Civil War Monument, Westfield, Mass

The Civil War monument at Park Square in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

Westfield’s Civil War monument is located here at the southwest corner of Park Square, on a traffic island at the end of Court Street. It was an early work by noted sculptor Melzar Hunt Mosman, a native of Chicopee, Massachusetts. He was a Civil War veteran, and he went on to have a successful career, specializing in Civil War monuments during the late 19th century. This statue here in Westfield was dedicated on May 31, 1871, and it memorialized the 66 Westfield residents who died in the war. The model for the soldier atop the monument was Captain Andrew Campbell of Westfield, with whom Mosman had served in the 46th Regiment during the war.

The keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony was General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, a Civil War officer from New Jersey who had recently returned from a four-year stint as the U. S. Minister to Chile. In his speech, he praised the bravery and dedication of the soldiers from Massachusetts. He reminded the audience of the righteousness of the Union cause, while also denouncing the treason and atrocities of the Confederacy. In particular, he rebuked former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, declaring him to be “the arch-traitor who long since should have passed from a scaffold to an unhallowed grave.” At this point, the audience interrupted his speech with applause, and after he finished his thoughts on Davis, they responded with “great cheering,” according to the Springfield Republican account of the speech.

Aside from General Kilpatrick, the ceremony also included short speeches from Lieutenant Governor Joseph Tucker and three Civil War officers from Massachusetts: Brigadier General Henry Shaw Briggs of Pittsfield, Brevet Brigadier General William Sever Lincoln of Worcester, and Colonel Joseph B. Parsons of Northampton. Reverend Henry Hopkins, a Civil War chaplain who served as pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Westfield, gave the opening prayer and also read a poem. The ceremony was presided over by District Attorney Edward Bates Gillett, who made brief opening remarks and later introduced Mosman to the crowd after the statue was unveiled.

The first photo was taken about 20 years later, at a time when the Civil War was still within the living memory of many Westfield residents. It shows the view of the statue from the north, and in the background of the photo is the Morgan Block. This brick commercial building was already old by this point, having been constructed around the late 1810s by Major Archippus Morgan. He ran a general store here, while also renting space in the building to other retail tenants. Later in the 19th century, the building briefly served as the first home of the Westfield YMCA, and over the years it was used by a variety of other businesses, eventually becoming commercial offices in the first half of the 20th century.

Today, more than 125 years after the first photo was taken, remarkably little has changed in this scene. The monument has remained a landmark here in downtown Westfield, with few changes aside from the shrubbery at the base and the blue-green patina on the bronze surfaces. The Morgan Block is also still standing in the background. It has seen minor exterior alterations, including the addition of a dormer window on the left side and a bay window on the first floor of the right side, but overall it stands as a rare surviving example of an early 19th century commercial block here in Westfield.

Church of the Atonement, Westfield, Mass

The Church of the Atonement, on King Street in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

Westfield’s Episcopal church was established in 1863, and ten years later it became the Church of the Atonement. During its early years, its parishioners worshiped in several temporary locations, including in the Universalist church, but in 1880 the church broke ground on this building here on King Street, just west of Washington Street. The cornerstone was laid on May 15 of that year, in a ceremony that was officiated by Benjamin Henry Paddock, the Bishop of Massachusetts, and the work was completed eleven months later.

The church was first used on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1881. The Springfield Republican, in an article published two days earlier, declared it to be “one of the prettiest specimens of Gothic architecture in the town,” and provided the following description of the building:

The building is of brick with a slate roof, and has a tower at the northeast corner to which it is intended at some future day to add 50 or 75 feet and put in a chime of bells. The main entrance is from the east side of the tower, but admission may also be gained by the door in the wing or vestry leading into the chapel. The church has a seating capacity of 200, and is 70 feet long and 30 feet wide, not including the vestry, 15 by 18 feet. The interior, including casings and ceilings, will be handsomely finished in butternut, while the chancel trimmings and altars are to be of black-walnut. All the windows are of richly-stained glass, and the chancel and nave windows are beautiful specimens of art.

The first photo was taken about a decade later, and it shows the east side of the building, including the short tower at the main entrance. Despite the intentions of the parish, the planned bell tower had not been added by this point, and it would ultimately remain unbuilt, as the present-day photo shows. By the mid-1890s, though, the parish had grown to 50 families, with a total of 250 people, which must have put a strain on the building’s seating capacity of just 200.

