Appleton B. Greenwood House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 44 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1876, as part of the first wave of development in the McKnight neighborhood. It likely would have looked different when it was first built, though, because some of the features did not come into common use until the Colonial Revival era of the early 20th century. If it was like the other 1870s houses in the neighborhood, it would have had an Italianate design with two stories and a flat roof, perhaps with a cupola in the center of the roof. The third floor was likely added about 20 or 30 years later, during the time when hip roofs and Palladian windows were in style.

The original owner of this house was Appleton B. Greenwood, a wholesale shoe merchant and partner in the firm of McIntosh & Company. He was 29 years old during the 1880 census, and he lived here with his wife Clara and their two young children, Grace and Roland. They were living in this house until the end of the decade, but had moved elsewhere by the early 1890s. Over the next two decades, the house saw a variety of residents, including James W. Stebbins, George W. Bristol, and Charles Hill. During this time, the house seems to have been used primarily as a rental property up until 1912, when it was sold to William and Carrie Blake.

Not to be confused with the English poet of the same name, William Blake was the treasurer of the Blake Manufacturing Company, which produced brass goods here in Springfield. He and Carrie had eight children, three of whom were still living here in this house during the 1920 census. William died during the 1920s, but Carrie was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, along with her daughter Mabel, Mabel’s husband James L. Hanchett, and their children. The 1940 census also shows four roomers living here, mostly young adults with jobs ranging from office clerk to church secretary to an electrical inspector.

Carrie and her family were still living here as late as the 1944 directory, but the house appears to have been sold soon after. At some point around this time, the exterior of the was covered in faux brick asphalt siding, which still remains on the house. Popular in the mid-20th century, this same type of siding can be seen on the house to the right in the first photo. Curiously, this situation is now reversed,  with the house on the right having a restored exterior, while its neighbor now has the artificial siding. Despite this, though, the house still retains most of its details from the first photo, and it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Adolphus F. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 36 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This house was built sometime in the 1870s for Adolphus F. Chapin, a prominent local clothing merchant. He was living here during the 1880 census, along with his wife Caroline and their son Alfred, and he remained here until his death in 1895 at the age of 48. The house was subsequently sold to William W. Broga, who moved in around the same time that he married his wife, Sarah. They were living here during the 1900 census, along with Sarah’s three children from her previous marriage, and William was listed as working as a physician. However, he also appears to have been something of an inventor, receiving patents for inventions such as “Flushing apparatuses for water-closet bowls,” “Coin separating and packaging machine,” and “Resilient tire for vehicle wheels.”

It does not seem clear whether Broga ever profited off any of his inventions, but by the 1910 census he and Sarah were living in an apartment nearby on State Street, and by the following census they had divorced. In the meantime, their house was sold around 1911 to Newrie D. Winter, a businessman who had served as the city’s mayor in 1896 and 1897. Along with this, he also served as vice president and treasurer of the Northampton Street Railway, and by the early 1920s he was president of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank. At some point, during either Broga’s or Winter’s ownership, the house appears to have been altered from its original appearance, giving it more of a Colonial Revival style that matched contemporary architectural tastes.

Newrie’s wife Delia died right around the same time that he purchased this house, but by the 1920 census he was living here with his son Dwight, his wife Marguerite, Delia’s sister Kate V. Beach, and a servant. Like his father, Dwight also went on to become mayor of Springfield, serving from 1930 to 1933, while he was living in this house. He was only the third Democratic mayor to be elected since his father, more than 30 years earlier, and he was also the first Democrat in the city’s history to serve for more than three years. However, he lost the party’s nomination in 1933, and subsequently returned to his private business as a real estate broker.

Both Newrie and Dwight were still living here when the first photo was taken, but Dwight died a few years later in 1943. His father outlived him by five more years, before his death in 1947 at the age of 88. Their house was still here in the late 1960s, but it was demolished sometime before 1976, when the McKngiht Historic District was created. Today, the site is a parking lot, and the only trace of the house that once stood here is the tree in the foreground, which appears to be the same one that was in the first photo nearly 80 years ago.

