Dr. Luke Corcoran House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 95 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


For many years, this site on Maple Street was the home of James Dwight Brewer, a local merchant and member of the prominent Brewer family. However the house in the first photo does not appear to be the same one that he lived in. Given the home’s architectural style, it was probably built after Brewer’s death in 1886, when his daughter Harriet inherited the property. Her husband, Dr. Luke Corcoran, was a leading physician in the city who also served as a trustee of the Northampton State Hospital. The Corcorans were also art patrons, and amassed a considerable collection here at their home.

Luke and Harriet Corcoran had two children, James and Sarah, although Sarah died in 1881 at the age of two.  James became an author and journalist who worked for the Springfield Republican, along with writing several books of his own. He married his wife Carolyn in 1901, and the couple lived here with James’s parents and their daughter Celeste. Both Luke and Harriet died in the 1920s, but James and his family continued to live here for many years. Carolyn died in 1953, but James was still living in this house until around 1963, when he sold the property to the Insurance Company of North America. The house was subsequently demolished, and the insurance company built the current building on the site. This building later became offices for Milton Bradley, and is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Eunice B. Smith House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 111 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


Eunice B. Smith was born in 1826, and grew up in Springfield’s prominent Brewer family. Her father James was a merchant who was one of the founders of Chicopee Bank, and her grandfather Chauncey was a distinguished physician in the colonial era. Likewise, her husband David P. Smith was also a physician. He served in the Civil War as a surgeon, first for the 18th Massachusetts Infantry and eventually as chief surgeon at the Fairfax Seminary Hospital in Alexandria, and after the war he became a professor of surgery at Yale.

David and Eunice’s only child, George, died in 1873 at the age of nine, and David died in 1880 at the age of 50. In 1890, Eunice had this house built on Maple Street, in between Union and Mulberry Streets. In the 1900 census, she was listed as living here with two servants, plus a woman who was identified as being her companion. Ten years later, she and her companion were still living here, along with four servants, which included a waitress, a cook, and two nurses.

After Eunice’s death in 1911, the house was sold to businessman Harry G. Fisk. He came from a family of successful industrialists, including his uncle, George C. Fisk, who was the longtime president of the Wason Manufacturing Company. Harry’s father, Noyes W. Fisk, was the clerk and treasurer of Wason, but in 1898 he and Harry established the Fisk Rubber Company in Chicopee. While Wason was one of the nation’s leading railroad car manufacturers, Fisk Rubber became a major producer of bicycle and car tires, and Harry served for many years as the company’s treasurer.

Aside from his involvement in the rubber company, which was later renamed the Fisk Tire Company, Harry Fisk was also the president of the Fisk Manufacturing Conpany, which made soap, and he was the president of the Knox Motor Company, a Springfield-based automobile manufacturer. He served as a director for several other area companies, including the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, and he even owned a large farm in East Longmeadow, where he bred cattle.

Harry Fisk and his wife Alice had four children, one of whom died in infancy. The family lived in this house for many years, and their wealth can be seen in the census valuations of the property. In 1930, for example, the house was valued at $75,000, or around $1.1 million in 2017 dollars. This was substantially higher than the other nearby mansions, which were fine homes in their own right. By the 1940 census, however, the home’s value had declined to $40,000, or about $700,000 today. This was partially a result of the Great Depression, but it was probably also a reflection of changes in the neighborhood. By this point, many of the fine Gilded Age mansions on lower Maple Street had either been demolished to build apartments, or were converted into boarding houses. However, Harry Fisk remained here until his death in 1945, a year after Alice’s death.

Along with the other three mansions along this section of Maple Street between Mulberry and Union Streets, this house was demolished sometime in the two decades between Fisk’s death and the construction of the present building, which was completed in 1965. It was originally built as offices for the Insurance Company of North America, but was later used by Milton Bradley. In the mid-1990s, it was sold to the city and converted into the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Charles Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 Maple Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


This Queen Anne-style mansion was built sometime in the 1880s, and was the home of Charles and Helen Marsh. Charles was the president of Springfield’s Pynchon National Bank, but he was also heavily involved in many nonprofit organizations in the city, serving as treasurer of Springfield Hospital, the School for Christian Workers, the Hampden County Benevolent Association, the Hampden Conference of Congregational Churches, and the Connecticut Valley Congregational Club. Along with this, he served in various capacities for other organizations, including teaching Sunday school at the nearby South Congregational Church. He even ventured into politics, and was twice the Democratic candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth, although he lost both times.

Their time at this house was relatively short, because Charles Marsh died in 1891, and Helen died in 1894. Subsequent owners included James F. Bidwell, a tobacco dealer who was living here by the 1910 census. Born in 1844, Bidwell served in the Civil War as a private in the 5th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Several years after the end of the war, he married his wife Frostine, and they had two children, Mary and Robert. Aside from his tobacco business, Bidwell was also involved in local politics. He served as a city alderman for several years, and he was also a water commissioner from 1894 to 1902.

