Hartford Library, Hartford, Vermont

The Hartford  Library on Main Street (now named Maple Street) in Hartford, around 1900. Image from The Old and the New.

The building in 2018:

This Queen Anne-style library building was constructed in 1893, in the center of the village of Hartford. It was built thanks to the efforts of several prominent locals, including Horace and Seraph Pease, who donated a parcel of land adjacent to their home, and Ephraim Morris, a woolen manufacturer who gave $5,000 to construct it.

The library was dedicated on September 16, 1893, in a ceremony that included remarks by former governor and Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Samuel E. Pingree. He was a Hartford resident and one of the founders of the library, and he also served on its board of trustees. His comments were followed by the keynote speaker, Dartmouth College President William Tucker, who spoke on “Uses of a Library.”

Upon completion, the library consisted of a reading room on the first floor, and a lecture room, known as Library Hall, on the second floor. At the time, it had about 2,000 books in its collections, but by the early 20th century it had grown to some 4,000. A total of 4,503 books were checked out from the library in 1908, and during its first 15 years in operation the library served 1,550 different patrons here.

The first photo was taken around this time, but very little has changed here in this scene more than a century later. It remains in use as a public library, with around 17,000 items in its collections today, and it is now one of four libraries in the town of Hartford. The exterior of the building has remained well-preserved throughout this time, and in 1994 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Four years later, it also became a part of the Hartford Village Historic District, which encompasses many of the buildings here in the traditional town center of Hartford.

 

Sunnyacre, Hartford, Vermont

The house at the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets (present-day Maple and Elks Streets) in Hartford, around 1900. Image from The Old and the New.

The house in 2018:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884 as the home of Horace Pease, a member of one of the most prominent families in Hartford during the late 19th century. His father, Luther Pease, had owned the original Pease Hotel here in the village for many years, and he was also a merchant who sold hardware, paints, tinware, stoves, and other such items out of his store nearby.

Horace Pease was born in 1844, and over the years he was involved in a number of different business in the area. He was a partner in the manufacturing firm of French, Watson & Co., which produced farming tools such as pitchforks, rakes, shovels, and spades, and he was also the president of the Ottauquechee Woolen Company. In addition, he served variously as town treasurer, town auditor, and a justice of the peace, and he was the secretary and treasurer of the Hartford Water Works, with his wife Seraph serving as president.

Horace and Seraph Pease were married in 1877, and in 1884 they moved into this newly-built house in the center of Hartford. This lot had been the site of an earlier house that was built here in 1801, but when Horace purchased the property he relocated it to Summer Street and constructed his own house here. He and Seraph subsequently lived here for the rest of their lives, until her death in 1929 and his death three years later.

With no surviving children, Horace’s nephew Charles W. Pease inherited the property, and the house remained in the family for a few more years until it was sold in 1938. Then, in 1945 the house was sold to the Hartford Elks Club, and it was used as the club’s lodge for the rest of the 20th century. During this time, it underwent a significant expansion with an addition to the rear of the building, as shown on the far right side of the second photo.

The Elks chapter has since disbanded, but their sign was still standing when the photo was taken in December 2018. Aside from the addition, the exterior of the house has seen other changes over the years. Many of the original Victorian-era details are now gone, along with the shutters, and the house is now covered in siding. Overall, though, it is still an architecturally-significant feature in the center of Hartford, and in 2018 the 11,000-square-foot building was eyed as the new home of the Hartford Historical Society. However, the organization was unable to raise the necessary funds, and the property has since been sold to a church for use as a community center.

Brown Block and Elks Block, Bellows Falls, Vermont

The buildings at the northeast corner of the Square in Bellows Falls, around 1890-1905. Image courtesy of the Rockingham Free Public Library.

The scene in 2018:

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, downtown Bellows Falls suffered a series of devastating fires, many of which were located here at the Square. Many large brick buildings here, including the nearby Hotel Windham and the town hall on the other side of the street, have burned over the years. Ironically, though, the three wood-frame buildings visible in this scene have survived these fires, and they are still standing at the northeast corner of the Square, well over a century after they were built.

