Bridge Street, Northampton, Mass

The view looking west on Bridge Street, from near the corner of Market Street in Northampton, around 1890. Image from Picturesque Hampshire (1890).

The scene in 2018:

The first photo shows downtown Northampton as it appeared around 1890, prior to the construction of a railroad bridge over Bridge Street. At the time, the tracks crossed directly over the street, and the crossing was marked by both signs and gates. This was a busy area for both street and railroad traffic; the crossing is located at the eastern end of the downtown area, and Bridge Street was the main road out of Northampton to the east. In addition, the crossing was the site of the junction between the New Haven & Northampton and the Connecticut River Railroads, and an 1873 map shows six tracks passing over Bridge Street.

At the time, the two railroads maintained separate passenger depots, which were located out of view to the left, on the other side of the tracks along Strong Avenue. However, this arrangement would change only a few years after the first photo was taken, when the tracks were raised and Bridge Street was slightly lowered in order to build a bridge that would eliminate the busy grade crossing. This work was completed in 1897, and it coincided with the completion of a new Union Station that replaced the two older stations.

Today, more than 125 years after the first photo was taken, many of the commercial buildings in the distance are still standing. Some of the other buildings were constructed soon after the photo was taken, including the yellow brick Masonic Building, located just beyond the bridge on the right side of the scene. Completed in 1898, it is perhaps best known as the building where Calvin Coolidge had his law offices prior to his political career. Closer to the foreground, the most significant change from the first photo is the railroad bridge, which still carries rail traffic over Bridge Street. However, while it has prevented rail and street traffic from interfering with each other, it has caused problems of its own with its low clearance. Despite prominent signage, trucks frequently end up stuck in the underpass, and locals have dubbed it the “truck-eating bridge.”

Farnam Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

Farnam Hall on the Old Campus of Yale University, around 1894. Image from Yale University Views (1894).

Farnam Hall in 2018:

For much of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Yale campus was dominated by the Old Brick Row, a group of buildings than ran parallel to College Street between Chapel and Elm Streets. However, in 1870 the school began converting the campus into a quadrangle, surrounded by new buildings along the perimeter. The first of these new buildings was Farnam Hall, a dormitory that was completed in 1870 near the northeastern corner of the campus. Like the older buildings, its exterior was constructed of brick, but it featured a Gothic-style design that was very different from the comparatively plan buildings of the Old Brick Row. It was the work of Russell Sturgis, a prominent architect who would go on to design the other nearby buildings, including the Battell Chapel, Durfee Hall, and Lawrance Hall.

The first photo was taken less than 25 years after its completion, but very little has changed since then. Farnam Hall is now the oldest dormitory in use at Yale, and it currently houses freshmen students of Jonathan Edwards College. The only noticeable difference between the two photos is the loss of the two cupolas on the roof, but otherwise the building has remained well-preserved. The adjacent buildings – Battell Chapel on the left and Lawrance Hall on the right – are also still standing, and together these they form the northeast corner of the quadrangle, which is now known as the Old Campus.

Church Street Houses, New Haven, Connecticut

A group of houses and other buildings on Church Street, looking north toward the corner of Elm Street in New Haven, probably around 1904. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, Herbert Randall Survey of New Haven and Environs.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo shows a group of mid-19th century buildings that once lined the east side of Church Street, directly opposite the New Haven Green. Starting on the far right, at 179 Church Street, is a three-story building that was known as the Law Chambers. Located directly adjacent to the county courthouse, which stood just out of view to the right, this building housed offices for a number of lawyers. Their names were listed on placards on either side of the front door, and some are legible in the photo, including Frederick L. Averill, William L. Bennett, John A. Doolittle, Hobart L. Hotchkiss, and Charles F. Mitchell. These names help to provide the likely date of the first photo; according to city directories, 1904 appears to be the only year that all five of these men had offices here.

To the left of the Law Chambers, in the center of the photo, is an elegant Italianate-style home at 185 Church Street. By the turn of the 20th century, New Haven was undergoing rapid population growth, and most of the old mansions along the Green were giving way to new commercial and governmental buildings. However, this house was still standing when the first photo was taken. Based on its architecture, it was probably built sometime around the 1850s, as it features many Italianate details that were common during this era, including brackets under the eaves, quoins on the corners, and a tower with tall, narrow windows on the top floor. By the time the first photo was taken, it was the home of James English, a businessman who served for many years as president of the United Illuminating Company. The 1900 census shows him living here with his wife Clementina, along with a lodger and three servants.

Further to the left is a group of attached rowhouses. Only two are visible in the photo, but there were a total of four, which extended as far as the corner of Elm Street. The one closer to the camera was 187 Church Street, and during the 1900 census it was the home of Dr. Henry W. Ring, a physician who lived here with his wife Maud and two servants. To the left of his house was another physician, Dr. William G. Daggett, who lived in 189 Church Street and also had his medical practice there. Curiously, this house is missing the exterior wall of the top two floors in the first photo. This may have been renovation work, as later photographs suggest that the building’s facade was rebuilt at some point in the early 20th century.

Daggett, Ring, and English were all still living here on Church Street during the 1910 census, but this would soon change. Daggett died later in the year, and by 1911 his widow was living on Orange Street. English also moved out of his house by 1911, and was living in a house on St. Ronan Street. His house was demolished soon after, because by 1913 the 10-story Chamber of Commerce building had been constructed on the site. Ring was the last to relocate; the 1913 city directory shows him living here and practicing medicine out of the house, but by 1914 he had moved to the Hotel Taft, although he continued to have his office here in his former house.

