Sacred Heart Convent and School, Holyoke, Mass

The Sacred Heart Convent (left) and School (right), seen from Maple Street near the corner of Franklin Street in Holyoke, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

Holyoke’s first Catholic church was St. Jerome’s, which was established in 1856 and was located at the corner of Hampden and Chestnut Streets. This was followed in 1869 by the Parish of the Precious Blood, which served French-Canadian immigrants in the Flats of Holyoke. However, as the city’s population continued to grow, particularly as Irish immigrants moved to the city for manufacturing jobs, there was an increased need for another Catholic parish. So, in 1878 the Sacred Heart Parish was established as an offshoot of St. Jerome’s, encompassing the southern part of downtown Holyoke.

The church owned an entire city block here, bounded by Maple, Franklin, Chestnut, and Sargeant Streets, and over the next few years this site was developed with the construction of several different buildings. The first was the rectory, which was built around 1876 and is partially visible on the extreme right side of both photos. That same year, construction began on the church itself. It was located to the right of the rectory, on the northern end of the lot along Sargeant Street, although it would not be completed until 1883. The school was completed in 1890, at the corner of Franklin and Chestnut Streets, and is seen on the right side of the first photo. Around the same time, the convent was completed on the left side of the photo, at the corner of Maple and Franklin Streets.

By 1895, only a few years after the first photo was taken, the school had about 500 students who were taught by 12 nuns. The building was described in an 1895 edition of the Sacred Heart Review, which paid particular attention to the assembly hall in the school:

The school hall, seating nine hundred people, has a splendid stage, fine scenery, and opera chairs, and is most peculiarly though ingeniously constructed, the ceiling being finished in wood, which, with the many windows, the acoustically-arranged studding, and the crossing, so to speak, of two gable roofs, makes the hall a marvel of convenience to sight and hearing. The schoolrooms are very generously lighted, and are furnished with wood ceilings.

Today, Sacred Heart is still an active parish, and both the church and the rectory are still standing. However, aside from the small section of the rectory that is visible on the right side, there is nothing remaining in this scene from the first photo. The school and convent are long gone, and the site is now empty except for a small parking lot. Further in the distance, the block on the other side of Franklin Street had been undeveloped when the first photo was taken, but it now includes an ornate five-story brick apartment building, which is partially visible beyond the trees in the 2017 view.

Holyoke High School, Holyoke, Mass

Holyoke High School, seen from the corner of Hampshire and Pine Streets in Holyoke, around 1910-1915. Image from Illustrated & Descriptive Holyoke Massachusetts.

The scene in 2017:

Holyoke High School was established in 1852, and occupied several different buildings before moving into its first purpose-built high school building a decade later. It was located on Elm Street, between Dwight and Suffolk Streets, and it was used as the high school until 1898. However, the city’s population had seen considerable growth during that time, from around 5,000 in 1860 to over 45,000 by the turn of the century, and there was a need for a much larger school building.

As a result, the new high school was completed in 1898, on the outskirts of downtown Holyoke. It was designed by architect George P. B. Alderman, and featured a Classical Revival design with a stone exterior on the first floor and yellow brick on the upper floors. The school grounds occupied an entire city block, surrounded by Pine, Hampshire, Beech, and Sargeant Streets, and the first photo shows the view facing the eastern corner of the building, as seen from the corner of Pine and Hampshire Streets.

This building was used as Holyoke High School until 1964, when the current high school opened a few blocks away on Beech Street. The old school was then renovated and reopened as the home of Holyoke Community College. The college, which had been founded in 1946, had over 1,500 students by the 1967-1968 school year, but its time in this building proved short-lived. On January 4, 1968, a fire started in the attic and quickly spread throughout the building. Around 500 people were inside at the time, but all managed to escape safely. However, the fire burned for hours, completely gutting the building and leaving only the partially-collapsed stone and brick exterior walls.

Following the fire, Holyoke Community College had a somewhat nomadic existence until 1974, when it moved into its present-day campus off of Homestead Avenue, on the western side of the city. Today, the only visible remnant from the first photo is, ironically, the fire hydrant in the foreground at the corner. Although it is not the same hydrant in both photos, it is located on the same spot, and serves as a way to orient the first photo. The former site of the school is still owned by the city, though, and it is now occupied by the Holyoke Senior Center, which is visible in the distance on the left side of the photo.

