State Street Baptist Church, Springfield, Mass

The State Street Baptist Church, at the corner of State and Dwight Streets in Springfield, around the 1870s or 1880s. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The scene in 2019:

The State Street Baptist Church, also known as the Second Baptist Church, was established in 1864 as an offshoot of the First Baptist Church. A year later, the church began construction of a new building here on State Street, and it was completed in 1867. It featured an ornate High Victorian Gothic exterior, which was designed by Boston architect Sheperd S. Woodcock, and it was constructed at a cost of just over $41,000, including purchasing the property.

The building was formally dedicated on December 18, 1867, in a ceremony that included a number of local and regional Baptist clergymen. C. D. W. Bridgman, of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Albany, preached the sermon, and other speakers included Rufus K. Bellamy of Chicopee, whose son Edward Bellamy later became a famous novelist. The church was filled to capacity for the occasion, and it was followed by a social gathering attended by members of the city’s two Baptist congregations, along with about a hundred guests from out of town. Then, the evening was marked by a second ceremony, which included a sermon preached by Justin D. Fulton of the Union Temple Church in Boston.

At the time, the pastor of the church was Albert K. Potter, an 1859 graduate of Brown University who spent five years at a church in South Berwick, Maine before coming to Springfield in 1865. He served here at the State Street Baptist Church for 18 years, before leaving for a church in Boston. The second pastor, who came here in 1884, was 25-year-old William Faunce. Like his predecessor, he was a Brown graduate, but he only remained at this church for five years, before becoming the pastor of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in New York. There, his most famous parishioner was John D. Rockefeller, who was already well on his way to becoming the richest man in the world. Faunce subsequently became president of Brown University, serving from 1899 to 1929. After his death in 1930, the school’s Rockefeller Hall was, at the request of the Rockefeller family, renamed Faunce House in his honor.

In the meantime, Springfield’s various Baptist churches underwent a series of mergers during the early 20th century. First Baptist, which had relocated to a new building on State Street around 1888, united with Highland Baptist around 1907, becoming the First Highland Baptist Church. The new congregation worshiped in the Highland Baptist building at the corner of State and Stebbins Streets, and in 1920 the State Street Baptist Church similarly merged, vacating their old building here on the lower part of State Street.

By this point, downtown Springfield had grown considerably since this building was completed more than 50 years earlier, and this area was now valuable commercial real estate. So, the old church building was ultimately demolished in 1927, and it was replaced the Arcade Theater, a 1,200-seat cinema that opened in 1931. This theater was located here until 1971, and it was demolished a year later in order to open a new road connecting Dwight Street to Maple Street, as shown in the present-day photo.

St. Anthony’s Church, White River Junction, Vermont

St. Anthony’s Church on Church Street in White River Junction, around 1900. Image from The Gateway of Vermont: Hartford and its Villages (1903).

The church in 2018:

During its early history, Catholicism was not particularly common in Vermont, where the majority of its settlers had English ancestry. However, the arrival of railroads in the mid-19th century led to an influx of Irish railroad workers to places such as White River Junction, which had become an important rail hub. As a result, a Catholic parish was established here in 1869 as St. Anthony’s Church, and in 1898 the parish constructed this High Victorian Gothic-style church on Church Street, near the corner of Gates Street.

The church was built of brick and trimmed with granite, and it was constructed at a cost of $30,000. It  was dedicated on October 30, 1898 by Bishop John Stephen Michaud of Burlington, in a ceremony that was attended by about a thousand people. The pastor of the church, William N. Lonergan, also participated in the services, and the sermon was delivered by the Reverend D. J. O’Sullivan of St. Albans.

The first photo here was taken within a few years after the church was completed. More than a century later, the church is still standing, although it has seen a few exterior changes during this time. From this angle, the most notable change is the ground floor of the front facade. The central doorway is now flanked on either side by two smaller doors, and the steps in front of it have been enlarged. The doorways at the base of each tower have also been reconstructed, and the doors are now at ground level, without the steps or the pointed arches above the doors. Otherwise, though, the exterior remains well-preserved, and the church is still in use as an active Roman Catholic parish.

