Gurney’s Store, Wilbraham Mass (2)

Another view of Gurney’s Store, at the corner of Main and Springfield Streets in Wilbraham, around 1904. Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The scene in 2015:


This scene shows the general store at the corner of Springfield and Main Streets as it appeared when Frank A. Gurney ran the store.  As mentioned in this post, the store was owned by several different people around the turn of the last century, with Gurney bring the one most commonly associated with the building.  His delivery wagon can be seen in this post, and his primary business was selling goods to farmers in the area, although he probably also saw a fair amount of business from students at nearby Wesleyan Academy.  Gurney was out of the building by 1913, and it was used as a post office and Masonic Lodge until it was demolished in 1957, and for many years afterward this was the site of the Louis & Clark drugstore.

Gurney’s Store, Wilbraham Mass (1)

Frank A. Gurney’s Store, at the corner of Main Street and Springfield Street in Wilbraham, probably around 1900.  Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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The location in 2015:


I don’t know whether Frank Gurney used the building at the time that the first photo was taken, because it was used as a general store by several different men in the early 20th century.  However, it is most commonly associated with Gurney, whose carriage can be seen directly across the street from this building in the first photo of this post (note the watering trough, which is seen both in that post and here).  The tree next to the trough was apparently used as a sort of community bulletin board, which reveals the occupation that most Wilbraham residents were involved in – farming.  The bottom handbill advertises for Berkshire Fertilizers, above it is one that exclaims “WANTED FARMS!!”, and then above that is another ad for a fertilizer company.  As for the people in the first photo, I’m guessing that they were the store employees, but the man on the far right stands out.  All of the other men are wearing a bow tie and vest or jacket, and he is wearing overalls and a work shirt.  Perhaps the others were clerks, and he was the delivery man?

Like many small towns, the building had multiple uses; aside from being a general store, the post office was also located here, and the second floor was used as the Masonic Lodge.  The post office and the Masons were here until the building was demolished in 1957, and today the site is occupied by a commercial building that for many years housed the Louis & Clark drugstore.  The watering trough for horses is long gone, although its modern equivalent, a gas station, is directly across the street from here.

Springfield Street, Wilbraham Mass

Looking west on Springfield Street from Main Street in Wilbraham, around 1903.  Courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.

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Springfield Street in 2015:


Here in New England, we just finished up a snowy winter, so the 1903 scene here is hardly an unfamiliar sight.  However, in many ways snowstorms like this one were actually less of an inconvenience than they are today.  Today, a major snowstorm means traffic is limited until the roads can be plowed, salted, and sanded, but in the days before automobiles deep snow just meant hitching up the horses to the sleigh instead of the wagon.  Given the poor condition of roads, particularly in New England, this would often be an improvement, since sleigh runners on snow offer a lot less friction than cart wheels on muddy, bumpy roads.

Interestingly, my great-great-great-grandmother lived on this road, a few houses down from the intersection on the left (not visible in these photos), and she died in 1895, less than 10 years before this photo was taken.  Since then, the road really hasn’t changed a whole lot – there are a few newer houses, a sidewalk, and a paved road, but otherwise it retains its small town, residential appearance over 110 years later.

Indian Motocycle Factory, Springfield Mass

The factory on Wilbraham Road in Springfield, which would later house the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company.  Seen here around 1892 and published in Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The building in 2015:


This building is best known as having been part of the Indian Motocycle Company factory, but it has had a variety of uses over the years.  The original section of the building, as seen in the 1892 photo, was built in 1883 for the Bullard Repeating Arms Company, a rifle company that was not as successful as another firearms company founded in Springfield during the 19th century.  Bullard didn’t last too long, and the building was then used by the Springfield Industrial Institute, a private trade school.  In 1895, the school moved to the building across the courtyard, and the Elektron Company occupied this building.  It was at this point that the wing was built to the east, beyond the tower.

Early in the 20th century, George Hendee moved his motorcycle company to this site, which was originally named Hendee Manufacturing Company, but was later renamed Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company (the “r” was intentionally omitted from “motorcycle” for trademark purposes).  The two story addition was put on the building in 1911, which by then had nearly quadrupled in size from the 1892 photo.  This triangle between State Street and Wilbraham Road was the home of the company until they closed in 1953, at which point the buildings were used for various other businesses.  Since then, several of the buildings have been demolished, although the original 1883 Bullard building survives, and it has been renovated and turned into apartments.

Elm Street, Holyoke Mass

Looking north on Elm Street toward Appleton Street in Holyoke, around 1908:

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Elm Street in 2015:


The contrast in these two scenes illustrates what has happened in Holyoke over the past century.  When the first photo was taken, the city was rapidly growing in population; by the 1910 census, it had over 57,000 residents, and the city was one of the world’s leading paper manufacturing centers.  However, by the middle of the 20th century the factories began closing, and the population dropped.  The 2010 census showed fewer than 40,000 residents, and Holyoke currently has the second lowest median household income level out of all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.  The house and the apartment building on the left-hand side of Elm Street are still there from the 1908 photo, but otherwise it is a very different scene today.

Civil War Monument, Holyoke Mass

The Civil War Monument in Veterans’ Memorial Park in Holyoke, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The statue in 2015:


Civil War monuments are a common feature in communities across the country, and Holyoke is no exception with their monument to the city’s 55 residents who died in the war.  What is rather unusual about this one, though, is the sculptor: former Confederate soldier Henry Jackson Ellicott.  It is also unusual in that most Civil War monuments feature the figure of a soldier, while Ellicott’s creation has Liberty holding a wreath atop the monument.  It was dedicated on America’s centennial, July 4, 1876, and today it remains at the center of Veterans Park, which now includes monuments for veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Not much of the surrounding neighborhood is visible in the first photo, but St. Jerome’s Church is clearly visible in the 2015 view.  Although mostly obscured by leaves, the church is there in the first photo; in fact, not only is it older than the monument, but it is older than the war itself.  The church was completed in 1860 to serve the growing population of mill workers, and was the first of many Catholic churches in Holyoke.  The statue includes a list of the 55 Holyoke men killed in the war, and among these are Irish names like Sullivan, McDonald, Cronan, and Donahue, so they very well could have been parishioners across the street at St. Jerome’s Church before they enlisted.