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.

Alexander House, Springfield, Mass

The rear of the Alexander House, taken from Elliot Street near the corner of State Street, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The scene in 2014:


The first photo is the side view of the Alexander House, which is mentioned in this post.  Although it’s no longer on this location, the house still exists; it was moved just a short distance down Elliot Street when the federal courthouse was constructed.  It was actually the second time that the house was moved; its first move came in the 1870s, when it was moved several hundred feet on the same lot because of drainage issues.  Today, it sits just a little to the left of where these photos were taken, and it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Springfield.

29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The location in 2012:


It’s not too often that the building in the “now” photo is older than the one in the “then” photo, but that’s the case here.  The building in the second photo is the Alexander House, one of the oldest buildings in Springfield.  However, it wasn’t always at this location – originally it was on State Street, but was moved several times in its long history, most recently in 2003, when the new federal courthouse was built on its lot.

The house was built in 1811 for James Byers, for whom the historic 1835 Byers Block at Court Square is named.  He sold the house in 1820 to Colonel Israel E. Trask, who sold it to famed portrait artist Chester Harding (Harding’s grave is seen in this post about Springfield Cemetery).  However, Harding sold the property back to Trask in 1832.  Trask died in 1835, and his family owned the property until 1857, when it was sold to Henry Alexander, Jr., who named the house Linden Hall.  Alexander served as mayor of Springfield from 1864 to 1865, and the house remained in his family until 1938.  During Alexander’s ownership, the house was moved for the first time, during the 1870s.  Improvements to State Street had changed the grade of the street, which caused drainage problems for the house, necessitating a move of several hundred feet.

It was also around this time that Elliot Street was developed and the brick duplexes seen in the 1930s were built.  I don’t know what became of the duplex at 29-31 Elliot Street, but it was probably gone long before the Alexander House was moved to the site in 2003.  The duplex on the right is still there, though, although it was heavily damaged by a fire in 2008 and its future is in doubt.  The good news, though, is that the Alexander House has been preserved, and makes up part of Springfield’s Mattoon Street – Quadrangle Historic District.