North Main Street, Springfield, Mass

Main Street in Springfield, looking toward the North End near Congress Street, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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The scene in 2014:

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The only readily identifiable building in the first photo is on the right side of Main Street, the Hooker School, which was a grammar school that opened in 1865.  In the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield, it is described as “the finest of the grammar-school buildings in external appearance,. for which it is indebted to its imposing tower (containing a clock with illuminated dial), as well as to the beautiful network of vines which in summer relieve the bareness of its brick walls.”

The building was still being used as a school by the time the 1910 atlas was published, but by 1920 the school had moved to a different location a few blocks away.  The old building was apparently still there, though, and it was labeled as “Old School Building.” Obviously, the school building is no longer there, although it was likely gone long before the interchange between I-91 and I-291 was built here.  Today, Main Street itself is the only thing left over from the first photo, although instead of trees in the median, it now has concrete supports for the elevated highway.

Chestnut Junior High School, Springfield, Mass

The Chestnut Junior High School in Springfield, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Chestnut Junior High School opened in 1903, at the corner of Chestnut and Prospect Streets in the North End of Springfield.  The building was used as a school for 101 years, before closing in 2004.  In the years after its closing, several redevelopment proposals were floated, including a seemingly promising plan to convert the school into condominiums, much like what was done with Classical High School on State Street in 1986.  Built only a few years before Chestnut, the school was successfully converted into condos, but that would not be the case with this school in the North End.  The building suffered from water damage and other deterioration, so the renovation costs, combined with a less than desirable neighborhood, meant that the proposal went nowhere.  It was vacant until September 2013, when it was destroyed by a fire.  The site has since been cleared, and nothing remains of the historic school building.

Old Cathedral High School, Springfield, Mass

The old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2014:

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Not much has changed in the exterior of the old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street.  It was built in 1919 to meet the needs of a growing school population, and was used as a high school for 40 years until the opening of the Surrey Road campus in 1959, which was the home of the school until the June 1, 2011 tornado, which caused significant damage to the building.  In the meantime, the old Elliot Street building is still owned by the Springfield Diocese, and with the demolition of the “new” Cathedral High School this fall, the 95 year old building has now outlived its successor.

When this building was used as a high school, a number of notable people attended school here, including three future NFL players: Joe Scibelli, 1943 Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti.  Given the approximate date of the first photo, Bertelli was likely attending the school at the time – perhaps he was even sitting in one of the classrooms when the photographer took the picture.  In addition, former Postmaster General and NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien also went here, graduating several years before the first photo was taken.

The Post Master and His Corps, Springfield, Mass

A group of postal employees on the front steps of Springfield’s Central High School (later Classical High School) around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield (1910).

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The building in 2014:

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All that I know about the first photo is that it was taken on the front steps of the former high school, which can be seen in this post, and that it was titled “The Post Master and His Corps” in the View Book of Springfield.  I’m assuming that means that all of these men are Springfield’s postal employees from a century ago, but the location of the photo puzzles me.  It would seem to make more sense to have a group photo of postal workers at, say, the Post Office, but in any case the front entrance where they did pose is still there, mostly unchanged, although the building itself is no longer a school.  The school closed in 1986, and today it is a condominium building.

D.L. Moody Residence, Northfield Mass

The former residence of D.L. Moody, on the grounds of Northfield Seminary around 1904.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The house in 2014:

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D.L. Moody was an influential Christian evangelist throughout much of the late 19th century.  He was born in Northfield, Massachusetts in 1837, in a house just up the hill behind this building.  He later lived in Boston and Chicago, in addition to traveling around the country and to Europe as part of his evangelistic tours.  He returned to Northfield in 1875, and in 1879 he opened the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, which later became the Northfield campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School.  This house, which he lived in after his return to Northfield, is part of the campus, which has been vacant since 2006, when the school consolidated to just the Mount Hermon campus in nearby Gill.

Old Northampton High School, Northampton Mass

The old Northampton High School building, at the corner of Main and New South Streets, between 1900 and 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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This building served as Northampton’s high school from 1895 until 1940, and while it looks the same in both photos, it was gutted in a 1914 fire, leaving only the exterior walls.  The interior was rebuilt, and today it is the D.A. Sullivan School.