Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking down Elliot Street from Edwards Street, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The view in 2015:

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Most of the views of Springfield featured in Picturesque Hampden almost 125 years ago are now drastically changed, but thankfully very little is different about this view of Elliot Street. Aside from the one on the far left, all of the other buildings in this scene are still standing. The most prominent is the North Congregational Church, which was designed by noted architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1873. It was one of his earlier works, and is one of two of his buildings, along with the Hampden County Courthouse, that is still standing in Springfield. To the left is the William Mattoon House, which was built around 1870 and is the oldest building in the scene. It was owned by William Mattoon, who also owned the land behind it that was later developed as Mattoon Street. To the right in both photos is the duplex at 95-99 Elliot Street, which was built in 1887, only a few years before the first photo was taken. Today, all of these buildings have been restored and are part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

95-99 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 95-99 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2014:

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Known as the Edward B. Barton House, this duplex at the corner of Elliot and Salem Streets was built in 1887.  It was originally home to Edward B. Barton, a traveling shoe salesman, and William H. Wright, the owner of Massasoit Cigar Manufactory and Store.  Today, aside from a few minor changes with the porches, the house doesn’t look all that different from its appearance in the late 1930s.  Like other historic properties on Elliot Street, it is located within the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District.

85-87 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 85-87 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.

Apartments

The building in 2014:

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This apartment building on Elliot Street, opposite Edwards Street, was built in 1907.  During this time, many of the single and two-family buildings that once lined many of the streets in the downtown area were being replaced by larger apartment buildings, as the downtown grew and demand for housing increased.  The building was built by Gagnier & Angers, two French Canadians who built many of the apartment buildings in this part of the city in the early 1900s.  Presumably, not much changed in the buildings exterior appearance between its construction and the first photo in the late 1930s, and not much changed in the ensuing 75 years.  All of the buildings from the 1930s photo are still there, including this apartment building, the wood duplex to the left, and the brick apartment building behind it.  Together, they make up part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Cathedral High School, Springfield, Mass

The old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2014:

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Not much has changed in the exterior of the old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street.  It was built in 1919 to meet the needs of a growing school population, and was used as a high school for 40 years until the opening of the Surrey Road campus in 1959, which was the home of the school until the June 1, 2011 tornado, which caused significant damage to the building.  In the meantime, the old Elliot Street building is still owned by the Springfield Diocese, and with the demolition of the “new” Cathedral High School this fall, the 95 year old building has now outlived its successor.

When this building was used as a high school, a number of notable people attended school here, including three future NFL players: Joe Scibelli, 1943 Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti.  Given the approximate date of the first photo, Bertelli was likely attending the school at the time – perhaps he was even sitting in one of the classrooms when the photographer took the picture.  In addition, former Postmaster General and NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien also went here, graduating several years before the first photo was taken.

Alexander House, Springfield, Mass

The rear of the Alexander House, taken from Elliot Street near the corner of State Street, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2014:

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The first photo is the side view of the Alexander House, which is mentioned in this post.  Although it’s no longer on this location, the house still exists; it was moved just a short distance down Elliot Street when the federal courthouse was constructed.  It was actually the second time that the house was moved; its first move came in the 1870s, when it was moved several hundred feet on the same lot because of drainage issues.  Today, it sits just a little to the left of where these photos were taken, and it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Springfield.

29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The location in 2012:

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It’s not too often that the building in the “now” photo is older than the one in the “then” photo, but that’s the case here.  The building in the second photo is the Alexander House, one of the oldest buildings in Springfield.  However, it wasn’t always at this location – originally it was on State Street, but was moved several times in its long history, most recently in 2003, when the new federal courthouse was built on its lot.

The house was built in 1811 for James Byers, for whom the historic 1835 Byers Block at Court Square is named.  He sold the house in 1820 to Colonel Israel E. Trask, who sold it to famed portrait artist Chester Harding (Harding’s grave is seen in this post about Springfield Cemetery).  However, Harding sold the property back to Trask in 1832.  Trask died in 1835, and his family owned the property until 1857, when it was sold to Henry Alexander, Jr., who named the house Linden Hall.  Alexander served as mayor of Springfield from 1864 to 1865, and the house remained in his family until 1938.  During Alexander’s ownership, the house was moved for the first time, during the 1870s.  Improvements to State Street had changed the grade of the street, which caused drainage problems for the house, necessitating a move of several hundred feet.

It was also around this time that Elliot Street was developed and the brick duplexes seen in the 1930s were built.  I don’t know what became of the duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, but it was probably gone long before the Alexander House was moved to the site in 2003.  The duplex on the right is still there, though, although it was heavily damaged by a fire in 2008 and its future is in doubt.  The good news, though, is that the Alexander House has been preserved, and makes up part of Springfield’s Mattoon Street – Quadrangle Historic District.