68-76 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The houses at 68 and 76 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These two houses were both constructed in 1871, and although they were originally separate buildings, they have since been joined by a one-story walkway that is partially visible in both photos. The house on the left, at 68 Elliot Street, was the work of local architect James M. Currier, and it is perhaps the finest surviving Gothic-style house in the city. It was originally the home of Warner F. Sturtevant, a merchant who was a partner in the wholesale grocery firm of Downing & Sturtevant. The 1880 census shows him living here with his wife Julia and their three children, along with two servants.

In the meantime, the house on the right, at 76 Elliot Street, was built around the same time, but with a somewhat different architectural style. Designed by the firm of Perkins and Gardner, it had some Gothic-style details, such as the steeply-pointed dormer windows, but it also featured a Second Empire-style mansard roof. The original owner of the house was William L. Wilcox, a stove manufacturer and dealer. The 1875 city directory includes an advertisement for his business, W. L. Wilcox & Co., which was located at 140 State Street and was described as “Manufacturers and Dealers in Stoves, Ranges and Furnaces, Iron Sinks, Farmers’ Boilers, Refrigerators, and Housekeeping Goods generally. Dealers in the celebrated Richmond Range and Vindicator Cook Stove, Hydraulic Cement Drain and Sewer Tubing, all sizes.” During the 1880 census, he was living here with his wife Emma, their daughter, and a servant.

Both families continued to live in these houses for many years. William L. Wilcox died in 1890, but the other members of both families were still here during the 1900 census. By this point, Warner F. Sturtevant was still a wholesale grocer, this time with the firm of Sturtevant, Merrick & Co., and he was living here with Julia, two daughters, a granddaughter, and two servants. On the right, the widowed Emma was 67 years old, and she lived here with her daughter, E. Lillian Kirkham, and Lillian’s husband J. Stuart Kirkham. Stuart had evidently taken over his father-in-law’s business, because he was a stove merchant of the firm of Whitcomb, Kirkham & Gray, which was located at the same address at 140 State Street.

Emma Wilcox died later in 1900, and both families appear to have moved out of these houses by 1902. The Sturtevants subsequently moved into a house in the McKnight neighborhood, at 1064 Worthington Street, and the Kirkhams moved to Forest Park, to a new house at 107 Maplewood Terrace. Around the same time, these two houses were acquired by the Diocese of Springfield. They were adjacent to the church property, which by this point had grown to include St. Joseph’s Normal School, St. Michael’s School, a high school, a rectory, St. Luke’s Sanitarium, and St. Michael’s Cathedral, all on the south side of Elliot Street between here and State Street. The former Wilcox house on the right was converted into the diocesan chancery, while the Sturtevant house became the residence of the bishop.

The first to occupy the house was Thomas D. Beaven, who served as bishop from 1892 until 1920. At some point during his time here, he added the walkway between the two houses. Otherwise, though, the exteriors appear to have undergone few changes in the early 20th century. By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, 68 Elliot Street was the home of Beaven’s successor, Thomas M. O’Leary, who served from 1921 until 1949. The house still had its Gothic-style ornamentation at the time, although some of this would be lost later in the 20th century.

Today, these two buildings remain in use as the bishop’s residence and the chancery office. Aside from losing some of the exterior details, there have been some minor changes to 68 Elliot Street, including the enclosed porch on the left side. Overall, though, the building have remained well-preserved, and they are contributing properties in the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

94-98 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The houses at 94-98 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These three brick townhouses were constructed around 1870, at the corner of Elliot and Salem Streets. The lot had been purchased by Benjamin F. Farrar, a local mason who built the houses and then sold them to new owners. The one on the far left, at 94 Elliot Street, became the home of William Mattoon, who would soon develop Mattoon Street, located just around the corner from here. In the middle, 96 Elliot Street was sold to Harriet Wright, a widow who was in her mid-40s at the time. On the right side, at the corner of Salem Street, 98 Elliot Street was sold to William H. Wright, a wealthy tobacco dealer who had no apparent relation to Harriet Wright.

As it turned out, none of these three original residents would live here for very long, and by the 1880 census all three homes had new owners. On the left side was Hiram C. Moore, one of the city’s leading studio photographers. He previously had a partnership with his brother Chauncey, but by 1880 he was in business for himself, with a studio at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. That year’s city directory included an advertisement for his business, which was proclaimed as “the place to get all the latest novelties in the Photographic Art, being the largest and best appointed gallery in the county. The only place where those beautiful crystal pictures are made, and also the only place where instantaneous pictures are made of the little ones.”

Moore’s neighbor to the right, in the middle house, was Zenas C. Rennie, who was living here in 1880 with his wife Margaret, their two children, a boarder, and a servant. He had been an officer during the Civil War, eventually earning the rank of major, and after the war he entered the insurance business. By 1880 he had moved to Springfield, where he worked as the city’s general agent for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, with his office in the same building as Moore’s studio.

Also during the 1880 census, the house furthest to the right was the home of druggist William H. Gray. He was a partner in the H. & J. Brewer pharmacy, located at the corner of Main and Sanford Streets, and he would later become the vice president of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank. In 1880, he was living here with his wife Sarah and their three-year-old son Harry, in addition to two boarders and a servant. The family would live here for at least a few more years, but by 1883 they had moved into a newly-built house on Madison Avenue.

Twenty years later, the 1900 census shows that Hiram Moore was still living here in the house on the left, along with his wife Jennie, three children, and a servant. He was still working as a photographer, but the city directory also listed his occupation as “patent rights and novelties.” Next door, the middle house was owned by real estate agent Orson F. Swift, who lived here with his wife Cornelia and their daughter Kate. However, in a sign of things to come, the house on the right had become a rooming house, with the 1900 census showing five residents living here.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, all three of these houses – along with many of the 19th century townhouses around the corner on Mattoon Street – had been converted into either apartments or rooming houses. The 1940 census shows that Hiram Moore’s former house on the left had been divided into four units, with a total of nine residents. The other two houses were used as rooming houses, with seven people living in the middle house and nine in the house on the right. Curiously, one of these tenants in the latter house was Herbert Wilson, who was listed as being employed by the WPA Building Survey. This almost certainly referred to the Depression-era project that documented and photographed every building in the city. The first photo was taken as part of this survey, and perhaps may have even been taken by Wilson himself.

Today, this scene is not significantly different from when the first photo was taken some 80 years earlier. After having gone from upper middle class single-family homes to Depression-era rooming houses, these three houses are still standing today, with exteriors that have been well-preserved. The nearby townhouses on Mattoon Street have similarly been restored, and collectively these houses – along with a number of other historic properties in the area – are now part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

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.