Day & Jobson Block, Springfield, Mass

The building at the northwest corner of Main and Cypress Streets in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

This three-story Italianate-style commercial block was built sometime around the 1850s, and it featured a distinctive faux-stone exterior that was actually made of wood. It was owned by Day & Jobson, a local lumber company that had a planing mill and lumber yard was located a few blocks away, at the corner of Liberty Street (present-day Frank B. Murray Street) and Chestnut Street. The building consisted of a mix of apartments on the upper floors, with retail space on the ground floor, and most of the early commercial tenants sold groceries.

During the late 1860s, there were at least four different stores on the ground floor. Starting on the left side of the building, at the corner of Cypress Street, was A.F. & H.L. Niles, which sold “Teas, Coffee, Butter, Lard, Fish” and other groceries. Right next door was Alonzo Camp, who described himself in the 1869 city directory as “Dealer in Choice Family Groceries and Provisions, Foreign and Domestic Fruits, &c.” Further to the right was John Fox, who specialized in butter and eggs, and to the right of him was butcher John L. Rice & Co., who is listed in the 1869 directory as “Dealer in Fresh and Salt Beef, Pork, Hams, Sausages, Tripe, Poultry, &c. Butter, Cheese, Eggs, Lard, West India Goods, and Family Groceries, and Vegetables of all kinds in their season.”

By about 1876, the corner store – which was numbered 196 Main Street at the time – had become a drugstore, operated by Daniel E. Keefe. He was later listed as a physician in city directories of the 1880s, but his office was still located here, and he also lived here in this building. However, by the early 1890s Dr. Keefe had moved his practice elsewhere, and this storefront was again used as a pharmacy, this time by T. Edward Masters. Over the next few years, several more druggists would occupy this space, including John J. Carmody and Hiram P. Comstock.

In 1912, this corner drugstore was acquired by Charles V. Ryan. A Springfield native, Ryan was born in 1872 as the son of Irish immigrants, and he went on to attend Cathedral High School and the Massachusetts School of Pharmacy. In 1895, when he was just 22 years old, he opened up his own drug store here in the North End, only a block north of this site. He remained there for the next 17 years before relocating to this building, where he would carry on the business for several more decades.

Ryan was still running the drugstore here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s. The photo also shows several other stores that were located in the building, including Paushter & Co. furriers and tailors, Becker’s Shoes, and the Lucille Dress Shop. Ryan died only a year or two later in 1940, at the age of 68, but his family carried on the business for many more years, starting with his son, Charles V. Ryan, Jr., and then his grandsons, Donald and Robert Ryan. Another grandson, also named Charles V. Ryan, was not directly involved in the drugstore business, but he had a successful political career, serving as mayor of Springfield from 1962 to 1967, and 2004 to 2008.

It was during Ryan’s first stint as mayor that the city’s North End underwent a major urban renewal project. Nearly every building along the Main Street corridor, between the railroad arch and Memorial Square, was demolished during the 1960s, and many of the streets themselves were altered or eliminated. This building was razed sometime around 1967, and the drugstore relocated across the street to the Northgate Center, where it remained until it was acquired by CVS in 1994.

In the meantime, the site of the old building was redeveloped as the new headquarters of the Springfield Union and Springfield Daily News, which opened around 1969. These newspapers subsequently merged to become the Union-News, and in the early 2000s it was renamed the Springfield Republican, reflecting the historical name of the newspaper. The Republican offices are still located here today, although the newspaper recently announced that it is looking to sell the property or lease some of the space to other businesses, since the building contains more office space than the newspaper needs at this point.

Memorial Church, Springfield, Mass

The Memorial Church, at the corner of Main and Plainfield Streets in Springfield, around 1905. Image from Springfield Present and Prospective (1905).

The church in 2018:

Springfield’s Memorial Church was established in 1865 as a nondenominational Christian church. It was named in honor of “the memory of the deceased ministers of New England,” and, according to one of its early resolutions, it welcomed “to its membership and communion all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, and who agree with it concerning the essential doctrines of the Christian religion, by whatever name they may be called.” Many of its founding members had come from North Congregational Church, but the first pastor was Mark Trafton, a noted Methodist clergyman who had previously served a term in Congress.

The two leaders in establishing the Memorial Church were George M. Atwater and Josiah G. Holland. Both men were prominent Springfield residents; Atwater was a businessman who, a few years later, would establish the city’s streetcar system, and Holland was a nationally-renowned author, poet, and editor. Holland also served as the leader of the choir and the superintendent of the Sunday school, but he left Springfield in 1868 and eventually moved to New York, where he became one of the founders of Scribner’s Monthly.

During its first few years, the church met in a school building, but in 1869 this new building was completed at the corner of Main and Plainfield Streets, in the city’s North End. It was constructed with granite from nearby Monson, with contrasting brownstone trim, and its Gothic Revival design was the work of New York architect Richard Upjohn and his son, Richard Mitchell Upjohn. The elder Upjohn was one of the leading church architects in the United States during the mid-19th century, and his other notable works included Trinity Church in New York City. He had also previously designed George Atwater’s house, Rockrimmon, here in Springfield, which is probably how he ended up with the commission for Atwater’s church. The younger Upjohn was also a successful architect in his own right, and he subsequently designed the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford.

