Church Street, Bellows Falls, Vermont

The view looking north on Church Street from the corner of Westminster Street in Bellows Falls, around the early 1900s. Image courtesy of the Rockingham Free Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

As discussed in more detail in the previous post, the house on the left side of this scene was once the home of Hetty Green, a Gilded Age financier who was well-known for both her business acumen and her extreme frugality. The house itself dated back to 1806, when it was the home of merchant William Hall, and it was later owned by Nathaniel Tucker, who operated the nearby Tucker Toll Bridge over the Connecticut River. In 1879, Tucker’s grandson, Edward Henry Green, purchased the house, and he lived here with his wife Hetty and their two children.

The first photo was probably taken at some point during their ownership of the house, prior to Hetty’s death in 1916 at the age of 81. By then, she had accumulated a fortune of over $100 million, equivalent to over $2 billion today, which made her the richest woman in the country at the time. However, she lived a very modest lifestyle, wearing plain, old clothing and eating only inexpensive food, and reportedly foregoing both heat and hot water here in her house.

Just to the right of the Green house in the first photo is another brick house, which was the home of flour mill operator Edward Arms. He died in 1900, but the house remained in his family for many years. The 1910 census, which was probably done around the same time that the first photo was taken, shows his widow Josephine living here with their daughter Caroline, who was 31 years old. Caroline continued to live here until at least the early 1950s, although in her later years she apparently used it primarily as a summer residence.

On the far right side of the scene is the First Baptist Church of Bellows Falls, which stands at the top of the hill at the corner of Church and School Streets. The congregation was established in 1854, and this building was completed in 1860. It originally featured a tall, narrow spire atop its roof, and throughout the 19th century it was referred to as the needle spire. However, the building was renovated in 1899, including the removal of the spire and an addition to the right side, including a new tower on the corner. The first photo was probably taken soon after this work was completed, as it shows the church in its altered appearance.

Today, more than a century after this photo was taken, much of this scene has changed. Hetty Green’s daughter Sylvia owned the house on the left throughout the early 20th century, but in 1940 she gave the property to the town. The old house was subsequently demolished, and the site is now a bank. The Arms house next door is also gone, and in its place is Hetty Green Park. As a result, the Baptist church is the only surviving building from the first photo. Its exterior is not significantly different, although the tower is hidden from view by the trees, and it remains in use by the same congregation that constructed it more than 150 years ago.

Hetty Green House, Bellows Falls, Vermont

The Hetty Green House at the corner of Church and Westminster Streets in Bellows Falls, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

It is hard to tell from its appearance, but this house was the home of the wealthiest woman in America when the first photo was taken at the turn of the 20th century. Throughout her life, even after she had amassed a fortune worth many millions of dollars, Wall Street financier Hetty Green lived a very frugal—and some would say miserly—lifestyle. She wore plain, old clothing, ate inexpensive meals, and shunned most luxuries, supposedly even heat and hot water.

Her house here in Bellows Falls was another example of her modest living. Although certainly a fine house in its own right, it was hardly befitting of a Gilded Age tycoon, especially considering the lavish mansions that many of her contemporaries, most notably the Vanderbilts, were constructing in New York, Newport, and other fashionable places.

The house itself was situated at the corner of Church and Westminster Streets, just to the south of the center of Bellows Falls. It was built in 1806 by William Hall, a wealthy local merchant in the firm of Hall & Green. Hall was also involved in politics, serving on the governor’s council, in the state legislature, and as Vermont’s sole delegate to the 1814-1815 Hartford Convention. He lived here in this house until his death in 1831, at the age of 57, and the house was subsequently purchased by Nathaniel Tucker, the owner of the nearby Tucker Toll Bridge over the Connecticut River.

Nathaniel Tucker had connections to William Hall, as his daughter Anna was married to Hall’s former business partner, Henry Atkinson Green. Their son, Edward Henry Green, would eventually become a successful Boston merchant, and in 1867 he married Henrietta “Hetty” Robinson, the wealthy heiress of a New Bedford whaling family. Then, in 1879 he purchased his grandfather’s old house here in Bellows Falls, and moved his family into it.