Today, all of the buildings from the first photo have since been demolished, along with the Chamber of Commerce building that had replaced the English house. Much of the scene is now occupied by the northern part of City Hall, which was constructed in the 1980s. Its alternating pattern of light and dark bands was designed to match the exterior of the old City Hall building, which had been mostly demolished except for its brownstone facade. On the left side of the present-day scene is an 18-story office building that had originally been constructed in the mid-1970s, as the home of the New Haven Savings Bank.

Sheffield Hall, New Haven, Connecticut

Sheffield Hall, at the corner of Prospect and Grove Streets, on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, around 1894. Image from Yale University Views (1894).

The scene in 2018:

This building had been heavily altered by the time the first photo was taken around 1894, but it was built in the early 19th century by James Hillhouse, a prominent politician who served in both the U. S. House of Representatives and the U. S. Senate. It was originally intended as a hotel, but in 1812 Hillhouse – who also served as the treasurer of Yale from 1782 to 1832 – began renting the building to Yale, as the first location of the newly-established Yale School of Medicine. The building was smaller at the time, lacking the central tower and the wings, but it included lecture rooms, study rooms, and dormitory rooms for the medical students. Two years later, Yale purchased the property for $12,500, and the School of Medicine remained here until the late 1850s, when it moved to a new facility on York Street.

The property here on Grove Street was subsequently purchased by Joseph E. Sheffield, a wealthy railroad executive who renovated and expanded the building before donating it to the Yale Scientific School. Established in 1847, this school focused on scientific education, as opposed to the more classical curriculum of Yale itself. As a result, many of the Yale students looked down on the students at the scientific school, viewing it as essentially a trade school, and for many years it was only loosely affiliated with Yale.

The renovations on this building were completed in 1860, and it housed recitation rooms, a library, and the offices of the school director. As a result of his sizable donation, the school was renamed the Sheffield Scientific School in honor of Joseph E. Sheffield, and this building became Sheffield Hall. Over the years, more buildings were added to the school, but Sheffield Hall remained here until 1931, when it was demolished in order to build Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall. The Sheffield Scientific School would eventually be fully merged with Yale University in 1956, and today this building is still standing as part of the Yale campus, as seen in the 2018 photo.

Kent Chemical Laboratory, New Haven, Connecticut

The Kent Chemical Laboratory, at the southwest corner of High Street and Library Walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, around 1894. Image from Yale University Views (1894).

The scene in 2018:

The Kent Chemical Laboratory was completed in 1888, and was a gift from Albert E. Kent, a Yale graduate from the class of 1853. Kent valued the importance of studying chemistry, and he provided a gift of $75,000 in order to construct this building. The first photo was taken only a few years later, around 1894, and it shows the building in its original appearance. However, the Kent family would subsequently make further donations to the school, and the facility was expanded several times. The first came in 1902, with another donation from Albert, and the second came in 1906, when his son William provided the funds to add a third story to the building.

The initial construction of the laboratory was overseen by Frank A. Gooch, a prominent chemist who had been hired as a professor in 1886. He would continue to serve as the director of the Kent Laboratory for most of its existence, until his retirement in 1918, and during this time he authored over eighty research papers, with many focusing on analytical chemistry. The Kent Laboratory operated for just a few years after his retirement, until the completion of the Sterling Chemical Laboratory in 1922. This building was then converted into a psychological laboratory.

The former Kent Laboratory was ultimately demolished in the early 1930s in order to construct Jonathan Edwards College, a residential college that consists of a series of Gothic-style buildings around central quadrangle. The college spans the width of the block between High and York Streets, and today there are no surviving traces landmarks from the first photo. However, the name of the Kent Laboratory lives on with Kent Hall, the building that now stands on this site at the corner of High Street and Library Way.

Old Town Hall, Enfield, Connecticut

The old town hall on Enfield Street in Enfield, around 1896. Image from The Connecticut Quarterly (1896).

The scene in 2018:

This building was completed in 1775 as the third meeting house of the Enfield Congregational Church. It was originally located on the opposite side of the street from here, and was built with a steeple, but without the Greek Revival-style portico that was later added to the front of the building. It was used by the church for more than 70 years, but by 1848 it had become too small. A new church building, which still stands across the street, was completed the following year, and the old church was preserved and moved to its current location, thanks to funding provided by local carpet manufacturer Orrin Thompson.

Following the move, the building became Enfield’s town hall. Reflecting architectural tastes of the mid-19th century, the building was renovated to include a portico at the front entrance, and the original steeple was presumably removed during the same time. The interior was also renovated, including converting the balcony into a second floor. The building was used as a town hall for much of the 19th century, until a new town hall opened in 1892.

The first photo was taken a few years later, around 1896. Following its use as the town hall, the building deteriorated for many years, but was restored in the 1920s and used as a community center for many years. However, by the 1960s it had again fallen into disrepair, and was in serious danger of demolition. It was ultimately restored again in the 1970s, by the Enfield Historical Society, and in 1981 it was opened as the Old Town Hall Museum. Today, the building still serves as a museum, along with being the headquarters of the Historical Society. It is one of the oldest surviving public buildings in the area, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.