Old North Church, Boston

The view of Old North Church, looking down Hull Street, sometime in the 1890s. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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About decade later, around 1909. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

 

Old North Church in 2018:

 

From 1909 to 2018, not a whole lot has changed here – aside from the addition of parked cars in the 2011 photo, the only differences for the most part are minor cosmetic changes.  However, from 1898 to 1909, the scene looks very different – most of Hull Street was still dominated by small wood-framed buildings, some of which dated back to the mid 18th century.  The closest wood building on the right-hand side of the street is the Galloupe House, which purportedly was used as General Thomas Gage’s headquarters during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The centerpiece of all three of the photos, however, is Old North Church, which looks almost unchanged.  In fact, though, the entire spire above the brick section is fairly new.  Although the church was built in 1723, making it the oldest church building in Boston, the spire was destroyed in a storm in 1804.  It was replaced with the one seen in the 1909 photo, which was destroyed by Hurricane Carol in 1954.  Despite that, the church still looks very much as it did on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five.

Massachusetts State House, Boston

The Massachusetts State House, as it appeared around 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Its appearance 114 years later, in March 2013:

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The front appearance of the State House is more or less the same as it appeared when it was completed in 1798, although several major additions have changed the other three sides of the building.  One of the additions, completed in 1895, was directly behind the original 1798 structure, and isn’t visible from this angle.  The other additions, the two wings on the left and the right that appear in the 2013 building, were not built until 1917.

King’s Chapel, Boston

King’s Chapel in Boston, as seen between 1900 and 1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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King’s Chapel in March 2013:

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Not much about the church itself has changed, although most of its surroundings have.  The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is still to the left, and the top of the old Boston City Hall is visible just above the roof of the church.  The church was built on the site of a previous, wooden church, which had been built in 1688.  When King’s Chapel was built in the early 1750s, it was literally built around it, and when it was completed, the 1688 church was dismantled and removed through the windows.

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.

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

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

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

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The Old State House in 2013:

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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.

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

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Tremont Street in 2014:

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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.

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

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The building in 2015:

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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.