Hetty Green was 33 years old when she married Edward, and she was already extremely wealthy, having inherited about $6 million after her father’s death two years earlier. However, her fortune would continue to grow thanks to her shrewd investment strategies, and she came to be known as the “Witch of Wall Street”at a time when high finance was almost exclusively a male profession. By the time she died in 1916 at the age of 81, her estate was valued at over $100 million, equivalent to over $2 billion today, making her the richest woman in America at the time.

Hetty and Edward had two children, Ned and Sylvia, who were about 11 and 8 years old, respectively, when their father purchased this house. During his childhood, Ned became the subject of one of the most famous examples of his mother’s frugality after he injured his knee. Wanting to avoid paying for a doctor, Hetty instead tried to treat him herself. However, infection set in and the leg became gangrenous, and it ultimately had to be amputated.

In adulthood, Ned spent his money much more freely than his mother had. He owned a 225-foot steam yacht, and he built a mansion on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts, which featured his own private airfield and radio station. In addition, he was an avid collector of coins and stamps, and at one point his collection included all five examples of the extremely rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel, along with the only known sheet of the famous Inverted Jenny postage stamp. Ned also played an important role in historic preservation when, in the 1920s, he purchased the former whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, which had once been a part of his maternal grandfather’s whaling fleet. He put it on display at Round Hill, and after his death it was acquired by Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where it remains as the last surviving 19th century whaling ship.

Ned’s sister Sylvia, however, was much more like their mother when it came to saving money. In 1909 she married Matthew Wilks, a member of the Astor family who was 25 years her senior, although her mother insisted that they sign a prenuptial agreement to prevent Wilks from inheriting Sylvia’s money. Neither Sylvia nor her brother had any children, and after Ned’s death in 1936 Sylvia inherited his portion of the estate, as a result of a similar prenuptial agreement that he had signed with his wife, Mabel Harlow. Later in life, though, Sylvia became both miserly and reclusive, and her last public appearance was in 1937, when she testified in court to prevent Mabel from receiving a greater share of Ned’s fortune.

Upon her death in 1951 at the age of 80, Sylvia was described by Life magazine as “a friendless, childless, cheerless old woman, abjectly poor in everything but money and devoted only to the preservation of the great Green fortune.” Her net worth at the time was around $95 million, nearly $1 billion today, but with no children or other close relatives she left nearly all of her money to 63 different charities, including a variety of churches, libraries, and hospitals. Among these were the Rockingham Memorial Hospital and the Immanuel Episcopal Church, both of which are located here in Bellows Falls.

In the meantime, the old house here on Church Street in Bellows Falls remained in the Green family until 1940, when Sylvia gave the house to the town. She does not appear to have spent much time here in her later years, and the house was in need of repairs. Rather than restore it, the town demolished the house and replaced it with a parking lot and a park, which was named Hetty Green Park.

Today, park is still here, on the far right side of the scene, but the actual site of the house is now a bank, which was constructed in 1960. It was originally the Vermont Bank & Trust Company, but after a series of mergers in the late 20th century it is now owned by TD Bank, which continues to operate it as a branch. The bank building certainly does not have the same architectural or historic significance that the old house had, although in retrospect it seems only appropriate that Hetty Green’s former property would be used as a place where large amounts of money are kept.

Martin Van Buren House, Kinderhook, New York

The Martin Van Buren house in Kinderhook, New York, around 1910. Image from The Village Beautiful, Kinderhook, N. Y. (1910).

The house in 2018:

Martin Van Buren was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, a small village in upstate New York about 20 miles south of Albany. He was the first American president to be born as a U. S. citizen, as all previous presidents had been born as British subjects prior to the Declaration of Independence. He came from an old Dutch family that traced its roots back to the former colony of New Amsterdam, and he grew up speaking Dutch as a child, making him the only president to learn English as a second language. Van Buren was born in his father’s tavern on Hudson Street, which is no longer standing, but he spent his later life in this house on the Old Post Road, residing here from 1841 until his death in 1862.

