Frederic M. Jones House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 327 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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Many of the early 20th century mansions on Maple Street were built in the popular Tudor Revival style of the era, including this one, which was built in 1914. At the time, Maple Street was home to some of the city’s wealthiest residents, and this house was the home of Frederic M. Jones, a banker who was the president of Springfield’s Third National Bank. By 1920, he was living here with his wife Florence and their six year old daughter Emily. The family of three was joined here by an equal number of servants, all of whom were immigrants from Sweden. A decade later in 1930, the family was still living here, this time with two servants, and the house was valued at $58,700, or over $850,000 in today’s dollars.

Frederic and Florence still lived in the house when the first photo was taken. He died in 1946, and Florence owned the property until her own death in 1964. Nearly 80 years after this photo was taken, very little has changed in the house’s exterior appearance. It remains a single-family home, and is an excellent surviving example of the early 20th century mansions on Maple Street. It provides an interesting contrast to the Julius Appleton House, its neighbor to the left. Although built only a few decades earlier, this stick-style mansion represents a dramatic difference in architectural tastes of the era. Today, both houses are part of the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Reynolds House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 355 Maple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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Maple Street was home to some of Springfield’s most prominent residents in the 19th century, including George Reynolds, who had this house built around 1860. Reynolds was born in 1822 in Southbridge, Massachusetts, but like many others of the time, he was drawn to Springfield by the Armory, where he worked for six years as a young man. Soon after arriving here, he married Longmeadow resident Harriett Colton, and by the early 1850s he had started a successful business as a landscaper and contractor.

It was an auspicious time to start such a company, because the post-Civil War era brought a housing boom to the city. Upper middle class families flocked to Springfield and built large, elegant homes, and Reynolds, along with business partner Justin Sackett, did extensive work for both the city and individual residents. Their projects included building the park roads in Forest Park, creating the Van Horn Reservoir, and building the streets in the McKnight neighborhood.

George and Harriett Reynolds lived in this house with their two children, Louisa and Howard. By 1900, Howard was living in the house next door at 357 Maple Street, but Louisa and her husband Herbert Hastings lived here with her parents. Both George and Harriett died in 1902, only a few weeks apart, and Louisa inherited the house. In the meantime, the family business carried on, with Howard and Herbert forming the partnership of Reynolds & Hastings.

Both Louisa and Herbert died in the 1920s, and the next two censuses show that the house was being rented by Charles Lomas, who paid $100 per month in 1930 and $75 in 1940. Since then, the exterior house has remained well-preserved, although it is missing the shutters and the balustrade on top of the porch. Fairly modest in size and style compared to many of the other historic mansions on Maple Street, it survives as one of the oldest on the street. Along with the surrounding homes, it is part of the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Howard Reynolds House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 357 Maple Street, at the corner of George Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

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This house is located in the small triangle between Maple, Pine, and George Streets. It was built around 1865 for George Reynolds, a landscaper and contractor who lived in the house next door at 355 Maple Street. Several generations of the Reynolds family lived here, starting with George’s son Howard. He worked for his father’s company, and lived in this house with his wife Martha and their son, George H. Reynolds.

After his father’s retirement, Howard took over the company, along with his brother-in-law Herbert A. Hastings. He lived in this house for the rest of his life, until his death in 1926. His son George carried on the family business, and also lived at this house, with his wife Edna and their daughter Madeline. They were still living here when the first photo was taken on the late 1930s, nearly 50 years after George had moved into the house as a teenager in the 1890s.

Today, the house stands as a reminder of the days when Maple Street was home to some of the city’s most prominent residents. It is a relatively modest home compared to many of the others on the street, but its Gothic-style architecture is somewhat unusual for homes in Springfield. The exterior remains well preserved from its appearance when the Reynolds family lived here, and the house is part of the Ames/Crescent Hill District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Park Square, Pittsfield, Mass (5)

The view looking east down East Street from Park Square in Pittsfield, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Park Square in 2016:

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The first photo shows a quiet day in the center of Pittsfield. A couple of groundskeepers maintain Park Square, with the man in overalls on the right operating a push mower. Another man, barely visible in the distance beyond the sign, also appears to be pushing a lawnmower. At the end of the walkway in the center of the photo, a couple of boys play on an old cannon that probably dated back to the Civil War. The only other person visible in the scene is a woman in a black skirt, white blouse, and large hat who is crossing East Street on the far left.

In the foreground, a sundial marks time in the center of Park Square, and to the left of it a sign commemorates the site of America’s first cattle show, which was held here in 1810. It also marks the spot of the “old elm,” which stood there until 1864. This tree towered over the center of Pittsfield since the town was settled in the 1750s. In fact, it was the center of Pittsfield – the surveyor who laid out the downtown area in 1752 used it as the center. It survived numerous proposals to remove it, and by the early 19th century it had become a major landmark, with Park Squre encircling it. In 1825, during his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette stopped here and gave a speech from under the tree. Later on, the iconic tree was mentioned in the writings of both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. However, by 1864 the ancient tree was in danger of falling, and with much reluctance it was taken down.

Today, Park Square is still the main focal point of downtown Pittsfield. East Street in the distance has changed somewhat over the past century, and is no longer a predominantly residential street. Most of the houses that would have been present in the distance of the first photo are gone, but many of the buildings around Park Square are still standing. These include the Berkshire County Courthouse, St. Stephen’s Church, the old town hall, the First Church, the Berkshire County Savings Bank, and the Berkshire Life Insurance Company. All of these historic buildings, along with Park Square itself, are part of the Park Square Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

First Church, Pittsfield, Mass (2)

Another view of the First Church at Park Square in Pittsfield, around 1893. Image from Picturesque Berkshire (1893).

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The church in 2016:

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As mentioned in a previous post on the church, Pittsfield’s original church building was built here in 1761, and was subsequently replaced by newer buildings in 1793 and, finally, in 1853. The current church is a granite Gothic-style building that was designed by prominent architect Leopold Eidlitz. It is still in use by the congregation today, and very little has changed in this view since the first photo was taken. Even the old 1832 town hall, its plain Federal architecture a sharp contrast to that of the church, is still here. Both buildings are contributing properties in the Park Square Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Berkshire County Savings Bank, Pittsfield, Mass

The Berkshire County Savings Bank building, at the northeast corner of North and East Streets in Pittsfield, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2016:

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It is rare for the same building to house the same company in both the “then” and “now” photos, but Berkshire Bank has been located in this building since its completion in 1896. The bank itself is actually much older, having been established in Pittsfield in 1846 as the Berkshire County Savings Bank. Fifty years later, the bank moved into this building at Park Square, in a prominent location at the corner of North and East Streets. The six-story Renaissance Revival building was designed by Boston architect Francis R. Allen, and overlooks the center of the city, directly adjacent to the First Church on the right.

More than 170 years after it was founded, the bank’s name has since been simplified to Berkshire Bank. After a series of mergers, it is now the largest bank based in Western Massachusetts, but it is still based out of this building. The building itself still retains its original appearance, although it has grown over the years. At some point it was expanded to the left along the North Street side, replacing the smaller building in the first photo and making the building roughly square. The addition is barely noticeable at first glance, though, and seamlessly blends in with the original section.

There have been even fewer changes to the First Church on the right. This Gothic church was completed in 1853, and was designed by prominent architect Leopold Eidlitz. Both the church and the bank building are among the many historic 19the century buildings around Park Square, and they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Park Square Historic District.