Isaac Mills House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 2 Crescent Hill in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1859, at the corner of Crescent Hill and Pine Street, and was originally the home of Isaac Mills. He was about 33 years old at the time, and was the son of John Mills, a prominent lawyer and politician who lived across the street in an elegant Italianate villa. John Mills held a number of political offices, including President of the Massachusetts Senate, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and Treasurer and Receiver-General of Massachusetts.

However, Isaac did not follow his father into law or politics, and instead became a local businessman. In the late 1840s, he was a partner in the Springfield-based railroad car manufacturing company of Dean, Packard & Mills. This company proved short-lived, though, and by 1853 he was working for the coal company of his father-in-law, Edmund Palmer. During the 1855 census, he and his wife Ann were living in his father’s house on Crescent Hill, but by the end of the decade they had moved into this newly-built house across the street.

Isaac eventually took over his father-in-law’s coal company and ran it until his death in 1892. Ann died the following year, but their two daughters, Emily and Elizabeth, inherited this house and lived here for the rest of their lives. Neither of them ever married, and early 20th century census records show them living here alone except for a servant. Emily died in 1934, but Elizabeth was still living here when the first photo was taken, some 80 years after she moved here with her parents as an infant.

Elizabeth Mills died in 1944, but the exterior of the house has remained well-preserved since then. Most of the shutters are now gone, but otherwise the house looks essentially the same as it did almost 80 years ago. Along with the other 19th and early 20th century homes in the area, the house is now part of the Ames Hill/Crescent Hill Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

John Ames House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 398 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1893. Image from Sketches of the old inhabitants and other citizens of old Springfield (1893).

 

The scene in 2017:

 

This house was built in 1828 by David Ames, Sr., a prominent paper manufacturer who had previously served as the first superintendent of the Springfield Armory, from 1794 to 1802. He lived in a modest house nearby on Mill Street, at the foot of Maple Street, but in the mid-1820s his son, David Ames, Jr., built a large mansion atop the hill on Maple Street, which came to be known as Ames Hill. Shortly after, in 1828, David Ames, Sr. built this architecturally-similar house for his son John, who was about 28 years old at the time.

John was, along with his brother David, involved with their father’s paper company, and he invented and patented a number of papermaking machines. However, he never actually lived here in this house. It was completed around the same time that he was engaged to be married, and he was supposed to live here with his new wife. The wedding ultimately did not happen, though, and John remained a lifelong bachelor, living in his father’s house on Mill Street until his death in 1890.

In the meantime, this house remained vacant for many years. The grounds occupied the entire triangle of land between Mill, Pine, and Maple Streets, and the house would have been easily visible up the hill when looking out the front windows of the Ames house on Mill Street. Although vacant, it was owned by the Ames family until 1856, when it was sold to Samuel Knox, a lawyer and politician from St. Louis.

Originally from Blandford, Massachusetts, Samuel Knox graduated from Williams College and Harvard Law School, and subsequently moved to St. Louis, where he established his law practice in 1838. He continued to live in Missouri for many years, but in 1856 he purchased this house as a summer residence, and owned it until 1869. During this time, he ran for Congress in 1862, in Missouri’s first congressional district. He lost to incumbent Francis Preston Blair, Jr., but Knox contested the results, and in 1864 he was declared the winner, with less than nine months remaining in his term. He served the rest of his term, but lost re-election in 1864 and subsequently returned to his law practice. He sold this house a few years later, but he would eventually move back to Massachusetts permanently, living in his native Blandford until his death in 1905, and he was buried only a short distance away from here in Springfield Cemetery.

In 1869, this house was purchased by George R. Dickinson. Like the original owner of the house, he was a paper manufacturer, and ran the George R. Dickinson Paper Company in Holyoke. Born and raised in Readsboro, Vermont, Dickinson later moved to Holyoke, and in 1859 he married his first wife, Mary Jane Clark. They had one child, Henry Smith Dickinson, who was born in 1863, but Mary died several days later. The following year, George remarried to Mary’s sister, Harriet, and they had a son, George R. Dickinson, Jr., who was born around the same time that the family moved into this house.

