Maple Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Maple Street from the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, sometime around the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The scene in 2017:


In the second half of the 19th century, the section of lower Maple Street between State Street and Central Street featured some of the finest homes in the entire city. Most of these homes are now gone, but the first photo shows the street as it appeared around the turn of the 20th century, when many of Springfield’s prominent residents lived here. The four houses seen here, between Mulberry and Union Streets, were built in the late 1800s, and were, starting in the foreground, house numbers 127, 111, 95, and 89.

At the corner of Mulberry Street was 127 Maple Street, which was the home of Charles Marsh, the president of Pynchon National Bank. By the early 1900s, it was owned by James F. Bidwell, a tobacco dealer who held several municipal offices, including serving as a city alderman and as a water commissioner. To the left of his house was 111 Maple Street, the home of Eunice B. Smith, an elderly widow whose husband, David, had been a physician. The third house, 95 Maple Street, was the home of Eunice’s brother, James D. Brewer, and was later owned by his daughter Harriet and her husband, Dr. Luke Corcoran. The fourth house, 89 Maple Street, is barely visible at the corner of Union Street, and was the home of Henry A. Gould, a paper manufacturer.

All four of these homes survived well into the 20th century, but they were all demolished by 1965, when the current building was built on the site. It was originally offices for the Insurance Company of North America, but it was later sold to the Milton Bradley Company, who used it as their corporate offices. However, in 1984 Milton Bradley merged with Hasbro, and the following year its offices were moved to East Longmeadow, leaving this building vacant. In the early 1990s, it was sold to the city, expanded, and is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Robert G. Shumway House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 34 Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2017:


This house was one of many in Springfield that were designed and built by Simon Sanborn in the first half of the 19th century. Although not as grand in size or appearance as some of his other homes, such as the Alexander House, this house is one of his few surviving works. It was built in 1840, and features prominent Greek Revival-style portico, complete with four columns. The rear section of the house, with its Second Empire-style mansard roof, appears to have been added later, probably around the 1870s.

The original owner was John Bunker, who was a former ship captain. There is little available information about him or his time at this house, and by the late 1850s the house was owned by Robert G. Shumway, a jewelry manufacturer. He lived here with his wife Julia and their four daughters, Julia, Lucy, Helen, and Abby, until his death in 1880. However, the house remained in his family for many decades. His two younger daughters, Helen and Abby, never married, and they lived here together until Helen’s death in 1930. Abby was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and she remained here until her death in 1947 at the age of 87, some 90 years after her father had first purchased the home.

In the years since the first photo was taken, most of the surrounding homes have since been demolished, and the Milton Bradley School now takes up much of the block. The school’s parking lot surrounds the former Shumway property on three sides, but the old house still stands. Its exterior has not changed much in the past 80 years, and it still retains its unusual combination of a Greek Rrvival columned portico and a mansard roof. As the sign in the 2017 photo indicates, though, it is no longer a single-family home, and is instead used as a law office.

Guy Kirkham House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 145 Clarendon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood features many fine examples of late 19th century architecture, although virtually none were designed by architects of national significance. Instead, many of the homes were designed by local architects, including Guy Kirkham, who designed this house in 1892 and lived here for 17 years. He was born in 1864, and was the son of William Kirkham, a jeweler, and Harriet Merriam, who was the daughter of the famous Webster’s dictionary publisher Charles Merriam. William died when Guy was young, and Harriet remarried in 1877 to Charles Hosley.

Kirkham studied architecture at MIT, and after graduating in 1887 he apprenticed in Minneapolis and New York City, and then spent several years studying in Europe. In 1892, he returned to Springfield, married his wife Grace Dwight, and started his own architectural firm. That same year, he built this house, just around the corner from where his mother lived. This house would have been among his earliest works, and incorporates elements of Shingle-style architecture. He undoubtedly would have learned about this style while at MIT, since it was widely popular in the 1880s, especially in wealthy New England coastal resort communities.

This house was one of about ten that Kirkham designed in the McKnight neighborhood, but he also designed a number of other important buildings in Springfield, including the Hotel Worthy, the Howard Street School, the High School of Commerce, the Forest Park branch library, the old YMCA building at 122 Chestnut Street, and the current MassMutual headquarters on State Street. Most of his works were in Springfield, but he did design a few buildings in nearby towns, including libraries in Chicopee and Hadley, the Unitarian church in Northampton, and the gymnasium at Wilbraham-Monson Academy.

The Kirkhams lived at this house until 1909, when they moved into a new house nearby at 120 Clarendon Street, which he also designed. Their old house here was sold to Guy’s half brother, Walter Hosley, a physician who lived here for about a decade. By 1920, the house was owned by Raymond Wight, a paper company executive, and a decade later it was owned by Leiceser Warren, who was also involved in the paper business. Since then, there have been a few changes to the exterior, including the enclosed porch and a single, large gable over the dormer on the third floor. Otherwise, though, it is a well-preserved example of Shingle-style architecture, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elizabeth Adams House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 28 Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house on Ingersoll Grove in Springfield was built for Dr. Nathan Adams, a physician who died in 1888, shortly before the house was completed. However, his widow Elizabeth moved into the house and lived here for nearly 20 years, until her own death in 1908 at the age of 90. During this time, she was hardly alone in this big house, though. The 1900 census shows her living here with her son Lathom, daughter Ellen, Ellen’s husband John Egbert, and their four children. John was an Episcopalian minister who had, many years earlier, served as a curate at Christ Church in Springfield, where Dr. and Mrs. Adams were prominent members.

