Forbes & Wallace, Springfield, Mass

Looking south on Main Street from the corner of Harrison Ave., around 1910. Photo from Views and Facts of Springfield, Mass. (1910).


The same scene in 2014:


The Forbes & Wallace department store was established in Springfield in 1874 at the corner of Main and Vernon Streets (today Boland Way), and by the turn of the last century it had become a major shopping destination in downtown Springfield.  At some point after the first photo was taken, the building was demolished and replaced by a much larger department store building, seen in the photo in this article from the Springfield Republican.  However, with increasing competition from suburban shopping malls, the store closed in 1976 and the building was demolished in 1982.  It was replaced by Monarch Place, which was completed in 1987 and is the tallest building in the city.

The original Forbes & Wallace building may be long gone, but its neighbor to the south, the Haynes Hotel, survives to this day.  The hotel was built in 1865, and for many years was one of the city’s premier hotels.  It was used as a hotel until 1943, when it was converted into commercial and office spaces.  Today, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and although it is now surrounded by tall, modern skyscrapers, it still looks much the same as it did when it was completed 150 years ago.

Main Street & Harrison Ave, Springfield, Mass

Main Street in Springfield, looking south from near Harrison Ave., around 1910-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The same scene in 2017:


These views show some of the changes that have occurred on the east side of Main Street, south of Harrison Avenue.  The buildings in the foreground of the first photo are long gone; Today, Harrison Ave passes diagonally through those lots to cross Main Street where Boland Way (formerly Vernon Street) intersects.  The building just to the right of Harrison Ave in the first photo is also gone, replaced by the 10 story building in the 2014 photo.

However, most of the other buildings in the first photo are still there, including the former Johnson’s Bookstore building, which was built in 1861, around the same time as the two buildings on either side of it.  The facade was remodeled in 1908, but it once matched the buildings on either side of it.  To the right of the bookstore building is the oldest in the scene, the 1858 Republican Block.  This was the home of the Springfield Republican newspaper from 1858 to 1867, during the era when the paper was endorsing Abraham Lincoln for president and reporting news on the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination.  Beyond the Republican Block is the Union Trust Building, with its distinctive arch over the main entrance.  It was built in 1907, and both it and the Republican Block are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fire Department Headquarters, Springfield, Mass

Springfield Fire Department Headquarters on Court Street, around 1900-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The scene just over 100 years later, in 2014:


This fire station was built on about the same spot that Parsons Tavern used to occupy for most of the 1800s.  It must have been completed shortly before the first photo was taken, because the caption in Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts describes it as the “new” headquarters, and describes how:

“No city has a more up-to-date fire department and headquarters station than Springfield. The new station on Court Street cost $110,000. Its apparatus is all motor-driven and has modern conveniences for the force. The top floor houses the new fire alarm system installed at an expense of $30,000.  The flying squadron shown above consists of autos for Chief and Assistant Chief, the Electric Aerial Ladder Truck, Combination Electric Wagon and Hose and Water Tower with Gasoline Tractor.  The city expends about $240,000 a year on this department.”

Today, the location of this fire station is now an on-ramp for Interstate 91; the 2014 photo was taken from the parking garage directly underneath the highway.  The city’s two tallest buildings, Monarch Place and Tower Square, can both be seen in the photo, along with Symphony Hall, on the right-hand side.  It’s probably the only building visible that existed when the first photo was taken.  The Springfield Fire Department now has its headquarters on Worthington Street, although I don’t know that they still have any “Combination Electric Wagons” on the force.

President Taft at Springfield, Mass (2)

Another scene of William Howard Taft at Court Square in Springfield on April 25, 1912. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The scene in 2014:


These were taken from the same spot as the photos in this post, just facing toward the Connecticut River instead of toward Old First Church.  The 1912 photo shows President Taft arriving in Springfield, with a crowd of onlookers waiting for him.  The photo also shows the extension of Court Square, which once went all the way down to the Connecticut River.  Today, Interstate 91 passes across here, with a parking garage underneath.

President Taft at Springfield, Mass (1)

President William Howard Taft, giving a speech on Court Square in Springfield, on April 25, 1912. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The scene in 2014:


The 1912 photo was taken on the same day as the photo in this post, which shows a close-up of President Taft speaking on the platform.  Here, the platform can be seen behind Old First Church on the left-hand side, and it shows the massive crowd that had assembled to see him during his 1912 presidential campaign, which would end with him earning the Republican nomination but losing to Woodrow Wilson in the November election.  Today, three of the buildings from the first photo are still there: Old First Church, the Court Square Hotel, and the old Hampden County Courthouse.  There are also some remnants of this part of Court Square, which once stretched from the back of Old First Church to the Connecticut River (which can be seen in this post).  Today, the Hampden County Hall of Justice covers part of the land, and East Columbus Avenue passes diagonally across it.

State Street, Springfield, Mass

State Street in Springfield, around 1910-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


State Street in 2014:


It will be interesting to do another “now” photo in a couple years, because this scene will be changing soon.  Taken looking east on State Street from in front of the Hampden County Hall of Justice, this scene shows several buildings that will be demolished or substantially altered when the casino is built.  The building on the right-hand side of the 2014 photo is the United Electric Company building, which had just been built shortly before the first photo was taken, and will be (mostly) demolished in the near future, with the casino retaining only the facade.  A few other buildings along State Street will also either be demolished or have just he facade saved.

Other buildings in the photos include the Court Square Hotel, which extends across the block from Elm Street to State Street, and the Nayasset Club building, on the far right of the first photo.  The Nayasset Club was a social organization that at the time included many of Springfield’s prominent citizens.  The building is now gone, and in its place is a parking lot across from the old Hampden County Courthouse, which is barely visible on the left-hand side of the 2014 photo.