Massasoit House, Springfield

The Massasoit House in Springfield, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated by James D. Gill (1882)

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The same scene around 1908, with the stone railroad arch in the distance. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same scene in 2017:

 

This scene on Main Street in Springfield was prime real estate when the first two photos were taken.  The hotel building in those photos, the Massasoit House, opened in 1843, right next to the railroad depot (the building partially hidden by a tree in the right-center of the 1882 photo), just four years after the railroad came to Springfield.  It was the perfect place for a hotel, because the railroad depot made this location the transportation hub of the city, and the Massasoit House had its share of notable guests over the years, including Charles Dickens, Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, and Jefferson Davis.  However, in 1926 the building was sold and turned into the Paramount Theatre.  Most of the structure was demolished, but there are a few surviving sections of the original 1843 building.

One thing lacking in the 1882 photo is the iconic stone arch, which wasn’t built until 1890.  It helped to alleviate congestion on Main Street by elevating the railroad, and it also coincided with the opening of a new Union Station just a short walk away on Lyman Street.  By the 1908 photo, the railroad arch is there, and the scene captures an interesting combination of transportation modes.  Along with the railroad in the distance, it shows trolleys alongside a roughly equal number of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages, during the period of transition from draft animals to internal combustion engines.  Today, as seen in the 2014 photo, buses have replaced the trolleys, and automobiles clearly won out over horses; not a single horse-drawn carriage is to be seen on Main Street anymore.

Hotel Worthy, Springfield

The Hotel Worthy, at the corner of Main and Worthington in Springfield, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2017:

 

Unlike many of the other views of downtown Springfield from the turn of the last century, almost nothing has changed in this scene.  Taken from the corner of Main and Worthington, with Worthington to the left and Main to the right, most of the buildings in this photo have survived.  The only exception is the building to the immediate right of the Hotel Worthy, which is now a public square.  The historic hotel itself is now an apartment building, and the buildings beyond it to the left down Worthington Street now house a variety of bars and restaurants.  One of these, Smith’s Billiards, has actually been open since before the 1908 photo was taken, and it is supposedly the oldest pool hall in the United States.

Main Street Springfield (2)

Main Street in Springfield, looking south from the corner of Main and Worthington, in about 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2017:

 

Much has changed about this scene in the ensuing 100+ years, but two prominent landmarks remain, the Fuller Block, sans roof ornaments, and the Hotel Worthy on the far left.  The building between the two, along with most of the other buildings on the left-hand side of Main Street, is gone, as are the trolleys that were once ubiquitous throughout downtown Springfield.

Main Street, Springfield

Main Street in Springfield, looking north between Harrison Avenue and Bridge Street, as it appeared around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2015:

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Not much is left from the 1905 view, but the building with the large onion-like decorations at the top is still there.  The roof ornaments are long gone, but the building itself, the 1887 Fuller Block, is the only easily recognizable structure from this scene that has survived.  The building on the far right of the 1905 photo is now the site of Center Square, and the left-hand side is now the parking garage for the Marriott.  Further down on the left, the nondescript former federal building replaced the building in the 1905 photo.

Court Square, Springfield (2)

Shown below is a 1909 photo of Court Square looking east, taken at the same time as the photo in my previous post. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection.

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Fast-forwarding 103 years to 2012, the scene has changed dramatically.

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Unlike in the photo of the south and west ends of Court Square, these photos of the west (and a little bit of the north) sides of Court Square have almost nothing in common.  The old Chicopee Bank building, seen in the 2012 photo on the far right, is barely visible behind the tree on the right-hand side of the 1909 photo, and the Miles Morgan and Civil War monuments in Court Square are still there.  But other than that, everything else has changed, with the most notable difference being the MassMutual Center. Built in 1972 as the Civic Center, it replaced several city blocks, including the buildings in the center of the 1909 photo, although some of those were long gone before 1972.  Among the buildings seen in the 1909 view is the old Springfield Republican building, which is the tall building just to the left of center along Main Street.