Silas L. Kenyon House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 259 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This massive Colonial Revival-style home was one of many mansions built along Longhill Street at the turn of the 20th century. It was probably completed around 1906, when the address first appears in the city directory, and was originally owned by Silas L. Kenyon and his wife Ella. They were in their mid-50s when they moved into this house, and they lived here with several of their adult children, including their daughters Estella and Ruth. However, Ella died only a few years later in 1907, and in 1908 Silas married his second wife, Grace M. Pierce.

Silas Kenyon was the treasurer and manager of Fiberloid, a cellulose manufacturing company that had been founded in Newburyport in the late 1800s. This early type of plastic was used to manufacture a wide variety of consumer products, ranging from shirt collars to dolls’ heads to piano keys. Unfortunately it was also highly flammable, and the Newburyport factory was heavily damaged by a fire in 1904. The following year, the company moved to Springfield, where Kenyon and the other officers built a new facility in Indian Orchard, along the banks of the Chicopee River.

The Kenyon family moved to Springfield around the same time as Fiberloid, and Silas lived here in this house for the rest of his life, until his death in 1917. His company would go on to outlive him, and his son-in-law, Howard R. Bemis, would later succeed him as treasurer of Fiberloid. In the 1930s, the company was acquired by Monsanto, which operated the Indian Orchard facility until 1997. After several more ownership changes, the site is still used to manufacture plastics, although it is drastically different from when Fiberloid moved there over a century ago.

In the meantime, Kenyon’s house was sold shortly after his death, and by 1918 it was owned by Harold A. Ley, who lived here with his wife Anne and their four children. Harold was the president of Fred T. Ley & Co., a Springfield-based construction firm that he and his brother Fred had established in 1897. Early on, the company had primarily built trolley lines in and around western Massachusetts, but by the early 20th century the company had become one of the area’s leading building contractors, constructing prominent buildings in Springfield such as the Hotel Kimball, the old YMCA building on Chestnut Street, and the Masonic Temple on State Street.

By the time Harold moved into this house, the company had moved well beyond the Springfield area, with projects in Boston, New York City, and beyond. Among these was Camp Devens in Ayer and Shirley, Massachusetts, as well as the Boston Arena, an indoor ice rink that would go on to become the first home of both the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. By the mid-1910s, they were constructing luxury apartment buildings and other buildings in New York City, and by the end of the decade they were also involved in projects in Lima, Peru.

In 1919, the company moved its headquarters from Springfield to New York City, and went on to build a number of buildings there. Harold left the company two years later, though, in order to devote his time to the Life Extension Institute, a philanthropic organization that he had helped to found in 1913. As a result, he was not involved later in the decade when his brother’s firm took on its single most important construction project, the Chrysler Building, which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930.

Despite his growing ties to New York, Harold was listed in city directories as living here in this house until at least 1924. However, he subsequently moved to New York, and the 1930 census shows him and his family living in Yonkers. By 1927, this house was the home of Louis and Nell Bauer, who either owned or rented it until around 1929, when their own house was completed nearby at 386 Longhill Street.

The Bauer’s appear to have been the last residents of this house, because it is listed as being vacant in the 1929 city directory, as well as those of subsequent years. When the first photo was taken about a decade later, the house was still vacant, and it remained unoccupied for a few more years, until it was finally demolished in 1942. Nearly 80 years since then, most of the historic mansions on Longhill Street are still standing, but this house is one of the few exceptions. The property was never redeveloped, and today it remains a vacant lot within the Forest Park Heights Historic District.

Harold G. Duckworth House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 368 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

In the first half of the 20th century, the southern section of Longhill Street was one of the most desirable parts of Springfield, and was the home of many of the city’s wealthiest residents. Located just south of downtown Springfield, on a ridgeline above the Connecticut River, many of these homes enjoyed spectacular views, and were situated right next to Forest Park, the largest park in the city. In keeping with architectural tastes of the era, a number of the homes, including this one, had Tudor Revival-style designs, evoking the appearance of an aristocratic English country estate.

Nearly all of the mansions here on Longhill Street were built before the start of the Great Depression, and this house, completed in 1931, was among the last to be built. It was designed by the architectural firm of B. H. Seabury for Harold G. Duckworth, a chain manufacturer who had previously lived in a more modest home on Forest Park Avenue. He and his wife Alma had two children, James and Susan, and they were all living here when the first photo was taken later in the decade.