First Methodist Church, Westfield, Mass

The First Methodist Church on Court Street, seen from Park Square in Westfield around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

The origins of Westfield’s Methodist church date back to 1794, when the first Methodist services were held in a village in the southwest corner of the town that came to be known as Mundale. The first Methodist church in the center of Westfield was constructed on Main Street in 1833, and it was followed a decade later by a new building at the northwest corner of Elm and School Streets. This one was used by the church for the next 33 years, and it actually still stands today, albeit in an almost unrecognizable condition.

In 1875, the church began construction on a new, much larger building, which was located on the south side of Court Street, just west of Park Square. The cornerstone was laid on June 3 of that year, in a ceremony that featured remarks by at least four former pastors of the church, including Jefferson Hascall, who had begun his pastorate here in Westfield back in 1829. Another was Mark Trafton, who had served as pastor for several different stints in the 1840s and early 1850s before being elected to a single term in Congress in 1854, as a member of the Know-Nothing Party.

According to an account that was published in the Springfield Republican, Trafton’s speech “was interrupted by a half-crazy woman, who wanted all to know “that Jesus didn’t order the building of that church, and Moses was the one to whom the stones were given.” However, she was escorted away by the police, and the ceremony continued. Trafton was followed by the singing of a hymn, and then a box was placed under the cornerstone. It contained newspapers, church member and donor lists, and other documents for posterity. The current pastor of the church, Dr. John Hanson Twombly, then said a few words before laying the cornerstone. Twombly had been pastor of the church more than two decades earlier, from 1851 to 1853, but he returned to Westfield in 1874, after having served as president of the University of Wisconsin for the previous three years.

The church took about 10 months to complete, and it was dedicated on April 4, 1876. Unlike its wooden, Greek Revival predecessor, this church building was constructed of brick, and it featured an ornate High Victorian Gothic-style exterior. As was typical for this style of church, its front façade was asymmetrical, with a shorter tower on the left side and a taller one on the right. It was built at a cost of $80,000, although it does not seem clear as to whether this was just for the building itself, or the furnishings as well. In either case, these furnishings included a new organ, which was presented to the church by the young people’s society, who purchased it for $7,000, or about $170,000 today.

Dr. Twombly was still the pastor of the church when this building was completed, and he gave brief remarks at the dedication ceremony. However, the keynote speaker of the day was Bishop Matthew Simpson of Philadelphia. He had risen to prominence during the Civil War, giving pro-Union speeches and even serving as a friend and advisor to Abraham Lincoln. He gave a eulogy at Lincoln’s funeral in Springfield, Illinois, and three years later he officiated the wedding of the president’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Here in Westfield, the well-known clergyman spoke for almost two hours to a crowd of about 1,500 people, and the Republican noted that his topics included “the progress and growing power of Christianity,” and that “he believed in building costly churches, and said that one church like the one he stood in did more for good morals than a dozen jails ,or a hundred policemen.”

The first photo shows the church about 15 years later, in the early 1890s. In the foreground of the photo is Park Square, and in the distance on the left side is the Morgan Block, a commercial building that was constructed in the late 1810s. In front of this building, and visible in between the trees of the first photo, is Westfield’s Civil War monument, which was dedicated in 1871 in memory of the 66 Westfield residents who died during the war. Further to the right, in the center of the photo, both the Morgan Block and the monument are dwarfed by the Methodist church, which would stand here as a prominent landmark in downtown Westfield for many years.

The church building remained in use for nearly a century, but it was ultimately demolished in 1967, and a new church was completed on this site a year later. The new building is much shorter than its predecessor, and its modernist architecture bears no resemblance to the Gothic style of the old building, but its design did incorporate several salvaged elements, including chandeliers and a window. Because of its shorter height, the church is barely visible from this angle in the present-day scene. Only the large cross atop the church is noticeable, and it can be seen just to the right of the Morgan Block, which remains largely unaltered since the first photo was taken some 125 years earlier.

Church of the Atonement, Westfield, Mass

The Church of the Atonement, on King Street in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

Westfield’s Episcopal church was established in 1863, and ten years later it became the Church of the Atonement. During its early years, its parishioners worshiped in several temporary locations, including in the Universalist church, but in 1880 the church broke ground on this building here on King Street, just west of Washington Street. The cornerstone was laid on May 15 of that year, in a ceremony that was officiated by Benjamin Henry Paddock, the Bishop of Massachusetts, and the work was completed eleven months later.

