H. D. Graves House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 20 Fairfield Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built in 1901, and its original owner was H. L. Graves, although it seems unclear as to exactly who this person was. He, or perhaps she, did not live here for very long, though. By 1908 the house was owned by Margaretha Seuss, the maternal grandmother of Theodore Geisel. Better known in later years by his pen name of Dr. Seuss, Theodore Geisel was a young child when his grandmother lived here, and he lived just a few houses away on the same street.

Margaretha lived in this house with her daughter Bertha and Bertha’s husband, William H. Klein. He was a former lieutenant in the Massachusetts Militia, and in the 1910 census he was listed as a bookkeeper in a brewery. Margaretha died in 1913, but the Kleins remained here for many years. They had two sons, George and Frederick, and they were still living here by the 1930 census. However, at some point in the 1930s they moved to nearby Keith Street, where they rented half of a two-family home.

By the 1940 census, this house on Fairfield Street was rented by Harry J. Talmage, who worked as a manager for the New England Milk Producing Association. He lived here with his wife and three teenaged children, and in 1940 they were paying $45 in monthly rent. They were only here for a few years, though, because by around 1942 they had moved to a different house in Forest Park. However, their former house has changed very little since the first photo was taken, and the property is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

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