First Friendly’s Restaurant, Springfield, Mass

The original home of Friendly Ice Cream, at 161 Boston Road in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2015:

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The first photo was taken only a few years after S. Prestley and Curtis Blake opened the first Friendly Ice Cream location here in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood. In 1935, the two brothers, aged 20 and 18, respectively, borrowed $547 from their parents and opened the ice cream shop, charging 5 cents for a two scoop cone as the sign on the side of the building indicates. The business soon proved to be popular, and in 1940 they opened a second shop in West Springfield. By the early 1950s, they had 10 locations in the area, and when the Blake brothers sold the company in 1979, it had grown to over 500 restaurants. Today, the company operates 380 restaurants along the east coast from Maine to Florida.

The buildings in the first photo were probably built in the 1920s or early 1930s, when Pine Point was growing as a middle class residential neighborhood. As seen here and in this earlier post, these commercial buildings are all still standing, but the change in use has reflected some of the changes in the neighborhood over the years. The original Friendly’s has long since closed, and its storefront is now a pizza restaurant, and to the right the storefronts that were once the First National supermarket are now vacant. Directly across the street from here was Nora’s Variety Store, a Pine Point fixture for many years that, likewise, has closed and also stands vacant.

Nora’s Variety Store, Springfield, Mass

A mixed-use commercial and residential building on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is probably best known as the longtime home of Nora’s Variety Store, but on a more personal note it is also where my grandmother was born, in 1917.  According to city records, it was built in 1910, which was around the time that Pine Point was being developed as a residential suburb.  My great grandparents moved into this building around 1914, and they lived here until around the early 1920s, when they moved to a house on nearby Coleman Street.

The first photo shows two storefronts, which appear to have been added sometime after 1920.  To the right was a shoe store, which is now a beauty salon, and to the left was the Boston Road Variety Store.  This later became Nora’s Variety Store, which remained a fixture in Pine Point for many years.  Nora’s closed in the early 2000s, and the storefront was most recently used by another variety store, although it now stands vacant as of 2015.

153-157 Boston Road, Springfield, Mass

A commercial block on Boston Road in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood was developed in the early 1900s, and consisted primarily of middle class, single-family homes.  This section of Boston Road was the commercial center of the neighborhood, and the first photo shows a variety of businesses here, including two grocery stores, a dry goods store, and a dry cleaners.  Just out of view to the left was the first Friendly’s restaurant, which opened a few years before the photo was taken.  These buildings were probably built around the 1920s or 1930s, and although the stores have changed, the buildings themselves are still standing.

Venezian Monumental Works, Springfield Mass

The Venezian Monumental Works building on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is located right next to the architecturally similar building at 1579 State Street, which was probably photographed on the same day as this one.  However, while the former Frank’s Service building has long been shuttered, the Venezian Monumental Works is still in business.  The company is actually substantially older than even the first photo; it was established in 1882, when the Pine Point neighborhood was on the remote outskirts of the city.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown, which has presumably increased demand for headstones, and it also doesn’t hurt that they are located right next to St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Today, the building has doubled in size, but the original section is still visible on the left side.

Frank’s Service, Springfield Mass

An automobile service station on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is located in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, a suburban section of the city that rapidly grew in population in the early 1900s.  At first, this growth was facilitated by the trolley line that ran through here, but later on it was automobiles that made this a practical place to live and commute from.  The establishment in the first photo, which appears to be called Frank’s Service, based on the sign above the door, would have been one of the many automobile-related businesses that opened to meet the demand.  I found this one particularly interesting, though, because my grandmother grew up in this neighborhood, and this place was about halfway between her house and where she worked in the late 1930s, at MassMutual.  She would’ve driven past here every day, and perhaps even stopped in to buy a Coca Cola.  According to the city assessor’s records, it was built in 1935, and although I don’t know what the building has been used for since the 1930s, it has clearly been vacant for a while.  The property has been owned by the City of Springfield since 2003, probably for nonpayment of taxes, so it had likely been abandoned long before that.