The Church of the Atonement remained here in this building into the early 20th century. During this time, the house on the left side of this scene was constructed, evidently as a rectory. However, in 1924 the church moved to its current location at the corner of Court and Pleasant Streets, and sold this King Street property to Westfield’s First Church of Christ, Scientist. This congregation used the church throughout most of the 20th century, and the house was used as a Christian Science reading room.

The Christian Scientists sold the church and house in the early 1990s, and today both buildings are owned by the Christian Church of New Jerusalem. The exterior of the church remains largely unchanged since the first photo was taken, although it is somewhat difficult to tell, because the adjacent house now blocks part of the view of the church from this angle.

Agawam National Bank, Springfield, Mass

The Agawam National Bank building, at the corner of Main and Lyman Streets in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

This building was completed in 1870 to house the Agawam National Bank, which had been established in 1846 and had previously occupied an older building here on this spot. The new building was designed by Henry H. Richardson, a young architect who would go on to become one of the leading American architects of the late 19th century. Although best-known today for Romanesque-style churches, railroad stations, and government buildings, Richardson’s early works included a mix of relatively modest houses and commercial building, many of which bore little resemblance to his later masterpieces.

Richardson’s first commission had been the Church of the Unity here in Springfield, which he had earned in part because of a college classmate, James A. Rumrill, whose father-in-law, Chester W. Chapin, was one of the leading figures within the church. Chapin was also the president of the Western Railroad, and when the railroad needed a new office building, Richardson received the commission without even having to enter a design competition. This building, which stood just a hundred yards to the north of here, was completed in 1867, and two years later he was hired to design a new building for the Agawam National Bank. In what was likely not a coincidence, Chapin had been the founder of this bank, and by the late 1860s, Richardson’s friend James A. Rumrill was sitting on its board of directors.

The design of the Agawam National Bank bears some resemblance to the railroad office buildings. Both were constructed of granite, and they both had raised basements, four stories, and mansard roofs. However, while the railroad building was purely Second Empire in its design, the bank featured a blend of Second Empire and Victorian Gothic elements. Perhaps most interesting were the rounded arches on the ground floor. Although this building could hardly be characterized as Romanesque in its design, these arches bear some resemblance to the ones that he would later incorporate into his more famous works of Romanesque Revival architecture.

Architectural historian and Richardson biographer Henry-Russell Hitchcock did not particularly care for the design of the bank building, criticizing its “square proportions, crude monotonous scale and hybrid detail,” and describing it as a “hodge-podge” that was “pretentious and assertive.” However, he did concede that the building’s virtues “are more conspicuous if one does not look at it so carefully and so hard. To a casual glance, it must have had certain granite qualities of solid mass and strong regular proportions which tend to disappear when it is studied in detail.”

These “qualities of solid mass” likely served the bank well, since 19th century financial institutions often constructed imposing-looking buildings in order to convey a sense of strength and stability. As shown in the first photo, the Agawam National Bank was located on the right side of the first floor, but the building also housed other tenants, including the Hampden Savings Bank, which occupied the basement. These two banks had shared the same building since Hampden Savings was established in 1852, and they would remain here together until 1899, when Hampden Savings moved to the nearby Fort Block.

Agawam National Bank remained here in this building until the bank closed around 1905. By this point, its architecture was outdated, with trends shifting away from thick, heavy exterior masonry walls. The advent of steel frames in the late 19th century had enabled commercial buildings to be taller while simultaneously having thinner walls, and this allowed for large windows with plenty of natural light. The bank building was ultimately demolished around 1923, and it was replaced by a new five-story building that exemplified this next generation of commercial architecture.

Known as the Terminal Building, it was the work of the Springfield-based architectural firm of E. C. and G. C. Gardner, and it was completed around 1924. It was built with four storefronts on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors, and it was designed to support up to seven stories, although these two additional stories were never constructed. Today, the building still stands here, with few exterior changes. It is a good example of early 20th century commercial architecture here in Springfield, and in 1983 it became a contributing property in the Downtown Springfield Railroad District on the National Register of Historic Places.

