Corner of State & Maple, Springfield

The corner of State Street and Maple Street in Springfield, between 1900 and 1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same street corner in 2013:

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These photos were taken from the opposite side of State Street from the photos in this post, and show some of the changes that the Quadrangle area has undergone in the past 100+ years.  Some things remain – Christ Church Cathedral and the statue of Samuel Chapin are the two obvious ones.  Even minor details such as the short, bowling pin-looking granite posts on either side of the sidewalks are still there.  But, the big difference, aside from the traffic lights and complete lack of cobblestone in the 2013 photo, is the main Springfield Library building.

The library building in the early 20th century photo was built in the 1860’s as the first public library in Springfield.  Very shortly after this photo was taken, however, construction began on the new library (this happened in 1909, thus establishing the upper limit of the date range for the photo).  But, rather than demolishing the old structure, and to allow the library to function while the new building was being constructed, the old one was moved directly back, into the present-day Quadrangle.  The new library was dedicated in 1912, and the books were moved to the old one.  Whether the old building was demolished right after that, or whether it was used for something else in the intervening years, I don’t know at this time.

Samuel Chapin Statue, Springfield

The Samuel Chapin Statue at the Quadrangle, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same statue in 2012:

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Samuel Chapin, one of my ancestors, was an early settler in Springfield, one of several such founders memorialized in a statue in the city.  He served as the first deacon of the church, was on the first board of selectmen, and also served as a town magistrate.  In 1881, one of his descendants, businessman and Congressman Chester W. Chapin, commissioned noted sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens to create this statue.  It was finished in 1887, and was first situated at Stearns Park, but was moved to Merrick Park at the Quadrangle in 1899, shortly before the above photo was taken.  The statue, named The Puritan, became one of St. Gaudens’s most popular work, and it hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years, although some of the buildings around it have.  The house directly behind it in the 1905 photo (I believe it’s the parsonage for Christ Church Cathedral) is long gone, as is the old library, which isn’t visible in the photo, but which was located just to the photographer’s right.  Note, however, the arches in the distance on the far right of the 1905 photo – those are from the art museum, which still exists – the arches aren’t visible from the angle of the 2012 photo, but the building itself is barely visible above the hedges.

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans

Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans, about 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Louisiana

The same monument in 2009:

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In a bit of a departure from my usual northeast locations, I came across the c.1906 photo of the same statue that I photographed in 2009 while in New Orleans.  The subject, given that it’s the south, is Robert E. Lee, and the statue has been there since 1884.

Miles Morgan Statue, Springfield

This photo, taken around 1908, shows the Miles Morgan statue on Court Square.  The statue itself was created in 1882, commemorating one of the early founders of Springfield, and is one of two notable statues dedicated to Springfield’s founders (the other, located next to the main library, is of my ancestor, Samuel Chapin). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Statues

This photo, taken in June 2013, shows what the same scene looks like today.

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The statue remains, but everything else around it has changed; none of the buildings in the 1908 photo still exist today.  Most of the ones in the background are on the current spot of the Sheraton, and the vacant lot in the foreground is, of course, no longer vacant. Just a few years earlier, Springfield City Hall sat on that site, and within a few more years, the new Springfield City Hall would be built, as part of the Municipal Group that includes City Hall, Symphony Hall, and the Campanile Tower. The old city hall, though, was not intentionally demolished – on January 6, 1905, it burned down, and the alleged culprit was, of all things, a monkey that overturned a kerosene lantern. Like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, this may or may not have been the case, but either way the outcome was the same, and Springfield ended up needing a new city hall. See this post for a view taken around the same time, but facing the other direction. For another once-prominent Springfield landmark, notice the white, nearly windowless building on the far right in the distance. The side of it reads “Gilmore Opera House.” Built in 1865, it became the Capitol Theatre in 1920, and it was demolished in 1972.