Venezian Monumental Works, Springfield Mass

The Venezian Monumental Works building on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:


This building is located right next to the architecturally similar building at 1579 State Street, which was probably photographed on the same day as this one.  However, while the former Frank’s Service building has long been shuttered, the Venezian Monumental Works is still in business.  The company is actually substantially older than even the first photo; it was established in 1882, when the Pine Point neighborhood was on the remote outskirts of the city.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown, which has presumably increased demand for headstones, and it also doesn’t hurt that they are located right next to St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Today, the building has doubled in size, but the original section is still visible on the left side.

Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, Mass

A scene in Springfield Cemetery, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same scene in 2015:


As mentioned in previous posts here and here, Springfield Cemetery was designed as a peaceful, beautifully-landscaped scene in the middle of the city along the same lines as Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  Today, the scene is more grown-in, and obviously there are more gravestones in the scene, but otherwise the landscaping remains very much the same as it was over 100 years ago.

Many of Springfield’s notable residents of the past are buried here, from Congressmen like Chester Chapin, William Calhoun, and Samuel Knox, to businessmen, including Milton Bradley and Horace Smith (of Smith and Wesson), and even one of the victims of the Titanic sinking, Milton Long.  The headstone of another notable burial can be seen in the first photo – the large stone at the top of the hill above the footbridge is that of Chester Harding, a portrait painter from the first half of the 19th century.  Some of his portraits included presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, Chief Justice John Marshall, Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll, and senators Henry Clay and John Calhoun.  His grave is still there, although today it isn’t visible from this angle because of the tree growth.  It was thanks to his headstone, though, that I was able to confirm the location of the photo, since there aren’t any other clear landmarks visible in both photos.

Soldiers’ Plot, Springfield, Mass

The Soldiers’ Plot in Springfield Cemetery, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2015:


Springfield Cemetery was established in the 1840s as a beautifully-landscaped city cemetery in the middle of the city.  Within a few decades, it would become the final resting place for a number of men from Springfield who were killed in the Civil War.  A total of 167 were killed or missing in the war, with more lost to disease than to combat deaths.  Many of those men are buried here in the Soldiers’ Plot, not far from the entrance to the cemetery.  The plot includes the headstones at the bottom and top of the slope, with a statue at the top.  The statue was dedicated in 1877 using funds from the Soldier’s Rest Association.  The organization had been established during the war to care for returning veterans, and they used leftover funds to commission the statue.

Today, the headstones and statue are still there, although they are no longer decorated with flags and wreaths, and the landscaping isn’t as perfectly manicured as it was a century ago – the headstones on the lower section seem to almost blend in with the slope.  Of course, in the first photo the Civil War was still in the memory of many people, with many still alive who had either served in or lost loved ones in the war, so it is understandable that the plot would have been better cared for back then.

Cemetery Avenue, Springfield, Mass

The road to Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, Mass, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The road in 2014:


Both views here show the road leading to Springfield Cemetery from Maple Street, with the first photo showing the arch from this post.  This main entrance to the cemetery was designed by Reverend William B. O. Peabody in 1845, and today this road is still the way in and out of the cemetery, but there are some dramatic differences.  The arch is gone, as are the white picket fences, replaced with chain-link fences, and the narrow, rutted dirt road is now paved with asphalt.  Today, there are small trees along either side of the road, but they pale in comparison to the ones that once formed a canopy of branches over the road; they were probably the same trees that Peabody himself had planted some 60 years earlier.

Springfield Cemetery Arch, Springfield, Mass

The arch at the entrance to Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Mass, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2015:


Springfield Cemetery is one of those places that is hard to find unless you’re looking for it.  In fact, it was hard to find on my first visit, and I was looking for it.  Once in the cemetery, it’s hard to tell that you’re in the middle of a cemetery, and this was done intentionally.  Modeled after the beautifully-landscaped Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., Springfield Cemetery demonstrates a similar desire to create a peaceful, park-like setting.

As seen in the first photo, visitors to the cemetery once passed under the dramatic stone arch, which was built in 1845, just a few years after the cemetery opened.  I don’t know when or why the arch was removed, but my guess is it probably had something to do with traffic concerns; getting modern vehicles through it would probably be a tight f

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston (3)

Another view from Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in the North End, around the 1880s or early 1890s. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


The cemetery in 2014:


The house in the background is the Johnson-Singleton House, and was built in the mid 1700s.  Located on Charter Street, it and the surrounding buildings were demolished in the 1890s to create Copp’s Hill Terrace, a public park between Charter Street and Commercial Street.  Boston Harbor is in the background, but it is obscured by buildings in the first photo and trees in the present-day photo; the only hint of its presence is the tip of the masts of a sailing ship in the first photo.