George F. Pollard House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 72 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1891, and was originally owned by George F. Pollard, although he only lived here for a few years. In 1897, he sold the house to Robert W. Broadhurst, a local shoe merchant who lived here with his wife Louisa and their three children. Robert died in 1902, but Louisa continued to live here until at least 1918, although by 1920 she and two of her children were living in an apartment nearby on State Street.

The house was subsequently sold to Springfield’s fire chief, William H. Daggett. He was a Springfield native, and his father had been a blacksmith who later worked at the Armory. As an adult, William also entered the firearm industry, working for both Smith & Wesson and the Armory. However, he left the Armory in 1894, and a year later he was appointed deputy chief of the fire department, a position hat he held until being appointed chief in 1908.

By the early 1920s, he and his wife Genevieve were living in this house along with their son Robert, who worked as an interior designer. They were still here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, but William died in 1940, and within a few years Genevieve and Robert had moved into an apartment at 90 Westminster, just a few buildings away from here.

In later years, the house fell into disrepair, but like many of the other historic homes in the neighborhood it has since been restored, complete with a multi-color paint scheme that highlights the Queen Anne-style details. Today, even the tree in the backyard is still standing in both photos, and the house is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles B. Cooley House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 78 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1892 for Charles B. Cooley, a dry goods merchant in the Springfield-based firm of Carter & Cooley. He and his wife Eliza lived here with their daughter Carrie, who was a kindergarten teacher at the Pynchon Primary School. She worked there until 1902, when she married Arthur A. Adams, a contractor who served as the city’s superintendent of streets.

Both Charles and Eliza died a few years later, but Arthur and Carrie continued to live here for many years, where they raised their two daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor. In 1918, Arthur was elected as mayor, and served for two years from 1919 to 1920. After his time as mayor, he resumed fork as a contractor, with the firm of Adams & Ruxton, and he and Carrie lived here until the mid-1930s.

Around 1936, the house was sold to Bertha I. Leary, a widow who was living alone in this large house when the first photo was taken. She died a few years later, in 1941, and the house subsequently went through several more owners. At some point, the second-floor porch was enclosed, and the house was later damaged in a fire. However, it has since been restored, and it now forms part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elihu H. Cutler House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 84 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Elihu H. Cutler was born in 1856 in Ashland, Massachusetts, and was the son of grist mill owner Henry Cutler. Like his father, Elihu was involved in the grain business as a young adult, but he was more interested in mechanical engineering. Despite having just a high school education, in 1887 he became the treasurer and general manager of the Brooklyn-based Elektron Elevator Company, where he worked under the prominent inventor and company president Frank A. Perret.

In 1891, Perret moved the company to a new facility on Wilbraham Road in Springfield. Cutler also moved to Springfield, along with his wife Hattie and their three children, and they purchased this newly-built house in the fashionable McKnight neighborhood, just a short walk from the Elektron factory. At the time, Queen Anne style architecture was popular for upscale homes, and their house included many of the style’s common features, including an irregular design, a large front porch, a turret, and a variety of siding materials.

One of Cutler’s apprentices at Elektron was Harry A. Knox, a student at the neighboring Springfield Industrial Institute. Before he was even out of school, Knox had already begun designing and building automobile prototypes, and a few years later in 1900 he founded the Knox Automobile Company. Cutler was apparently impressed with Knox, because he joined the new company as vice president, and he and Knox put their mechanical engineering abilities to work in developing early automobiles.

A few years later, Cutler left the elevator business in order to focus on automobiles. He sold his interest in Elektron to the Otis Elevator Company, and ultimately ended up as the president of Knox, whose main factory was located directly across the street from the Elektron facility on Wilbraham Road. Knox was just one of the many new companies in the rapidly-growing automobile industry, and some of these companies formed the  Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. Cutler went on to become the association’s president, and in this capacity he was involved in an unsuccessful legal dispute over patent rights with an upstart rival, Henry Ford.

As it turned out, the Knox and Ford companies were on two completely different trajectories, and by 1915 Knox had discontinued its production of automobiles. Cutler ultimately left the industry and returned to his roots in the grain business, serving as vice president of the Cutler Company, a wholesale grain firm. He and Hattie lived here in this house until 1927, when they moved to New York City.

By 1930, the house was owned by Mary A. Burke, a 59-year-old widow who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland as a child. She lived here with five of her adult children, all of whom were unmarried. Two of her daughters, Mary and Katherine, worked for a lumber company, and her other two, Angela and Frances, were teachers. Her son, Thomas, also lived here, and he worked as a lawyer. Mary died in the 1930s, but her children were sill living here when the first photo was taken at the end of the decade.

The Burke children sold the house in 1950 to Reverend James H. Hamer, who lived here for many years and served as pastor of Faith Baptist Church. During this time, the house has been well-maintained, and the exterior has hardly changed since the Cutler family moved in over 125 years ago. The adjacent apartment building, completed in 1901, is also still standing, and is one of a handful of apartment buildings in a neighborhood that is predominantly single-family and two-family homes. Today, both buildings, along with the rest of the neighborhood, are now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George H. Olds House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 146 Bay Street, at the corner of Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Bay Street is one of the oldest roads in Springfield, dating back to the early colonial era when it formed part of the Bay Path, connecting Springfield to Boston. However, it later fell into disuse when the route was straightened and the present State Street was opened. State Street would become one of the city’s principal east-west roads, but Bay Street remained sparsely settled until the late 19th century, when large-scale development began on what would become the McKnight neighborhood.

