Center Street, Rutland Vermont (2)

Another view looking east on Center Street from Merchants Row in Rutland, taken around 1907-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company collection.

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Center Street in 2015:

These photos were taken from nearly the same location as the ones in this post, but the historic photo here shows the north side of Center Street as it appeared in the years following the 1906 fire that destroyed most of the left-hand side of this scene.  Since the first photo was taken, though, not much has changed.  Some of the buildings have been altered, such as the Rutland Savings Bank building on the far right, but otherwise all of the prominent buildings from the early 20th century are still there today, including the Mead Building on the left, which is situated at the corner of Center Street and Merchants Row and replaced the earlier Bates House Hotel that had been destroyed in the fire.  Today, the entire area is part of the Rutland Downtown Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Center Street, Rutland Vermont (1)

Looking east on Center Street from Merchants Row in Rutland, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company collection.

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Center Street in 2015:

This view of Center Street has seen plenty of changes over the years, but some of the original buildings are still there.  The most obvious one is probably the Rutland Savings Bank building on the far right.  It was built in the 1860s, but was substantially renovated in the 1950s.  Most of its 19th century architectural detail was lost during this renovation, including the mansard roof, which was replaced with a fourth floor, and the pillared entrance, which was replaced with marble along the entire first floor of the building.

Across the street, several other 19th century buildings survive.  The long, three story commercial blocks in the center date to the 1860s (left) and 1880s (right), and further up the hill is the red brick steeple of the 1872 First Baptist Church.  However, none of the buildings in the left foreground of the first photo survive; these buildings were destroyed in a massive fire in February 1906, just a year or two after the photo was taken.  The losses included the Bates House Hotel on the far left, which was replaced with the present-day building in 1907.  The other two buildings on the left-hand side of the 2015 photo were also built in the immediate aftermath of the fire, in 1906-1907.

Stockbridge Street, Springfield Mass

Looking east on Stockbridge Street toward Main Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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Stockbridge Street in 2015:

Like many other places in downtown Springfield, Stockbridge Street was once lined with three story brick commercial blocks, much like the ones seen in the 1930s view of the street.  This style appeared throughout the downtown area in the first half of the 19th century, when Springfield began growing into a major commercial and industrial center.  Early views of Court Square, Main Street, and other areas in downtown all feature plenty of examples of these buildings, but today only a few are left.  In the immediate downtown area, the last two are the Byers Block on Court Square, and the Guenther & Handel’s Block in this scene.

The Guenther & Handel’s Block was built in 1845, and as the 1930s photo shows, it was part of a row of similar buildings.  For many years, the ground floor was a grocery store and delicatessen, and in 1913 was sold to Emil Guenther and Richard Handel, who ran a grocery store under their names.  By the time the first photo was taken, both men had died, but the business was run by the family until 1972.  Today, all of the other mid-19th century buildings on the street are gone, and Guenther & Handel’s Block is wedged between an ornate early 20th century apartment building and a drab, nondescript late 20th century commercial building.

Old Academy Hall, Wilbraham Mass

Old Academy Hall, on the campus of Wilbraham & Monson Academy, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The building in 2015


Built in 1824, this was the original building at what would eventually become the Wilbraham & Monson Academy. The school was initially founded as two separate schools: Monson Academy in nearby Monson, Massachusetts in 1804, and Wesleyan Academy in Newmarket, New Hampshire in 1817.  Wesleyan Academy was founded as a Methodist school, and when Newmarket was found to not be a suitable location, the school moved to Wilbraham, which at the time was an important center for the small but growing Methodist denomination.

The school moved into this building in 1825, and although the campus has grown substantially over nearly 200 years, the original building is still in use.  Over the years, the academy taught a number of notable people, including Massachusetts Governor and US Senator Winthrop M. Crane, industrialist and Pratt Institute founder Charles Pratt, and abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone.  Several members of my family also attended Wesleyan Academy, including my great-grandfather in the 1880s and both of his parents in the 1840s.  In fact, my great-great grandmother was less than a year younger than Charles Pratt, and likely would have known him during his three years at the school.

Wesleyan Academy closed in June 1911, and remained closed throughout the 1911-1912 school year.  It reopened in September 1912 as Wilbraham Academy, with a new headmaster, a new faculty, and a mostly new student body.  Only one Wesleyan Academy student enrolled in the new Wilbraham Academy, so there is a bit of discontinuity with the school itself, even though the campus remained essentially the same.  Another change came in 1971, when the school merged with Monson Academy and the Monson campus was closed.  Today, although Wilbraham & Monson Academy uses the old Wesleyan Academy campus, the school recognizes 1804 as its founding date, the year that Monson Academy opened.  The original Wesleyan Academy building has remained nearly unchanged from the exterior, and today the building houses classrooms for the English and foreign language departments.

Rev. Charles Noble House, Wilbraham Mass

The Rev. Charles Noble House on Faculty Street in Wilbraham, probably around 1900. Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The house in 2015:


I don’t know who the photographer was for the first photo, but it looks similar to photographs that the Howes Brothers were making during this time period.  They would travel around New England, often photographing people in front of their homes as opposed to just in a studio, so it is entirely possible that this is one such work of theirs.  The house was probably built around 1850, and at one point was home to Charles Noble, a Methodist minister who was affiliated with Wesleyan Academy across the street (today Wilbraham & Monson Academy).  The house was later owned by his daughter Lucretia Noble, and she could very well be the woman standing at the front gate in the first photo.  Today, the house has lost much of its Victorian-era detail, but it is still easily recognizable as the same house, and it is part of the Academy Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Main Street, Wilbraham Mass

Looking north on Main Street from Faculty Street in Wilbraham, around 1900. Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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Main Street in 2015:


These photos show Main Street where it passes through the Wilbraham & Monson Academy.  The houses on the left-hand side of the road can also be seen in the photos in this post; those photos were taken from the field on the far right in this view.  At the time that the first photo was taken, the academy was called Wesleyan Academy; it was later called Wilbraham Academy, and in 1971 it merged with Monson Academy, giving the school its current name.  Today, other than having a paved road and fewer trees, not much has changed in this scene, and the area is part of the Academy Historic District, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.