Main Street from Masonic Street, Northampton, Mass

Looking west on Main Street from near the corner of Masonic Street in Northampton, around 1894. Image from Northampton: The Meadow City (1894).

The scene in 2017:

This scene, on the western end of Main street, was at the outer edges of downtown Northampton for most of the 19th century, and it was not fully developed into its present-day form until the 1870s and 1880s. The oldest building in the first photo is the Edwards Church, located directly in the center of the photo. This congregation was established in 1833 as an offshoot of the First Church, and was named in honor of Jonathan Edwards, the prominent theologian who had served as the pastor of the First Church from 1729 to 1750. The first permanent home of the new congregation was a church at the corner of Main and Old South Streets, but this building was destroyed in a fire in 1870 and, a few years later, the church completed a new building a few blocks to the west, as seen in the first photo.

Around the same time that the new church was built here, Smith College was established on a site just beyond the church, where Main Street divides into West and Elm Streets. The school’s first building, College Hall, was completed in 1875, and can be seen in the distance on the left side of both photos. Like many of the other 19th century buildings on the campus, College Hall was the work of the Boston-based architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, and was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style that was popular at the time, particularly for schools and other institutional buildings.

The newest buildings in the first photo were the five brick commercial blocks in the foreground on the right side. Known as the Daley Blocks, these buildings were completed around 1886-1887 and were originally owned by Patrick J. Daley, an Irish native who owned a dry goods store in Florence. As the first photo shows, the three buildings in the middle were built with the same architectural style – red brick, with light-colored lintels and sills – but paint and other alterations have obscured these details on the buildings to the left and the right.

Today, aside from these minor changes to the Daley Blocks, the only significant difference in this scene is the Edwards Church. The old church building from the first photo stood here for over 80 years, and during this time it was the home church of Calvin Coolidge and his family, as well as the site of his funeral in 1933. However, by the 1950s it was in in need of serious repairs, and the congregation voted to build a new church rather than renovate the old one. As a result, it was demolished and replaced with the current church building, which was completed in 1958 on the same site as the old church.

City Hall, Northampton, Mass

City Hall on Main Street in Northampton, around 1890. Image from Picturesque Hampshire (1890).

The scene in 2017:

Northampton’s city hall is perhaps one of the most unusual-looking municipal buildings in the state, with a distinctive Gothic-inspired exterior that stands about amid the more conventional brick commercial buildings that line Main Street. It was the work of William Fenno Pratt, a prominent local architect who designed a number of buildings in the area, and it was completed in 1850 as the town hall, since Northampton would not become a city for another 33 years. The building’s original layout included an auditorium on the second floor, which could accommodate over a thousand people. This space was often used for lectures, dances, and other civic events, and over the years a number of prominent people gave speeches here, including Henry Ward Beecher, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Sojourner Truth.

Not long after Northampton became a city, this building played a role in the early political career of future president Calvin Coolidge. An 1895 graduate of Amherst College, he subsequently moved to Northampton and began practicing law, only a few years after the first photo was taken. In 1898, he was elected to his first political office as a city councilor, serving one term before being appointed as city solicitor. In 1904 he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the school committee – the only election that he ever lost – but two years later he was elected as a state legislator. Then, in 1910 and 1911, he served two terms as mayor of Northampton, with his office here in city hall, before being elected to the state senate. From there, he held a succession of state offices, including senate president, lieutenant governor, and governor, and then in 1920 he was elected as vice president of the United States, before becoming president in 1923 upon the death of Warren Harding.

Around the same time that Coolidge became president in 1923, Northampton’s city hall was the center of controversy here in his hometown. The eclectic design of the building had long been unpopular with many people, including then-mayor Harry E. Bicknell, who derided its “flip-flops and flop-doodles,” as he put it. However, despite calls to replace it with a modern, more conventionally-designed building, frugality ultimately carried the day, since it was far cheaper to renovate the old building than to demolish it and build a replacement. The renovations did include some significant changes to the interior, including converting the auditorium into offices, but overall the exterior remained largely the same aside from the wooden crenellations atop the towers, which had rotted away by this point. Since they were entirely decorative and sat atop towers that, likewise, served no practical purpose, these crenellations would not replaced until the late 20th century.

Today, the building remains in use as Northampton’s city hall, still standing as an iconic feature on Main Street, with an appearance that is the same as it was over 125 years ago when the first photo was taken. The surrounding buildings have also changed very little over the years, including the 19th century commercial buildings on either side of the photo, as well as the 1872 Memorial Hall, located just to the right of City Hall. All of these buildings, along with the rest of the surrounding area, are now part of the Northampton Downtown Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Ernest D. Bugbee House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 68 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1910 as the home of Ernest D. Bugbee, the treasurer of the D. H. Brigham clothing company on Main Street. He was about 36 years old at the time, and had already lived in several different homes in the Forest Park neighborhood. Until about 1907 he lived in the house next door to the right, a 64 Washington Road. Then, from about 1908 to 1910 he lived at 116 Fort Pleasant Avenue, before returning to Washington Road and moving into this house around 1910. He was living here with his wife Maud and two servants during the 1910 census, but they did not remain here for very long, and by 1913 they were living in another newly-built house at 208 Longhill Street.

This house on Washington Road was subsequently purchased by Harry L. Hawes, a businessman who owned a sporting goods store on Main Street. He and his wife Mary were both in their 40s at the time, and they continued to live here for many years. Harry died in January 1939, probably right around the same time that the first photo was taken. During the 1940 census, Mary was living here alone except for a servant, and she remained here until her death a decade later in 1950.

