25-27 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The brick duplex at 25-27 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The building in 2013:


This duplex on Elliot Street has clearly seen better days.  It was built in 1872 as one of several brick duplexes on the east side of Elliot Street, and today it is the last one still standing, although it may not be much longer.  In 2008, the building was damaged by a fire, which, among other things, completely destroyed the mansard third floor.  Since the fire, the Springfield Historical Commission has attempted to save the house from demolition, but at this point its future is still very much in doubt.  In September, the owners agreed to a four month deadline to either renovate or demolish it, so perhaps by next month we will have an idea what the future holds for the historic property.

George Ashmun House, Springfield, Mass

The former home of Congressman George Ashmun, at 297 Union Street, Springfield Mass, around 1893. Photo from Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizens of Old Springfield (1893)


The building around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.


The location in 2015:


The house in the first two photos is located at the corner of Union and School Streets, and was the home of lawyer and politician George Ashmun from 1838 to 1841.  Ashmun was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1833, at the age of 29.  He served there until 1837, then spent three years in the Massachusetts Senate before returning to the House and serving as Speaker in 1841.  He later represented the Sixth District of Massachusetts in Congress from 1845 to 1851.

However, his most significant political and historical moment came in 1860, when he served as the chairman of the Republican National Convention in Chicago.  Going into the convention, Senator William Seward had been the favorite to win the nomination, but in the end, the delegates chose Abraham Lincoln, a former colleague of Ashmun who served alongside him in the House.  As the chairman, he traveled to Springfield, Illinois, to inform Lincoln that he had received the nomination.

Ashmun worked with Lincoln throughout his presidency, meeting with him for the last time in the White House on the evening of April 14, 1865, shortly before Lincoln left to attend a play at Ford’s Theatre.  When they departed, President Lincoln promised to meet with him the next morning; this meeting obviously did not happen.

The house that Ashmun once lived in still stood at the corner of Union and School until around the mid 20th century; it was there when the WPA photo was taken in the late 1930s, but was probably demolished when the present-day school building was built in 1962.

The Post Master and His Corps, Springfield, Mass

A group of postal employees on the front steps of Springfield’s Central High School (later Classical High School) around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield (1910).


The building in 2014:


All that I know about the first photo is that it was taken on the front steps of the former high school, which can be seen in this post, and that it was titled “The Post Master and His Corps” in the View Book of Springfield.  I’m assuming that means that all of these men are Springfield’s postal employees from a century ago, but the location of the photo puzzles me.  It would seem to make more sense to have a group photo of postal workers at, say, the Post Office, but in any case the front entrance where they did pose is still there, mostly unchanged, although the building itself is no longer a school.  The school closed in 1986, and today it is a condominium building.

Science Museum, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Science Museum, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The Science Museum in 2015:


Built in 1899 as the Springfield Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum is the second oldest museum building in The Quadrangle, but while the 1896 Art Building hasn’t changed too much over the years, the Science Museum was significantly expanded in 1934, and today is nearly unrecognizable.  The old entrance is still there, though, in the alley next to the Art Museum.  It is no longer used as a visitor entrance; today, the main entrance is on the opposite end of the building.

Art Museum, Springfield, Mass

The Art Museum in Springfield, around 1912-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The museum in 2014:


Known today as the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, it was established in 1896 and is the oldest of the museum buildings in The Quadrangle, which consists of two art museums, a science museum, and a Springfield history museum.  The building is named after its benefactor, a New York City carriage maker who left the business when he was 35 to collect art. Today, the building is still there and it still houses his collection, although at some point it was expanded to the left, making this facade more or less symmetrical.  In the foreground is the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, which celebrates the work of the Springfield native who was attending high school across the street from here around the time that the first photo was taken.  On the far right of both photos is the back of the Central Library building, which opened in 1912.

Wesson Memorial Hospital, Springfield, Mass (2)

Another view of Wesson Memorial Hospital in Springfield, around 1900-1910, taken from Ingraham Terrace looking toward High Street. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The hospital in 2014:


Another view of the Wesson Memorial Hospital, looking toward High Street from Ingraham Terrace.  The building’s exterior hasn’t changed much, except for small additions on the left and right hand sides, which I’m assuming are elevators.  The surrounding neighborhood has changed, though.  The landscaped yard on the right-hand side is now a parking lot, where I took the 2014 photo of the same building in this post.  As mentioned there, the hospital was established in 1900 by Daniel B. Wesson of Smith & Wesson fame, and today the building is part of Baystate Medical Center.