School of the Immaculate Conception of Notre Dame, Holyoke, Mass

The former School of the Immaculate Conception of Notre Dame, on Chestnut Street opposite Hampden Park in Holyoke, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

Holyoke grew into a major industrial center during the second half of the 19th century, and the jobs in the mills attracted large numbers of immigrants, particularly the Irish and French Canadians. Most of these immigrants were Catholic, in a region that had previously been almost entirely Protestant, and they soon set about establishing Catholic churches and other religious institutions. The first of these churches was St. Jerome’s, which was established in 1856. Two years later, the parish constructed a church building that still stands at the corner of Hampden and Chestnut Streets, just out of view to the right of this scene.

In 1869, St. Jerome’s Parish opened its first parochial school, the School of the Immaculate Conception of Notre Dame. It was originally an all-girls school, and was located in a wood-frame building that was moved to this site. That same year, the Convent of Notre Dame was completed just to the right of the school. It housed the nuns who taught at the school, and can be seen in the center-right of both photos, with its central tower and Second-Empire style architecture. Then, in 1872, the St. Jerome’s Institute was established as a school for boys, and was located on the other side of Hampden Street, at the corner of Elm Street.

The original Immaculate Conception building was replaced in 1883 by a much more substantial brick school building, which stands on the left side of both photos. It was designed by architect Donat R. Baribault, with an Italianate-style design that included a symmetrical front facade and a tower above the main entrance. By 1890, around the time that the first photo was taken, it had an enrollment of about 550 girls, and the principal of the school was also the sister superior at the adjacent Convent of Notre Dame.

The Immaculate Conception School later became the St. Jerome High School, and in 1963 it merged with several other parish high schools in the city to form Holyoke Catholic High School. The old 1883 school building became part of the Holyoke Catholic campus, and remained in use until 2002, when the school relocated to Granby. Holyoke Catholic has since merged with Cathedral High School in Springfield, and the consolidated school has been known as Pope Francis High School since 2016.

Today, most of the historic 19th buildings from the St. Jerome’s Parish are still standing, including the former Holyoke Catholic buildings. Although they were boarded up for more than a decade after the school moved to Granby, the buildings have since been converted into the Chestnut Park Apartments. This work was completed in 2015, and now there is hardly any difference between these two photos, which were taken 125 years apart. The buildings are now part of the Hampden Park Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Classical and High School, Salem, Mass

The Classical and High School at 5 Broad Street in Salem, around 1865-1885. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2017:

This scene shows two historic school buildings on Broad Street in Salem. The older of the two is the Oliver Primary School in the distance on the left, which is discussed in more detail in the previous post. It was completed in 1819, and in the early years it served as the home of the Latin Grammar School and the English High School. These two schools were later renamed the Fisk and the Bowditch Schools, respectively, and in 1854 they were merged into the Bowditch School.

At the time, the Bowditch School taught boys, with a separate Saltonstall School for girls. However, these two schools were merged in 1856 to form the Salem Classical and High School, and moved into a newly-completed building on the right side of the scene. This ornate, Italianate-style school was designed by local architect Enoch Fuller, and was dedicated on March 18, 1856. The ceremonies included an address by former principal Henry K. Oliver, who would go on to have a successful political career as the state treasurer, and as mayor of Lawrence and Salem, among other state and local offices.

By 1868, the school had a total enrollment of 173, including 85 boys and 88 girls. However, there was evidently a significant amount of turnover throughout the school year, because the high school had, on average, only 117 students enrolled at any given time. This was just under half of the building’s total capacity at the time, which was listed at 238 seats during that year’s annual school report. The first photo was probably taken around this time, and it shows a group of children standing on the sidewalk, apparently posing for the camera. Somebody of them look fairly young, and may have attended school at the old high school building in the distance, which had been converted into a primary school by this point.

Today, neither of these two buildings are still used as schools, but both are still standing without any major exterior changes. The Oliver Primary School in the distance has lost its original balustrade along the roof, and the old doorway has become a window, but otherwise it retains much of its original early 19t century appearance. The newer building is also still standing as an excellent example of an Italianate-style high school building, and it is now occupied by the Salem Council on Aging. Both buildings, along with the surrounding neighborhood, are now part of the Chestnut Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Oliver Primary School, Salem, Mass

The Oliver Primary School at 3 Broad Street in Salem, on November 26, 1940. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey Collection.

The scene in 2017:

This is the oldest surviving school building in Salem, and it stands alongside two other historic school buildings that all date back to the early or mid-19th century. It was completed in 1819 at a cost of $10,000, with a Federal-style design that was the work of master builder John Milligan. Originally, it housed the Latin Grammar School and the English High School, and at the time the building consisted of just this rectangular section along Broad Street. Among its early teachers was Henry K. Oliver, the building’s future namesake, who would go on to become a prominent local and state politician, including serving as state treasurer and as mayor of both Lawrence and Salem.

