Hotel Worthy, Springfield

The Hotel Worthy, at the corner of Main and Worthington in Springfield, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Hotels

The building in 2017:

 

Unlike many of the other views of downtown Springfield from the turn of the last century, almost nothing has changed in this scene.  Taken from the corner of Main and Worthington, with Worthington to the left and Main to the right, most of the buildings in this photo have survived.  The only exception is the building to the immediate right of the Hotel Worthy, which is now a public square.  The historic hotel itself is now an apartment building, and the buildings beyond it to the left down Worthington Street now house a variety of bars and restaurants.  One of these, Smith’s Billiards, has actually been open since before the 1908 photo was taken, and it is supposedly the oldest pool hall in the United States.

Main Street Springfield (2)

Main Street in Springfield, looking south from the corner of Main and Worthington, in about 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2017:

 

Much has changed about this scene in the ensuing 100+ years, but two prominent landmarks remain, the Fuller Block, sans roof ornaments, and the Hotel Worthy on the far left.  The building between the two, along with most of the other buildings on the left-hand side of Main Street, is gone, as are the trolleys that were once ubiquitous throughout downtown Springfield.

Main Street, Springfield

Main Street in Springfield, looking north between Harrison Avenue and Bridge Street, as it appeared around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

1900s

The same view in 2015:

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Not much is left from the 1905 view, but the building with the large onion-like decorations at the top is still there.  The roof ornaments are long gone, but the building itself, the 1887 Fuller Block, is the only easily recognizable structure from this scene that has survived.  The building on the far right of the 1905 photo is now the site of Center Square, and the left-hand side is now the parking garage for the Marriott.  Further down on the left, the nondescript former federal building replaced the building in the 1905 photo.

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.

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.

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

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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.

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

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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.