Thomas W. Adams House, Springfield, Mass

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

The house in 2017:


This house was built in 1886 for Thomas W. Adams, and it was apparently intended as a two-family home. During the 1900 census, both units were rented by middle class families. In one unit was confectionery company clerk Albert B. Sanderson, his wife Emma, their two young children, and a servant. The other unit was the home of dry goods merchant Hambley S. Christopher, his wife Mary, and their two children, along with a servant.

By 1910, the house had become a single-family home, owned by George W. Abbott. A native of New Hampshire, Abbott was a Civil War veteran who fought in the Seventh Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers. He was badly wounded in 1864 during the Battle of Olustee in Florida, but he recovered, and after the war became a merchant in his home state. He was a director of several corporations, including the Concord Street Railway, Sullivan County Railroad, and the First National Bank of Concord. Along with this, he was a presidential elector in 1892 for Benjamin Harrison, and in 1895 he served in the state House of Representatives.

After his retirement, George Abbott and his wife Adelaide moved to Springfield, and they lived here in this house with their daughter Myra, her husband Grenville Stevens, and their children Eleanor, Abbott, and Emily. Adelaide died in 1911, and George in 1918, but the Stevens family continued to live here for many years. Grenville died in 1936, but Myra was still living at the house when the first photo was taken. Emily and Eleanor also still lived here, along with Eleanor’s husband, Warren D. Kinsman, and their children.

The family moved out of the house later sometime in the 1940s, but the house has remained well-preserved since then. Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, the house retains its Queen Anne-style appearance, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Henry S. Safford House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 80 Dartmouth 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 the home of merchant Henry S. Safford and his wife Jessie. Born in Springfield in 1839, Safford had spent most of his career in the business world, but during the Civil War he worked for the War Department in Washington, D.C., where he was also inadvertently involved in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In 1865, he was living in Petersen House, a boarding house located directly across the street from Ford’s Theatre. On the night of the assassination, he heard a commotion on the streets, and after going outside to investigate he saw men carrying the wounded president. He directed them into the boarding house, and Lincoln was carried into a first floor bedroom, where he died a few hours later.

Aside from his connection to one of the most significant events in 19th century American history, Safford seems to have had a relatively unremarkable life. During the 1880 census, he was still living with his parents at their home on Central Street, and he did not marry until 1887, when he was 47 years old. When he and Jessie moved into this house a few years later, they were among the many upper middle class Springfield residents who purchased homes in the newly-developed McKnight neighborhood. They were still living here during the 1900 census, but by 1906 they had moved to an apartment on State Street. Henry was among the last living people with a connection to the Lincoln assassination, and he lived in Springfield until his death in 1917 at the age of 77.

In 1906, the house was purchased by Seth H. Barlow, a real estate broker. He and his wife Bertha had been married a few years earlier, and they went on to raise their three children here. Aside from his real estate business, Seth was a fire insurance agent, and he also served on the city’s Common Council for most of the 1910s. He and Bertha were living here when the first photo was taken, and they remained here until 1951, when they sold the house. Since then, the house has remained in excellent condition. In 1976, it became a part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2013 the current owners received the Edward SIms Award for Stewardship from the Springfield Preservation Trust.

Jane E. Law House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 90 Dartmouth Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


Nearly all of the houses on Dartmouth Street date back to the 1880s or 1890s, but this house was one of the last to be built. It was completed in 1902, and was originally the home of Jane E. Law, who had previously lived with her parents in their large house on nearby Dartmouth Terrace. However, she apparently did not live here for very long, because by the early 1910s the house was owned by Gurdon W. Gordon, a lawyer who lived here with his wife Ellen and their young sons, Gurdon Jr. and Clyde.

A native of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Gordon had graduated from Williams College in 1897 and from Boston University Law School in 1900. He and Ellen married in 1903, and he began practicing law here in Springfield. In 1912, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and from 1913 to 1916 he represented Springfield in the Massachusetts Senate. He was an alternate delegate to the 1920 Republican National Convention, where his former colleague in the state senate, Calvin Coolidge, was chosen as the party’s nominee for Vice President. Eight years later, he also served as a delegate to the 1928 convention, where Herbert Hoover was chosen as the Republican candidate.

