Lenox Academy, Lenox, Mass

The Lenox Academy building on Main Street in Lenox, sometime around the 1800s. Image courtesy of the Lenox Library Association.

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The building in 2015:

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Lenox Academy was established in 1803 as a private school, and this building was built around that time. The school closed in 1866, and the building was used as the town’s public high school from 1869 to 1879, and again from 1886 to 1908. In between, the building was renovated and moved to a new foundation in 1879. The first photo appears to have been taken sometime after this move, probably in the 1880s or 1890s. The last school to use this building was the private Trinity School, which was here from 1911 until the 1920s. After that, it was vacant until 1947, when it was sold to the town of Lenox to protect it from demolition. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and it is now the home of the the Lenox Historical Society and the Lenox Historical Commission.

Old Meeting House, Monson, Mass

The old meeting house of the First Church of Monson, seen around 1860-1871. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The church in 2015:

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The First Church of Monson was established in 1762, and the first photo here shows its second meeting house, which was completed in 1803.  The building stood here on High Street, overlooking downtown Monson, until 1871, when it was moved across Main Street and the present-day church was built.  Its time in use coincided with the lengthy pastorate of Alfred Ely, who served as the pastor of the church for 60 years, from 1806 until 1866.  After the building was moved, it was converted into stores on the first floor and a meeting hall on the upper floor, named Green’s Hall.  It can be seen in the c.1892 photo in this post, but it burned down in 1895.  The church building that replaced it, though, it still standing over 140 years later, and aside from having its steeple replaced twice, it looks essentially the same as it did when it was completed in 1873.

Alexander House, Springfield, Mass

The Alexander House on State Street in Springfield, around 1905. Image from Springfield, Present and Prospective (1905).

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The site in 2015:

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The Alexander House was one of many elegant homes that once lined this section of State Street between Chestnut Street and the Armory.  Most of them have long since been replaced, but the Alexander House is still standing, just in a different location.  Its history is explained in more detail in this post, which shows is current appearance around the corner from here, but it was built in 1811 and is one of the oldest existing buildings in the city.

Former owners of the house included portrait artist Chester Harding as well as former Springfield mayor Henry Alexander, Jr., for whom the house is named.  However, its future was threatened in the early 2000s, when a new federal courthouse was proposed for this location.  So, the house was moved about 100 yards away, behind the courthouse on Elliot Street.  The large trees that once stood in front of the house couldn’t be moved, though, so architect Moshe Safdie literally built around them, designing the courthouse so that the trees could be saved as a central element.

Southwick Congregational Church, Southwick Mass

Southwick Congregational Church on College Highway in Southwick, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

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The church in 2015:

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If this historic church in Southwick resembles a scaled-down version of Springfield’s Old First Church, there is good reason for that – both were designed by Northampton architect Isaac Damon, and out of all of his surviving work, Southwick is probably the closest thing to a twin of Springfield’s.  The belfry design on the two churches is nearly identical, and the rest of the steeple design here in Southwick looks like a miniature of the one on Old First Church.  Both churches also have a triangular portico supported by four columns, although again Southwick’s is on a smaller scale.  Some of Damon’s other churches included the old Northampton church, which burned in 1876, the First Congregational Church in Blandford, and Southwick’s Methodist Episcopal Church, both of which still exist.  Southwick’s church was founded in 1773, and the present-day building was built in 1824 to replace the first, which had burned the year before.  Nearly two centuries later, it has survived with few alterations, and it doesn’t look much different from its appearance in the early 1890s.

Old Church and Courthouse, Northampton, Mass

Looking up Main Street from Pleasant Street in Northampton, toward the old church and courthouse in 1864. Photo from Reminiscences of Old Northampton (1902).

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The location in 2018:

The 1864 photo is one of the oldest existing photographs of downtown Northampton, and none of the buildings from that scene survive today, 151 years later.  To the left in the 1864 photo is the old church, which was built in 1812.  It was Northampton’s fourth meeting house, and it replaced the 1737 building that had been built during the pastorate of Jonathan Edwards.  It was from here that the influential pastor and theologian helped to spark the Great Awakening revival that spread across the American colonies and in Europe, but by the turn of the century the town was in need of a new building.  The 1812 church was designed by Northampton architect Isaac Damon, who just a few years later would design Old First Church in Springfield, 15 miles to the south.  However, while Old First Church survives to this day, the Northampton church seen in the 1864 photo burned in 1876, and was replaced two years later by the current brownstone church.

On the far right of the 1864 photo is the old Hampshire County Courthouse.  I don’t know when it was built, but it is virtually identical to the 1821 Hampden County Courthouse, seen on the far left of the 1882 photo in this post.  Because of its similar appearance, the Hampshire County Courthouse was probably built around the same time, shortly after some major changes to the county’s borders.  Originally, Hampshire County included all of Western Massachusetts, but it was steadily broken up into multiple counties, beginning in 1761 when Berkshire County was established to the west.  Then in 1811, Franklin County was created in the northern part of the Connecticut River Valley with Greenfield as the county seat, and a year later Hampden County split off to the south, with Springfield as the county seat.  I don’t know what happened to the old courthouse seen here, but it was gone by 1886, when the present-day Hampshire County Courthouse opened on roughly the same spot at the corner of Main and King Streets.

In between the two prominent buildings in the 1864 scene is a relatively small commercial block, the Whitney Building.  The photograph was actually commissioned by George D. Eames, the owner of the building, and was probably intended to advertise the building’s prominent location in town.  Part of the building housed the offices of the Hampshire Gazette, and the newspaper was published in the basement.  This is evidently the reason for the large sign on the building that reads “Caloric Printing Establishment.”  The Whitney Building was demolished in 1876, and a bank building was put in its place.  Today, the 1916 Northampton Institute for Savings building occupies the site where the Whitney Building once stood.

Massachusetts State House, Boston

The Massachusetts State House, as it appeared around 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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Its appearance 114 years later, in March 2013:

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The front appearance of the State House is more or less the same as it appeared when it was completed in 1798, although several major additions have changed the other three sides of the building.  One of the additions, completed in 1895, was directly behind the original 1798 structure, and isn’t visible from this angle.  The other additions, the two wings on the left and the right that appear in the 2013 building, were not built until 1917.