John Law House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 171 Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This distinctive Shingle-style home was built in 1895, and in many ways it is a larger version of the house at 53 Dartmouth Street, which was built a year earlier. It was the home of John law, a retired tin manufacturer who had previously lived in Enfield, Connecticut. He and his wife Margaret were Scottish immigrants, and were in their 60s by the time they moved into this house. However, they did not live here long; John died in 1900, and Margaret died two years later.

The house was then purchased by Luman S. Brown, a manufacturer and businessman who was the founder and president of the Springfield Facing Company, which made facing material for foundries. Along with this, he was also the president and treasurer of a charcoal company, and he served as a director of the Chapin National Bank. He and his wife Clara lived here for about a decade or so, and by around 1914 they were living in a nearby home on Florida Street. They later retired to Florida itself, where they died several months apart in 1937.

The next owner of the house was Robert C. Cooley, a lawyer who lived here with his wife Harriet and their two children. They remained here for more than 30 years, until Robert’s death in 1946 and Harriet’s in 1951. Since then, the house has been well-maintained, and provides a striking example of Shingle-style architecture on what is probably the finest street in the neighborhood. Along with the other historic homes in the area, it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dartmouth Terrace, Springfield, Mass

The view looking east on Dartmouth Terrace from Clarendon Street, probably in the 1890s or early 1900s. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

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Dartmouth Terrace in 2017:

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Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood was developed in the late 19th century as an upscale residential neighborhood for the city’s many wealthy and upper middle class families. Today, the neighborhood consists of hundreds of Victorian-era homes on several dozen streets, but perhaps the crown jewel of the entire neighborhood is Dartmouth Terrace. It extends from the Thompson Triangle, which is the largest park in the neighborhood , to the McKnight Glen, a ravine that is one of the few undeveloped places in the area. For most of the road, it also features a landscaped median, complete with a small fountain in the center.

Almost all of the houses on Dartmouth Terrace are on the north side of the street, as seen here. The five houses seen here were all built around 1888-1889, and although none are identical, they all have similar Queen Anne architecture. These are among the largest houses in the McKnight neighborhood, and were originally owned by prominent city businessmen. When first built, these five homes were, from left to right, owned by button company owner Louis H. Coolbroth, corset company owner Albert Nason, paper manufacturer Willis A. Hall, coal dealer James Cowan, and G. & C. Merriam treasurer Orlando M. Baker.

More than a century later, the McKnight neighborhood has remained remarkably unchanged. All five of these houses are still standing, and have been beautifully restored to their original appearance. Aside from the height of the trees, essentially nothing has changed in this view since the first photo was taken, and Dartmouth Terrace is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Albert Nason House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 129 Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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Albert Nason came to Springfield in the 1880s with his wife Annie and their children, Mabel and Albert, Jr. Born in Franklin, Massachusetts, Albert was a Civil War veteran, and here in Springfield he became the president of the Bay State Corset Company. At the time, corsets were a near-obligatory part of Victorian women’s fashion, and the prosperity of his business was reflected in his house, which was built in 1888 in the desirable, newly-developed McKnight neighborhood.

The 1900 census shows Albert, Annie, and Albert, Jr. still living here. That same year, their daughter Mabel and her husband George Nye moved into the neighboring house at 137 Dartmouth Terrace. Albert died in 1903, but his family continued living here for decades. By 1910, Annie was still here, along with Albert, Jr. and his newlywed wife, Florence. He died in 1928, but Annie lived into her 90s, having outlived her husband and all three of her children by the time she died in 1934.

Along with Annie, the 1930 census shows Florence here with her 19 year old daughter Anne. Within a few years, Anne would marry Chauncey C. Day, and the couple was living here when the first photo was taken. Their children became the fourth generation of the family to live in this house, which had been in the family for over 50 years. Since then, the house has remained well-preserved, with hardly any noticeable difference from the first photo. It is an excellent example of Queen Anne architecture, and it is part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Amanda Coolbroth House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 137 Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This house was built in 1889, around the same time that the rest of Dartmouth Terrace was being developed. Some of the city’s most prominent business leaders moved into the mansions here, including Louis H. Coolbroth, the president of the Standard Button Company. He died six years later in 1895, and his wife Amanda continued living here until her death in 1900.

The house’s next owner was George Nye, a merchant who lived here with his wife Mabel and son Robert. Mabel was the daughter of Albert and Annie Nason, who lived in the house next door from here. George died in 1907 at the age of 41, and Mabel later remarried to Charles C. Wilder. They both died in the 1920s, and by the 1930 census it was the home of Earl and Frances Knight, who lived here with their four children, a servant, and a lodger. By 1940, it had changed hands yet again, though, and was owned by Theodore Bliss, whose occupation was listed as the secretary of a paper company. At the time, he was living here with his wife Margarite and their two daughters.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photograph was taken, the house has not significantly changed. The right side of the front porch is gone, but otherwise its exterior retains its distinctive Victorian appearance, complete with a multicolor paint scheme. Along with the other houses in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Willis Hall House, Springfield, Massachusetts

The house at 121 Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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Willis A. Hall was a paper manufacturer who, in 1888, married Emma R. Hanson. That same year, the couple moved into this house, which had just been built on Dartmouth Terrace, one of he most desirable sections of the new McKnight neighborhood. They do not appear to have had any children, and Emma died in 1895. Two years later, he remarried to Mary Walton, who was herself a widow. By 1900, they were living here with Willis’s mother Mandana and a servant.

The Halls remained here until at least the 1910 census, but the house subsequently went through several different owners. By 1925, it was owned by Dr. Robert E. Andrews, who worked as the medical director of the Fisk Rubber Company in Chicopee. He lived here with his wife Gladys and daughter Leah, and later opened his own medical practice here in the house. They were still living here when the first photo was taken, and for many years afterwards. Dr. Andrews died in 1963, and Gladys remained here until her own death in 1973.

The house has seen few changes since the first photo was taken. Like many other historic homes in the area, its exterior has been beautifully restored to its 19th century appearance, and it is part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Place.

James Cowan House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 115 Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

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This house was built in 1888 for James and Ellen Cowan, on newly-developed Dartmouth Terrace. James was a coal dealer, and at the time the McKnight neighborhood was a fashionable area for the city’s leading residents. He lived here until his death in 1897, and by 1900 Ellen was still here with her daughter Mary, along with Mary’s husband George Sessions and their infant daughter Ethelyn.

By the 1910 census, Ellen was living elsewhere in the city with Mary and George, and this house on Dartmouth Terrace was home to Edwin and Ada Collins. Edwin’s occupation was listed as a waste dealer, and he lived here until his death in 1931, seven years after Ada’s death in 1924. The house was subsequently owned by Francis Wrisley, a telephone repair man. In the 1940 census, recorded shortly after the first photo was taken, he was living here with his wife Charlotte, son Francis, Jr., and Francis’s wife Elsie.

Today, much of the McKnight neighborhood has been restored to its original appearance, including this house. The vast majority of the 19th century homes in the area are still standing, and collectively they form the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places.