Wesson Memorial Hospital, Springfield, Mass (1)

The Wesson Memorial Hospital on High Street in Springfield, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The hospital in 2015:


The Wesson Memorial Hospital was established in 1900 by Daniel B. Wesson, one of the co-founders of Smith & Wesson.  His home and factory weren’t too far away from here, and near the end of his life he began several charities, including this hospital.  The building hasn’t changed much, and even the fence along the sidewalk is still there.  It is still used for medical offices, although Wesson Memorial merged with the Medical Center of Western Massachusetts in 1976 to form Baystate Medical Center, one of the largest employers in Massachusetts.

Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, Mass

A scene in Springfield Cemetery, around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same scene in 2015:


As mentioned in previous posts here and here, Springfield Cemetery was designed as a peaceful, beautifully-landscaped scene in the middle of the city along the same lines as Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  Today, the scene is more grown-in, and obviously there are more gravestones in the scene, but otherwise the landscaping remains very much the same as it was over 100 years ago.

Many of Springfield’s notable residents of the past are buried here, from Congressmen like Chester Chapin, William Calhoun, and Samuel Knox, to businessmen, including Milton Bradley and Horace Smith (of Smith and Wesson), and even one of the victims of the Titanic sinking, Milton Long.  The headstone of another notable burial can be seen in the first photo – the large stone at the top of the hill above the footbridge is that of Chester Harding, a portrait painter from the first half of the 19th century.  Some of his portraits included presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, Chief Justice John Marshall, Declaration of Independence signer Charles Carroll, and senators Henry Clay and John Calhoun.  His grave is still there, although today it isn’t visible from this angle because of the tree growth.  It was thanks to his headstone, though, that I was able to confirm the location of the photo, since there aren’t any other clear landmarks visible in both photos.

Soldiers’ Plot, Springfield, Mass

The Soldiers’ Plot in Springfield Cemetery, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2015:


Springfield Cemetery was established in the 1840s as a beautifully-landscaped city cemetery in the middle of the city.  Within a few decades, it would become the final resting place for a number of men from Springfield who were killed in the Civil War.  A total of 167 were killed or missing in the war, with more lost to disease than to combat deaths.  Many of those men are buried here in the Soldiers’ Plot, not far from the entrance to the cemetery.  The plot includes the headstones at the bottom and top of the slope, with a statue at the top.  The statue was dedicated in 1877 using funds from the Soldier’s Rest Association.  The organization had been established during the war to care for returning veterans, and they used leftover funds to commission the statue.

Today, the headstones and statue are still there, although they are no longer decorated with flags and wreaths, and the landscaping isn’t as perfectly manicured as it was a century ago – the headstones on the lower section seem to almost blend in with the slope.  Of course, in the first photo the Civil War was still in the memory of many people, with many still alive who had either served in or lost loved ones in the war, so it is understandable that the plot would have been better cared for back then.