James Scutt Dwight House, Springfield, Mass

The house at the northwest corner of State and Dwight Streets in Springfield, around 1893. Image from Sketches of the old inhabitants and other citizens of old Springfield (1893).

The scene in 2018:

This house was probably built at some point around the 1790s, as evidenced by distinctive Federal-style architectural details, such as the Palladian window over the front door and the fanlight window. It was the home of merchant James Scutt Dwight, and it may have been completed around the same time as his 1794 marriage to Mary Sanford. Dwight was from one of Springfield’s most prosperous families of the period. His father, Jonathan Dwight, had come to Springfield in 1753 as a young boy, where he worked at the store of his cousin, Josiah Dwight. He subsequently became a partner in this merchant business, and in 1790 his son James Scutt Dwight also became a partner.

At the time, the Dwight family owned much of the land along this section of State Street to the east of Main Street. Their store was located at the northeast corner of Main and State Streets, and many of their homes were built on State Street. By the early 19th century, the Dwights had also become the leading force behind the new Unitarian church, which separated from the First Church in 1819. That same year, the Unitarians constructed a new church building here on State Street, with Jonathan Dwight donating both the land and the building itself.

In the meantime, James Scutt Dwight remained actively involved in the family business. He and his brother Henry took over the company after their father’s retirement in 1803, and after Henry left in 1809, James carried on with his brothers Edmund and Jonathan, Jr. Although headquartered here in Springfield, the Dwights had a store in Boston, and they also had branches in Belchertown, Chester, Huntington, Greenfield, Northampton, South Hadley, Westfield, and in Enfield, Connecticut. However, James died in 1822, at the age of 52, and the firm was subsequently reconstituted as Day, Brewer & Dwight, with James’s son, James Sanford Dwight, as one of the partners.

James Scutt Dwight lived here in this house throughout this time, and he and his wife Mary raised 12 children here. She continued to live here after his death, and on May 6, 1834 the house was the scene of a double wedding ceremony involving two of their daughters. Lucy Dwight married William W. Orne, and Delia Dwight married Homer Foot, the merchant who had acquired the Dwight business after James Sanford Dwight’s untimely death in 1831. The ceremony was performed by William B. O. Peabody, the longtime pastor of the Unitarian church.

At some point in the late 1830s or early 1840s, this house was sold to Jemima Kingsbury, the widow of Dr. Samuel Kingsbury. She died in 1846, but the property remained in her family until at least the early 1850s. At some point around the mid-19th century, her son-in-law, William B. Calhoun, constructed an ell on the right side of the building to house his law office. Calhoun was a prominent politician, and he held a number of state and local offices, including speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, president of the Massachusetts Senate, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and mayor of Springfield, in addition to serving four terms in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1835 to 1843.

By the second half of the 19th century, this section of State Street was no longer the same desirable residential area that it had been when the Dwights lived here. As the city’s population steadily grew, and as the downtown business area expanded, affluent families moved to newly-developed neighborhoods further from downtown. Many historic 18th century homes were demolished in the post-Civil War era, while others – including this house – were converted into commercial use. By 1870, it had become a boarding house, and around 1880 the ground floor was altered with the addition of one-story storefronts, as shown in the first photo. Over the next decade or so, its tenants would include George E. Jordan’s meat market on the left side, and the State Street Fruit Store on the right side, at the corner of Dwight Street.

The first photo was taken around 1893, when the house was probably about a hundred years old. However, it was demolished only about a year later, in order to make room for a new YMCA building, which was completed here on this site in 1895. This building later became the Hotel Victoria, and it stood here until 1969, when it too was demolished, as part of the construction of the Civic Center. The Civic Center has since undergone renovations, and it is now known as the MassMutual Center, but it is still standing here on this site, filling the entire block between Main and Dwight Streets. Today, there is nothing that survives from the first photo except for Dwight Street itself, which serves as a reminder of the family that dominated Springfield’s economy two centuries ago.

Old Newgate Prison Gates, East Granby, Connecticut

The front gates of the Old Newgate Prison in East Granby, around 1895. Image from The Connecticut Quarterly (1895).

The scene in 2018:

The Old Newgate Prison opened in 1773, in an abandoned copper mine in Granby – now present-day East Granby – Connecticut. The prisoners were housed underground in the old mine tunnels, with the idea that this would be a virtually escape-proof facility. However, the prison proved far less secure than its proponents had anticipated, and it was practically a revolving door in its early years, with some prisoners escaping almost as soon as they arrived.

