Fort Gilbert Monument, West Brookfield, Mass

The Fort Gilbert Monument at the corner of North Main and Winter Streets in West Brookfield, around 1902-1927. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The monument in 2016:

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The town of Brookfield, which originally included present-day North, East, and West Brookfield, was first settled by Europeans in 1660 as the town of Quaboag. At the time, it was in a very isolated location in central Massachusetts, some 25 miles from the towns in the Connecticut River valley and twice as far from Boston and the other towns along the coast. Because of this, it was very vulnerable to an Indian attack, which occurred in 1675 during King Philip’s War. The town was destroyed and abandoned, with many of the settlers moving back to where they had previously lived.

Over a decade later, settlers returned, and this time they came better prepared for potential raids. They built four forts, including Fort Gilbert here in the western part of the town. It included barracks for soldiers and, if necessary during a raid, to house the families of the town, and it was surrounded by a stockade. The fort was still standing during the French and Indian War, although it was far removed from any battles, and some of its remains were still visible well into the 19th century.

Today, any evidence of the fort is long gone, but the site is marked with this simple monument, which was put here around 1900. It is located in a small park next to the West Brookfield Elementary School, on North Main Street just west of the town common.

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.

Belleclaire Avenue, Longmeadow, Mass

Looking east on Belleclaire Avenue from the corner of Lognmeadow Street, on August 23, 1918. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The street in 2016:

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This street is a block north of Bliss Road, which is seen in the previous post. Like Bliss Road, Belleclaire Avenue was part of the rapid suburban development that was occurring in Longmeadow in the first two decades of the 20th century. Most of the homes here were built around 1915, with a variety of designs that reflect the popular Craftsman-style architecture of the era. Since the first photo was taken, little has changed here. A few houses, like the one on the far right, were added soon after, and the trees have grown up, but otherwise the street looks much the same as it did almost a century ago.

Bliss Road, Longmeadow, Mass

Looking east on Bliss Road from near Longmeadow Street, on May 14, 1918. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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Bliss Road in 2016:

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As Springfield grew in population in the early 20th century, so did Longmeadow to the south. From a population of just over 800 in 1900, the town more than tripled by 1920 as large tracts of land were subdivided and developed. This was the case here on Bliss Road, where most of the houses here were newly built when the first photo was taken. The two houses on the right are slightly older, dating to about 1905-1910, but the rest, including the row of Craftsman-style bungalows on the left, were built around 1915.

Very little has changed here in the past 98 years; the Bliss Road went from a dirt road to one of the main east-west roads in town, but otherwise the houses are all still standing, with a couple of new ones in the distance. Even small details, like the fire hydrant on the right side of the road, remain today, and I have to wonder if some of the telephone poles from the first photo are still there too.