35 Mattoon Street, Springfield, Mass

The rowhouse at 35 Mattoon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2015:

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Mattoon Street is a remarkable street in downtown Springfield, with beautifully restored Victorian rowhouses that make it seem more like Boston’s Back Bay than a neighborhood in Springfield.  This particular house is near the western end of the street, and it was built in 1872 along with its four identical neighbors to the right.  They were designed by architects E.C. Gardner and Jason Perkins, who later designed other Springfield buildings such as the Technical High School on nearby Elliot Street.  The original owners of all five houses were B.F. Farrar and Jesse F. Tapley, who sold them to individual owners after they were completed.  Today, the houses on the street, including this one, have been beautifully restored, and the neighborhood is part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

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.

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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.

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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.

263-265 Union Street, Springfield, Mass

The duplex at 263-265 Union Street, seen around 1938-1939.  Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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Like its neighbor in the previous post, this duplex was built in the 1870s in the Second Empire style that was popular in the United States during this period.  As this area was developed in the late 1800s, many middle class professionals moved in, including Dr. S.W. Bowles, a physician who, according to the 1882 city atlas, lived in the unit to the right.  The same atlas also indicates that J.H. Appleton lived on the left side; this appears to have been Julius H. Appleton, who was a railroad executive and later became president of the Springfield Institution for Savings and a member of the state Governor’s Council.  Assuming this is the same J.H. Appleton listed on the map, he didn’t live here for too long, though; by the late 1880s he was living in his new mansion at 313 Maple Street.

In the 2015 view, the house is partially hidden by the tree in front, but on the exterior it still retains most of its original features, including the asymmetrical bay windows on the right side and the two-story Victorian over the front doors  From this angle, the only real difference is the minor change to front steps and the addition of handrails.

247-249 Union Street, Springfield, Mass

The duplex at 247-249 Union Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This Victorian duplex is one of several along this section of Union Street that were built as the city’s population began to spread out from the original downtown area.  Many middle class professionals lived in this area, including music store owner Levi M. Pierce, who lived in the unit on the right side.  He appears to have been the original owner, living here from its construction in 1870 until his death in 1908.  His two children, William and Leona, grew up here, and William went on to become the president of Kenyon College in Ohio, serving from 1896 until 1937.  Leona also distinguished herself in academia; she graduated from Smith College and later received her Ph.D from Yale in 1899, with scintillatingly-titled doctoral thesis: “On Chain-Differentiants of a Ternary Quantics.”  Leona took over her father’s music business after his death, and she was probably still living here when the first photo was taken.  Today’s scene shows a few modifications to the house, especially the front porch and the steps, but otherwise it is a good example of Second Empire architecture from the Victorian era in Springfield.

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.