Although Van Buren is generally considered to be one of the more obscure American presidents, he was a shrewd politician who helped to form the basis for the modern Democratic Party. He held a number of political offices during his career, beginning in 1806 when he was elected as the fence viewer for Kinderhook. Despite its decidedly modest-sounding name, fence viewers played an important role in settling disputes between landowners, and Van Buren was subsequently appointed as a surrogate of Columbia County, which involved dealing with wills and estates.

In 1812, Van Buren was elected to the state senate, and he went on to serve as a senator until 1820. For part of this time he was also the attorney general of New York, serving in that capacity from 1816 to 1819. During his time in state politics, Van Buren became a powerful figure, and he was instrumental in setting up a New York political machine that came to be known as the Albany Regency. As a result of his influence, in 1821 the state legislature elected Van Buren to the United States Senate, choosing him over the incumbent Nathan Sanford.

Van Buren remained in the Senate until 1828, when he was elected governor of New York. He took office in Albany on January 1, 1839, but his term was very brief. During the fall elections, Van Buren had allied himself with Andrew Jackson, and in the process he had united former Democratic-Republicans in support of a single candidate, thus avoiding a repeat of the four-way debacle that had occurred in 1824. This move formed the modern Democratic Party, and Van Buren was rewarded in March 1829, when Jackson appointed him as his secretary of state. As a result, he resigned as governor on March 12, and he joined the Jackson’s cabinet later in the month.

After two years as secretary of state, Van Buren was appointed as minister to the United Kingdom in 1831. It was a recess appointment, and he traveled to London while Congress was still out of session. However, upon reconvening in early 1832, the Senate ultimately rejected his nomination, forcing Van Buren to return. Vice President John C. Calhoun had cast the tiebreaking vote against Van Buren in hopes of ruining his career, but it ended up having the opposite effect. Van Buren’s return to America put him in contention for the vice presidential nomination in the 1832 election, and in May the Democratic National Convention chose him to replace Calhoun on the ticket.

Andrew Jackson easily defeated Henry Clay in the general election, and Van Buren was inaugurated as vice president on March 4, 1833. Over the next four years, he remained one of Jackson’s most important advisors, and after Jackson declined to run for a third term, Van Buren became his logical successor for the 1836 election. He ran essentially unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and was the party’s unanimous choice at the convention. He went on to win the fall election, with the nascent Whig Party splitting their voters among four different candidates.

Despite his successful political career prior to the presidency, Van Buren’s single term as president was mediocre at best. It was largely defined by the Panic of 1837, an economic recession that began only months after he was inaugurated. His response to the crisis was largely ineffective, leading his Whig opponents to ridicule him as “Martin Van Ruin” during his 1840 re-election bid. This recession, combined with the growing strength of the Whig Party, doomed him in the general election, and he lost in a landslide to William Henry Harrison.

After leaving the White House in 1841, Van Buren returned home to Kinderhook, where he had purchased this house two years earlier. The home, originally known as Kleinrood, had been built around 1797 by Peter Van Ness, a judge on the Court of Common Pleas. Van Ness was in his early 60s at the time, and he was a veteran of the American Revolution, having served as a colonel in the state militia. He died here in 1804, and his son William Peter Van Ness subsequently inherited Kleinrood. William was also a judge, serving at the federal level as a United States District Court judge from 1812 until his death in 1826, at the age of 48. He owned this house for most of his time on the bench, but he ultimately lost it at auction in 1824, when it was sold to pay for a lawsuit judgment against him.

Kleinrood was purchased by William Paulding Jr., a former congressman who went on to serve as mayor of New York City from 1825 to 1826, and 1827 to 1829. Paulding lived in New York City, and he already had a summer residence in Tarrytown, so he never actually lived here. However, he owned Kleinrood for the next 15 years, including the house and the surrounding 137 acres. He evidently made few improvements to the property during this time, and it was in poor condition by the time he sold it to Martin Van Buren in 1839 for $14,000.

Prior to purchasing this property, Van Buren had never owned a house of his own. Nevertheless, he gladly took on the challenge of managing and improving a large farm, perhaps hoping to emulate earlier presidents such as Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson, all of whom were famous for their grand estates. Van Buren soon set about making changes and improvements, including changing the name from Kleinrood to Lindenwald. He also built stables and other outbuildings, and he made some alterations to the interior of the house. The most dramatic change inside the house was the removal of the original staircase, creating a central hall on the first floor that could be used for banquets and other large events.

