Calvin Coolidge and Civil War Vet at Plymouth, Vermont

President Calvin Coolidge meets with a Civil War veteran at his family home in Plymouth, Vermont, in August 1924. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Here, two very different generations meet; an unidentified veteran of the Civil War shakes hands with a president who was born seven years after the war had ended.  However, the Civil War wasn’t actually too far removed from 1924, relatively speaking.  Certainly by then many veterans had passed away, but encountering one in 1924 wasn’t unheard of, either; 1924 was closer to the Civil War than 2015 is to World War II.  In fact, the last confirmed veteran of the war died 32 years later, in 1956, during Eisenhower’s presidency.  I don’t know who this veteran was, or what happened to him, but it is possible that he outlived Coolidge, who died relatively young just nine years later.

Calvin Coolidge at Plymouth, Vermont (3)

President Calvin Coolidge walking up the steps to the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, Vermont.  Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The house in 2014:

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This scene shows Calvin Coolidge walking up the steps of the home that he grew up in, now known as the Coolidge Homestead.  He is accompanied by his wife Grace, his father John, and a few other people who I can’t identify.  Today, the house has been restored to its appearance during Coolidge’s presidency.  It looks like several of the trees are still there as well; the two large trees on the left-hand side of the 2014 photo appear to be the same ones that were there in 1924.

Calvin Coolidge at Plymouth, Vermont (1)

President Calvin Coolidge checking the temperature on the front porch at his family home in Plymouth, Vermont, in August 1924. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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The front porch of the Coolidge Homestead doesn’t look much different from its appearance 90 years ago; it is now a museum and has been restored to its appearance during Coolidge’s presidency.  Here, he is checking the thermometer; according to Leslie Jones’s caption, “It said 80 degrees in the shade.”

Coolidge Homestead, Plymouth, Vermont

The Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth, Vermont, probably in August 1924. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The house in 2014:

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From the exterior, this Vermont farmhouse doesn’t look like it was once the place where a president took the oath of office, but it was here at 2:47 on the morning of August 3, 1923 that Calvin Coolidge was administered the oath by his father.  Throughout his political career, Coolidge frequently returned to his hometown of Plymouth, Vermont, and it was during one such visit while he was Vice President that President Warren Harding died.

This particular photo was probably taken in August 1924, during one of Coolidge’s vacations while he was president.  This vacation was well-documented by Leslie Jones of the Boston Herald-Traveler, and the trip was also featured in this short 1924 documentary.  It appears as though Coolidge (left) and the First Lady, Grace Coolidge (right) are walking down the street, although I don’t know who the woman in the middle was.

Today, not much has changed in Plymouth or at the Coolidge Homestead; the building is now a museum, and it has been restored to its 1923 appearance.  The house, along with the surrounding village, are a National Historic Landmark, and the area has been maintained by the state of Vermont.

Alexander House, Springfield, Mass

The rear of the Alexander House, taken from Elliot Street near the corner of State Street, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2014:

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The first photo is the side view of the Alexander House, which is mentioned in this post.  Although it’s no longer on this location, the house still exists; it was moved just a short distance down Elliot Street when the federal courthouse was constructed.  It was actually the second time that the house was moved; its first move came in the 1870s, when it was moved several hundred feet on the same lot because of drainage issues.  Today, it sits just a little to the left of where these photos were taken, and it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Springfield.

29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The location in 2012:

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It’s not too often that the building in the “now” photo is older than the one in the “then” photo, but that’s the case here.  The building in the second photo is the Alexander House, one of the oldest buildings in Springfield.  However, it wasn’t always at this location – originally it was on State Street, but was moved several times in its long history, most recently in 2003, when the new federal courthouse was built on its lot.

The house was built in 1811 for James Byers, for whom the historic 1835 Byers Block at Court Square is named.  He sold the house in 1820 to Colonel Israel E. Trask, who sold it to famed portrait artist Chester Harding (Harding’s grave is seen in this post about Springfield Cemetery).  However, Harding sold the property back to Trask in 1832.  Trask died in 1835, and his family owned the property until 1857, when it was sold to Henry Alexander, Jr., who named the house Linden Hall.  Alexander served as mayor of Springfield from 1864 to 1865, and the house remained in his family until 1938.  During Alexander’s ownership, the house was moved for the first time, during the 1870s.  Improvements to State Street had changed the grade of the street, which caused drainage problems for the house, necessitating a move of several hundred feet.

It was also around this time that Elliot Street was developed and the brick duplexes seen in the 1930s were built.  I don’t know what became of the duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, but it was probably gone long before the Alexander House was moved to the site in 2003.  The duplex on the right is still there, though, although it was heavily damaged by a fire in 2008 and its future is in doubt.  The good news, though, is that the Alexander House has been preserved, and makes up part of Springfield’s Mattoon Street – Quadrangle Historic District.