John Egbert died in 1905 at the age of 60, with the death certificate indicating “general paresis” as the cause of death. This condition is a psychiatric disorder usually caused by late-stage syphilis, and seems like a rather unusual cause of death for a clergyman. Two of John and Ellen’s children also died relatively young; William died of tuberculosis in 1901 at the age of 18, and Nathan died of an intestinal obstruction in 1913, at the age of 35. Ellen lived here along with her brother Nathan and daughter Ellen, until her death in 1917.

After being owned by the Adams family for over 30 years, the house was finally sold in the early 1920s, to James M. Gill. He was the son of James D. Gill, a prominent publisher and art dealer who later moved into the house across the street from here. The younger James was a businessman who started his career in the paper industry. He then entered the ice business, eventually becoming the president of the Springfield Ice Company. From 1913 to 1916 he served as the city’s police commissioner, and this experience gave him insight into yet another business opportunity. Recognizing the need for better handcuffs, he started the Peerless Handcuff Company in 1914 and served as the company president for many years. The company quickly became a leader in the industry, and is still in business over a century later.

James M. Gill lived in this house with his wife Josephine and their three children, Barbara, Clyde, and Marjorie. The two older children moved out in the 1930s, but Marjorie was still living here along with her parents when the first photo was taken. After James’s death in 1949, though, the house was sold. Like many other large homes in the neighborhood, it was divided up into multiple units in the early 1950s, and it later became a group home for deinstitutionalized patients from the Belchertown State School. However, it was subsequently restored as a single-family home, and today it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Kibbe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1030 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The house in 2017:


This Italianate-style home is the oldest in the city’s historic McKnight neighborhood, predating the area’s large-scale development by two decades. It was built around 1850, at a time when this section of Springfield was sparsely settled. A few of Springfield’s wealthy residents built estates on large lots here, including George Kibbe, who was the original owner of this house. He and his younger brother Horace were the owners of the Kibbe Brothers Company, a Springfield-based candy company that was, for many years, located in the Union Block at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. From here, they distributed candy to retailers throughout the region, utilizing horse-drawn wagons that traveled on regularly-scheduled routes across New England.

George Kibbe lived in this house for many years, along with his wife Sarah and their daughters Sarah and Georgiana. A third daughter, Emily, died in 1853 at the age of six, only a few years after the family moved into the house. During the time that the family lived here, the area began to undergo significant transformation. Land that had once been on the outskirts of the city became one of Springfield’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, and by the 1880s a number of other large mansions were built along this section of Worthington Street. George only lived to see the very beginning of these changes, though, because he died in 1882, at the age of 64.

After George Kibbe’s death, part of his land was subdivided and developed. Bowdoin Street was extended north through the property,and a number of new homes were built here by the late 1880s. Kibbe’s old house remained, though, and was sold to Sigmund Levison, a businessman who owned a prosperous millinery company in Springfield. He was born in Germany and came to the United States as a young man, where he worked for his uncle’s millinery company. After his uncle retired in 1879, Levison purchased the Springfield branch of the business and operated it for many years.

In 1894, Levison made some alterations to the house, bringing it more in line with architectural tastes of the era by adding the classical details that are now part of the exterior. His first wife, Eleanore, died in 1916, and two years later he remarried to Edith Wilson, who was 24 years younger than him. After Sigmund’s death in the late 1920s, Edith remained in the house for another decade or so, and in the 1930 census she was living here with her 80-year-old mother and a servant.

In 1937, shortly before the first photo was taken, the house became an Odd Fellows lodge. In the 1970s, it became a VFW post, but this eventually closed as well. Today, its exterior appearance has changed little since the 1930s, and it stands as the oldest building in the McKnight neighborhood. Within the past few decades, several different owners have purchased the house with the intention of restoring it, but as of now it remains vacant.

George Dutton House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1054 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house is one of many large Queen Anne-style homes in this area of the McKnight neighborhood, and it was built in 1885 as the home of George D. Dutton. He lived here with his wife Harriet, who was the daughter of Gurdon Bill, a prominent publisher and businessman in Springfield. Along with Harriet’s brother, Nathan Bill, George Dutton founded the National Envelope Company in Milwaukee, and the family moved there in the 1890s.

The house was subsequently purchased by real estate agent William E. Parsons, who lived here with his wife Grace and their two children, Gladys and William, Jr. After living here for about 30 years, William died in 1928, and at the 1930 census Grace was living here with Gladys, along with Gladys’s husband Robert Bradshaw and their children. Within a few years, though, Grace and the rest of the family moved to Burlingame, California.

By the time the first photo was taken, this house was the home of Ethyl Parker, who lived here with her father George and her 24 year old daughter Dorothy. Since then, the exterior of the home has been well-maintained, and aside from the fence very little has changed from the 1930s scene. In 1976 the house, along with a large portion of the neighborhood, became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.