Andrew L. Fennessy House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 29 Buckingham Place in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This ornate Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884, and was originally the home of banker Andrew L. Fennessy. At the time, he was cashier for J. G. Mackintosh & Co., but in 1886 he started the banking firm of Fennessy, Armstrong & Co. This business evidently prospered, because within just a few years he was building a new, much larger home on Maple Street. The house was completed in 1888, but his stay there was also short-lived, because in 1891 he moved to Boston and sold his Maple Street residence to paper manufacturer and philanthropist Nathan Bill.

In the meantime, his former home here on Buckingham Place was purchased by Edward H. Phelps, the treasurer and editor of the Phelps Publishing Company. This Springfield-based company had its origins in 1878, when Phelps left his position with the Springfield Union newspaper in order to purchase the New England Homestead. Phelps revived this moribund agricultural journal, and subsequently expanded his company’s holdings to include Farm and HomeAmerican Agriculturalist, and the Orange Judd Farmer. He remained with the company until 1890, when, shortly after purchasing this house, he decided to retire from publishing because of poor health. However, his ailments did not prevent him from starting the Phelps Music Company, which he ran until his death in 1897 at the age of 55.

Following his death, this house remained in the Phelps family for about 20 years. The 1910 census shows his widow, Harriet, living here with their son Walter, his wife Flora, and their daughters Harriet and Dorothy. Walter carried on the family tradition by publishing the Springfield Weekly Guide, and he lived here with his mother until her death in 1914. By 1917, though, he and Flora had moved to a newly-built house on Trinity Terrace in the Forest Park neighborhood, and this house on Buckingham Place was subsequently sold.

The next owner of this house was G. Fred Estey, the treasurer of the H. W. Carter Paper Company. A native of New Brunswick, Estey came to the United States as a teenager. He held a variety of jobs in Boston during the late 19th century, eventually working for many years in the accounting department of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company before coming to Springfield in 1908 to work for H. W. Carter Paper. He and his wife Geneva had two children, Helen and Roger, who were born during the family’s time in Boston, but Geneva died in 1909, shortly after the move to Springfield. The 1920 census shows Estey living here along with Helen, Roger, his aunt Ester Sutherland, and a servant. They would remain here until the mid-1920s, but by 1926 Estey had moved to a house on Westford Circle.

Subsequent owners of this house included Henry G. Miller,a phonograph salesman who was living here during the 1930 census along with his wife Carrie and their four children. By 1933, though, the house had changed hands again, and was the home of Elwin O. Rowell, an engineer for the Boston & Maine Railroad. He and his wife Dell were still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and the 1940 census shows them renting a room to Horace G. Clark, a city police officer.

Today, this house is one of the many fine Victorian-era homes that still stand in Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood. At one point during the 20th century, the house was covered in aluminum siding, but this has since been removed and the exterior has been restored to its original appearance. As a result. the present-day view shows very few changes since the first photo was taken some 80 years ago, and the house is now part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

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.

First Congregational Church, Holyoke, Mass

The First Congregational Church, at the corner of Hampden and Pleasant Streets in Holyoke, around 1910. Image from Holyoke: Past and Present Progress and Prosperity (1910).

The church in 2017:

Holyoke’s First Congregational Church was established in 1799, as the Third Congregational Church of West Springfield. At the time, West Springfield encompassed the present-day towns of Agawam and Holyoke. The latter was variously known as the Third Parish or Ireland Parish, and was only sparsely settled, with most of its population was located along Northampton Street. The church had only 11 members when it was established, and shared space with the First Baptist Church. Not until 1834 did the Congregational church move into a building of its own, upon the completion of a modest Greek Revival-style church near the corner of Northampton and Dwight Streets.

Holyoke was incorporated as a separate municipality in 1850, and the church became the First Congregational Church of Holyoke. Around the same time, the new town was undergoing a rapid transformation from a small farming community into a major industrial center. However, most of this new development was along the banks of the Connecticut River, far removed from the church on Northampton Street. Despite a significant growth in Holyoke’s population, the church actually declined in membership during this time, with many parishioners leaving to join the newly-established Second Congregational Church, with its more convenient location at the corner of High and Dwight Streets.

