First Friendly’s Restaurant, Springfield, Mass

The original home of Friendly Ice Cream, at 161 Boston Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2015:

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The first photo was taken only a few years after S. Prestley and Curtis Blake opened the first Friendly Ice Cream location here in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood. In 1935, the two brothers, aged 20 and 18, respectively, borrowed $547 from their parents and opened the ice cream shop, charging 5 cents for a two scoop cone as the sign on the side of the building indicates. The business soon proved to be popular, and in 1940 they opened a second shop in West Springfield. By the early 1950s, they had 10 locations in the area, and when the Blake brothers sold the company in 1979, it had grown to over 500 restaurants. Today, the company operates 380 restaurants along the east coast from Maine to Florida.

The buildings in the first photo were probably built in the 1920s or early 1930s, when Pine Point was growing as a middle class residential neighborhood. As seen here and in this earlier post, these commercial buildings are all still standing, but the change in use has reflected some of the changes in the neighborhood over the years. The original Friendly’s has long since closed, and its storefront is now a pizza restaurant, and to the right the storefronts that were once the First National supermarket are now vacant. Directly across the street from here was Nora’s Variety Store, a Pine Point fixture for many years that, likewise, has closed and also stands vacant.

Nora’s Variety Store, Springfield, Mass

A mixed-use commercial and residential building on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is probably best known as the longtime home of Nora’s Variety Store, but on a more personal note it is also where my grandmother was born, in 1917.  According to city records, it was built in 1910, which was around the time that Pine Point was being developed as a residential suburb.  My great grandparents moved into this building around 1914, and they lived here until around the early 1920s, when they moved to a house on nearby Coleman Street.

The first photo shows two storefronts, which appear to have been added sometime after 1920.  To the right was a shoe store, which is now a beauty salon, and to the left was the Boston Road Variety Store.  This later became Nora’s Variety Store, which remained a fixture in Pine Point for many years.  Nora’s closed in the early 2000s, and the storefront was most recently used by another variety store, although it now stands vacant as of 2015.

153-157 Boston Road, Springfield, Mass

A commercial block on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood was developed in the early 1900s, and consisted primarily of middle class, single-family homes.  This section of Boston Road was the commercial center of the neighborhood, and the first photo shows a variety of businesses here, including two grocery stores, a dry goods store, and a dry cleaners.  Just out of view to the left was the first Friendly’s restaurant, which opened a few years before the photo was taken.  These buildings were probably built around the 1920s or 1930s, and although the stores have changed, the buildings themselves are still standing.