The church was first used on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1881. The Springfield Republican, in an article published two days earlier, declared it to be “one of the prettiest specimens of Gothic architecture in the town,” and provided the following description of the building:

The building is of brick with a slate roof, and has a tower at the northeast corner to which it is intended at some future day to add 50 or 75 feet and put in a chime of bells. The main entrance is from the east side of the tower, but admission may also be gained by the door in the wing or vestry leading into the chapel. The church has a seating capacity of 200, and is 70 feet long and 30 feet wide, not including the vestry, 15 by 18 feet. The interior, including casings and ceilings, will be handsomely finished in butternut, while the chancel trimmings and altars are to be of black-walnut. All the windows are of richly-stained glass, and the chancel and nave windows are beautiful specimens of art.

The first photo was taken about a decade later, and it shows the east side of the building, including the short tower at the main entrance. Despite the intentions of the parish, the planned bell tower had not been added by this point, and it would ultimately remain unbuilt, as the present-day photo shows. By the mid-1890s, though, the parish had grown to 50 families, with a total of 250 people, which must have put a strain on the building’s seating capacity of just 200.

The Church of the Atonement remained here in this building into the early 20th century. During this time, the house on the left side of this scene was constructed, evidently as a rectory. However, in 1924 the church moved to its current location at the corner of Court and Pleasant Streets, and sold this King Street property to Westfield’s First Church of Christ, Scientist. This congregation used the church throughout most of the 20th century, and the house was used as a Christian Science reading room.

The Christian Scientists sold the church and house in the early 1990s, and today both buildings are owned by the Christian Church of New Jerusalem. The exterior of the church remains largely unchanged since the first photo was taken, although it is somewhat difficult to tell, because the adjacent house now blocks part of the view of the church from this angle.

60 School Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at 60 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2019:

This house is one of the few Carpenter Gothic-style homes in Springfield. The style was most often seen in rural settings, most famously in Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting, but there were several here in Springfield, including one that still stands at 357 Maple Street. This one here on School Street is somewhat more modest in size, but it features many classic Gothic-style details, including board-and-batten siding on the exterior walls and decorative bargeboards under the eaves.

The history of this house does not appear to be well-documented, but it was probably constructed sometime around the 1860s. By the early 1870s it was owned by Robert O. Morris, a prominent local figure who served for many years as clerk of courts. He owned the property until at least the early 1880s, but he likely did not live here much, if at all. The 1873 city directory lists this house as his address, but by the following year he was living nearby on Temple Street. He listed the house for sale in 1875, with a classified ad in the Springfield Republican that described it as “centrally located, nicely fitted up with the modern improvements. Good water and sewerage.” However, it evidently did not sell, because by the following year he was placing classified ads looking to rent the house.

Morris had several different tenants who lived here over the next few years. In 1876 it was the home of Henry M. Burt, a publisher whose company, H. M. Burt & Co., produced the New England Homestead and the Sunday Telegram. Burt would also go on to write several local history and genealogy books, including The First Century of the History of Springfield, which was published in two volumes in 1898. However, he was only in this house for about a year, because by 1877 he was listed at 15 Oak Street.

By the late 1880s, the house was the home of three sisters: Harriet, Flora, and Mary White. Together, they ran a school here in the house, which was listed as the Misses White’s School. However, this school evidently did not last very long, because both it and the White sisters left here by the early 1890s. Starting around 1893, it was occupied by Wallace M. Burt, a lawyer and real estate agent. He was still living here during the 1900 census, along with his wife Bertha, their two daughters, his parents, and a servant. Wallace had his law offices here, while Bertha ran a dance school here in the house as well. They probably lived here longer than any of the other late 19th century residents, remaining until around 1908, when they moved to Woburn.

The house was subsequently owned by Jeremiah J. Haggerty, a violinist who lived here with his wife Susan. For many years he was the leader of the Court Square Orchestra here in Springfield, and he also taught violin lessons. However, he died of pneumonia in 1919, at the age of 45. Susan remained here at this house, though, and the 1920 census shows here living here with her sister, Mary O’Grady. Like her husband, Susan was also an accomplished musician, and she similarly worked as a music teacher.

Susan was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s. Mary had died in 1935, but another sister, Eleanor O’Grady, was here during the 1940 census. At the time, the home was valued at $10,000 (equivalent to just under $200,000 today), and Susan had evidently retired, although Eleanor was listed as working as a public school teacher. Susan would go on to live here until her death in 1947, and Eleanor was here until at least the early 1950s.