Mary C. Merriam House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 28 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Today, the Merriam name is probably most commonly associated with the famous Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but the Merriam family’s printing dynasty started long before Noah Webster’s heirs sold the company the rights to publish the dictionary. The family business started in West Brookfield in 1797, when brothers Dan and Ebenezer Merriam began printing and publishing books. Dan had eight children, two of whom, George and Charles, took over the business after his death in 1823. In 1831, the brothers moved to Springfield, which was a much larger market for publishing, and they soon purchased fine houses on Chestnut and Howard Streets.

Other members of the Merriam family followed them to Springfield, including Mary C. Merriam, the younger sister of George and Charles. She never married, and during the 1870 census she was living in Springfield with her sister Dora and their elderly mother, Thirza. About 20 years later, she moved to the fashionable McKnight neighborhood, purchasing this house shortly after it was built around 1889. She lived here until her death in 1896, after having outlived nearly all of her siblings.

In the years following Mary’s death, several different members of the Merriam family resided here, including George’s daughter, Celia C. Merriam and his nephews, Henry and Arthur. The latter two were the sons of George’s brother Homer, who became a partner in their Springfield publishing firm in 1856. Arthur was living here during the 1900 census, along with his wife Ruth, their two children, and a servant. He worked in the family’s publishing company, but he subsequently moved to Pasadena, California, where he died in 1916.

By the next census, in 1919, the house was owned by Ella Lloyd, a 60-year-old widow who lived here with two of her adult children, Henry and Caroline. She died in 1918, but Henry continued to live here for for many years. He was the president and treasurer of a plumbing and heating company, and he remained unmarried until the late 1920s, when, at the age of 54, he married 25-year-old Evelyn Cook. By the 1930 census, they had an infant daughter Henrietta, but they moved out of this house soon afterward.

The 1933 city directory shows Richard and Elizabeth Whittey living here, along with their son, who was also named Richard. The elder Richard worked as a credit counselor for Credit Bureau Inc., with his son working as an investigator for the company. They only lived here for a few years before moving to a house on Dartmouth Street, and by the time the first photo was taken this house was the home of insurance agent Harold Corbin, his wife Frances, and their four children.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken, the house on the right has since been demolished and replaced with a parking lot. However, this house has remained mostly the same on the exterior, although it now has a new, much steeper roof above the front porch. Aside from this, it retains most of its Queen Anne-style ornamentation, and liek the other houses in the neighborhood it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Westminster Street from State Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Westminster Street from State Street in Springfield, probably around 1900-1920. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The scene in 2017:

About 50 years before the first photo was taken, this section of State Street was only sparsely settled, with very little development to the east of the Armory. This site here, on the north side of State Street, was the approximate location of a farmhouse that was owned by Josiah W. Flagg, who owned 22 acres of land behind the house. Located about a mile and a half from Main Street, and separated from it by a steep hill, this part of the city was hardly desirable real estate, but this began to change in 1870, when the Springfield Street Railway began operation, with a horse-drawn trolley line extending as far as Oak Street.

That same year, dry goods merchant John McKnight entered the real estate business, and purchased the Flagg farm. Along with his brother William, he subdivided the property and laid out four streets between State and Bay Streets, including Westminster Street, as seen here. Thanks in part to the economic recession following the Panic of 1873, development was slow for the first decade or so, but it construction of new homes picked up in earnest by the early 1880s. Most of the houses on this block of Westminster Street were built between 1880 and 1891, with Queen Anne style architecture that appealed to popular tastes of the era.

In contrast to the modest, middle class homes on the side streets, the houses on State Street were much larger, and were built for some of the city’s most prominent residents. The house on the far left of this photo was built for William McKnight in the early 1870s, although he later moved to a different house on Worthington Street. On the opposite side of the photo, this house was built in 1871 for insurance agent Henry K. Simons. However, the house was later remodeled in 1894 for Noyes W. Fisk, an industrialist who worked as the clerk and treasurer of the season Manufacturing Company, and later established the Fisk Rubber Company. The house’s large gambrel roof was probably added during this renovation, and it disguises the fact that the house is actually several decades older than it appears.