Harold died in 1961, and Alma lived in this house until 1983, when she sold the property. She was in her 70s at the time, but she would go on to outlive both of her children, and she died in 2003, just a few weeks shy of her 104th birthday. In the meantime, her former house has remained well-preserved, with no noticeable changes between the two photos. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, it is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Harry B. Slingerland House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 283 Longhill Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This elegant English Revival-style house was built in 1927 for Harry B. Slingerland, a stock broker who also served as vice president and general manager of the General Ice Cream Company. During the 1930 census, he lived here with his wife Etta, their two daughters, and a servant, and the house was valued at $60,000. Equivalent to nearly $900,000 today, this value was comparable to the value of most of the surrounding homes, which were located on what was one of Springfield’s most desirable streets.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, this house was the home of Dr. Alfred M. Glickman and his wife Rose. A Springfield native, Dr. Glickman graduated from Tufts in 1921 and worked as a surgeon here in Springfield. He also served as chairman of the school committee, becoming the first Jewish person to hold the position, and he later became the namesake for the Alfred M. Glickman School in Ashland Avenue. Rose was also very involved in civic life, and served as a director for a number of organizations, ranging from the Massachusetts Health Council to the Girls Clubs of America.

Dr. Glickman died in 1954, but Rose continued to live in this house until her death in 1980. Since then, very little has changed with the exterior of the house, and it it continues to stand out among the predominantly Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival mansions on Longhill Street. Along with the other homes in the neighborhood, the house is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Clifford B. Potter House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 267-269 Longhill Street at the corner of Cherryvale Avenue in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Springfield’s Forest Park Heights neighborhood includes a number of elegant late 19th and early 20th century homes, but some of the finest of these can be found here on Longhill Street, where some of the city’s leading residents lived. This large house was built in 1898 for Clifford B. Potter, a manager for the Springfield Knitting Company. He lived here with his wife Caroline and their two young daughters, Gladys and Anna, and the family also employed a governess and a servant, both of whom lived here.

Potter remained with the Springfield Knitting Company for 16 years, but in 1906 he started his own company, the Potter Knitting Company. The firm specialized in “fancy knit goods,” and by the early 1910s they had become, of all things, the nation’s leading producer of infants’ underwear. Potter built a new factory on Main Street, just north of Mill Street, and he served as the company’s president and treasurer for many years. By 1920, the company was still growing, and was listed as manufacturing “infants’, children’s and ladies’ ribbed underwear and union suits.”

The Potter family continued living in this house during this time, but Caroline died in 1925. Clifford remarried to his second wife, Martha, and lived here until his death in 1935. Martha was still living here a few years later, when the first photo was taken, but she sold the property in 1947, to attorney Samuel Goodman and his wife Ruth. At some point over the years, the house was converted into a two-family home, but on the exterior it is essentially unchanged. Along with the rest of the neighborhood, the property is now part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Holy Name Rectory, Springfield, Mass

The Holy Name Parish rectory at the corner of Dickinson and Alderman Streets in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This building was originally built as three separate homes, with one on Dickinson Street, one on Alderman Street, and one in the middle at the corner of the two streets. The oldest of these was the Alderman property, which was built sometime in the 1890s, and the other two were built in the first decade of the 20th century. Although they were intended as private homes, the corner house was purchased in 1910 to serve as the rectory for the newly-established Holy Name Parish, which had just built a school and chapel on an adjacent lot.

The Forest Park neighborhood grew rapidly in the early 20th century, and so did the Holy Name Parish. Because of this, in 1920 it purchased the neighboring house on Alderman Street, connected the two buildings, and covered the exterior in stucco. Then, in 1934, the Dickinson Street house was purchased as well, and was integrated into the rest of the rectory. These two views show the property from the Dickinson Street side, with the original rectory on the left, the Dickinson house on the right, and the Alderman house partially visible beyond it on the far right.

Despite nearly 80 years in between these two photos, not much has changed in this scene. The school itself has since been closed, after having been consolidated with four other Catholic elementary schools, and the buildings are now rented to the city of Springfield. However, Holy Name is still an active Roman Catholic parish, and this building still serves as the rectory for the church, which is located on the other end of the block at Grenada Terrace.

Holy Name School, Springfield, Mass

The Holy Name School on Dickinson Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The school in 2017:

At the start of the 20th century, Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood was growing rapidly, and in 1909 the Diocese of Springfield established a new Catholic parish to serve the area’s residents. That same year, construction began on this building, on Dickinson Street between Alderman Street and Grenada Terrace, just north of the “X.” It was completed in 1910, and originally served as both a chapel and as the Holy Name School, which opened in the fall of 1910 with 200 students.

Over time, both the parish and the school grew, and by the time the first photo was taken a second school building had been built, on the far left side of the photo. Beyond it was the church itself, and just out of view to the left was the rectory. A little over a decade later, in 1951, a social center was built on Alderman Street, followed in the late 1960s by a new church at the corner of Grenada Terrace. Throughout this time, the Holy Name School educated many thousands of Springfield children, including former mayor Charles V. Ryan, who was probably attending the school around the time when the first photo was taken.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, the Holy Name Parish is still an active church, although the school has since been closed. In 2009, it and four other Catholic elementary schools were consolidated into one school, St. Michael’s Academy in East Forest Park. The century-old Holy Name School did not remain vacant for long, though, because since the fall of 2009 the school buildings have been rented to the city of Springfield. From 2009 to 2013, the campus was the home of New Leadership Charter School, and it is now the home of the Liberty Prepatory Academy.