Also in 1869, William T. Eustis was installed as pastor of the church. He had been the pastor of Chapel Street Congregational Church in New Haven since 1848, but he left there in order to accept this position here in Springfield. Eustis would go on to serve as pastor of the Memorial Church for nearly 20 years, until his death in 1888, and during this time the church saw significant growth, with around 350 members and 400 Sunday school students by the mid-1880s. Eustis’s replacement was John L. R. Trask, formerly of the Second Congregational Church in Holyoke, who remained here until his retirement in 1904.

The first photo was taken around the same time that Reverend Trask retired, and it depicts a winter scene, with snow on the ground and even some patches of snow clinging to the steep roof. At the time, the church was situated on the southern end of Round Hill, a roughly triangular-shaped raised ground bounded by Main, Plainfield, and Arch Streets. Although the rest of the North End was largely working class, Round Hill featured several large mansions, one of which is visible in the distance on the right side of the church. Constructed around 1868, this was the first of the houses to be constructed here, and it was originally the home of Dr. William G. Breck, a local physician.

The Memorial Church remained an active congregation here until 1940, when it sold the property to the Church of St. George, a Greek Orthodox parish that had previously worshiped in several other buildings nearby in the North End. This church became the St. George Greek Orthodox Memorial Church, and the interior was remodeled to meet the needs of its new congregation. Only a few years later, in 1944, the rear of the building was severely damaged by a fire, but it was restored by the following year.

Round Hill was all but obliterated by the 1960s, when Interstate 91 was constructed through the area, just to the west of the church. All of the mansions were demolished by then, and most of the hill was leveled to create an interchange with Route 20. The site of the Breck house is now a McDonald’s, and today the church is the only surviving 19th century building on Round Hill. It was nearly vacated in the 1970s, when St. George explored the possibility of relocating to Longmeadow, but the parishioners ultimately voted to remain here. The church was subsequently renamed St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and around the same time it acquired the former Memorial Square Branch Library, which was converted into the Greek Cultural Center. St. George is still here today, and the building stands as an important architectural landmark in Springfield, with few exterior changes since the first photo was taken more than a century ago.

Main & Emery Streets, Springfield Mass

Main Street looking south from Emery Street in Springfield around 1892.  Photo from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The scene in 2015:

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Aside from the railroad arch barely visible in the distance, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in the 1892 scene that still exists today.  Unlike in other neighborhoods of Springfield, the North End retains very few historic buildings; just about the entire area between the railroad and I-291, extending a block on either side of Main Street, is new development from the 1970s.  The 1920 city atlas shows literally hundreds of houses and other buildings in this area, but today there is not one permanent resident within nearly a quarter mile of this spot.  Instead, there are commercial developments and highways.  The Springfield Republican offices are to the right, and across the street is the US Post Office.  Not visible to the left of the post office is a shopping plaza, and beyond the Republican building on the right is the Peter Pan bus terminal.  In the opposite direction, looking north along Main Street there are several professional offices, and then the sprawling I-291 interchange with I-91, both of which consume substantial real estate in the North End.

Hampden Park from Round Hill, Springfield, Mass

The view of Hampden Park from the North End of Springfield, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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The view in 2014:

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The location of the second photo isn’t exact – the actual location would be somewhere in the southbound lane of Interstate 91, so I did the next best thing; I took the 2014 photo from a bridge over the highway.  Either way, not much remains the same today.  The railroad tracks are still there, as is the Connecticut River, but otherwise it’s a completely different scene.  Hampden Park is visible in the distance; this was home to bicycle races, minor league baseball games, and even the occasional college football game.  A more in-depth history of the park is explained in this post.

In later years, the part of Hampden Park closest to the North End Bridge became Pynchon Park, and was the home of several different minor league teams until the 1960s.  Today, the former site of Hampden Park is now primarily industrial, with warehouses and other facilities on the spot where Harvard and Yale used to play early college football games.  Pynchon Park is now a Pride station, and can barely be seen through the trees just to the left of the billboard on the right-hand side of the photo.

North Main Street, Springfield, Mass

Main Street in Springfield, looking toward the North End near Congress Street, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).

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The scene in 2014:

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The only readily identifiable building in the first photo is on the right side of Main Street, the Hooker School, which was a grammar school that opened in 1865.  In the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield, it is described as “the finest of the grammar-school buildings in external appearance,. for which it is indebted to its imposing tower (containing a clock with illuminated dial), as well as to the beautiful network of vines which in summer relieve the bareness of its brick walls.”

The building was still being used as a school by the time the 1910 atlas was published, but by 1920 the school had moved to a different location a few blocks away.  The old building was apparently still there, though, and it was labeled as “Old School Building.” Obviously, the school building is no longer there, although it was likely gone long before the interchange between I-91 and I-291 was built here.  Today, Main Street itself is the only thing left over from the first photo, although instead of trees in the median, it now has concrete supports for the elevated highway.

Springfield Hospital, Springfield, Mass

Springfield Hospital, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The site in 2014, now the home of Baystate Medical Center:

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From its humble beginnings as Springfield Hospital in 1883, this location has grown into one of the largest hospitals in the state.  The first major expansion happened within 20-30 years of when the first photo was taken, when the building in the 2014 photo opened.  Since then, the hospital has significantly expanded the area behind this building, and the large, grassy area in front of the hospital is now a parking lot.