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:

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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.

Smith & Wesson Factory, Springfield, Mass

The Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, Mass., as it appeared around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2014:

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Originally built in 1860, the Smith & Wesson factory on Stockbridge Street was its corporate headquarters for many years. The company is still headquartered in Springfield, although they have long since moved to their current location on Roosevelt Avenue. In 1972, Dwight Street was extended across much of the land that was once the factory, although I don’t know if the buildings were demolished at that point, or sometime before then.  The building in the background to the right in the 2014 photo was actually around when the first photo was taken; it was at the time the factory for Milton Bradley; it has since, along with several other former industrial buildings in the area, been converted into apartments. At least one of the former Smith & Wesson buildings still exists, just to the right and outside the frame of the 2014 photo, although it wasn’t built until after the 1908 photo was taken. It is also part of the apartment complex.