Nathan Adams House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1135 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This elegant Queen Anne-style house was built in 1887 as the home of Dr. Nathan Adams, his wife Elizabeth, and their son, Nathan, Jr. An 1834 graduate of Yale, Dr. Adams came to Springfield in 1838, where he practiced medicine for many years. Later in life, he lived in New Haven for some time, but ultimately returned to Springfield. He was in his mid-70s when he and his family moved into this house, and he was only able to enjoy it for about a year before his death in 1888. Soon after, Elizabeth moved around the corner to a new, even larger house at 28 Ingersoll Grove, where she remained until her death in 1908.

By 1890, this house on Worthington Street was the home of Emily Jacobs, the widow of another noted physician, Dr. Horace Jacobs. She lived here until her death in 1898 at the age of 77, and her daughter Mary inherited the property. She was unmarried, but early 20th century census records show her living with several other family members, including her nephew Horace Rice, who was here in 1910, and her brother Chauncey A. Jacobs, who was here in 1920. Like his father, Chauncey was a physician, but he was 76 years old and evidently retired by this point. Both siblings lived here for the rest of their lives, until Chauncey’s death in 1923 and Mary’s in 1927.

The next owner of this house was David E. Tebo, a former woolen mill manager who had previously lived in Enfield, Massachusetts. He came to Springfield in the late 1920s, and his relocation was likely spurred by the imminent construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, which would flood Enfield and three other neighboring towns. The 1930 census shows him here in this house, along with his daughter, Anne T. Blair, who was an attorney. Both were still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and David Tebo died a few years later in 1945, when he was about 90 years old.

Anne Blair continued to live here until 1969, when she finally sold the property about 40 years after she and her father had moved in. The house has remained well-preserved since then, on both the exterior and interior, and it stands as an excellent example of the many fine Queen Anne-style homes that were built in the McKnight neighborhood during the late 19th century. Along with the other houses in the area, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Sarah A. Dale House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1119 Worthington Street, at the corner of Thompson Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1886, and was originally the home of Sarah A. Dale, a 70-year-old widow whose husband, brass foundry operator Lombard Dale, had died a decade earlier in 1876. She lived here with two of her unmarried daughters, Ellen and Lizzie, until her death in 1902, and the two sisters subsequently inherited the property. They remained here throughout the first two decades of the 20th century, but Ellen died in 1920. Lizzie was still living here as late as 1926, but by the 1930 census she was living in the Hotel Kimball, and she died later that year.

By 1929, this house was owned by investment banker Raymond L. Stratford, who lived here with his wife Carmen and their two young children, Raymond Jr. and Joan. However, they were only here for a few years, and had moved out by the mid-1930s. The house went through several more ownership changes during the 1930s, and by the end of the decade it was owned by Daniel A. Leary, an Irish immigrant who lived here with his sisters Anna, Katherine, and Mary. All four were unmarried and in their 60s or 70s, and they continued to live here until at least the early 1950s.

The first photo shows the house as it appeared in either 1938 or 1939, around the same time that the Learys purchased the property. However, at some point either during or soon after their ownership, the house underwent some dramatic changes. Like many other large homes in the McKnight neighborhood, it was converted into a boarding house in the mid-20th century. The exterior was also heavily altered, including the removal of the front porches and the installation of asbestos shingles on the walls. The house remained in this condition for many years, but it is now in the process of being restored to its original appearance. The first photo was taken in early 2018, and more work has been done since then, but it shows how the asbestos shingles have been restored, the clapboards have been painted, and the porches are being rebuilt.

Whitney Building, Springfield, Mass

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

The scene in 2017:

The skylines of American cities underwent dramatic changes at the end of the 19th century, thanks in large part to new developments in engineering and construction. Prior to this time, the height of commercial buildings was limited by a variety of practical factors, not least of which was the difficulty in supporting upper floors. Load-bearing masonry walls worked well for low-rise buildings, but taller buildings required increasingly thick exterior walls, sacrificing valuable ground-floor retail space in order to build higher. Such buildings could reach impressive heights, such as Chicago’s 17-story Monadnock Building, which was completed in 1894, but here in Springfield most masonry buildings did not exceed four or five stories.

By the late 19th century, though, inexpensive steel helped to revolutionize the way buildings were constructed. With steel frames, buildings were no longer limited to the capacity of load-bearing masonry, enabling the rise of modern skyscrapers. The first of these, the 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago, was completed in 1885, and it did not take long for the trend of steel-frame skyscrapers to reach Springfield. This location at Main and Worthington Streets has previously been the site of a brick, two-story commercial block that burned in 1893. Its owner, Andrew Whitney, soon set out on an ambitious project to replace it by building a six-story steel building that would become the first steel-framed building in Springfield and among the first in New England.

Construction on the building in 1894, although it would not ultimately be completed for another three years. Historian George C. Kingston, in his book William Van Alen, Fred T. Ley and the Chrysler Building, attributes this delay to a combination of factors, including the new style of construction, concerns from city officials, and the fact that Whitney, a real estate developer from Fitchburg, designed the building himself, instead of hiring a professional architect. As a result, the building did not conform to architectural trends of the era, instead featuring a relatively plain exterior without the classically-inspired ornamentation that was common at the time. However, despite local fears that the walls were too thin to support the six-story building, it was completed in 1897 and would stand here for more than 75 years.