Today, about 80 years after the first photo was taken, the exterior of the house is not dramatically different, aside from the loss of the chimneys. It is now used as the management office for a group of nearby apartment buildings, but it has been well-preserved, and it stands as a good example of residential Gothic architecture. Like the other surrounding buildings in this neighborhood, it is now part of the city’s Lower Maple Local Historic District.

Memorial Church, Springfield, Mass

The Memorial Church, at the corner of Main and Plainfield Streets in Springfield, around 1905. Image from Springfield Present and Prospective (1905).

The church in 2018:

Springfield’s Memorial Church was established in 1865 as a nondenominational Christian church. It was named in honor of “the memory of the deceased ministers of New England,” and, according to one of its early resolutions, it welcomed “to its membership and communion all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, and who agree with it concerning the essential doctrines of the Christian religion, by whatever name they may be called.” Many of its founding members had come from North Congregational Church, but the first pastor was Mark Trafton, a noted Methodist clergyman who had previously served a term in Congress.

The two leaders in establishing the Memorial Church were George M. Atwater and Josiah G. Holland. Both men were prominent Springfield residents; Atwater was a businessman who, a few years later, would establish the city’s streetcar system, and Holland was a nationally-renowned author, poet, and editor. Holland also served as the leader of the choir and the superintendent of the Sunday school, but he left Springfield in 1868 and eventually moved to New York, where he became one of the founders of Scribner’s Monthly.

During its first few years, the church met in a school building, but in 1869 this new building was completed at the corner of Main and Plainfield Streets, in the city’s North End. It was constructed with granite from nearby Monson, with contrasting brownstone trim, and its Gothic Revival design was the work of New York architect Richard Upjohn and his son, Richard Mitchell Upjohn. The elder Upjohn was one of the leading church architects in the United States during the mid-19th century, and his other notable works included Trinity Church in New York City. He had also previously designed George Atwater’s house, Rockrimmon, here in Springfield, which is probably how he ended up with the commission for Atwater’s church. The younger Upjohn was also a successful architect in his own right, and he subsequently designed the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford.

Also in 1869, William T. Eustis was installed as pastor of the church. He had been the pastor of Chapel Street Congregational Church in New Haven since 1848, but he left there in order to accept this position here in Springfield. Eustis would go on to serve as pastor of the Memorial Church for nearly 20 years, until his death in 1888, and during this time the church saw significant growth, with around 350 members and 400 Sunday school students by the mid-1880s. Eustis’s replacement was John L. R. Trask, formerly of the Second Congregational Church in Holyoke, who remained here until his retirement in 1904.

The first photo was taken around the same time that Reverend Trask retired, and it depicts a winter scene, with snow on the ground and even some patches of snow clinging to the steep roof. At the time, the church was situated on the southern end of Round Hill, a roughly triangular-shaped raised ground bounded by Main, Plainfield, and Arch Streets. Although the rest of the North End was largely working class, Round Hill featured several large mansions, one of which is visible in the distance on the right side of the church. Constructed around 1868, this was the first of the houses to be constructed here, and it was originally the home of Dr. William G. Breck, a local physician.

The Memorial Church remained an active congregation here until 1940, when it sold the property to the Church of St. George, a Greek Orthodox parish that had previously worshiped in several other buildings nearby in the North End. This church became the St. George Greek Orthodox Memorial Church, and the interior was remodeled to meet the needs of its new congregation. Only a few years later, in 1944, the rear of the building was severely damaged by a fire, but it was restored by the following year.

Round Hill was all but obliterated by the 1960s, when Interstate 91 was constructed through the area, just to the west of the church. All of the mansions were demolished by then, and most of the hill was leveled to create an interchange with Route 20. The site of the Breck house is now a McDonald’s, and today the church is the only surviving 19th century building on Round Hill. It was nearly vacated in the 1970s, when St. George explored the possibility of relocating to Longmeadow, but the parishioners ultimately voted to remain here. The church was subsequently renamed St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and around the same time it acquired the former Memorial Square Branch Library, which was converted into the Greek Cultural Center. St. George is still here today, and the building stands as an important architectural landmark in Springfield, with few exterior changes since the first photo was taken more than a century ago.