Indian Motocycle Factory, Springfield Mass

The factory on Wilbraham Road in Springfield, which would later house the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company.  Seen here around 1892 and published in Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The building in 2015:

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This building is best known as having been part of the Indian Motocycle Company factory, but it has had a variety of uses over the years.  The original section of the building, as seen in the 1892 photo, was built in 1883 for the Bullard Repeating Arms Company, a rifle company that was not as successful as another firearms company founded in Springfield during the 19th century.  Bullard didn’t last too long, and the building was then used by the Springfield Industrial Institute, a private trade school.  In 1895, the school moved to the building across the courtyard, and the Elektron Company occupied this building.  It was at this point that the wing was built to the east, beyond the tower.

Early in the 20th century, George Hendee moved his motorcycle company to this site, which was originally named Hendee Manufacturing Company, but was later renamed Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company (the “r” was intentionally omitted from “motorcycle” for trademark purposes, although Hendee was from the Boston area, so perhaps he had no use for r’s in his speech anyway).  The two story addition was put on the building in 1911, which by then had nearly quadrupled in size from the 1892 photo.  This triangle between State Street and Wilbraham Road was the home of the company until they closed in 1953, at which point the buildings were used for various other businesses.  Since then, several of the buildings have been demolished, although the original 1883 Bullard building survives, and it has been renovated and turned into apartments.

Birthplace of Basketball, Springfield, Mass (2)

The interior of the gymnasium at the School For Christian Workers in Springfield, Mass, around 1887. Photo courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections.

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The approximate area in 2014:

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These two photos don’t line up perfectly – I don’t know exactly what direction the 1887 photo was oriented, but the 2014 photo shows approximately what the scene now looks like.  Regardless, the 1887 photo is of significance, as it shows the gymnasium where, around four years later, the first basketball game was played. Originally developed as a way for athletes to stay in shape during the winter, it quickly became a popular sport around the world. And today, on the spot where 19th century athletes stayed in shape throughout the winter, modern Springfielders now go there to get Big Macs, year round.

Birthplace of Basketball, Springfield, Mass (1)

The School for Christian Workers Building, located at the corner of State Street and Sherman Street in Springfield, Mass, in 1886. Photo courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections.

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The scene in 2014:

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Built in 1886 as the home of the School for Christian Workers, it also became home to the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in 1890.  Although both organizations moved out by 1897, it was during this time period that James Naismith invented the game of basketball in the building’s gymnasium. The building was later expanded to the east (right-hand side of the photo), and was demolished in 1965. However, it was not demolished to build the McDonald’s in the present-day photo; the site was used was a parking lot for about 30 years before McDonald’s was built in 1995.