Turnverein Block, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Co-Operative Bank building at 81 State Street, Springfield, Mass, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.


The building in 2014:


This building at 81 State Street was built in 1888 as the home of the Turnverein Society, a German-American social club.  In the 1920s, the façade was renovated in line with contemporary styles, although the rest of the building reveals the earlier architectural design.  By the time the first photo was taken, it was Springfield Co-Operative Bank, and the building continued to be used as a bank until at least the 1980s.  Today, the building is within the footprint of the planned MGM Springfield casino, and will be demolished, along with the tall annex to 1200 Main Street, which is seen directly behind the Turnverein Block.

Corner of Main & Bridge Streets, Springfield, Mass

The northwest corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Springfield, sometime in the early 1880s. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library.


Main and Bridge in 1938-1939.  Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The same location in 2017:

The building in the first photo was the home of W.D. Kinsman’s store, which was described in the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield as a “fancy dry-goods and novelties establishment.”  According to the book, Warren D. Kinsman opened the business in 1866 and moved to the location at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in 1880.  However, the engraving in King’s Handbook shows a building that is five bays wide on the Main Street facade, as opposed to the three which are seen in this photo.  This would seem to suggest a date of around 1880 for the first photo; the building must have been expanded to the right sometime soon after.  The Kinsman building was demolished by the 1930s, and Kresge’s 5 and 10 cent store was built on the site, as seen in the second photo.  Today, Kresge’s is also gone; it was replaced by the former Federal Building, which was renovated in 2009 and is now an office building.

51-55 State Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 51-55 State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The scene in 2014:


I don’t know much about the apartment building in the first photo, except that it was built sometime between 1882 and 1899, and was demolished by 1958, when the present 55 State Street building was built.  It is directly across State Street from the Hampden County Hall of Justice, and it reflects the hideous architectural styles of the mid-20th century.  Sadly, this building will not be among those demolished to make way for the casino, although the buildings in the distance to the left will be.

104-108 State Street, Springfield, Mass

The buildings at 104-108 State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The scene in 2014:


These photos were taken facing just to the right of the ones in this post, and the 1930s photo shows the building once occupied by The Hub Restaurant.  As mentioned in the other post, this building was probably taken down around the same time as the Court Square Theater to make room for the present-day parking lot, although the building to the right of it still survives; this is the Shean Block, which was built in 1927 at the corner of Main and State Streets.

Notice the “No Parking” sign in the foreground – I’m not quite sure why parking was restricted from 4:45 to 5:45; perhaps this was to accommodate rush hour traffic?  At the time, State Street was part of Route 20, so this section of road was probably pretty busy in the pre-interstate days.  There is also a clue as to the date of this photo – a sign in the second floor window reads “Springfield Free Press,” which was published starting in September 1939.  If the estimated date range of 1938-1939 is accurate, then the photo was most likely taken in the fall of 1939.

102 State Street, Springfield, Mass

The building at 102 State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The scene in 2014:


Both the Century Cafe and The Hub Restaurant are long gone, as are the buildings that they once occupied.  In the 1930s photo, these buildings fronted State Street, and behind them was the Court Square Theater, which was part of the Court Square Hotel.  The hotel part of the building is still there, to the left and in the background of the 2014 photo, but the theater itself was demolished in 1956 to make room for the parking lot.  It was probably around this time that the buildings on State Street were demolished.

Old Cathedral High School, Springfield, Mass

The old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The building in 2014:


Not much has changed in the exterior of the old Cathedral High School building on Elliot Street.  It was built in 1919 to meet the needs of a growing school population, and was used as a high school for 40 years until the opening of the Surrey Road campus in 1959, which was the home of the school until the June 1, 2011 tornado, which caused significant damage to the building.  In the meantime, the old Elliot Street building is still owned by the Springfield Diocese, and with the demolition of the “new” Cathedral High School this fall, the 95 year old building has now outlived its successor.

When this building was used as a high school, a number of notable people attended school here, including three future NFL players: Joe Scibelli, 1943 Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti.  Given the approximate date of the first photo, Bertelli was likely attending the school at the time – perhaps he was even sitting in one of the classrooms when the photographer took the picture.  In addition, former Postmaster General and NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien also went here, graduating several years before the first photo was taken.