Solin’s Market, Chicopee Mass

Solin’s Market, at the corner of Center and West Streets in Chicopee around 1919. Image courtesy of the Chicopee Public Library, Russ H. Gilbert Photographic Collection.

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The location in 2015:


This grocery store was owned by Michael Solin, and was established in the early 1900s to serve the growing Polish community in Chicopee.  I can’t read all of the writing on the windows, but it appears that some of the purchases that could be made here included sugar for 7 cents a pound, butter for 35 cents a pound, eggs for 28 cents a dozen, and milk for 11 cents a quart.  “Fresh shoulders” are also apparently available, although no price is given, so perhaps the market price varied from day to day.  These seem like great buys, but of course wages were also much lower back in 1919.  In 2015 dollars, the sugar would cost $0.95, the butter would be $4.75, the eggs $3.80, and the milk $1.49 (for a quart, so a gallon would be $5.96).  All of these are comparable to or higher than prices today, so the deals weren’t as great as they appear at first glance.

But, just as buying milk for 11 cents a quart is a thing of the past, so is the building that once housed Solin’s Market.  I don’t know when it was demolished, but the property was probably needed to widen Center Street and make room for the I-391 on-ramp.  The street to the right, Abbey Street, is now closed off to traffic from this end, and some of the houses on that street are probably the only things left from the 1919 photo.

Elm Street, Springfield Mass

Looking east on Elm Street in Springfield, around 1892. Photo from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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Elm Street in 2015:


Elm Street still appears on city maps, although today it isn’t much of a street.  While it used to extend from Main Street to the Connecticut River, today it is a pedestrian walkway and parking lot for courthouse employees that dead-ends in front of the Hampden County Courthouse.  This area has gone through several major changes, the first of which came soon after the first photo was taken.  In the first decade of the 1900s, all of the buildings between Elm Street and Court Street were demolished in order to extend Court Square down to the river; only Old First Church was spared.  Later on, Columbus Avenue was built across this area, and in the 1970s the Hampden County Hall of Justice was built, with part of the building’s footprint covering what used to be Elm Street.

Despite all of the changes, several important buildings have survived from the first photo.  On the left, the steeple of Old First Church is still there, although the brick addition behind it was extensively modified in the 1940s.  To the right, the old Hampden County Courthouse is still there, although it isn’t visible from this angle.  Beyond it, the Court Square Theater was under construction in the first photo, and was added on to in 1900.  It can still be seen in the distance, along with the adjacent Byers Block and Chicopee Bank Building, which existed in the first photo although they aren’t really visible.  One prominent landmark, however, that has not survived is the massive elm tree on the right side of the street.  It was located in front of the Elm Street Grammar School (barely visible on the far right), and is believed to be the tree referred to by Oliver Wendell Holmes in The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.  Referring to notable elm trees that he has seen, he writes that,The queen of them all is that glorious tree near one of the churches in Springfield. Beautiful and stately she is beyond all praise.”  When the tree was finally cut down, a cross-section of it was saved and is now on display at the Springfield Science Museum.

John Hooker House, Springfield Mass

The Railroad House, formerly the home of Judge John Hooker, on Railroad Row in Springfield around 1893. Photo from Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizens of Old Springfield (1893).

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The location in 2015:


This building was originally located on Main Street opposite Lyman Street, and was owned by John Hooker, a lawyer who served as a town selectman, probate judge, and bank president in the early 1800s.  He died in 1829, and ten years later the railroad came to Springfield.  The property was right next to the railroad station, so several local businessmen had the foresight to buy the property and build a hotel, the Massasoit House.  This proved to be a successful plan, but rather than demolishing the old building, it was moved around the corner onto Railroad Row, or what is today called Gridiron Street.  At some point, a third story was added, and the building was used as a hotel and boarding house, operating under several names, including Greundler’s Hotel, Germania Hotel, and the Railroad House.  It was probably not one of Springfield’s higher-end hotels, but it likely offered affordable rates to middle-class travelers, and was conveniently located just across the street from the old railroad station.  I don’t know what became of the building, other than that it clearly no longer exists – its location on Gridiron Street is now a parking lot behind the Paramount Theater.

Venezian Monumental Works, Springfield Mass

The Venezian Monumental Works building on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:


This building is located right next to the architecturally similar building at 1579 State Street, which was probably photographed on the same day as this one.  However, while the former Frank’s Service building has long been shuttered, the Venezian Monumental Works is still in business.  The company is actually substantially older than even the first photo; it was established in 1882, when the Pine Point neighborhood was on the remote outskirts of the city.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown, which has presumably increased demand for headstones, and it also doesn’t hurt that they are located right next to St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Today, the building has doubled in size, but the original section is still visible on the left side.

Frank’s Service, Springfield Mass

An automobile service station on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:


This building is located in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, a suburban section of the city that rapidly grew in population in the early 1900s.  At first, this growth was facilitated by the trolley line that ran through here, but later on it was automobiles that made this a practical place to live and commute from.  The establishment in the first photo, which appears to be called Frank’s Service, based on the sign above the door, would have been one of the many automobile-related businesses that opened to meet the demand.  I found this one particularly interesting, though, because my grandmother grew up in this neighborhood, and this place was about halfway between her house and where she worked in the late 1930s, at MassMutual.  She would’ve driven past here every day, and perhaps even stopped in to buy a Coca Cola.  According to the city assessor’s records, it was built in 1935, and although I don’t know what the building has been used for since the 1930s, it has clearly been vacant for a while.  The property has been owned by the City of Springfield since 2003, probably for nonpayment of taxes, so it had likely been abandoned long before that.

State & Myrtle Streets, Springfield, Mass

The State Street Methodist Episcopal Church at the corner of State and Myrtle Streets, around 1873-1885. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

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The same location, around 1905. Photo from Springfield Present and Prospective (1905).

The scene in 2019:

The first photo shows the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, which was situated opposite the main entrance to the Armory, and likely served many of the workers there.  The church wasn’t here for too long, however, because in 1899 they merged with another congregation, and this property was sold.  The apartment building seen in the last two photos, identified in Springfield Present and Prospective as the Oxford Apartment House, was built on the site and was completed in 1901.  Given its location, it was probably home to many Armory workers, and today the exterior hasn’t really changed at all.  The only major difference between the last two photos is the massive Masonic Temple, which was built in 1923 and can be seen behind the apartment building.