The younger George drowned in 1876 at the age of seven, but his older half brother Henry grew up here in this house, and eventually joined his father in the paper business. Upon George’s death in 1887, Henry inherited this property and also became president of the George R. Dickinson Paper Company. He remained in this role until 1899, when Dickinson Paper was acquired by the American Writing Paper Company, with Henry becoming the company’s vice president.

Along with his involvement in the paper industry, Henry was also active in politics. In 1884, he served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and he was also chairman of the Republican City Committee here in Springfield. He subsequently served as a city alderman in 1889 and as president of the board of alderman in 1890, and he served one term each as a state representative in 1891 and mayor of Springfield in 1898.

When the first photo was taken around 1893, Henry and his wife Estella were living here in this house along with his stepmother Harriet. However, in 1894 Harriet remarried, and by the following year Henry and Estella had house of their own at 192 Pearl Street. In the meantime, Harriet and her second husband, William W. Stewart, remained here in this house. However, Estella died in 1902, and he subsequently remarried to his second wife Agnes. By the 1910 census Henry had returned to this house, where he was living with William, Harriet, Agnes, and the four children from his first marriage: George, Henry, Stuart, and Harriet.

Henry died in 1912, and Harriet in 1915, but the house was still in the family as late as 1919, when Henry’s three sons were living here. However, by the early 1920s the house was the home of George A. MacDonald, the president of the Chicopee National Bank. He was living here as late as the mid 1920s, but by the end of the decade the house was being rented by George W. Ferguson, the pastor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. During the 1930 census, he and his wife May were living here with May’s three teenage sons from her first marriage, along with four servants.

The Fergusons were living here as late as 1933, but by the following year the house was listed as vacant in the city directory. It was evidently demolished soon after, because it does not appear in late 1930s directories or in the WPA images of Maple Street, which were done in 1938-1939. The site was subsequently redeveloped, and it is now the site of a Colonial Revival-style Mormon church, which was built in 1957. There is no longer any trace of the old house here in his scene, but at least one thing from the first photo is evidently still in existence. The carriage house, barely visible in the distance to the right of the house in the first photo, was apparently moved to East Forest Park and converted into a residence, where it still stands at the corner of Ellsworth Avenue and Gifford Street.

Ernest D. Bugbee House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 68 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1910 as the home of Ernest D. Bugbee, the treasurer of the D. H. Brigham clothing company on Main Street. He was about 36 years old at the time, and had already lived in several different homes in the Forest Park neighborhood. Until about 1907 he lived in the house next door to the right, a 64 Washington Road. Then, from about 1908 to 1910 he lived at 116 Fort Pleasant Avenue, before returning to Washington Road and moving into this house around 1910. He was living here with his wife Maud and two servants during the 1910 census, but they did not remain here for very long, and by 1913 they were living in another newly-built house at 208 Longhill Street.

This house on Washington Road was subsequently purchased by Harry L. Hawes, a businessman who owned a sporting goods store on Main Street. He and his wife Mary were both in their 40s at the time, and they continued to live here for many years. Harry died in January 1939, probably right around the same time that the first photo was taken. During the 1940 census, Mary was living here alone except for a servant, and she remained here until her death a decade later in 1950.

Today, this elegant Colonial Revival-style home has hardly changed in the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken. The second-floor shutters are gone, and there is a different design in the pediment above the front entrance, but overall the house has remained very well-preserved, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Jesse M. Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 44 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1901, and was originally the home of Jesse M. Marsh, the secretary and manager of the Commonwealth Securities Company. He lived here with his wife, who was, curiously enough, also named Jessie, and they lived here with their son Walter. During the 1910 census, they also lived here with Jessie’s widowed sister, M. Louise Dorsey, and her 26-year-old daughter, Agnes. However, around 1913 the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and this house was subsequently sold.