When he moved into the house in 1841, Van Buren did not envision it as his retirement home. He was 58 years old at the time, and he hoped that he would be able to recapture the White House in 1844. However, he failed to receive enough votes at the Democratic National Convention, in part because of his opposition to the annexation of Texas, and the party’s nomination ultimately went to James K. Polk. By the next presidential election, Van Buren had drifted even further from the party that he had founded, becoming a strong opponent of slavery. In 1848, he received the nomination of the Free Soil Party, and in the general election he received more than 10% of the popular vote, although he did not win any electoral votes. However, his candidacy likely cost Democrat nominee Lewis Cass the election by splitting the vote and allowing Zachary Taylor to win.

In the meantime, Van Buren continued to improve Lindenwald, he and steadily grew the property through additional land acquisitions. The house itself also underwent an expansion, which occurred in 1849 after his youngest son, Smith Thompson Van Buren, moved into the house with his family. For this work, Smith hired noted architect Richard Upjohn, who designed an addition on the rear of the house. The most notable feature of this addition was a five-story Italianate-style tower, which stands on the left side. Overall, though, Upjohn’s alterations were probably not among his best works. The result of his work was a rather muddled blend of architectural styles, with the house featuring elements of Federal, Gothic, and Italianate architecture.

Martin Van Buren had been a widower since the death of his wife Hannah in 1819, at the age of 35. Smith’s wife Ellen similarly died young in 1849, shortly after they moved to Lindenwald and before the addition was completed. However, while the former president never remarried, his son Smith married for a second time in 1855, to Henrietta Eckford Irving. Smith and Henrietta continued to live here at Lindenwald until 1862, when Martin Van Buren died here in his bedroom on the second floor. Smith and his family subsequently moved to Beacon, New York, and the house was sold out of the family in 1864.

Over the next decade, Lindenwald continued to be operated as a working farm, although it changed hands three more times by 1874, and none of these owners personally lived here. Then, in 1874 it was purchased by brothers Adam and Freeman Wagoner, who lived in the house and ran the farm. Adam ultimately gained sole possession of the property, and he owned it until 1917. The first photo was taken during his ownership, showing the exterior of the house as it appeared in the early 20th century. Both the house and the surrounding grounds were well-maintained, and the house was flanked by tall white pines on either side of the photo.

After Wagoner sold Lindenwald in 1917, it went through several more ownership changes over the next 40 years. During this time, most of the land was sold off, leaving only 13 acres by 1945. The condition of the house itself also declined, and it was altered in the late 1950s by the addition of a two-story columned porch on the front. This porch was vaguely reminiscent of the one at Mount Vernon, but it hardly matched with the rest of the house, and instead only added to the architectural confusion of its design. The owner who added the porch was an antique dealer, and around the same time he also opened a shop here on the property.

The house steadily deteriorated until 1973, when it and the surrounding 13 acres were purchased by the National Park Service. A year later, the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site was established here, and the house was subsequently restored to its appearance when Van Buren lived here. It opened to the public in 1988, and more than 30 years later it continues to be run by the National Park Service, with few significant differences in its appearance since the first photo was taken over a century ago.

James Scutt Dwight House, Springfield, Mass

The house at the northwest corner of State and Dwight Streets in Springfield, around 1893. Image from Sketches of the old inhabitants and other citizens of old Springfield (1893).

The scene in 2018:

This house was probably built at some point around the 1790s, as evidenced by distinctive Federal-style architectural details, such as the Palladian window over the front door and the fanlight window. It was the home of merchant James Scutt Dwight, and it may have been completed around the same time as his 1794 marriage to Mary Sanford. Dwight was from one of Springfield’s most prosperous families of the period. His father, Jonathan Dwight, had come to Springfield in 1753 as a young boy, where he worked at the store of his cousin, Josiah Dwight. He subsequently became a partner in this merchant business, and in 1790 his son James Scutt Dwight also became a partner.

