bank of New Haven, and was subsequently demolished. The bank then constructed an eight-story office building on the site, which was designed by the architectural firm of Starrett & van Vleck and completed in 1913. The first photo was taken a few years later, and was published in A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County. According to this book, it was the second-largest of New Haven’s ten banks, with a headquarters here on Church Street that was described as “the finest banking and office building in the city.”

The Second National Bank had its offices here in this building throughout much of the 20th century, but in 1978 it was renamed Colonial Bank and moved to Waterbury. The company would subsequently go through a series of mergers, eventually becoming part of BankBoston, Fleet Bank, and finally Bank of America. In the meantime, though, the former Second National building is still standing here on Church Street, with few changes since the second photo was taken. It remains in use as an office building, and its current tenants include the New Haven newsroom of NBC Connecticut.

Third Congregational Church, New Haven, Connecticut

Third Congregational Church, on Church Street in New Haven, around 1863-1869. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

New Haven’s Third Congregational Church was established in 1826, and was originally comprised of 29 members from the city’s two other congregational churches. They worshiped in temporary quarters on Orange Street for several years, before moving into a new church building in 1829, at the corner of Church and Union Streets. However, less than a decade the congregation lost this building due to financial difficulties, but subsequently built a new one on Court Street in 1841.

Third Congregational moved again in 1856, to this prominent site on Church Street, where it faced the other two congregational churches from across the New Haven Green. It stood directly adjacent to the Exchange Building, a brick, four-story commercial block that is partially visible on the right side of the photo. The Romanesque-style design of the church was the work of noted local architect Sidney Mason Stone, and it was constructed at a total cost of $53,000, which included $16,000 for the land.

This building was used by the church until 1884, when the congregation merged with the United Church on the other side of the Green. Then, in 1890, the former Third Congregational building was converted into the first long-term home of the New Haven Free Public Library, which had previously been housed in the second floor of a building on Chapel Street. Here, the library became an early example of an open stacks layout, where patrons could freely browse through the books. However, this was not necessarily done for philosophical reasons, but rather out of practicality, as the building proved inadequate as a library.

It did not take long for the library to outgrow this building, and in 1906 the city received a gift of $300,000 from Mary E. Ives to build a new library. Construction began in 1908, and it was completed in 1911, at the corner of Elm and Temple Streets. The old church-turned-library was demolished soon after, in order to build the eight-story Second National Bank of New Haven. This building was completed in 1913, and it is still standing today, in the center of the 2018 photo. However, the only building that has survived from the first photo is the Exchange Building, which has remained relatively unchanged on the right side of the scene, at the corner of Church and Chapel Streets.

New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut (3)

Looking east on the New Haven Green, from near the corner of Temple and Chapel Streets in New Haven, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo was taken from about the same spot – and presumably on the same day – as the one in the previous post, although this one shows the view looking toward Church Street on the eastern edge of the New Haven Green. Like the scene in the previous post, this view underwent dramatic changes within about a decade after the first photo was taken. The city saw rapid growth at the turn of the 20th century, with the population more than doubling between 1880 and 1910, and this helped to spur several major redevelopment projects that replaced older buildings here along the Green.

Beginning on the left side of the first photo is City Hall, an ornate High Victorian Gothic-style building that was completed in 1861. To the right of it, at the corner of Court Street, was a three-story building that housed Heublein’s Cafe. This restaurant was owned by Gilbert Heublein, a prominent food and beverage distributor who later built the Heublein Tower in Simsbury. Further to the right, in the center of the photo, was the Tontine Hotel, which was built in the 1820s, and on the far right side was the former Third Congregational Church. Built in 1856, it served as a church until 1884, when its congregation merged with the United Church. In 1890, it became the home of the New Haven Free Public Library, and it was used until the current library building opened in 1911.

The most significant change to this scene came soon after the first photo was taken. In the early 1910s, both the Tontine Hotel and the former Third Congregational Church were demolished to make way for two new buildings. On the left side, the Tontine Hotel was replaced with a new post office and federal courthouse, which was constructed between 1913 and 1919. Just to the right of it, the site of the church became the Second National Bank of New Haven, with an eight-story building that was completed in 1913. Today, both of these are still standing, but the only surviving buildings from the first photo are City Hall on the far left, and the Exchange Building, which is partially visible on the extreme right side of both photos.

St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Connecticut

St. Mary’s Church, on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, around 1918. Image from A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County (1918).

The church in 2018:

St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Catholic parish in New Haven, having been established in 1832. Its first permanent location was on York Street, but later moved to Church Street. However, in the early 1870s the growing parish began constructing a new building here on Hillhouse Avenue, in the midst of an upscale, largely Protestant neighborhood. The stone, Gothic-style church was dedicated in 1874, and it was the work Irish-born architect James Murphy, who specialized in designing Catholic churches across New England. Murphy’s other churches included the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, which was constructed around the same time and features a design that is very similar to St. Mary’s here in New Haven.

Perhaps the most notable event here at this church came in 1882, when curate Michael McGivney established the Knights of Columbus. This organization, which served as a Catholic alternative to fraternal societies such as Freemasonry, was intended to provide support for the working-class immigrants of the parish, particularly for widows and orphans. It began here in the basement of the church, but it soon spread around the country, and today has a membership of nearly 2 million. However, the Knights of Columbus are still headquartered in New Haven, albeit in a much larger building, and Father McGivney’s remains are interred here in the church.

A century after the first photo was taken, St. Mary’s Church is still standing, and it is still an active Roman Catholic parish. Over the years, its surroundings have changed as Yale University steadily expanded its campus northward along Hillhouse Avenue, but the exterior of the church still looks much the same as it did when it was completed. The only significant difference is the spire at the top of the tower. Although designed with a spire, the church did not have one until 1986, when the Knights of Columbus donated one that matched Murphy’s original plans.