Brewer-Young Mansion, Longmeadow, Mass (2)

The Brewer-Young Mansion at 734 Longmeadow Street in Longmeadow, in July 1911. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society.

The house in 2018:

As discussed in the previous post, this house was built in 1885, and was originally the home of noted Congregationalist pastor and hymn writer Samuel Wolcott. Subsequent owners included businessman, farmer, and former state legislator Edward S. Brewer, who was living here when the first photo was taken in 1911. The photo shows the front of the house, with its large gambrel roof and distinctive portico, and there is a group of three unidentified men standing on the well-landscaped front lawn.

Brewer died later in 1911, and his widow Corinne lived here until later in the decade. By the early 1920s, the property was sold to Mary Ida Young, the co-founder of W.F. Young, Inc., an animal care product company best known for developing the horse liniment Absorbine. She lived here for the rest of her life, until her death in 1960 at the age of 95, and the house remained in the Young family until 1989, when it was sold because of the high cost of upkeep.

The house changed ownership many times over the next few decades, but the 11,000 square foot, 130-year-old mansion proved impractical as a single-family home. It steadily deteriorated and was finally foreclosed in 2015, but it was purchased two years later, a few months before the second photo was taken. Thanks to a zoning change to the property, the new owners are currently in the process of restoring the house and converting it into professional offices, which will help to ensure the long-term preservation of this important local landmark.

Brewer-Young Mansion, Longmeadow, Mass

The Brewer-Young Mansion at 734 Longmeadow Street in Longmeadow, on July 7, 1908. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Colonial Revival-style mansion was built in 1885, and was originally the home of Samuel Wolcott, a noted Congregationalist pastor and hymn writer. Born in South Windsor in 1813, Wolcott spent the early years of his ministry as a missionary in the Middle East, before returning to the United States and serving as pastor of a number of churches, including here in Longmeadow from 1843 to 1847. He subsequently served in churches as far away as Cleveland and Chicago, but eventually returned to Longmeadow after his retirement.

Two of Reverend Wolcott’s sons, Henry and Edward Wolcott, had this house built for their father. Both sons had gone west to Colorado, where they both prospered, with Edward later serving as a U. S. Senator from 1889 to 1901. Their father’s mansion reflected their wealth, but he did not get to enjoy it for very long. He died in 1886, at the age of 72, only about a year after the completion of the house, although his widow Harriet continued to live here until her death in 1901. The 1900 census shows her here along with her daughters Clara and Charlotte, and two servants.

After Harriet’s death, the property was sold to Edward S. Brewer, a businessman and farmer who had previously lived in Springfield. He had represented the city in the state legislature in 1892 and 1893, and he later became a member of the Longmeadow board of selectmen after moving to this house. He extensively renovated the house in 1906, and this was evidently when the house acquired its distinctive Colonial Revival appearance. The first photo was taken only two years later, and shows both the ornate exterior and the landscaped lawn in the front of the house.

The 1910 census lists Edward Brewer living here with his wife Corinne and three servants. He died a year later, but Corinne remained here until at least 1918. However, by the 1920 census she was living in Boston with her daughter Maud, and she died in 1921. The house was then sold to Mary Ida Young, a widow who, along with her late husband Wilbur, had co-founded the animal care product company W.F. Young, Inc. back in 1892.

The W.F. Young company is best known for developing the horse liniment Absorbine, along with the related product Absorbine Jr., which was intended for human use. At the time, the company was headquartered in Springfield, and the Young family lived in a house on State Street. However, Wilbur died in 1918, and Mary subsequently moved to this house in Longmeadow a few years later. Their son, Wilbur F. Young II, became company president after his father’s death, but he died in 1928 at the age of 30, leaving Mary to assume control of the company.

Mary ultimately outlived her husband by more than 40 years, and ran the company into her 90s, until she handed it over to her daughter Sally and grandson, Wilbur F. Young III in 1957. She continued to live in this house throughout this time, and remained here until her death in 1960, at the age of 95. The house stayed in the Young family for several more decades, although the high costs of upkeep eventually led the family to sell the property in 1989.

Today, W.F. Young, Inc. is still in business, and still produces Absorbine. It is now headquartered in nearby East Longmeadow, where it is still owned by the Young family. However, the former family home has not fared so well over the years. Since being sold in 1989, it has gone through a revolving door of ownership, and has steadily deteriorated. It was foreclosed on in 2015, but was purchased two years later, shortly before the second photo was taken. The house is now undergoing restoration, and the interior is in the process of being converted into professional offices.

Old Country Store, Longmeadow, Mass

The Old Country Store at 776 Longmeadow Street, near the corner of Williams Street in Longmeadow, on October 14, 1912. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society.

