William H. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 School Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:


This lot at the corner of School and Mulberry Streets had been the site of a house since at least 1850, when Congressman George Ashmun moved into a house that once stood here. He lived here until his death in 1870, and the property was sold to William W. Colburn, who lived here for almost 30 years, until his death in 1899. In 1906, Colburn’s widow sold it to patent attorney William H. Chapin, who appears to have demolished the old house and built the one seen in the first photo. Its Colonial Revival-style architecture is consistent with early 20th century mansions, and city atlases also indicate that it was built during this time, because the footprint of the house on this spot in the 1910 atlas looks very different from the one in the 1899 atlas.

William Chapin lived here with his wife Charlotte and their three sons, Maurice, Henry, and Stuart, and they also employed two live-in servants. The children had all moved out by the 1930 census, but William and Charlotte lived here for the rest of their lives. Charlotte died in 1935, and William in 1941, only a few years after the first photo was taken. After his death, his former mansion became a rooming house before finally being demolished in 1960 to build an apartment complex. This building, in turn, was eventually abandoned by its owners, taken by the city for nonpayment of taxes, and demolished in the 1990s to make additional parking for the nearby Milton Bradley School.

School Street School, Springfield, Mass

The School Street School at the corner of School and High Streets, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

722_1938-1939 spt (57 school)

The building in 2015:

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This building is among the oldest surviving school buildings in the city, but it isn’t the school that the street was named after.  Springfield’s first high school was located across the street from here, from 1828 until 1840, and over the years several more public schools would be located in this area.  The current building was built in 1892 as an elementary school, and as the two photos show its exterior has been well-preserved in the past 75 or so years.  Although it is no longer a public school, it is now used by the Youth Social Educational Training Academy, which offers preschool as well as before and after school programs for children.

Union and School Streets, Springfield, Mass

The apartment building at the corner of Union and School Streets, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

721_1938-1939 spt (282-286-292 union)

The building in 2015:

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As the city of Springfield grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this section of Union Street steadily grew from single family homes to duplexes to eventually large apartment buildings such as this one.  It was built in 1926 in the Mission Revival architectural style, and is still standing almost 90 years later, although most of the original Mission Revival design elements along the roofline have since been removed, as seen in the 2015 photo.