At the time, the Dwight family owned much of the land along this section of State Street to the east of Main Street. Their store was located at the northeast corner of Main and State Streets, and many of their homes were built on State Street. By the early 19th century, the Dwights had also become the leading force behind the new Unitarian church, which separated from the First Church in 1819. That same year, the Unitarians constructed a new church building here on State Street, with Jonathan Dwight donating both the land and the building itself.

In the meantime, James Scutt Dwight remained actively involved in the family business. He and his brother Henry took over the company after their father’s retirement in 1803, and after Henry left in 1809, James carried on with his brothers Edmund and Jonathan, Jr. Although headquartered here in Springfield, the Dwights had a store in Boston, and they also had branches in Belchertown, Chester, Huntington, Greenfield, Northampton, South Hadley, Westfield, and in Enfield, Connecticut. However, James died in 1822, at the age of 52, and the firm was subsequently reconstituted as Day, Brewer & Dwight, with James’s son, James Sanford Dwight, as one of the partners.

James Scutt Dwight lived here in this house throughout this time, and he and his wife Mary raised 12 children here. She continued to live here after his death, and on May 6, 1834 the house was the scene of a double wedding ceremony involving two of their daughters. Lucy Dwight married William W. Orne, and Delia Dwight married Homer Foot, the merchant who had acquired the Dwight business after James Sanford Dwight’s untimely death in 1831. The ceremony was performed by William B. O. Peabody, the longtime pastor of the Unitarian church.

At some point in the late 1830s or early 1840s, this house was sold to Jemima Kingsbury, the widow of Dr. Samuel Kingsbury. She died in 1846, but the property remained in her family until at least the early 1850s. At some point around the mid-19th century, her son-in-law, William B. Calhoun, constructed an ell on the right side of the building to house his law office. Calhoun was a prominent politician, and he held a number of state and local offices, including speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, president of the Massachusetts Senate, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and mayor of Springfield, in addition to serving four terms in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1835 to 1843.

By the second half of the 19th century, this section of State Street was no longer the same desirable residential area that it had been when the Dwights lived here. As the city’s population steadily grew, and as the downtown business area expanded, affluent families moved to newly-developed neighborhoods further from downtown. Many historic 18th century homes were demolished in the post-Civil War era, while others – including this house – were converted into commercial use. By 1870, it had become a boarding house, and around 1880 the ground floor was altered with the addition of one-story storefronts, as shown in the first photo. Over the next decade or so, its tenants would include George E. Jordan’s meat market on the left side, and the State Street Fruit Store on the right side, at the corner of Dwight Street.

The first photo was taken around 1893, when the house was probably about a hundred years old. However, it was demolished only about a year later, in order to make room for a new YMCA building, which was completed here on this site in 1895. This building later became the Hotel Victoria, and it stood here until 1969, when it too was demolished, as part of the construction of the Civic Center. The Civic Center has since undergone renovations, and it is now known as the MassMutual Center, but it is still standing here on this site, filling the entire block between Main and Dwight Streets. Today, there is nothing that survives from the first photo except for Dwight Street itself, which serves as a reminder of the family that dominated Springfield’s economy two centuries ago.

Benjamin Day House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 102 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

Like the neighboring house at 100 School Street, this house was originally located on the east side of Maple Street. It was constructed in 1820, and like its neighbor it was built by Simon Sanborn, a master builder who was responsible for many fine homes in early 19th century Springfield. Architecturally, these two homes do not have much in common, but this house bore a strong resemblance to one that once stood at 55 Chestnut Street, which may have also been built by Sanborn.

The original owner of the house here in the first photo was Benjamin Day, a prosperous merchant and banker. In 1820, at the age of 30, he married Frances Dwight, the daughter of merchant James Scutt Dwight. The house was completed around the same time as their marriage, and it was situated on a large lot that extended from Maple to School Streets. At the time, the lower part of Maple Street was one of the most desirable residential areas in the city, and the Days were among the many affluent families that built homes on the street, which runs along a bluff overlooking downtown Springfield.