Most of the homes in McKnight have Queen Anne-style designs from the 1880s and 1890s, but some of the earlier homes featured an Italianate design, including this house at the corner of Bay and Westminster Streets. It was completed around 1874, and was described in the 1873-1874 city directory, which wrote that:

E. W. Shattuck is building for George H. Olds a two-story house, in the Grecian style, 24 by 30 feet, besides wing and ell. It has a two-story bay window, piazza and porch, and costing about $5,000 besides lot.

George H. Olds was an employee at Smith & Wesson, and was living here in the 1875 city directory. However, he moved out of the house just a year later, and by 1876 it was the home of Alfred G. Osgood. Described as a manufacturer of “asphaltum side-walks,” Osgood lived here with his wife Sarah and their son Roy, who was born around the same time that they moved into this house.

By the early 1880s, Osgood had apparently entered the soapstone business, because in the 1882 directory he was listed as the superintendent of the Springfield Soapstone Conpany. He and his family were still living here in 1890, at which point Osgood was working as agent for the Athol-based Pequoig Soapstone Quarry Company. However, the following year the family moved to Athol, and the house was sold.

At the turn of the 20th century, the house was being used as a rental property, and lumber dealer Edward C. Pease was living here with his wife Ella and a servant, who was also named Ella. A decade later, the house was rented by Seelye Bryant, the pastor of Springfield’s Olivet Church. He lived here from about 1908 to 1910, and by 1911 he had moved to Winthrop, Massachusetts to become pastor of a church there.

By 1920, the house was once again owner-occupied, with John Monroe living here. An elderly widower, Monroe had immigrated to the United States from Ireland in the 1850s, and worked for many years as a coachman for private families in Springfield. He lived here with his daughter, Annie Greeley, who was also a widow. She inherited the house after his death in 1921, and she was still living here by the 1930 census, along with her adopted daughter Josephine and a lodger, Gertrude McKoan.

Annie moved out of this house sometime before 1940, and the house appears to have been vacant during that year’s census. The first photo was taken around this time, as part of a WPA survey of all of the buildings in the city. Very little has changed since then, with the house retaining its original architectural details. It is one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Westminster Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Westminster Street from the corner of Bay Street in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

When brothers John and William McKnight entered the real estate business in the early 1870s, they began by purchasing the 22-acre farm of Josiah Flagg, which was located between State and Bay Streets. They laid out Thompson, Westminster, Buckingham, and Sherman Streets roughly perpendicular to State Street, and began subdividing the property into individual house lots. Because of a nationwide recession, development was slow in the 1870s, but began in earnest in the early 1880s. Most of the homes on Westminster Street to the south of Bay Street were built during this time, but the development soon extended to the north of Bay Street.

These two photos show the northern half of Westminster Street, from the corner of Bay Street. These homes were mostly built in the late 1880s and early 1890s, and construction was largely complete by the time the first photo was taken, although a few homes on the left side were built later in the 1890s. By the early 20th century, the entire McKnight development would go on to include some 800 homes for some of the city’s leading residents. The northern part of the neighborhood, primarily around Worthington Street and Dartmouth Terrace, became a wealthy enclave with massive Queen Anne-style mansions, but other parts of the neighborhood, such as here on Westminster Street, remained more middle class, with residents who worked as teachers, insurance agents, ministers, contractors, factory managers, and similar middle-class professions.

Architecturally, the houses on this street have similar, but not identical Queen Anne-style designs, reflecting the prevailing architectural tastes of the 1880s and early 1890s. To ensure a consistent appearance throughout the neighborhood, the McKnights included deed restrictions on the properties that they sold, mandating setbacks from the street, prohibiting fences in the front yards, and setting minimum construction costs. These policies produced streetscapes like this, with unique houses yet a uniform appearance, and made McKnight a desirable neighborhood for the city’s upper middle class.

Over time, the McKnight neighborhood entered a decline. By the mid-20th century, large numbers of middle class residents were leaving for the suburbs, and many of the large homes were converted into cheap rooming houses. Queen Anne architecture, with its eclectic style and often excessive ornamentation, had fallen out of favor, and many of these homes were renovated with plain exteriors of aluminum siding or asbestos shingles. However, the neighborhood remained one of the largest concentrations of Victorian homes in New England, and in 1976 part of it, including this section of Westminster Street, was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the McKnight Historic District. Since then, the neighborhood has undergone somewhat of a revitalization, and many of the homes have been restored to their original appearance, including most of the ones here on this block of Westminster Street.

Evan Bateman House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 130-132 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This two-family home was built in 1887, and was originally own by Evan and Ruth Bateman. It seems unclear whether they actually lived here, though, because the house was primarily used as a rental property throughout its history. Like the rest of the neighborhood at the time, the residents here were primarily middle class professionals. In the early 1890s, Anna L. Goodenough lived here, and worked a few miles away at the school in Sixteen Acres. By the turn of the 20th century, Edwin C. Spear lived here, and worked as the treasurer of the Springfield-based Cheney Bigelow Wire Works. Other early residents included engineer Elbert E Lochridge, lumber company manager Howard B. Field, and meat market salesman William M. Byrnes.

By the time the first photo was taken, the unit at 130 Westminster was rented by car salesman Irving E. Baker, while the other unit was rented by chiropodist James E. Delaney. In the years that followed, though, the house was altered, including covering part of the exterior in aluminum siding and enclosing the front porch. In 1976 the house became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, but it was completely gutted in a fire in September 2004, and was demolished the following year.

However, unlike most of the other fire-damaged properties in McKnight, this lot did not stay vacant for long. A new house was soon built on the site, bearing some resemblance to the original home and fitting in seamlessly with the Queen Anne-style of the neighborhood. It is one of the few new homes in the area, and in 2007 it was recognized by the Springfield Preservation Trust, who presented an award to the owner for an architecturally appropriate new construction.