High Street, Holyoke Mass (1)

Looking north on High Street between Suffolk and Dwight Streets, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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High Street in 2015:


Holyoke has a number of buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but these photos show the only Historic District located within the city.  The two photos show a number of changes in the past 100 years, but even the most of the “new” buildings seen in the 2015 photo date to the 1920s or earlier.  Several notable buildings from the first photo have survived, though.  On the left-hand side, starting closest to the foreground, they are:

  • Mayberry Building (narrow red brick building) – Built in 1881, although it had a fourth story added at some point after the 1908 photo.
  • Russell-Osborne Building (the next red brick building) – Built in 1885, this building’s ornate facade contrasts with most of the other more reserved architectural styles, but it has lost some of its decoration over the years, including the gargoyle-like carvings that can be seen in the 1908 photo.
  • Ball Block (yellow brick, in center of the photos) – Built in 1898 and located at the corner of High and Dwight Streets, this was an office building but was later converted into a bank.  However, most of the modifications were made to the interior, so from the outside it hasn’t changed much in appearance since the first photo was taken.
  • Caledonia Building (in the distance, flying an American flag) – Built in 1874, its Second Empire architectural style with a mansard roof is very different from most of the other buildings along this part of High Street, but its exterior hasn’t changed much since it was built.

Paper Mills, Holyoke Mass

A view of some of the paper mills in Holyoke, Mass, around 1900-1906.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same view in 2014:


It’s a common scene in New England – a once prosperous mill town that fell on hard times once the manufacturing jobs left. Holyoke Massachusetts is a prime example of this; it is located along the Hadley Falls on the Connecticut River, which made it an ideal location for water-powered mills. In 1849, a system of power canals was built parallel to the river, and this section of Holyoke was developed as an industrial center. The city became home to a number of paper mills, giving rise to its nickname as the “Paper City.”  One such paper company, the American Pad & Paper Company, was founded in Holyoke in 1888, and is now one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers, Ampad.

This particular view looks down one of the canals from Gatehouse Road, with several mill buildings visible to the left and center of the photo. The building in the distance in left-center is identified in the first photo as the Valley Paper Company, and although I don’t know what became of the company, their building still exists today, along with many other, now-vacant brick factories in the city.

Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass. (2)

The view of the Mt. Tom Summit House between 1905 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2014:


These photos were taken from around the location of the upper station of the trolley line; from here, visitors would walk up to the summit. Today, the Metacomet & Monadnock Trail traverses the summit and goes past the location where the photos were taken, on its way from the Connecticut state line to the summit of Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire.

Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass. (1)

The view of the Mt. Tom Summit House around 1900-1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same view in 2014:


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, mountain-top hotels were all the rage. Among other things, they offered spectacular views, along with cooler weather during the hot, humid New England summers in the days before air conditioning. There were three such hotels in the Mt. Tom vicinity alone, including this one at the summit of the highest point along the range. However, along with being very popular, their isolated location also made them vulnerable to fire. The building in this photo was the second built on the summit; the first, which opened in 1897, burned in 1900. This one would eventually burn as well, in 1929. A third one was built, but closed in 1938, a victim of the Great Depression as well as changes in demand.

Today, the foundation of the hotel is there, but it is filled with the antennas and related equipment, and is fenced-in and off limits to the public.  Hikers to the summit can still walk along the boardwalk, or at least what’s left of it. The part seen in the second photo has collapsed, and other parts of the boardwalk are in various stages of decay, but today it is the only obvious reminder of that was once at the summit.

View looking north from the Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass.

The view looking north from the Mt. Tom Summit House, between 1900 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The view in 2014:


As with the previous photo, it wasn’t possible to perfectly re-create the original image, because it was taken from atop a building that no longer exists. However, the 2014 photo shows the same general view, although from ground level.  I took the photo from around the same spot as the concession stand in the lower right corner of the first photo.  According to the sign on the building, they offered “Salted Peanuts and Kibbe’s Corn Cakes” for five cents.  The building further away on the right-hand side of the photo is the upper station of the railway, which ran trolleys up and down the mountain, carrying passengers for 25 cents per ride.  The boardwalk in the first photo leads down to the station, where the people in the photo most certainly arrived at the summit – I can’t imagine any of them climbing up in such clothing.

Mt. Tom Summit House View, Holyoke, Mass.

The view of Easthampton from the Summit House on Mt. Tom, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


Approximately the same view in 2014:


It’s almost impossible to get an identical view, because the Summit House no longer exists, and the actual site of it has radio towers that are behind fences.  However, these two photos both show the same general section of the boardwalk that once went across the summit. The 2014 photo was probably taken around the spot in the lower left of the 1908 photo where a flat rock protrudes above the boardwalk. Compare to a similar “before” view, and a 2010 view of the location.