In 1842, the building was expanded with an addition to the south, on the side opposite of this view. Then, in the mid-1850s, it was joined by two other school buildings. Just beyond the school, on the left side of both photos, is the Salem Normal School, which was built in 1854 as the original home of the present-day Salem State University, and was later expanded in 1870-1871. Just out of view to the right, on the other side of the 1819 school building, is the Classical and High School. This was completed in 1856, replacing the older building as the city’s high school.

The former Latin Grammar School and English High School was converted into the Broad Street Primary School, and later became the Oliver Primary School. It underwent interior renovations in the late 1860s, and was described in the city’s 1869 school committee report:

On Broad street, between Normal and High School houses; now undergoing changes to make four graded rooms; height of story, 13 ft.; dimensions of building, 62 x 33 ft.; will accommodate 220 pupils; the lot of the land contains 14,844 ft.; value of land and building, $14,000; erected in 1818.

The building was used as a school for many more years, until sometime in the early 20th century. However, both it and the former Normal School on the left have since been converted into residential use, with 14 units in the Oliver Primary School and 12 condominiums in the Normal School. The exteriors have remained well-preserved, though, and the Oliver Primary School survives as a good example of early 19th century Federal architecture. Both buildings, along with the neighboring Classical and High School, are now part of the Chestnut Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Myrtle Street School, Indian Orchard, Springfield, Mass

The Myrtle Street School in the Springfield neighborhood of Indian Orchard, seen from Worcester Street near the corner of Myrtle Street, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

Prior to the Civil War, Springfield lacked a strong centralized school system. The city was divided into 12 school districts, each of which was responsible for taxing residents, hiring teachers, setting curriculum, and maintaining schools. However, this proved inefficient, in part because these school districts tended to focus more on lowering taxes than improving education, and by the late 1860s school committee member Josiah Hooker had led a large-scale reform of the city’s public schools.

The result of these reforms was a new high school building on State Street, plus six new grammar schools around the city. All were located in or near the downtown area except for the Indian Orchard school, which was located here at the corner of Worcester and Myrtle Streets. Located in the far northeastern corner of the city, Indian Orchard developed as a factory village in the mid-19th century. It saw a significant population growth during this time, particularly among French-Canadians and other immigrant groups who came to work in the mills, so a grammar school became necessary to serve the needs of the village.

At the time, students attended primary school for three years, followed by six years of grammar school and then four years of high school. The 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield provides a description of the grammar school curriculum, writing that “In these schools, thorough instruction is given in all the common English branches, including book-keeping, and United-States and English history; and special teachers give instruction in penmanship, music, and drawing.” Following the reforms of the 1860s, the school year began on the first week of September and ended on the Friday before July 4, and students attended school from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with a two-hour break from noon to 2:00.

The Indian Orchard school was designed by James M. Currier, a local architect whose works included three other schools in Springfield, along with an assortment of factories, business blocks, and houses. Perhaps his most notable commission, however, was a house in Ottawa, Canada, that he designed for his brother, Joseph M. Currier, who was a lumber dealer and Canadian politician. This house, located at 24 Sussex Drive, now serves as the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada, although it has been heavily altered from Currier’s original design.

Like the Prime Minister’s residence, though, the Indian Orchard school has also been extensively modified over the years. The first photo shows its original appearance, with its mansard roof and Second Empire-style architecture, but by the turn of the 20th century this building had become too small for the growing population of the village. As a result, in 1904 a large wing was built on the west side of the original building, facing Myrtle Street. This is the part of the school building that is visible in the present-day photo, and features a Classical Revival-style design that was the work of architect Eugene C. Gardner. The addition hid the original school building from this angle, although it is still standing and still visible from the other side of the school.

This expansion added eight classrooms to the school, but within a decade there was again need for more space, and in 1914 Gardner was hired to design a matching, nearly symmetrical wing on the south side of the building. Located on the left side of the 1904 addition, just out of view from this angle, the new wing doubled the size of the building. It was completed in 1915, and included eight more classrooms, plus a lunchroom, gymnasium, and an auditorium that could seat nearly 700 people.

The school, which became known as the Myrtle Street School after the additions, remained in use until the early 1980s. Like several other historic Springfield school buildings, it has since been converted into condominiums, and is still standing with few significant exterior changes. Even the original 1868 section is still there, and it now stands as the oldest existing school building in the city, as well as the only one of the original six grammar schools that is still standing. Because of this, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.