The Maplewood, Pittsfield, Mass (1)

The Maplewood, on the north side of Maplewood Avenue, between North and First Streets, around 1900-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

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This property has seen a variety of uses over the past two centuries. After being used as farmland in the late 1700s, it became a military base and prisoner of war camp during the War of 1812. The grounds were sold after the war, and by the 1820s a school was established on the site. In 1841, the school became the Pittsfield Young Ladies Institute, and was later known as the Maplewood Institute. During this time, the school hosted the country’s first intercollegiate baseball game, with rival schools Amherst College and Williams College playing here on July 1, 1859. The game drew large numbers of Maplewood girls, who watched Amherst win 73-32 in 26 innings, in a game that bore little resemblance to today’s game.

The school grew over time, with the campus ultimately consisting of an assortment of interconnected buildings that had been built over the course of the 19th century. Perhaps the most unusual addition to the school had been the old First Church, which had been built at Park Square in 1793 by architect Charles Bulfinch. It was damaged in a fire in 1851 and moved here, where it was put to use as a gymnasium. It was still standing when the first photo was taken, and would have been located directly behind the building seen here.

By the end of the Civil War, the school enrolled about 200 girls, but it soon entered a period of decline. Its problems were compounded by the Panic of 1873, which caused significant damage to the United States economy. The school never fully recovered, and closed for good in 1884. Three years later, the buildings were converted into a hotel. It reopened as The Maplewood, and was one of many resort hotels that sprung up in the Berkshires during the late 19th century.

The first photo was taken during its time as a hotel, but like so many other grand hotels of the Gilded Age, it suffered in the 1930s. Just as an earlier financial crisis had doomed the school, the hotel could not survive the Great Depression, and it was sold at a bankruptcy auction in 1936. Nearly all of the buildings, including the old Bullfinch church, were demolished. Even the fountains, including presumably the one in this photo, were melted down as scrap metal during World War II. Only one building, just out of view to the right of this scene, was preserved, and it is now a condominium building. Of the objects that are visible in this photo, only the columns survive. They were donated to Tufts University when the building was demolished, and they now support a porch in front of Ballou Hall.

Old Central High School, Pittsfield, Mass

The Old Central High School, seen from First Street in Pittsfield, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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This land between First and Second Streets had once been Pittsfield’s cemetery, but in 1872 the graves were relocated and the land was redeveloped as the Common. A few decades later, after Pittsfield’s high school building burned down, this location was seen as ideal for a new school. It opened in 1898, with a capacity of 600 students, but the city was experiencing rapid growth at the time. Between 1900 and 1920, Pittsfield doubled in population, and it did not take long for the new high school to be overcrowded.

A new, significantly larger high school opened in 1931, a few blocks away on East Street. The old building became the junior high school, and starting in 1961 it housed the newly-established Berkshire Community College. After the college moved to its current campus in 1972, the old school was again vacant. It was ultimately preserved, though, and was redeveloped into housing. Today, it still has all of the same architectural splendor that it had when it first opened, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Robinson Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI

Robinson Hall at the corner of Waterman and Prospect Streets, on the campus of Brown University, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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Robinson Hall was built in 1878, with funds provided by John Carter Brown. The son of the school’s namesake, Nicholas Brown, Jr., he was an 1816 graduate of Brown and a book collector, and in his will he left the school this plot of land at the corner of Waterman and Prospect Streets, along with money to build a library here. This brick, Gothic Revival building was used as a library for only a few decades, though, before the completion of the much larger John Hay Library across the street. In 1912, the old library building became the home of the Economics Department, and was later named in honor of Ezekiel Robinson, who had served as the school’s president from 1872 to 1889. Today, very little has changed in its appearance, and it remains in use by the Economics Department. Although the building is no longer used as a library as John Carter Brown had intended, his legacy on campus has not been forgotten. His extensive book collection later formed the basis for another campus library, the John Carter Brown Library, which opened in 1904 and still serves as one of the school’s seven libraries.

Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI

Pembroke Hall on Meeting Street in Providence, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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Pembroke Hall was the first permanent building for Pembroke College, which had been established in 1891 as Brown University’s college for women. This building was completed in 1897, and was the college’s only building for the next ten years. As the school expanded, though, Pembroke Hall became exclusively used for academics, with a library on the top floor. In 1971, Pembroke College merged with Brown University, and the building was renovated again, to house administrative offices. A third major renovation came in 2008, when the interior was rebuilt with classrooms, conference rooms, and office space for the Cogut Center for the Humanities and for the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Through it all, though, the nearly 120 year old building’s exterior has remained completely unchanged, aside from the missing weathervanes atop the dormers.

Carrie Tower, Brown University, Providence, RI

The Carrie Tower at Brown University, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The tower in 2016:

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Located at the northwest corner of the Front Green at Brown University, the 95-foot tall Carrie Tower was built in 1904 and designed by architect Guy Lowell. It was donated by Paul Bajnotti in memory of his wife, Caroline Mathilde Brown. Her grandfather, Nicholas Brown, Jr., was the school’s namesake, and her father, Nicholas Brown III, was a politician and diplomat. Because of her father’s career, she spent much of her childhood in Europe, and through her travels she met Paul Bajnotti, an Italian diplomat. The two were married for 16 years, until her death in 1892, and the tower was dedicated to her memory, complete with an inscription at the base that reads, “Love is Strong as Death.”

Today, very little has changed in this scene. The Carrie Tower is still standing, as is Robinson Hall in the distance to the right. However, the clock no longer functions, and the chimes have not been used in decades. The base of the tower was restored in 2011, but it is still in need of restoration, including the interior staircase. Because of this, it is closed to the public, as are the underground tunnels that once connected the tower to the John Hay Library on the left, and Manning Hall to the right.

Sayles Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI

Sayles Hall on the campus of Brown University, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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Sayles Hall was built on the College Green at Brown University in 1881, and was donated by Pawtucket textile manufacturer William F. Sayles. He named it in honor of his son, William Clark Sayles, who died in 1876 during his sophomore year at Brown. The building’s Romanesque architecture was typical for institutional buildings of the era, and was designed by Providence architect Alpheus C. Morse. The front of the building features classrooms, while the much larger back portion is an assembly hall.

It is partially obscured by trees in the present-day view, but the exterior of Sayles Hall looks the same today as it did when it was completed over 130 years ago. Its assembly hall has been used over the years for everything from alumni dinners to winter baseball practices, and it remains in use today for lectures, concerts, and other events.