Benjamin Day went on to have a successful business career, which included serving first as cashier and later as president of the Springfield Bank. In 1822, he became a partner in the merchant firm of Day, Brewer & Dwight, which included his brother-in-law, James Sanford Dwight. Day and Brewer would eventually sell their shares of the business to Dwight, and Day subsequently formed the dry goods firm of Day & Willard. He was also involved in other business ventures, serving as a trustee of the Springfield Institution for Savings, president of the Old Springfield Bridge Company, treasurer of the Holyoke Water Power Company.

Both Benjamin and Frances Day died in 1872, but they apparently lived here in this house for a comparatively short period of time. By the early 1830s, this property was owned by Frances’s brother, George Dwight. Following his brother James Sanford Dwight’s untimely death in 1831, George and his business partner, Homer Foot, had acquired James’s company, which was renamed Homer Foot & Co. In 1833, George married Homer’s sister, Mary Skinner Foot, and the family connection was further strengthened a year later, when Homer married George’s sister, Delia Dwight.

George and Mary Dwight lived in this house on Maple Street until around 1860. He remained a partner in Homer Foot & Co. until 1854, and he was also involved in the Springfield Gas Light Company, serving as treasurer for many years, and later as superintendent. Aside from business, his other roles included serving as fire chief in 1848, and from 1856 to 1859, and he was elected to the state House of Representatives once and the state Senate twice. However, perhaps his most important position was as superintendent of the Springfield Armory, which he held during the early months of the Civil War, from April to August 1861, before the Armory switched from civilian to military leadership.

By the late 1860s, this house – which was still located on Maple Street at the time – was owned by Willis Phelps, a railroad contractor who was responsible for building many railroads, both here in New England and in other parts of the country. He had been a contractor for the Western Railroad in 1839, and his subsequent projects included the rail line from Springfield to Hartford, portions of the New London Northern Railroad, and the branch line from Springfield to Athol. Further west, he built the Council Bluffs & St. Joseph Railroad, the Missouri Valley Railroad, and the Terre Haute & Alton Railroad, among other lines.

In addition to his railroad work, Phelps was involved in local politics, serving at various times as a county commissioner, state representative, state senator, city councilor, and alderman. He was also a director of the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company, the Mutual Fire Assurance Company of Springfield, and the Pynchon National Bank, and he was the president of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank from 1854 to 1858.

Willis Phelps died in 1883, and his property was subsequently acquired by Eunice Brewer Smith, whose brother, James D. Brewer, owned the adjacent house at 95 Maple Street. She was the widow of Dr. David P. Smith, a local physician who had died in 1880. He had been a surgeon during the Civil War, including serving as chief surgeon at the Fairfax Seminary Hospital in Alexandria, and he later became a professor of surgery at Yale.

After Eunice’s brother James died in 1886, his daughter Harriet inherited his property. She and her husband, Dr. Luke Corcoran, soon began building a new house, and in 1889 they moved the old house to the back of the lot, where it became 100 School Street. At around the same time, Eunice did the same thing to her house. It was moved to 102 School Street, as shown in the first photo, and it sat side-by-side with its longtime neighbor. Eunice then constructed a new house on the Maple Street end of the lot, which was completed in 1890.

In a way, the relocation of these two houses reflected the changes that Springfield had undergone in the 70 years since they were built. At the time of their completion, they were among the finest homes in a town that still numbered under 4,000 people. However, by 1890 Springfield had become a city, and its population had grown more than tenfold, to over 44,000 people. The old merchant families that once lived in these homes, such as the Days, Dwights, Brewers, and Howards, no longer dominated the city’s political and economic life, and their homes had become relics of a distant era, replaced by new, larger homes and relegated to a side street.

By the end of the 19th century, Eunice Smith still lived in her new house at 111 Maple Street, but she had evidently transferred ownership of 102 School Street to her niece Harriet, who owned both it and 100 School Street. Both houses became rental properties, and for many years she rented this house at 102 School Street to Charles E. Stickney, a fire insurance agent in the firm of Pynchon & Stickney. He was living here as early as 1890, shortly after the house was relocated here, and he remained here until around 1908. The 1900 census shows him at this house with his wife Mary and their two children, and they also employed two live-in servants.

