Court Square, Springfield (2)

Shown below is a 1909 photo of Court Square looking east, taken at the same time as the photo in my previous post. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

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Fast-forwarding 103 years to 2012, the scene has changed dramatically.

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Unlike in the photo of the south and west ends of Court Square, these photos of the west (and a little bit of the north) sides of Court Square have almost nothing in common.  The old Chicopee Bank building, seen in the 2012 photo on the far right, is barely visible behind the tree on the right-hand side of the 1909 photo, and the Miles Morgan and Civil War monuments in Court Square are still there.  But other than that, everything else has changed, with the most notable difference being the MassMutual Center. Built in 1972 as the Civic Center, it replaced several city blocks, including the buildings in the center of the 1909 photo, although some of those were long gone before 1972.  Among the buildings seen in the 1909 view is the old Springfield Republican building, which is the tall building just to the left of center along Main Street.

Court Square, Springfield (1)

Here’s an interesting photo of Court Square, taken in 1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

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From the same angle, taken in 2012:

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Notice the difference? Because there isn’t a whole lot that has changed along the south and west sides of Court Square in the past century.  In fact, other than cosmetic changes to some of the fountains and such in Court Square, the only real difference is the added wing of the old Hampden County Courthouse, which is visible in the 2012 photo just behind and to the left of the church.  In the 1909 photo, if you look close, you can see the construction for the wing, but at this point when the photo had been taken, it had not yet been completed.

The prominent building in the center of both photos is the former Court Square Hotel.  Built in 1892, it was added on to in 1900, with the sixth floor being added, along with the right-hand part of the building (the front facade used to be symmetrical until the addition).  Just to the left of it is a small brick building, barely visible behind the gazebo in the 2012 photo.  This building, known as Byers Block, was built in 1835 and is the only surviving one of a number of identical buildings that used to run along Elm Street in the mid 19th century.  The oldest building in both photos, however, is Old First Church.  Built in 1819, it was nearly 100 when the old photo was taken, and externally still looks essentially the same today.

Corner of State & Maple, Springfield

The view from Chestnut Street looking across State Street toward the corner of Maple Street, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same scene in 2012:

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The first photo shows several important Springfield buildings. Starting in the distant left is the old Central High School, which later became Classical High School. To the right of it is the old Springfield High School, then the Church of the Unity, and finally, the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company building. This building, completed just a few years earlier in 1905, was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns, and is an excellent example of classical revival architecture in Springfield.

Today, Classical High School is still standing, with a new wing that was added in 1922 after the old high school building next to it was demolished. The school itself closed in 1986, and the building was converted into condominiums. The Church of the Unity was demolished in 1961 to make room for an apartment complex that was ultimately never built, and today it is a parking lot opposite the Springfield City Library. The only building that has remained unchanged from the first photo is the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company building. For many years it was used as offices for the Springfield School Department, but it is currently vacant. Because of its historical and architectural significance, though, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.