The scene in 2018:

This building was constructed around 1805, and was originally owned by Calvin Burt, who operated a general store out of the first floor. The post office was also located here for many years, and the building housed a variety of retail occupants throughout the 19th century. These included William White, who had a gold and silver thimble shop here from 1839 to 1848, in addition to his duties as a postmaster. He was succeeded by button manufacturer Dimond Chandler, whose factory was located here in a part of the building that has since been demolished. Chandler went into business with his son-in-law, Nelson C. Newell, an Nelson’s brother Samuel, and the two carried on the business after Chandler’s retirement in 1855. They would subsequently relocate to Springfield in 1864, opening a large factory on Howard Street.

The store was later used as a spectacle shop, but by the end of the 19th century it had again reverted to a general store, run by Charles Allen. He died in 1909, and by 1911 the store had been sold to Charles L. Wood, whose shop is visible in the first photo.The sign above the door advertises for “Meat and Groceries” and “Fish and Oysters,” and there is an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables visible in the window on the left side. To the right of the door is a large display for “Pillsbury’s Best Flour,” which was “Made from selected hard wheat,” and “never disappoints.” On the left side of the building, just beyond the mailbox, is a bulletin board with a number of flyers, including one that reads “$20 reward,” although the rest of this flyer, including the details of the reward, is unreadable from this distance.

The business would be owned by several more merchants during the first half of the 20th century, and remained as a general store until 1964, when it became a women’s clothing store called The Separate Shop. The building now houses the Spa on the Green, but it has seen very few exterior changes since the first photo was taken more than 100 years ago. It survives as a rare, well-preserved early 19th century commercial building, and it is a contributing property in the Longmeadow Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Converse Street, Longmeadow, Mass

Looking east on Converse Street from the corner of Longmeadow Street, on May 13, 1913. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The view in 2016:

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The two photos on the left are the same ones seen in the previous post, and this view shows some of the development along the western end of Converse Street that was happening in the 1910s. Part of the South Park Terrace development, most of the houses along Converse Street had just been built when the first photo was taken, and more would be added in this area as Longmeadow became a major suburb of Springfield. In the century since the first photo was taken, Converse Street has been paved, and the end was angled a bit to share a traffic light with Englewood Road on the other side of Longmeadow Street, but otherwise not much has changed in this scene, and most of the historic early 20th century homes here are still standing.

Graves House, Longmeadow, Mass

The Bernard Graves House at the corner of Longmeadow and Converse Streets, on November 22, 1913. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

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This view provides an interesting side-by-side comparison of two different architectural styles from around the turn of the century. Although built only a few years apart, these two houses represent a shift in style that was happening during this time. The house on the left was built around 1900, and it is an example of Queen Anne architecture, which was popular in the last few decades of the Victorian era. This particular house is actually a fairly subdued version of it; a typical Queen Anne house is usually highly decorative, with plenty of ornamentation and a complex combination of design features. A good example of this can be seen in this Springfield mansion from a previous post. This Longmeadow house was built towards the end of the style’s popularity, but it still has some of the common features, especially with its bay windows, wraparound porch, and asymmetrical design.

The house on the right, on the other hand, represents the Craftsman style of architecture that was gaining popularity just as Queen Anne was falling out of fashion. It was largely a response to the perceived excess of the Victorian era and, by extension, its often gaudy architecture. Rather than decorating houses with excessive amounts of ornamentation, the idea behind the Craftsman style was to simplify, and emphasize quality of workmanship. The house here, which was originally the home of insurance agent Bernard E. Graves and his wife Mary, was built around 1906, near the beginning of this style’s popularity. Over a century later, both it and the Queen Anne house remain well-preserved examples of their respective architectural styles, and aside from the shutters on the house and shed in the backyard, it is hard to notice any differences in these two photographs.

Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, Mass

Looking south on Longmeadow Street from the corner of Bliss Road, on March 27, 1908. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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Longmeadow Street in 2016:

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Most of the views along Longmeadow Street have not changed much over the past century, but here there are some noticeable differences. To the left is St. Mary’s Church, which was built in the early 1930s along with the house next to it. They replaced the two houses on the left side of the first photo, but the third house in the distance is still standing. It is now part of Bay Path University, whose main campus is located on the right side of the street, just out of view in this scene.

Another change from the first photo is the trolley tracks, which were built in the 1890s. Part of the Springfield Street Railway, they helped to spur development in Longmeadow by making it easy for people to live here and commute to Springfield. This led to new housing developments such as the scenes in earlier posts on Bliss Road and Belleclaire Avenue, both of which are just around the corner from here.