A 1913 building directory shows a wide variety of tenants here. On the ground floor, the Main Street facade had two storefronts, with Miner & Co. cigars, magazines, soda, and confectionery in one, and W. L. Douglas shoe company in the other. There were another seven stores on the Worthington Street side, including a barber shop, a jewelry store, and a haberdasher. Above these shops, the upper five floors housed offices, which were served by two elevators – another late 19th century development that helped make skyscrapers a practical reality. These offices included attorneys, dentists, physicians, realtors, and other professionals, for a total of 50 individuals and corporations that had offices here in the building.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, first-floor tenants included jeweler P. B. Richardson on the left side, Clear-Weave Hoisery Stores in the center, and the Stearns Curtain Shop in the storefront on the corner. The building would stand here for several more decades, but it was severely damaged by a fire in December 1974, and was demolished the following year. Several years later, the entire block along Main Street between Bridge and Worthington Streets was redeveloped, and a new federal building was constructed here in 1981. The government sold the property in 2009, following the completion of the new federal courthouse on State Street, but the old building underwent a significant renovation and is now used for offices.

George Kibbe House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1030 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The house in 2017:


This Italianate-style home is the oldest in the city’s historic McKnight neighborhood, predating the area’s large-scale development by two decades. It was built around 1850, at a time when this section of Springfield was sparsely settled. A few of Springfield’s wealthy residents built estates on large lots here, including George Kibbe, who was the original owner of this house. He and his younger brother Horace were the owners of the Kibbe Brothers Company, a Springfield-based candy company that was, for many years, located in the Union Block at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue. From here, they distributed candy to retailers throughout the region, utilizing horse-drawn wagons that traveled on regularly-scheduled routes across New England.

George Kibbe lived in this house for many years, along with his wife Sarah and their daughters Sarah and Georgiana. A third daughter, Emily, died in 1853 at the age of six, only a few years after the family moved into the house. During the time that the family lived here, the area began to undergo significant transformation. Land that had once been on the outskirts of the city became one of Springfield’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, and by the 1880s a number of other large mansions were built along this section of Worthington Street. George only lived to see the very beginning of these changes, though, because he died in 1882, at the age of 64.

After George Kibbe’s death, part of his land was subdivided and developed. Bowdoin Street was extended north through the property,and a number of new homes were built here by the late 1880s. Kibbe’s old house remained, though, and was sold to Sigmund Levison, a businessman who owned a prosperous millinery company in Springfield. He was born in Germany and came to the United States as a young man, where he worked for his uncle’s millinery company. After his uncle retired in 1879, Levison purchased the Springfield branch of the business and operated it for many years.

In 1894, Levison made some alterations to the house, bringing it more in line with architectural tastes of the era by adding the classical details that are now part of the exterior. His first wife, Eleanore, died in 1916, and two years later he remarried to Edith Wilson, who was 24 years younger than him. After Sigmund’s death in the late 1920s, Edith remained in the house for another decade or so, and in the 1930 census she was living here with her 80-year-old mother and a servant.

In 1937, shortly before the first photo was taken, the house became an Odd Fellows lodge. In the 1970s, it became a VFW post, but this eventually closed as well. Today, its exterior appearance has changed little since the 1930s, and it stands as the oldest building in the McKnight neighborhood. Within the past few decades, several different owners have purchased the house with the intention of restoring it, but as of now it remains vacant.

George Dutton House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1054 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This house is one of many large Queen Anne-style homes in this area of the McKnight neighborhood, and it was built in 1885 as the home of George D. Dutton. He lived here with his wife Harriet, who was the daughter of Gurdon Bill, a prominent publisher and businessman in Springfield. Along with Harriet’s brother, Nathan Bill, George Dutton founded the National Envelope Company in Milwaukee, and the family moved there in the 1890s.

The house was subsequently purchased by real estate agent William E. Parsons, who lived here with his wife Grace and their two children, Gladys and William, Jr. After living here for about 30 years, William died in 1928, and at the 1930 census Grace was living here with Gladys, along with Gladys’s husband Robert Bradshaw and their children. Within a few years, though, Grace and the rest of the family moved to Burlingame, California.

By the time the first photo was taken, this house was the home of Ethyl Parker, who lived here with her father George and her 24 year old daughter Dorothy. Since then, the exterior of the home has been well-maintained, and aside from the fence very little has changed from the 1930s scene. In 1976 the house, along with a large portion of the neighborhood, became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Theron Hawks House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1078 Worthington Street, at the corner of Florida Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:


This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884, and was originally the home of the Reverend Theron H. Hawks. A native of Charlemont, Massachusetts, Hawks attended Williams College, graduating as the valedictorian in 1844. He taught for several years, graduated from Union Theological Seminary, and in 1855 he became the pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Springfield. That same year, he married his wife Mary, and after six years they moved west, where Reverend Hawks served as the pastor of churches in Cleveland and Marietta, Ohio. However, in 1885 they returned to Springfield and moved into this house.

Theron Hawkes became an instructor at the newly-established School for Christian Workers, where he taught Bible History, Exegesis, and Church History. The school was soon divided into four different institutions, including a YMCA Training School, which became Springfield College, and a French Protestant School, which became American International College. Reverend Hawks’s division became the Bible Normal College, moved to Hartford, and later became part of Hartford Seminary.

In the 1900 census, the Hawks’s were living here with two of their daughters, three grandsons, and two servants. Reverend Hawks died in 1908, and Mary lived here until her death two years later. The house remained in the family, though, and two of their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, continued to live here for the rest of their lives. Mary died in 1931, and Elizabeth in 1939, around the time that the first photo was taken.

Since then, not much has changed in the exterior of the house, except for the left side of the porch, which is now gone. One interesting connection between the two photos is the tree in the center, which partially blocks the view of the house. It appears to be the same one that is visible in the first photo, and was likely planted by Elizabeth Hawks herself. The house is now used as a daycare, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.