William H. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 School Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This lot at the corner of School and Mulberry Streets had been the site of a house since at least 1850, when Congressman George Ashmun moved into a house that once stood here. He lived here until his death in 1870, and the property was sold to William W. Colburn, who lived here for almost 30 years, until his death in 1899. In 1906, Colburn’s widow sold it to patent attorney William H. Chapin, who appears to have demolished the old house and built the one seen in the first photo. Its Colonial Revival-style architecture is consistent with early 20th century mansions, and city atlases also indicate that it was built during this time, because the footprint of the house on this spot in the 1910 atlas looks very different from the one in the 1899 atlas.

William Chapin lived here with his wife Charlotte and their three sons, Maurice, Henry, and Stuart, and they also employed two live-in servants. The children had all moved out by the 1930 census, but William and Charlotte lived here for the rest of their lives. Charlotte died in 1935, and William in 1941, only a few years after the first photo was taken. After his death, his former mansion became a rooming house before finally being demolished in 1960 to build an apartment complex. This building, in turn, was eventually abandoned by its owners, taken by the city for nonpayment of taxes, and demolished in the 1990s to make additional parking for the nearby Milton Bradley School.

Henry S. Lee House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 254 Union Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

The house in the first photo was once the home of Henry S. Lee, a prominent city banker. He was born in Springfield in 1834, and first entered the banking business as a clerk for Chicopee Bank. In 1858, he became treasurer of the Springfield Institution for Savings, and he held the position for over 40 years, until 1899, when he became the bank’s president. Aside from banking, Lee was also involved in city government, and served as president of the common council in 1865, 1868-1871, and 1875, before spending three years on the board of aldermen. In 1885, he was one of the founders of the School for Christian Workers, and was the president of the International YMCA Training School, now Springfield College, from 1891 to 1893.

Lee was living here by at least 1870, and he remained here until his death in 1902. He never married and had no children, so the house was sold to Azel A. Packard, a carpet merchant who was one of the partners in the city’s prominent Meekins, Packard & Wheat department store. Packard lived here with his wife Mary until her death in 1908, and the following year he remarried to Isabel Young, a 35-year-old who was 24 years younger than him. After Azel’s death in 1923, she remained here until at least 1930, but within a few years had remarried and was living in New York City.

By the time the first photo was taken, the mansion had been converted into a boarding house. The 1940 census shows ten lodgers living here, most of whom had middle-class occupations, including two clerks, two salesmen, a teacher, a stenographer, and a tool dresser who worked at the Armory. However, within a decade the house was demolished, and in 1950 this 64-unit apartment building was built on the property.

238-240 Union Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at 238-240 Union Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2017:

This building is one of several Second Empire-style duplexes on this section of Union Street, including the similar-looking one directly across the street at 247-249 Union. It was built in 1869, and was owned by Colonel James M. Thompson, a prominent city resident who lived in a nearby mansion a little further up Union Street. Originally, the building had a third unit, which was located on the left side, but this was demolished around the 1930s.

After Colonel Thompson’s death in 1884, his family continued to own this building into the early 20th century. Census records from both 1900 and 1910 show that the units on the left were boarding houses, with tenants that included a bookkeeper, bank clerk, and a clergyman. The unit on the right, though, was rented to a single family, with real estate agent William Dewey living here from at least 1900 to 1910, along with his wife Ella and their three children, Alonzo, Eudocia, and Dorothy.

In subsequent censuses, the building continued to be used as a boarding house for several more decades. The third unit, number 236, was removed sometime before the first photo was taken, and the interior of the building is now divided into six different units. However, very little has changed with the building’s exterior in the past 80 years, and it stands as a good example of the type of elegant townhouses that were built during the city’s post-Civil War housing boom.

Albert H. Hovey House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 234 Union Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This house appears to have been built around the early 1890s, and for many years it was the home of Albert H. Hovey. Born in 1840 in Monson, Massachusetts, Hovey later moved to Toronto, where he worked as a publisher for many years. In 1855, at the age of 44, he returned to Springfield and married his wife, Sarah. The couple had two children, Albert, Jr., and Walter, and they moved into this house in 1895. Albert does not appear to have continued his publishing career while in Springfield, but he was evidently involved in real estate investments, because the Springfield Republican classified ads of the early 20th century are filled with his offers to rent or sell various properties across the city.

