Concord River from Old North Bridge, Concord, Mass

Looking north on the Concord River from the middle of Old North Bridge in Concord, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

These photos were taken facing north from the middle of the Old North Bridge in Concord, looking downstream on the Concord River. The river forms about a half mile upstream from the bridge, at the confluence of the Assabet and Sudbury Rivers, and it flows north from here for about 16 miles, eventually entering the Merrimack River in Lowell.

This site here is probably the best-known spot on the Concord River, as it was the site of the Battle of Concord, which occurred on April 19, 1775. Along with the Battle of Lexington, which had occurred several hours earlier, it marked the beginning of the American Revolution. During the battle, the colonial militiamen had assembled on the west bank of the river, on the far left side of the scene, in an effort to prevent British forces from seizing colonial military supplies. The British, on the east bank, opened fire, resulting in the militiamen returning fire with what came to be known as the “shot heard round the world,” as it resulted in the first British fatalities of the war and forced the redcoats to retreat back to Boston.

During the 19th century, the battlefield was marked by two famous monuments, with one on each side of the river. Since 1874 there have also been a series of commemorative bridges built on the site of the original bridge, which had been removed in 1788. The photographer of the first photo captured this scene from the second such bridge, which was built in 1888 and was destroyed in a flood in 1909, about a year after the photo was taken.

In the center of this photo is the boathouse for the Concord Canoe Club, which stood on the east side of the river on what was known as Honeysuckle Island. The club was established in 1902, and the boathouse was probably built around the same time. However, in 1909 the club built a new boathouse just to the south of this one, closer to the foreground on the far right side. The club existed until at least the 1920s, but both boathouses are now long gone, and the present-day scene actually looks more like its 1775 appearance than it did in the early 20th century.

Today, the bridge and the surrounding battlefield, including the land on both sides of the river in this scene, is now part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. This park, which was established in 1959, preserves important sites and buildings related to the battles of Lexington and Concord, and in recent years it has drawn upwards of a million visitors each year. However, years after the demise of the Concord Canoe Club, the river remains popular among recreational paddlers, and on summer days it is not uncommon to see groups of anachronistic kayaks passing through an otherwise colonial-era setting.

YMCA Building, Springfield, Mass

The YMCA building at 114-122 Chestnut Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2018:

The Springfield Young Men’s Christian Association was established in 1852, the same year that Springfield became a city. It was only the second YMCA in the country, and the fourth in the world, after London, Montreal, and Boston. After having several locations during the 19th century, the Springfield YMCA moved into a building of its own, at the corner of State and Dwight Streets. However, within just 20 years it had become too small, and the organization was in need of a new building.

The new building, seen here in these two photos, was completed in 1916 at the corner of Chestnut and Hillman Streets. It was designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm of Shattuck and Hussey, and it featured a brick Classical Revival exterior that was similar to the neighboring Hotel Kimball, which was built only a few years earlier. At the time, though, the YMCA building was smaller than its appearance in these photos. Its Chestnut Street facade originally only extended as far as the large gap between the windows, but the remaining third of the building was added in 1929. Its architecture matched the older section, but this sizable addition eliminated the symmetry of the original design.

The lower floors of the seven-story building housed recreational facilities, while the upper floors were built with hotel rooms. Over time, though, these rooms were used more by long-term boarders than by hotel guests. The 1940 census, which was done only a year or two after the first photo was taken, shows 173 residents living here. All of them were men, and most were single and in their 20s and 30s. They held a wide variety of working-class jobs, with a random sampling of one of the pages showing a post office clerk, maintenance engineer, painter, phonograph operator, cashier, dish washer, mechanic, chauffeur, draftsman, and variety story display man, among many other occupations. Many other residents were employed at the nearby Springfield Armory, which was then in the process of increasing production on the eve of America’s entry into World War II. Overall, most of the residents earned somewhere in the range of $500 to $1,500 per year ($9,000 to $27,000 today), although at least one – decorative metal company owner Roland Anderson – earned over $5,000 (over $90,000 today).