About a century after the first photo was taken, much of the McKnight neighborhood remains remarkably well-preserved. However, this section of Westminster Street has lost a number of houses over the years, particularly on the left side of the street. The old William McKnight house on the far left was demolished around the early 1920s to build and an automobile service station that is still standing today. Just beyond it, two highly ornate Queen Anne-style homes have also been demolished, and were replaced with plain multi-family homes.

Further down the street, there are other vacant lots where houses once stood on both sides of the street, but many of the historic homes are still standing, including most notably the house on the far right. Now a funeral home, it is one of the last of the 19th century mansions on State Street, and despite the 1890s alterations it is also one of the oldest homes in the McKnight neighborhood. Today, this neighborhood consists of some 800 historic homes from the late 19th and early 20th century, and they now form the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Edward H. Goodrich House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 34 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Most of the houses in Springfield’s McKnight neighborhood date back to the 1880s and 1890s, but this house is one of the exceptions, having been built around 1912. As a result, it has a simple Colonial Revival design that contrasts with the highly ornate Queen Anne-style homes that otherwise dominate most of the neighborhood. The house was built for Edward H. Goodrich, a teacher who worked as the head of the science department at the Technical High School, and he lived here with his wife Florence and their daughter Virginia for about 20 years.

When the first photo was taken in the late 1939s, the Goodrich family had only recently moved out, and the house was in the midst of a series of residents. In 1937, it was the home of sales manager William N. Howard and his wife Muriel, but by 1940 it was the home of John and Mary Butler, with John serving as the pastor of the nearby St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. They only lived in this house for a few years, though, because by 1943 it was the home of Kenneth L. Levensalar. He was living here with his wife Elizabeth, and according to that year’s city directory he was a methods engineer for a company called AmBCorp.

Today, the most noticeable differences between these two photos are the buildings to the right and behind this house. Both have since been demolished, but this house still stands, as a contributing property in the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now used as a daycare, but the building itself has remained in its original condition, and in 2016 the Springfield Preservation Trust recognized it with an award for the historically accurate restoration of the porch.

John A. Hall House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 52 Westminster Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house was built around 1882 for John A. Hall, his wife Frances, and their two children. He was originally from New York, but Hall came to Springfield during the Civil War to work in the Armory, and later entered the insurance industry with Massachusetts Mutual. In 1881, shortly before moving into this house, he became the secretary of the company, and in 1895 he became the president. He was still living here at the time, but soon afterwards he and his family moved into a newly-built Tudor mansion on Ridgewood Terrace. This much larger house, with its prominent setting and expansive views, was a substantial upgrade from this house here on Westminster Street, and reflected his new position in the company.

In the late 1890s, the house was sold to Peter Murray, a dry goods merchant. Originally from Scotland, he had immigrated to the United States as a young man, and in 1879 he formed a partnership with fellow Scotsman John MacKenzie Smith. Together, they operated Smith & Murray, a department store that was located here in Springfield, at the corner of Court and Main Streets. The store was a fixture in the city for many years, and Murray continued in the business after Smith’s death in 1898. He never married, but he lived here with members of his extended family, including his nephew Alexander Leith, his wife Minnie, and their children. Leith was also in the dry goods business, and worked as a buyer for his uncle’s firm.

Alexander Leith died relatively young, at the age of 52, in 1916. By 1920, Minnie and the children had moved out of this house, and Peter Murray was living here alone, although he rented part of the house to veterinary surgeon Henry B. Hobson and his wife Elsie. Peter died in 1922, and the house was subsequently sold to William J. Murray, who does not appear to have been related to Peter. A child of Irish immigrants, William and his wife Josephine were in their 50s when they moved in here, along with their four sons and Josephine’s sister, Katherine McGrevy.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, the house had been converted into the Church of the Nazarene. The building later became St. Mark’s Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, but over time it fell into disrepair. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the McKnight Historic District in 1976, but it subsequently stood vacant for several decades and was threatened with demolition. However, it was ultimately restored in 2011, and today there is hardly any noticeable difference from when the first photo was taken nearly 80 years ago.