Old State House, Boston

The view of the 1713 Old State House in Boston, as it appeared around 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

012_1860c-2Bbpl

The building in 1875, decorated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

012_1875-06-17-2Bbpl

The Old State House around 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

012_1898c-2Bbpl

Around 1906, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

012_1906c-2Bloc

The Old State House in 2013:

012_2013

Today, the Old State House is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, although the building to the left has survived to this day.  The building was the capitol of the colony of Massachusetts, and later the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the Revolution until 1798, when it was replaced by the current State House.  It was used as Boston’s city hall from 1830 to 1841, and was preserved and restored in 1881.  Both before and after its use as a city hall, it was used for commercial offices and shops, as seen in the 1860 photo.

Aside from the Old State House, almost everything else has changed in the past 150+ years; over time, nearly all of the buildings in the historic photos have been demolished to create the Financial District in the heart of Downtown Boston that we know today.

One interesting quirk about the building that appears in the last two photos is the doorway on the right hand side next to the corner.  When the State Street subway station was built in 1904, the entrance was built right into the basement of the Old State House.

Park Street Church, Boston

The view of Park Street church, taken in about 1904, looking up Tremont Street with Boston Common on the left. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Street Scenes

A few years later, probably around 1909-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

333_1909-1910-2Bloc

The scene around 1923. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

333_1910-1920-2Bloc

Tremont Street in 2014:

333_2014

Built in 1810, Park Street Church was the tallest building in the United States from its construction until 1846.  Although it’s not as prominent in the skyline as it was when the earlier photos were taken, it still stands out when walking along Tremont Street and the Boston Common.  The church is still in active use, having had a number of notable pastors, including noted abolitionist Edward Beecher, the brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

One less obvious landmark in both photos is the Park Street subway station.  Opened in 1897, it was, along with the nearby Boylston Street station, the first subway station in the world, and was still fairly new when the first photo was taken.  The entrances and exits are the same in both photos, and the station remains a busy MBTA station on the Green Line and Red Line.

On the other side of Tremont Street, many of the buildings from the earlier photos are still around today.  The most obvious is the R.H. Stearns Building, the tall building on the far right of the 2014 photo.  The building was home to the R.H. Stearns department store from 1908 until 1977, when it closed, but the building itself is still there.  In the first photo, the department store was in a different building, with the two towers and the large flag.  This building was demolished to make way for the present building in 1908.

Hampden County Courthouse, Springfield

The Hampden County Courthouse, as seen around 1908 from in front of Old First Church. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

010_1908c-2Bloc

The same building, sometime around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

010_1910-1920-2Bloc

The building in 2015:

010_2015

This historic courthouse building was designed by noted architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1874.  However, the three photos show some striking changes to its appearance.  Although the first and second photos were only taken a few years apart, they illustrate the changes that were made very shortly after the 1908 photo was taken.  The building was renovated and expanded, and part of the remodeling included removing the top floor and its distinct dormers.  The result is a much more toned-down version of Richardson’s original design.  Today, the building’s appearance is very similar to what it looked like a century ago, although it now serves as the courthouse for the Hampden County Housing and Juvenile courts; the new county courthouse is barely visible behind and to the right of the 1874 building.

Technical High School, Springfield

This photo, taken between 1905 and 1910, shows the then-new Technical High School, located on Elliot Street in Springfield. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

009_1905-1910 loc

Over a century later, here’s the same scene as it looks in 2012:

009_2012

The exterior of the building looks the same, but that’s the only thing these two buildings have in common.  The building served as a high school from 1905 until 1986, during which time it had several notable alumni, including Hall of Fame baseball player Rabbit Maranville.  Then, several years ago the building was demolished except for the facade, which was preserved for a new state data center, which is now nearing completion as of December 2012.

Court Square, Springfield (4)

Taken from the same spot as the previous photo, this 1909 photo shows the old Hampden County Courthouse, the Springfield Institute for Savings building, located where the present courthouse is today. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

008_1909-2Bloc

Compare it with this 2012 photo, taken from approximately the same location:

008_2012

The old 1874 courthouse (now the juvenile and housing court) survives largely intact, although the third floor with its Gothic dormers has since been removed, and the Hall of Records in the center of the 1909 photo has been demolished.  The Springfield Institute for Savings building, on the right-hand side of the photo, has also been demolished, and Elm Street has been truncated, in order to build the modern Hampden County Hall of Justice.  One other interesting addition is the statue in the 2012 photo; it is a statue honoring William McKinley, and at the time of the 1909 photo it was residing in Forest Park across the city.  I do not know when it was moved to its present location.

Court Square, Springfield (3)

Long before it was the Hampden County Hall of Justice, East & West Columbus Ave., I-91, and a parking garage, the land behind Old First Church was an ordinary city block, until the early 20th century, when it was cleared to create an extension of Court Square.  Although this open space was itself carved up for the various projects that followed, the 1909 photo below shows a view of it shortly after it was cleared. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

007_1909-2Bloc

This 2012 photo was taken at close to – although not exactly the same spot.

007_2012

The original was taken from what is now East Columbus Ave., so instead of standing in the middle of the road I took it from the sidewalk, looking at the last remnant of the western extension of Court Square:The rear section of Old First Church factors heavily in both of these photos.  As the only surviving building from the 1909 photo, it nonetheless has undergone renovations.  While the church itself is largely the same as it was in 1819, the brick addition, which was built in 1874, shows changes between the two photos.  Although it first appears that a third story was added, there was in fact no changes to the height of the structure.  Rather, it appears that the entire section was gutted, and rebuilt to allow for three floors.  If you look closely, you can see the bricked-up places where the old windows used to be, in between the modern windows.  A plaque on the inside of the church indicates that this renovation was done in 1947.  Presumably during the same renovations, the brick steeple on the right-hand side was removed.  The church’s main white steeple is there in the 1909 photo, although it is mostly hidden behind the small tree in the center.  Other than the church though, all of the other buildings in the photo have since been demolished, some of which were where City Hall was built only a few years later.