The YMCA would remain here in this building until 1968, when its current building opened on 275 Chestnut Street. The older building was later converted into a 99-unit apartment building, and it is now owned by SilverBrick, which has recently renovated the interior. However, despite these changes in use, the exterior has hardly changed since the first photo was taken, and the building is now a contributing property in the Apremont Triangle Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The Cloister, New Haven, Connecticut

The Cloister, the residence hall of the Book and Snake society, at the corner of Hillhouse Avenue and Grove Street in New Haven, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The Book and Snake is one of the many secret societies at Yale, and it was established in 1863 for students at the Yale-affiliated Sheffield Scientific School. In addition to having a meeting hall, the Book and Snake was one of several societies that also built its own residence hall, which was named the Cloister. This highly-ornate brownstone building was the work of architect H. Edwards Ficken, and it was completed in 1888. It was subsequently expanded in 1915, shortly after the first photo was taken, with a matching addition to the rear.

With the advent of Yale’s residential college system in the first half of the 20th century, privately-run dormitories such as the Cloister and the nearby Colony of the Berzelius society, were phased out, and the property was eventually sold to the college. The Colony was later demolished, but the Cloister is still standing, with few exterior changes aside from the 1915 addition. Today, the building is known as Warner House, and it is used for administrative offices, including the Yale College Dean’s Office.

The Colony, New Haven, Connecticut

The Colony, the residence hall of the Berzelius society, on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The Berzelius was established in 1848 as a secret society at the Sheffield Scientific School. Although the school would later be absorbed into Yale University, it was originally only loosely-affiliated with Yale, and the Berzelius was the first such society to be established at Sheffield. Like the secret societies at Yale, it had a meeting hall, but in 1898 the society added a residence hall, which was known as the Colony. It stood at 17 Hillhouse Avenue, and it is shown in the first photo only a few years after its completion. The design was the work of noted architects Henry Bacon and James Brite, both of whom had previously worked for the prominent firm of McKim, Mead and White. The two men formed a brief partnership from 1897 to 1902 before going their separate ways, with Bacon eventually gaining fame as the architect of the Lincoln Memorial.

This building remained in use by the Berzelius as a residence hall until the early 1930s, when the society sold the property to Yale. However, they retained their meeting hall, and the Berzelius remains an active secret society on the Yale campus. In the meantime, though, this building was used by the school as a dormitory, and then as offices, before being demolished in 1969. The present-day building was subsequently constructed on the site, and today it is one of several nearby buildings that comprise Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Alpha Delta Phi House, New Haven, Connecticut

The Alpha Delta Phi house at 15 Hillhouse Avenue, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, around 1901. Image taken by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

This building was designed by local architect William H. Allen, and was completed in 1895 for the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. The Yale chapter of this fraternity had been established in 1836, but it was disbanded in 1873. However, it was revived in 1888, and in 1895 it became one of the school’s junior societies – as opposed to the senior societies such as the Skull and Bones. It moved into this building around the same time, and remained here until the early 1930s. During this time, notable fraternity members included author Stephen Vincent Benét, University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins, Time magazine and Life magazine publisher Henry Luce, Chicago Tribune editor and publisher Robert R. McCormick, and playwright Thornton Wilder.

Alpha Delta Phi again disbanded in 1935, and at some point around this time the property here on Hillhouse Avenue was sold to Yale. The fraternity would again return to Yale in 1990, although not to this building. Since 1960, it has been the home of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, and during this time its exterior has seen few changes from the first photo. However, the surrounding area is very different from the turn of the 20th century, and the old fraternity house is now flanked by much larger academic buildings, birth of which are part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Wolf’s Head Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

Wolf’s Head Hall, at the corner of Prospect and Trumbull Streets in New Haven, around 1901. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The building in 2018:

The Wolf’s Head was established in 1883 as one of Yale’s secret societies. It was intended as an alternative to the more established Skull and Bones and Scroll and Key societies, and it got off to a strong start with the completion of this clubhouse in 1884. The building was an early work by McKim, Mead and White, which would go on to become one of the leading architectural firms in the country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first photo was taken nearly 20 years later, by which point the brownstone exterior was almost completely covered by ivy, obscuring much of its architecture.

This building was used by the Wolf’s Head until 1924, when the society moved to its current location on York Street. This property here on Prospect Street was then sold to Yale, who rented the building to several different organizations over the years. In 1994, it became home of the school’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and in 2006 it was joined to two neighboring buildings, with an addition that is partially visible on the left side of the 2018 photo. Today, the building continues to be used by the ISPS, and, despite the addition, its exterior has remained well-preserved, and from this angle the only other significant difference between the two photos is its appearance is the lack of ivy.