James Bidwell died in 1917, and Frostine lived here until her death in 1934. The first photo shows a large “For Sale” sign on the front of the house, and at this point the neighborhood had changed. When the house had been built some 50 years earlier, lower Maple Street was lined with large mansions. However, by the early 20th century these were steadily being replaced or repurposed. In the late 1950s, this house was converted into doctors’ offices, and a few years later it was demolished to build an office building for the Insurance Company of North America, which was completed in 1965. This building was later used by Milton Bradley, and it is now the Milton Bradley Elementary School.

Henry J. Beebe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 143 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

The first photo was probably taken soon after this house was built, given the Colonial Revival-style architecture that was just coming into fashion at the time. The elegance of the house reflected the wealth of the owner, Henry J. Beebe, who was a woolen merchant. Originally from Monson, Massachusetts, Beebe and his father purchased a woolen mill in North Monson in 1870, which they operated until his father’s death in 1876. Henry then purchased another mill in Holyoke, and later sold the Monson mill. The Holyoke company became Beebe, Webber, & Company, and Henry owned it along with his brother-in-law, J. S. Webber. Along with his woolen business, Henry Beebe was also a director of a number of other local companies, including the First National Bank of Springfield and the United Electric Light Company.

Henry Beebe’s first wife, Othalia Vaughan, died in 1871, and he remarried in 1880 to Kate Glover, who was likewise a widow. They moved into this house around 1890, and lived here for the rest of their lives, until Kate’s death in 1912 and Henry’s in 1919. By this point, the lower Maple Street area was changing, and large apartment buildings were starting to replace many of the grand 19th century mansions. After Henry’s death, his house was sold to developers, and it was demolished in the early 1920s to build the four-story, 40-unit apartment building that now stands on the site. Like its predecessor, the apartment building has a distinctive Colonial Revival-style design, and its exterior has changed very little since the second photo was taken in the 1930s.

Robert G. Shumway House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 34 Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2017:


This house was one of many in Springfield that were designed and built by Simon Sanborn in the first half of the 19th century. Although not as grand in size or appearance as some of his other homes, such as the Alexander House, this house is one of his few surviving works. It was built in 1840, and features prominent Greek Revival-style portico, complete with four columns. The rear section of the house, with its Second Empire-style mansard roof, appears to have been added later, probably around the 1870s.

The original owner was John Bunker, who was a former ship captain. There is little available information about him or his time at this house, and by the late 1850s the house was owned by Robert G. Shumway, a jewelry manufacturer. He lived here with his wife Julia and their four daughters, Julia, Lucy, Helen, and Abby, until his death in 1880. However, the house remained in his family for many decades. His two younger daughters, Helen and Abby, never married, and they lived here together until Helen’s death in 1930. Abby was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and she remained here until her death in 1947 at the age of 87, some 90 years after her father had first purchased the home.

In the years since the first photo was taken, most of the surrounding homes have since been demolished, and the Milton Bradley School now takes up much of the block. The school’s parking lot surrounds the former Shumway property on three sides, but the old house still stands. Its exterior has not changed much in the past 80 years, and it still retains its unusual combination of a Greek Rrvival columned portico and a mansard roof. As the sign in the 2017 photo indicates, though, it is no longer a single-family home, and is instead used as a law office.

Guy Kirkham House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 145 Clarendon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood features many fine examples of late 19th century architecture, although virtually none were designed by architects of national significance. Instead, many of the homes were designed by local architects, including Guy Kirkham, who designed this house in 1892 and lived here for 17 years. He was born in 1864, and was the son of William Kirkham, a jeweler, and Harriet Merriam, who was the daughter of the famous Webster’s dictionary publisher Charles Merriam. William died when Guy was young, and Harriet remarried in 1877 to Charles Hosley.

Kirkham studied architecture at MIT, and after graduating in 1887 he apprenticed in Minneapolis and New York City, and then spent several years studying in Europe. In 1892, he returned to Springfield, married his wife Grace Dwight, and started his own architectural firm. That same year, he built this house, just around the corner from where his mother lived. This house would have been among his earliest works, and incorporates elements of Shingle-style architecture. He undoubtedly would have learned about this style while at MIT, since it was widely popular in the 1880s, especially in wealthy New England coastal resort communities.

This house was one of about ten that Kirkham designed in the McKnight neighborhood, but he also designed a number of other important buildings in Springfield, including the Hotel Worthy, the Howard Street School, the High School of Commerce, the Forest Park branch library, the old YMCA building at 122 Chestnut Street, and the current MassMutual headquarters on State Street. Most of his works were in Springfield, but he did design a few buildings in nearby towns, including libraries in Chicopee and Hadley, the Unitarian church in Northampton, and the gymnasium at Wilbraham-Monson Academy.

The Kirkhams lived at this house until 1909, when they moved into a new house nearby at 120 Clarendon Street, which he also designed. Their old house here was sold to Guy’s half brother, Walter Hosley, a physician who lived here for about a decade. By 1920, the house was owned by Raymond Wight, a paper company executive, and a decade later it was owned by Leiceser Warren, who was also involved in the paper business. Since then, there have been a few changes to the exterior, including the enclosed porch and a single, large gable over the dormer on the third floor. Otherwise, though, it is a well-preserved example of Shingle-style architecture, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.