Faced with this decline, along with a revolving door of pastors throughout the 1870s and 1880s, the church finally decided to relocate closer to downtown Holyoke. In 1886, the church purchased this lot at the corner of Hampden and Pleasant Streets, and by the end of the following year it had completed a chapel on the site, which is visible on the far right side of both photos. Although still located some distance from downtown Holyoke, the new church was situated in the midst of a new upscale residential development, and within just a few years its membership had more than doubled, from 64 at the time of the 1887 move, to around 160 by 1890.

Church services were held in this chapel until 1894, when the church building itself was completed. The new church was the work of prominent Holyoke architect George P. B. Alderman, and featured a Romanesque-style design that was common for churches of this period. The exterior was primarily brick, with brownstone trim, and included common Romanesque elements such as rounded arches, asymmetrical facades, and a mix of towers and turrets of varying heights. The overall design bore some resemblance to the new Second Congregational Church, which had been completed almost a decade earlier on Maple Street, although that church had been constructed entirely of brownstone instead of brick.

Throughout the 20th century, the First Congregational Church underwent a series of mergers and name changes. In 1961, it became First United Congregational Church after a merger with the German Reformed Church, and then in 1973 it became Grace United Church after merging with Grace Church. The members of Grace United continued to worship here until 1995, when the church merged with the Second Congregational Church, becoming the United Congregational Church of Holyoke. Following this merger, most religious services were held at the former Second Congregational building on Maple Street, but the church retained ownership of the former First Congregational building here on Pleasant Street, which was repurposed as the E. B. Robinson Ecumenical Mission Center. The church still owns the property today, and the historic building is still standing with few exterior changes since the first photo was taken, although it appears to vacant as of the 2017 photo.

Second Congregational Church, Holyoke, Mass

The Second Congregational Church, seen from Maple Street near the corner of Appleton Street in Holyoke, around 1891. Image from Holyoke Illustrated (1891).

The church in 2017:

The Second Congregational Church was established in 1849, at a time when Holyoke was just beginning its transformation into a major industrial center. Prior to this time, the area’s population was centered further up the hill from here, along Northampton Street. The First Congregational Church was located there, but this site proved inconvenient for those who were moving into the newly-developed area along the river. This led to the formation of the Second Congregational Church, which built its first meeting house at the corner of High and Dwight Streets in 1853.

At the time, the church had just 36 members, in a building that could seat 800. However, as Holyoke grew so did the congregation, and by the 1880s it had outgrown the old building. Its location, right at the intersection of two major streets, had also become undesirable because of the levels of noise outside, so in 1885 the church moved into this new building a few blocks away, at the corner of Maple and Appleton Streets. Like many churches of the era, it was built of brownstone and featured Romanesque-style architecture, including an asymmetrical main facade with a tall tower at one corner and a shorter one at the other. The book Story of the Holyoke Churches, published a few years later in 1890, provides the following description:

The church edifice is a most imposing structure. It is built of East Longmeadow stone, with a tower at the northwest corner, 112 feet high. The chapel is at the rear of the church auditorium, with an entrance from Appleton street, its rear elevation being upon High street. Its style is Romanesque. It is undoubtedly as fine a church edifice as there is in the State outside the city of Boston. It will comfortably seat 1,100 persons. All its internal appointments are exceedingly attractive and convenient. It is the pride, not only of the congregation worshiping regularly within its walls, but also of our citizens generally.

In 1912, the Skinner Memorial Chapel was added next to the church, as seen on the far right of the 2017 photo. It was named for the late silk manufacturer William Skinner and his wife Sarah, and was built with funds provided by their children. However, just seven years later, in 1919, the church was almost completely destroyed in a fire. The chapel survived, as did the large tower on the left side, but otherwise only a few fragments from the original building survived. The Boston architectural firm of Allen & Collens, which had designed the chapel, was hired to provide plans for the reconstruction of the rest of the church. The result was a Gothic-style design that matched the chapel, while also incorporating the original Romanesque-style tower.

In 1995, Second Congregational Church merged with Grace United Church, which had itself been formed by a merger of several churches, including First Congregational. Following this merger, it was renamed the United Congregational Church of Holyoke, and its members continue to worship here today. The building itself stands as one of the many historic church buildings in Holyoke, although these two photos illustrate the difference between the original 1885 design and the 1921 reconstruction.