Albert died in 1922, but Sarah continued to live here along with their children. Like his father, the younger Albert went into the real estate business, and he and his wife Helen lived here in this house along with their daughter Julie. After Sarah’s death in 1947 at the age of 95, the house remained in the family until 1963, when it was finally sold, nearly 70 years after Albert Hovey had first purchased it. At some point after this, the house was demolished, and for many years his site was a vacant lot. The property is now owned by DevelopSpringfield, who have made it into a parking lot for the recently-restored Merrick-Phelps House, which is just of view to the left. This organization is also in the process of restoring the building at 77 Maple Street, which can be seen on the left side of both photos.

South Congregational Church, Springfield, Mass

South Congregational Church on Maple Street in Springfield, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The church in 2017:

South Congregational Church was established in 1842 by members of Springfield’s First Congregational Church, and its first permanent home was on Bliss Street. This rather plain church had a very conservative architectural design that looked like any number of other churches in the area at the time, but in 1875 the congregation built a new, far larger and more elaborate church here, at the corner of Maple and High Streets.

This church was designed by William Appleton Potter, the half-brother of the equally notable architect Edward Tuckerman Potter. It was one of his first major works, and it is an excellent example of High Victorian Gothic architecture. The 1873-1874 city directory described it as being “a rather bold departure from ordinary models, being much like an amphitheater, and entirely unlike any other church building in Springfield.” This may have been somewhat of a hyperbole, since the Memorial Congregational Church in the North End, built a few years earlier, has many similar Gothic-style features, but South Congregational Church certainly stood out at a time when Springfield was building a number of fine churches.

Like many of the city’s other churches and public buildings of the era, it was built with locally-quarried stone, with a foundation of Monson granite and walls of Longmeadow brownstone. Along with this, terracotta, sandstone, and other materials were used to add a variety of colors to the exterior of the building. Also common in churches of the time period, the building is very asymmetrical, with a 120-foot tower located off-center in the southwest corner, and the main entrance at its base.

In total, it cost some $100,000 to construct, which was substantially more than most of the other new churches that were built around this time. However, the costs were offset by contributions from some of Springfield’s most prominent residents, including dictionary publishers George and Charles Merriam, railroad engineer Daniel L. Harris, and gun manufacturer Daniel B. Wesson, who later moved into a massive mansion directly across the street from the church.

At the time that this building was completed, the pastor of the church was Samuel G. Buckingham, who had served in that position since 1847. He was also an author, and he wrote a biography of his brother, William A. Buckingham, a former Connecticut governor and U.S. Senator. Reverend Buckingham remained here at the church for 47 years, until his retirement in 1894. His successor was Philip Moxom, who, aside from his work here at the church, was also the president of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

More than 140 years after its completion, South Congregational Church is still an active congregation, and the building survives as one of Springfield’s finest architectural works. The only major change over the years was the addition of a parish house on the back of the church in the late 1940s. Not visible from this angle, it matches the design of the original building and it was even constructed with brownstone that had been salvaged from the demolished First Baptist Church. The church is now part of the city’s Lower Maple Local Historic District, and in 1976 it was also individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Maple Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Maple Street from Union Street in Springfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892)

Maple Street in 2017:

These two photos, taken 125 years apart, show he changes that Maple Street underwent in the early 20th century. For most of the 1800s, the lower part of Maple Street was an upscale residential area, primarily with large, single-family homes. Several of these can be seen in the first photo, including one in front of the church, and another one just beyond it. However, as the city grew, these homes were steadily replaced with large apartment buildings. The building just to the left of the church, at the corner of Maple and Temple Streets, was built in 1906, and was followed about 20 years later by the apartment building on the right side of the photo. The most recent building in this scene is Chestnut Towers, visible on the far left. This 240-unit, 34-story apartment building was completed in 1976 at the corner of State and Chestnut Streets, and it is the tallest residential building in the city.

Today, the only surviving building from the first photo is South Congregational Church. It was designed by prominent architect William Appleton Potter, and was completed in 1875, replacing an earlier South Congregational Church that had stood several blocks away on Bliss Street. Some of Springfield’s most prominent residents attended this church, including many of those who lived in the nearby mansions. Despite the many changes to the neighborhood over the years, though, the church has remained as an important landmark. It is one of the city’s finest architectural works, and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.