Starting around 1909, Harriet Corcoran began renting the house to Ralph K. Safford, a banker and broker who was the manager of Darr & Moore. He and his wife Lillian had an infant son when they moved in, and the 1910 census also shows them living here with two servants. They would reside here until the late 1910s, when they moved into an apartment building nearby at 328 Union Street.

The last tenant of this house appears to have been Morgan G. Day, who coincidentally shared the same last name as its first resident, although he and Benjamin Day were not directly related. Morgan Day was the assistant agent for the Indian Orchard Company, and he lived here with his wife Ruth, their young son, and a maid. They appear here in city directories until at least 1927, although they moved out by 1929. Like the Saffords, though, they remained in the neighborhood, living in a home at 41 Mulberry Street.

The first photo was taken about ten years after the Day family moved out, and the house was evidently vacant for this entire time. By this point, its neighbor at 100 School Street was also vacant, and they would remain empty for nearly 10 more years before they were both demolished in the spring of 1946. Both house lots are now owned by the city, and they serve as a parking area for the Milton Bradley School, which is visible in the distance of the 2018 photo.

St. Stephen’s Church, Boston

Looking north on Hanover Street in Boston, with St. Stephen’s Church in the center of the scene, around 1895-1905. Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

These photos show the view looking north on Hanover Street from about the corner of Tileston Street, in Boston’s North End. The most prominent building here in this scene is St. Stephen’s Church, which is located directly opposite the Paul Revere Mall. Although it is currently a Roman Catholic church, it was constructed in 1804 as a Congregational church. It was originally known as the New North Church, as opposed to the more famous Old North Church less than 200 yards away, and it was the work of prominent architect Charles Bulfinch, who was responsible for designing many important buildings in early 19th century Boston.

This church was built around the same time that Unitarian theology was causing divisions within Congregational churches across New England. In 1813, New North became Unitarian, as did a number of other Congregational churches in Boston. That same year, 25-year-old Francis Parkman became its pastor. He would go on to serve the church for the next 36 years, and he was also the father of Francis Parkman Jr., who went on to become a noted historian and writer.

By the mid-19th century, the demographics of the North End had changed. As new, more desirable neighborhoods were developed in other parts of the city, affluent North End residents had steadily left the area. These largely Protestant, native-born residents were replaced by Irish Catholic immigrants, who settled in large numbers here in the North End. With its congregants leaving the increasingly crowded and impoverished neighborhood, the New North Church was ultimately sold in 1862 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boston, becoming St. Stephen’s Church.

The church building subsequently underwent some changes, including alterations to the original cupola. In 1870, it was moved back 16 feet when Hanover Street was widened, and it was also raised six feet on a new, higher foundation, in order to create a lower level. The interior was also modified, and it saw further changes after being damaged by fires in 1897 and 1929.

The first photo shows the church, and its surroundings on Hanover Street, around the turn of the 20th century. By this point, the North End was no longer predominantly Irish. Instead, the neighborhood was filled with newer immigrant groups, particularly Italians, and the North End was well on its way to becoming known as Little Italy. However, some of the Irish parishioners maintained their connections to St. Stephen’s Church, including John F. Fitzgerald, who was a congressman and mayor of Boston. His daughter Rose – the mother of John F. Kennedy – was baptized here in 1890, and her funeral was held here 104 years later, in 1995.

Out of the five churches that Charles Bulfinch designed in Boston, this church is the only one that survived into the 20th century. By the 1960s it was also one of his few remaining churches anywhere, and it was recognized for its historic and architectural significance. From 1964 to 1965, it underwent a major renovation, which included lowering the building to its original level and restoring the cupola. The interior was also restored during this time, although it is somewhat different from Bulfinch’s original plans.

Today, St. Stephen’s Church is still an active Roman Catholic parish, and the restored building stands as an important architectural landmark in the North End. The surrounding streetscape has seen some changes since the first photo was taken around 120 years ago, with the most obvious being the three buildings on the right side, which were constructed around 1905. Overall, though, this scene has maintained the same scale since the late 19th century, which still consists primarily of four-story brick commercial blocks, and the North End remains a remarkably well-preserved section of Boston.