Guy Kirkham House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 145 Clarendon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood features many fine examples of late 19th century architecture, although virtually none were designed by architects of national significance. Instead, many of the homes were designed by local architects, including Guy Kirkham, who designed this house in 1892 and lived here for 17 years. He was born in 1864, and was the son of William Kirkham, a jeweler, and Harriet Merriam, who was the daughter of the famous Webster’s dictionary publisher Charles Merriam. William died when Guy was young, and Harriet remarried in 1877 to Charles Hosley.

Kirkham studied architecture at MIT, and after graduating in 1887 he apprenticed in Minneapolis and New York City, and then spent several years studying in Europe. In 1892, he returned to Springfield, married his wife Grace Dwight, and started his own architectural firm. That same year, he built this house, just around the corner from where his mother lived. This house would have been among his earliest works, and incorporates elements of Shingle-style architecture. He undoubtedly would have learned about this style while at MIT, since it was widely popular in the 1880s, especially in wealthy New England coastal resort communities.

This house was one of about ten that Kirkham designed in the McKnight neighborhood, but he also designed a number of other important buildings in Springfield, including the Hotel Worthy, the Howard Street School, the High School of Commerce, the Forest Park branch library, the old YMCA building at 122 Chestnut Street, and the current MassMutual headquarters on State Street. Most of his works were in Springfield, but he did design a few buildings in nearby towns, including libraries in Chicopee and Hadley, the Unitarian church in Northampton, and the gymnasium at Wilbraham-Monson Academy.

The Kirkhams lived at this house until 1909, when they moved into a new house nearby at 120 Clarendon Street, which he also designed. Their old house here was sold to Guy’s half brother, Walter Hosley, a physician who lived here for about a decade. By 1920, the house was owned by Raymond Wight, a paper company executive, and a decade later it was owned by Leiceser Warren, who was also involved in the paper business. Since then, there have been a few changes to the exterior, including the enclosed porch and a single, large gable over the dormer on the third floor. Otherwise, though, it is a well-preserved example of Shingle-style architecture, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Elizabeth Adams House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 28 Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house on Ingersoll Grove in Springfield was built for Dr. Nathan Adams, a physician who died in 1888, shortly before the house was completed. However, his widow Elizabeth moved into the house and lived here for nearly 20 years, until her own death in 1908 at the age of 90. During this time, she was hardly alone in this big house, though. The 1900 census shows her living here with her son Lathom, daughter Ellen, Ellen’s husband John Egbert, and their four children. John was an Episcopalian minister who had, many years earlier, served as a curate at Christ Church in Springfield, where Dr. and Mrs. Adams were prominent members.

John Egbert died in 1905 at the age of 60, with the death certificate indicating “general paresis” as the cause of death. This condition is a psychiatric disorder usually caused by late-stage syphilis, and seems like a rather unusual cause of death for a clergyman. Two of John and Ellen’s children also died relatively young; William died of tuberculosis in 1901 at the age of 18, and Nathan died of an intestinal obstruction in 1913, at the age of 35. Ellen lived here along with her brother Nathan and daughter Ellen, until her death in 1917.

After being owned by the Adams family for over 30 years, the house was finally sold in the early 1920s, to James M. Gill. He was the son of James D. Gill, a prominent publisher and art dealer who later moved into the house across the street from here. The younger James was a businessman who started his career in the paper industry. He then entered the ice business, eventually becoming the president of the Springfield Ice Company. From 1913 to 1916 he served as the city’s police commissioner, and this experience gave him insight into yet another business opportunity. Recognizing the need for better handcuffs, he started the Peerless Handcuff Company in 1914 and served as the company president for many years. The company quickly became a leader in the industry, and is still in business over a century later.

James M. Gill lived in this house with his wife Josephine and their three children, Barbara, Clyde, and Marjorie. The two older children moved out in the 1930s, but Marjorie was still living here along with her parents when the first photo was taken. After James’s death in 1949, though, the house was sold. Like many other large homes in the neighborhood, it was divided up into multiple units in the early 1950s, and it later became a group home for deinstitutionalized patients from the Belchertown State School. However, it was subsequently restored as a single-family home, and today it is part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Kibbe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1030 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The house in 2017:


This Italianate-style home is the oldest in the city’s historic McKnight neighborhood, predating the area’s large-scale development by two decades. It was built around 1850, at a time when this section of Springfield was sparsely settled. A few of Springfield’s wealthy residents built estates on large lots here, including George Kibbe, who was the original owner of this house. He and his younger brother Horace were the owners of the Kibbe Brothers Company, a Springfield-based candy company that was, for many years, located in the Union Block at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. From here, they distributed candy to retailers throughout the region, utilizing horse-drawn wagons that traveled on regularly-scheduled routes across New England.

George Kibbe lived in this house for many years, along with his wife Sarah and their daughters Sarah and Georgiana. A third daughter, Emily, died in 1853 at the age of six, only a few years after the family moved into the house. During the time that the family lived here, the area began to undergo significant transformation. Land that had once been on the outskirts of the city became one of Springfield’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, and by the 1880s a number of other large mansions were built along this section of Worthington Street. George only lived to see the very beginning of these changes, though, because he died in 1882, at the age of 64.