The house was purchased in 1913 by Henry and Mary T. Beach. Mary died a few years later in 1918, but Henry was still living here during the 1920 census, along with his daughter Della, his son Philip, his sisters-in-law Anne Brosnan and Josephine Holian, and Josephine’s two sons, John and Bernard. Henry died in 1928, followed by Anne two years later, and by the 1930 census only Josephine and Bernard were still living in this house. They were paying $50 per month to rent the property, and 21-year-old Bernard was working as a clerk in a broker’s office at the time.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was being rented by Edward S. Chase, an insurance agent for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He and his wife Dora were both in their mid-50s at the time, and they lived here with their son Phillip, Edward’s mother Emma, and a lodger. They remained here into the 1940s, and Emma died in 1943, but about a year later they left and moved into a house on Claremont Street in Springfield. Since then, the exterior appearance of the house has remained essentially unchanged, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Francis R. Richmond House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 20 Greenleaf Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1893, and was originally the home of Francis R. Richmond, a prominent local architect. He was born in Shelburne Falls, but he later came to Springfield, where he began his architectural career with the firm of Gardner & Gardner. He later partnered with B. Hammett Seabury to form Richmond & Seabury, and their firm’s works in the 1880s included the Tapley School, the Jefferson Avenue School, and the chapel and gate for Oak Grove Cemetery. However, in 1890 they dissolved the partnership, and Richmond went into business for himself. Over the next 17 years, he designed buildings such as the South Main Street School, the North Main Street Fire Station, the Memorial Church Parish House, and several downtown commercial blocks, including the Homestead Building on Worthington Street.

Francis and his wife Laura had six children, although two died young, before the family moved into this house. The other four children were still living here during the 1900 census, with 20-year-old Mabel working as a schoolteacher, while 18-year-old Alice was a milliner. The two youngest, Florence and Otis, were 13 and 12, respectively, and both were attending school at the time. Francis died seven years later, from what his death certificate listed as “chronic melancholia & chronic gastritis,” but the rest of the family, plus Alice’s husband George Allen, were still living here in this house during the 1910 census.

The house would remain in the Richmond family until Laura’s death in 1919, and by the following year it was owned by Erving R. Gurney, the chief engineer for the Springfield-based Knox Motor Company. He and his wife Edith were both in their early 40s at the time, and had six children children who were in their teens and early 20s: Georgianna, William, Dorothy, Marguerite, Alice, and Edith. They lived here for several years, but by 1924 they had moved to New York.

The house was subsequently sold to William J. Warner, who was living here by about 1925 along with his wife Minnie and their children, Janet and Allen. At the time, he was the sales manager of the Hampden Glazed Card and Paper Company, but in the late 1920s he became the vice president of the Marvellum Company in Holyoke. Then, in 1931, this company established the Beveridge-Marvellum Company, with Warner as president and general manager. He continued to live here until as late as 1936, but by 1937 the family had moved to a house on Bellevue Avenue, in the northern section of the Forest Park Heights neighborhood.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, the house was owned by Homer R. Feltham, the head of the real estate department for the Springfield Safe Deposit and Trust Company. During the 1940 census, he was earning $4,200 for his yearly salary – a considerable sum at the time – and he lived here with his wife Mildred, their daughters Barbara and Virginia, and his father, William H. Feltham, who owned the William H. Feltham & Son real estate and insurance business. Homer later became the vice president and mortgage officer of the Springfield Institution for Savings, and he and Mildred lived in this house until they sold the property in 1957.

Since then, the house has undergone some exterior changes. The second-floor porch has been enclosed, and many of the Queen Anne-style architectural details are gone, including the scalloped shingles on the second floor, the balustrade on the left side, the dentils above the first and second floors, and the balustrade on the third floor. Overall, though, the house has been well-maintained, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Charles W. Rannenberg House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 90 Garfield Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1893, and is among the oldest of the homes in the Forest Park neighborhood, which was developed around the turn of the 20th century as an upscale suburb just to the south of downtown Springfield. It was originally owned by Charles W. Rannenberg, a traveling salesman who lived here with his wife Caroline and their two children, Gertrude and Karl. Gertrude died in 1905, at the age of 22, from diabetes, but the rest of the family continued to live in this house for many years.

Karl married his wife Pauline in 1917, and they lived here with his parents and raised four children of their own: Norma, Karl, Paul, and Arlene. Karl’s mother Caroline died in the 1920s, and Charles died in 1936, only a few years before the first photo was taken, but the rest of the family was still living here as late as 1939, along with Pauline’s mother, Lillie Beaune. However, by the 1940 census they had moved across the street and were renting the house at 77 Garfield Street. They would later purchase that house, and lived there until their deaths in the late 1960s.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, this house has remained well-preserved, with only a few minor changes. The small porch on the right side is gone, the second-floor porch is now enclosed, and the chimneys have been altered, but otherwise the house retains its original Queen Anne-style appearance. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, this house is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.