Today, this elegant Colonial Revival-style home has hardly changed in the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken. The second-floor shutters are gone, and there is a different design in the pediment above the front entrance, but overall the house has remained very well-preserved, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Jesse M. Marsh House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 44 Washington Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1901, and was originally the home of Jesse M. Marsh, the secretary and manager of the Commonwealth Securities Company. He lived here with his wife, who was, curiously enough, also named Jessie, and they lived here with their son Walter. During the 1910 census, they also lived here with Jessie’s widowed sister, M. Louise Dorsey, and her 26-year-old daughter, Agnes. However, around 1913 the family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and this house was subsequently sold.

The house was purchased in 1913 by Henry and Mary T. Beach. Mary died a few years later in 1918, but Henry was still living here during the 1920 census, along with his daughter Della, his son Philip, his sisters-in-law Anne Brosnan and Josephine Holian, and Josephine’s two sons, John and Bernard. Henry died in 1928, followed by Anne two years later, and by the 1930 census only Josephine and Bernard were still living in this house. They were paying $50 per month to rent the property, and 21-year-old Bernard was working as a clerk in a broker’s office at the time.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was being rented by Edward S. Chase, an insurance agent for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He and his wife Dora were both in their mid-50s at the time, and they lived here with their son Phillip, Edward’s mother Emma, and a lodger. They remained here into the 1940s, and Emma died in 1943, but about a year later they left and moved into a house on Claremont Street in Springfield. Since then, the exterior appearance of the house has remained essentially unchanged, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Francis R. Richmond House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 20 Greenleaf Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1893, and was originally the home of Francis R. Richmond, a prominent local architect. He was born in Shelburne Falls, but he later came to Springfield, where he began his architectural career with the firm of Gardner & Gardner. He later partnered with B. Hammett Seabury to form Richmond & Seabury, and their firm’s works in the 1880s included the Tapley School, the Jefferson Avenue School, and the chapel and gate for Oak Grove Cemetery. However, in 1890 they dissolved the partnership, and Richmond went into business for himself. Over the next 17 years, he designed buildings such as the South Main Street School, the North Main Street Fire Station, the Memorial Church Parish House, and several downtown commercial blocks, including the Homestead Building on Worthington Street.

Francis and his wife Laura had six children, although two died young, before the family moved into this house. The other four children were still living here during the 1900 census, with 20-year-old Mabel working as a schoolteacher, while 18-year-old Alice was a milliner. The two youngest, Florence and Otis, were 13 and 12, respectively, and both were attending school at the time. Francis died seven years later, from what his death certificate listed as “chronic melancholia & chronic gastritis,” but the rest of the family, plus Alice’s husband George Allen, were still living here in this house during the 1910 census.

The house would remain in the Richmond family until Laura’s death in 1919, and by the following year it was owned by Erving R. Gurney, the chief engineer for the Springfield-based Knox Motor Company. He and his wife Edith were both in their early 40s at the time, and had six children children who were in their teens and early 20s: Georgianna, William, Dorothy, Marguerite, Alice, and Edith. They lived here for several years, but by 1924 they had moved to New York.

The house was subsequently sold to William J. Warner, who was living here by about 1925 along with his wife Minnie and their children, Janet and Allen. At the time, he was the sales manager of the Hampden Glazed Card and Paper Company, but in the late 1920s he became the vice president of the Marvellum Company in Holyoke. Then, in 1931, this company established the Beveridge-Marvellum Company, with Warner as president and general manager. He continued to live here until as late as 1936, but by 1937 the family had moved to a house on Bellevue Avenue, in the northern section of the Forest Park Heights neighborhood.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, the house was owned by Homer R. Feltham, the head of the real estate department for the Springfield Safe Deposit and Trust Company. During the 1940 census, he was earning $4,200 for his yearly salary – a considerable sum at the time – and he lived here with his wife Mildred, their daughters Barbara and Virginia, and his father, William H. Feltham, who owned the William H. Feltham & Son real estate and insurance business. Homer later became the vice president and mortgage officer of the Springfield Institution for Savings, and he and Mildred lived in this house until they sold the property in 1957.

Since then, the house has undergone some exterior changes. The second-floor porch has been enclosed, and many of the Queen Anne-style architectural details are gone, including the scalloped shingles on the second floor, the balustrade on the left side, the dentils above the first and second floors, and the balustrade on the third floor. Overall, though, the house has been well-maintained, and it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Charles W. Rannenberg House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 90 Garfield Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1893, and is among the oldest of the homes in the Forest Park neighborhood, which was developed around the turn of the 20th century as an upscale suburb just to the south of downtown Springfield. It was originally owned by Charles W. Rannenberg, a traveling salesman who lived here with his wife Caroline and their two children, Gertrude and Karl. Gertrude died in 1905, at the age of 22, from diabetes, but the rest of the family continued to live in this house for many years.

Karl married his wife Pauline in 1917, and they lived here with his parents and raised four children of their own: Norma, Karl, Paul, and Arlene. Karl’s mother Caroline died in the 1920s, and Charles died in 1936, only a few years before the first photo was taken, but the rest of the family was still living here as late as 1939, along with Pauline’s mother, Lillie Beaune. However, by the 1940 census they had moved across the street and were renting the house at 77 Garfield Street. They would later purchase that house, and lived there until their deaths in the late 1960s.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, this house has remained well-preserved, with only a few minor changes. The small porch on the right side is gone, the second-floor porch is now enclosed, and the chimneys have been altered, but otherwise the house retains its original Queen Anne-style appearance. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, this house is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.