After George Kibbe’s death, part of his land was subdivided and developed. Bowdoin Street was extended north through the property,and a number of new homes were built here by the late 1880s. Kibbe’s old house remained, though, and was sold to Sigmund Levison, a businessman who owned a prosperous millinery company in Springfield. He was born in Germany and came to the United States as a young man, where he worked for his uncle’s millinery company. After his uncle retired in 1879, Levison purchased the Springfield branch of the business and operated it for many years.

In 1894, Levison made some alterations to the house, bringing it more in line with architectural tastes of the era by adding the classical details that are now part of the exterior. His first wife, Eleanore, died in 1916, and two years later he remarried to Edith Wilson, who was 24 years younger than him. After Sigmund’s death in the late 1920s, Edith remained in the house for another decade or so, and in the 1930 census she was living here with her 80-year-old mother and a servant.

In 1937, shortly before the first photo was taken, the house became an Odd Fellows lodge. In the 1970s, it became a VFW post, but this eventually closed as well. Today, its exterior appearance has changed little since the 1930s, and it stands as the oldest building in the McKnight neighborhood. Within the past few decades, several different owners have purchased the house with the intention of restoring it, but as of now it remains vacant.

George Dutton House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1054 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house is one of many large Queen Anne-style homes in this area of the McKnight neighborhood, and it was built in 1885 as the home of George D. Dutton. He lived here with his wife Harriet, who was the daughter of Gurdon Bill, a prominent publisher and businessman in Springfield. Along with Harriet’s brother, Nathan Bill, George Dutton founded the National Envelope Company in Milwaukee, and the family moved there in the 1890s.

The house was subsequently purchased by real estate agent William E. Parsons, who lived here with his wife Grace and their two children, Gladys and William, Jr. After living here for about 30 years, William died in 1928, and at the 1930 census Grace was living here with Gladys, along with Gladys’s husband Robert Bradshaw and their children. Within a few years, though, Grace and the rest of the family moved to Burlingame, California.

By the time the first photo was taken, this house was the home of Ethyl Parker, who lived here with her father George and her 24 year old daughter Dorothy. Since then, the exterior of the home has been well-maintained, and aside from the fence very little has changed from the 1930s scene. In 1976 the house, along with a large portion of the neighborhood, became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Theron Hawks House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1078 Worthington Street, at the corner of Florida Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884, and was originally the home of the Reverend Theron H. Hawks. A native of Charlemont, Massachusetts, Hawks attended Williams College, graduating as the valedictorian in 1844. He taught for several years, graduated from Union Theological Seminary, and in 1855 he became the pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Springfield. That same year, he married his wife Mary, and after six years they moved west, where Reverend Hawks served as the pastor of churches in Cleveland and Marietta, Ohio. However, in 1885 they returned to Springfield and moved into this house.

Theron Hawkes became an instructor at the newly-established School for Christian Workers, where he taught Bible History, Exegesis, and Church History. The school was soon divided into four different institutions, including a YMCA Training School, which became Springfield College, and a French Protestant School, which became American International College. Reverend Hawks’s division became the Bible Normal College, moved to Hartford, and later became part of Hartford Seminary.

In the 1900 census, the Hawks’s were living here with two of their daughters, three grandsons, and two servants. Reverend Hawks died in 1908, and Mary lived here until her death two years later. The house remained in the family, though, and two of their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, continued to live here for the rest of their lives. Mary died in 1931, and Elizabeth in 1939, around the time that the first photo was taken.

Since then, not much has changed in the exterior of the house, except for the left side of the porch, which is now gone. One interesting connection between the two photos is the tree in the center, which partially blocks the view of the house. It appears to be the same one that is visible in the first photo, and was likely planted by Elizabeth Hawks herself. The house is now used as a daycare, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

William Harris House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1104 Worthington Street, at the corner of Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This massive house is the only four-story single-family home in Springfield, and it was the longtime home of William and Henrietta Harris. William was a leading figure in the region’s foundry business, having learned the trade from his father in Rutland, Vermont, before moving to Springfield in 1881. He and his wife were married in 1883, and in 1886 they moved into this newly-built house in the McKnight neighborhood. At the time, William was serving as the secretary of the Springfield Foundry Company, but in 1896 he became a partner in C. H. Bausch & Sons. This Holyoke-based foundry was renamed Bausch & Harris Machine Tool Company and moved to Springfield, with Harris becoming the company president.

William and Henrietta lived here for more than 40 years, and raised their seven children here. William died in 1931 and Henrietta in 1933, and he house subsequently became a boarding house, as was the case with so many other 19th century mansions in the neighborhood at the time. It was being used as such when the first photo was taken, and by the 1940 census there were six lodgers here, all of whom were single or divorced, and most of whom were middle aged or older. Since then, though, the house has been restored, and it is again a single-family home. Along with the other houses in the neighborhood, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.