Ellen died in 1937, and the following year Gurdon married his second wife, Ethel. They were still living here when the first photo was taken, as was Gurdon Jr., who was in his early 30s at the time and was working as an insurance clerk. Gurdon and Ethel remained in this house well into the 1950s, and they finally sold it in 1958, a year before Gurdon’s death at the age of 87. Since then, the house has survived with very few changes. Like the rest of the neighborhood, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Lemuel H. Brigham House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 96 Dartmouth Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house was built in 1886 as the home of Lemuel and Josephine Brigham. Lemuel was originally from Vermont, but in 1836 he came to Chicopee, where he worked as a superintendent at the Dwight Manufacturing Company until 1868. He then took a position as agent for the Ludlow Manufacturing Company, where he worked until his retirement in 1887. Upon his retirement, he and Josephine moved into this house, but they only lived here for a few years. She died in 1889, and about a year later Lemuel moved to Palmer, where he died in 1896.

By the 1900 census, the house was owned by clothing merchant Charles E. Cooley and his wife Mary. In 1912, at the age of 64, Charles was injured in a fall here at home, and he died two weeks later at Springfield Hospital. However, his death certificate does not mention the fall, instead listing diabetes as his cause of death. Afterwards, Mary continued to live here until her own death in 1916.

Subsequent owners of the house included insurance executive Charles W. Gowan, who lived here with his wife Ella and his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Mason. They were living here during the 1930 census, but by the time the first photo was taken less than a decade later, the house was the home of William and Mildred Lippman and their three children. At the time, William was a manager at Westinghouse, and he would eventually go on to become the vice president of the Westinghouse Elevator Division.

By the late 1940s, the house was sold to Oscar Y. Gamel, a school administrator who served as principal of Chestnut Junior High School and, later on, as principal of the High School of Commerce. He lived here until his death in 1958. Since then, the house has remained well-preserved, with hardly any difference in its appearance between the two photos. Like the many other historic late 19th century homes in the neighborhood, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Forest Park Avenue, Springfield, Mass

Looking south on Forest Park Avenue from near the corner of Randolph Street in Springfield, sometime in the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The scene in 2017:


For most of the 19th century, the area that would become Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood was only sparsely settled. However, with the opening of a trolley line to the area in 1890, the southwestern corner of the city suddenly became within easy commuting distance of downtown Springfield. One of the first developers in the neighborhood was the Mutual Improvement Company, which purchased much of the land in the large triangle between Fort Pleasant, Belmont, and Sumner Avenues. A number of new streets were laid out, including Forest Park Avenue, which is seen here near the center of the development.

The Mutual Improvement Company was founded by John and William McKnight, the brothers who had been developing Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood since the 1870s. Like in McKnight, they sought to create an upscale residential neighborhood here in Forest Park that would appeal to Springfield’s leading citizens. Nearly all of the houses were unique, and were designed by some of the city’s leading architects. They also sold undeveloped lots, although these deeds came with restrictive covenants that required a specific setback from the road and a minimum construction cost.

Development in this section of Forest Park began in the early 1890s, primarily in the area between Garfield Street, Churchill Street, Sumner Avenue, and Forest Park Avenue. A few of these homes are visible in the distance, and they tend to have Queen Anne-style architecture, which was popular in the last decades of the 19th century. However, the large-scale development of this area did not begin until after 1900. At this point, architectural tastes had shifted toward Colonial Revival, as can be seen in the house on the far left, which was built in 1902. Other buildings that were completed during this second phase include the 1901 Park Memorial Baptist Church, which is visible in both photos.

About a century after the first photo was taken, the Forest Park Heights neighborhood remains remarkably well-preserved, and very little has changed in this scene on Forest Park Avenue. The only significant difference is the house on the right side of the first photo, at the corner of Garfield Street. It was built in the early 1890s, and was the home of candy manufacturer Franz Jensen. However, it was demolished in the 1930s, and was later replaced by a smaller Cape-style home in the 1940s. Overall, though, most of the historic homes in this neighborhood have survived with few major changes, and in 1982 the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Forest Park Heights Historic District.

Rufus Winsor House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 175 Forest Park Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1902 as the home of Rufus and Clara Winsor and their daughter Harriet. Rufus was originally from Dorchester, where he was born in 1843, but he later entered the textile industry. He worked as paymaster for several different mills, including the Ludlow Mills, which were located just across the Chicopee River from Springfield’s Indian Orchard neighborhood. He and his family lived in Ludlow until 1898, when they moved to Forest Park, and four years later they moved into this house.

Rufus and Clara had four children, although Harriet was the only one to survive to adulthood. Two of their children, Anna and Rufus, died a week apart in 1885 at the ages of eight and five, and their youngest child, Helen, died in 1891 at the age of four. Harriet never married, and she inherited the house after her parents died in 1918. She was still living here when the first photo was taken, and remained here for another decade or so, until her death in 1949 at the age of 74.

Like so many of the other houses in this neighborhood, the house has been well-preserved, and still retains its original turn-of-the-century Colonial Revival appearance. It is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.