State Mutual Building, Worcester, Mass

The Second State Mutual Building, at the corner of Main and Maple Streets in Worcester, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The building in 2016:

Built in 1897, this office building was the first skyscraper in Worcester, and it was originally home to the State Mutual Life Assurance Company, who relocated from their much smaller quarters just down the street at 240 Main Street. It was designed by the prominent Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, and demonstrates the Classical Revival design that was becoming popular in commercial buildings at the turn of the century. To some extent, it bears a resemblance to the taller Ames Building, completed just four years earlier in Boston. Unlike the load-bearing masonry of the Ames Building, though, the nine-story State Mutual Building had a steel frame, a development that had been introduced into skyscraper design at the end of the 19th century.

None of the surrounding buildings are still standing from the first photo. Over the past 100 years, he city has grown up around it, but the historic building is still standing, essentially unaltered from its original exterior appearance. The only major changes have been the building’s tenants; State Mutual moved out in 1957, and it was later home to Commerce Bank. Now known as the Commerce Building, it remains in use as an office building, with commercial storefronts on the first floor along the Main Street side of the building.

Elks Lodge, Hartford, Connecticut

The B.P.O. Elks Lodge on Prospect Street in Hartford, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The building in 2016:

Hartford’s Elks Lodge was built here in 1903, and over the years very little has changed on either the exterior or interior. The Neoclassical building is made of yellow brick, a popular building material at the turn of the century, and on the inside it is finished with oak and mahogany. It has two stories, with assembly rooms on the first floor and the octagonal lodge room on the second floor, on the other side of the arched windows seen here. The neighboring buildings have grown up around it during the past century, but the historic building remains, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

William May House, Springfield, Mass

The William May House on Sumner Avenue in Springfield, on April 8, 1911. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The house in 2016:

This house on Sumner Avenue in Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood was built in 1911, around the time that the first photo was taken. It was built as a two-family home, with Springfield Public Market executives William May and Herman Isenberg each owning half of it. May was the president of the grocery store, and in 1920 he was living here with his wife Helen, their daughter Hilda, and an Irish servant named Catherine O’Connor. Isenberg was the treasurer of the company, and he was a German immigrant who lived here with his wife Ida, their children Alice and Joel, and a cousin.

By the 1940 census, both families were still living here, but William and Ida both died sometime between 1930 and 1940. Herman, 64 ears old at this point, was listed as the company president, and his 29 year old son Joel was still living here and working as a manager in the store. The two men were each listed as earning over $5,000 per year, which was the highest income category on the census, equivalent to over $85,000 today. They also employed three servants who earned between $350 and $780 per year, or about $6,000 to $13,000 today.

Today, the historic house is still a two-family building, and very little has changed on the exterior. Like the nearby Lathrop House, it is an excellent example of classical revival architecture from the turn of the last century, and it is part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

F.W. Lathrop House, Springfield, Mass

The F.W. Lathrop House on Sumner Avenue in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, on April 8, 1911. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Emerson Collection.

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The house in 2016:

This mansion at 188 Sumner Avenue was built in 1899 for real estate dealer Frederick W. Lathrop and his wife Flora. At the time, Forest Park was becoming a fashionable neighborhood, and many large, elegant homes were built along Sumner Avenue and other streets in the area. The photo in this earlier post shows the house on the left side of the tree-lined street in around the same time period. Lathrop died in 1917 and Flora in 1933, and since then the home has gone through a variety of uses, including as a Jewish temple, a Jewish school, an art school, and a bed and breakfast. Today, the house is a well-preserved example of Springfield’s historic mansions, and it is part of the Forest Park Heights Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Waldorf-Astoria and Knickerbocker Trust, New York City

Looking south along Fifth Avenue toward the intersection of 34th Street, around 1904, with the Knickerbocker Trust Company building in the foreground and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel beyond it. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2016:

The two buildings in the first photo, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Knickerbocker Trust Company Building, have been discussed in further detail in earlier posts, but this photo here provides a particularly good view of the architecture of the Knickerbocker building, which had been completed around that time. It was designed by McKim, Mead & White, a prominent architectural firm whose other significant works of the era included the Boston Public Library and New York’s Penn Station. Unfortunately, although the bank building is technically still standing here, subsequent alterations have completely destroyed the original architecture, including the addition of 10 stories on top of it in 1921 and the replacement of the facade in 1958 with the bland exterior that it now has. As for the Waldorf-Astoria, it is obviously no longer standing; the famous hotel was demolished in 1929 and the Empire State Building was built in its place.

Morse Block, Springfield, Mass

The Morse Block at 1055-1063 Main Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

This building at 1055-1063 Main Street was built around 1904, and the signs in the first photo indicate that by the 1930s it was home to a bowling alley and a variety store. Along with the building to the right, it was later owned by Hampden Furniture until the company closed in 2007. Both buildings were damaged in the June 1, 2011 tornado, but they were repaired and reopened in 2014 as the home of the Caring Health Center, a nonprofit healthcare organization that has several clinics in Springfield.