During its first nine years in operation, more than half of the inmates who were confined here had reportedly escaped, and the above-ground buildings were burned on three separate occasions as part of escape attempts. Nonetheless, the facility remained in use, and in 1790 it became a state prison. A number of new buildings were constructed in the following years, and a new wooden fence was constructed around the perimeter of the prison yard in 1790. However, this was replaced by a more substantial stone wall in 1802, as shown here in these two photos.

The prison ultimately closed in 1827, and all of the inmates were transferred to the newly-built state prison in Wethersfield. This site was subsequently used again for copper mining, in the 1830s and 1850s, but neither attempt was particularly successful. In the meantime, most of the old prison buildings fell into ruin. By the time the first photo was taken in the 1890s, only two of the buildings were substantially intact, and one of these ultimately burned down in 1904.

Newgate had already become recognized as an important local landmark by the turn of the 20th century, and it was a popular destination for curious visitors. The site was eventually acquired by the state of Connecticut in 1968, and it was converted into a museum. Since then, the ruins have been stabilized, and Newgate has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark. As shown in these two photos, the 1802 stone wall has remained particularly well-preserved, and this view of the front gate still looks much the same as it would have to the prisoners who arrived here more than two centuries ago.

Old Newgate Prison Cell Block, East Granby, Connecticut

The cell block building of the Old Newgate Prison in East Granby, around 1895. Image from The Connecticut Quarterly (1895).

The scene in 2018:

As discussed in more detail in the previous post, this site was originally used as a copper mine during the first half of the 18th century. In 1773, the abandoned tunnels were converted into a prison, and for more than 50 years they were used to house convicts from across Connecticut. However, the old mine proved less secure than government officials had anticipated, and from the beginning the prison was plagued with numerous escapes and riots.

By the early 19th century, the prison had expanded to include a number of above-ground buildings, in addition to the old mine tunnels. The present-day stone wall around the complex was added in 1802, providing an additional level of security, but escapes continued to be a problem. Finally, in 1824, the prisoners were moved out of the tunnels and into a newly-completed cell block building, shown here on the left side of the first photo. This four-story building included cells for 50 prisoners, plus living quarters for the guards, prison offices, and a treadmill, where inmates would grind grain by walking on a human-powered wheel.

Despite these improvements, though, Newgate became a target for prison reform advocates, who saw the conditions here as being inhumane. As a result, a new state prison was constructed in Wethersfield, and the Newgate prisoners were transferred there in 1827. Fittingly enough, though, there was one last escape attempt, which occurred here on the night before Newgate closed. An inmate has requested to spend the night in the tunnels, and he used this opportunity to attempt an escape by climbing a rope in the well shaft. However, the rope broke, and he was killed when he fell back down into the mine.

After the prison closed, there were several attempts to continue mining copper here, but with limited success. Instead, Newgate went on to become a local landmark, and its tales were published in several local history books during the 19th century. By the time the first photo was taken in the 1890s, the prison had been abandoned for around 70 years, and many of the buildings had fallen into ruin. However, the 1824 cell block was still largely intact at this point, as shown on the left side of the first photo, and there was even an observation deck that had been added to the roof.

Unfortunately, this cell block building was reduced to rubble only a decade later, after a fire in 1904. This left the old guardhouse as the only intact building in the former prison complex, but the site remained a popular destination for visitors throughout the 20th century. Then, in 1968, the state of Connecticut purchased the property, stabilized the ruins, and opened it as a museum. The work also included digging a new entrance to the mine tunnels, which allowed visitors to descend via a staircase, instead of a vertical mine shaft.

The museum closed in 2009, due to the deteriorating conditions of the ruins. Over the next nine nears, the site underwent major repairs, and it reopened in 2018, around the same time that the second photo was taken. As this photo shows, there is little left of the old cell block, aside from some of the lower walls. The other buildings here, except for the guardhouse, are in a similar condition, but Newgate still holds a great deal of historical significance. It was one of the first copper mines in the American colonies, and one of the first state prisons in the country, and in 1972 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark, which is the highest level of federal recognition for a historic site.