On the far left is the corner of a three-story commercial block that was built around 1820 and extensively modified in 1890. By the turn of the 20th century, around the time that the first photo was taken, it was the home of Baldasaro’s Fruit Market. Just to the right of this building is the Exner Block, which is partially visible in this scene at 7-25 Canal Street. Built around the mid-19th century, it originally had two stories as shown in the first photo, but in 1905-1907 it altered and expanded to its current appearance.

The third wood-frame building here is the Brown Block, which occupies most of the left side of these photos. It was built in 1890 at 1-5 Canal Street, and it was originally owned by Amos Brown. It features distinctive Queen Anne-style architecture, which is uncommon for commercial buildings in Bellows Falls, including a turret on the right side of the building.

The Brown Block was heavily damaged by a fire that occurred here in the early morning hours of Christmas 1906. At the time, the building was occupied by a number of commercial tenants, including a fruit store, bakery, lunch room, a boot and shoe store, a cigar shop and restaurant, and a barber shop. In addition, there were several residents living in apartments on the upper floors. The fire gutted the Brown Block, but there was no loss of life, and the building was ultimately repaired.

Just to the right of the Brown Block is the Elks Block, which was built in the late 1880s or 1890s. By the time the first photo was taken it had a variety of tenants, as shown by the assortment of signs on the front of the building. These included a restaurant, a boot and shoe store, a drugstore, and a photographic studio. However, like its neighbor, this building would also be damaged by a fire. It was one of several buildings that burned on March 26, 1912, in the same fire that also destroyed the Hotel Windham. The building was gutted and the roof was destroyed, but it was subsequently rebuilt.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, this scene still looks largely the same. The exterior of the Brown Block is particularly well-preserved, and even the ground-floor storefront has retained its original appearance. The two lower floors of the Elks Block also look the same today, although the ornate cornice at the top of the building is gone, having been replaced after the 1912 fire. The exterior of the third floor was also probably rebuilt after the fire, which would explain why the bricks are a different shade than the lower floors. Aside from the Brown Block and Elks Block, the other two buildings in this scene are also still standing today, and all four properties are now part of the Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

James A. Lakin House, Westfield, Mass

The house at 91 Court Street in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The house in 2018:

The first photo shows a large Queen Anne-style house that once stood here on the north side of Court Street, near the corner of Chestnut Street. It was constructed at some point in the late 1880s or early 1890s, and it was originally owned by James A. Lakin, a prominent local businessman and politician. Lakin was born in Boston, but came to Westfield after the Civil War and lived here for the rest of his life. He had previously lived in a house at 9 Pearl Street, but he had moved into this new, much larger house by the time the first photo was taken.

Lakin was a jeweler for many years, before becoming involved in a number of other businesses here in Westfield. He was a freemason, and he was involved in several Masonic organizations, including serving as the secretary of the Masonic Fraternal Accident Association of America, and president of the National Masonic Aid Association. In addition, he was the president of both the Woronoco Street Railway Company and the American Casket Hardware Company, and vice president of the Woronoco Savings Bank. Aside from his business interests, Lakin was also involved in state and local politics. He was elected to two terms in the state legislature in 1890 and 1891, and in the mid 1890s he served on the staff of Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge, holding the rank of colonel as an assistant adjutant general.

Lakin died in 1898 at the age of 57, leaving his wife Addie and their four children. The rest of the family evidently moved out of this house shortly after his death, because by the 1900 census they were again living in the house at 9 Pearl Street. In the meantime, this house on Court Street was sold to Thomas M. Hazelton, who lived here until hos own death in 1905. Hazelton’s wife continued to live here for several more years, but around 1909 she sold the property to Frederick L. Parker, an employee of the United States Whip Company.

Parker purchased this house around the same time as his marriage to his wife Mary. They were both about 35 years old at the time, and they spent their honeymoon in Enterprise, Florida and in Cuba, before returning to Westfield and moving into this house during the spring of 1909. Parker subsequently became president of the United States Whip Company in 1912, taking control of what was, at the time, the world’s largest whip manufacturer. By this point, the whip industry – which had formed such a large part of Westfield’s economy – was in decline, with the rise of automobiles eliminating the need for buggy whips. However, the company outlasted most of Westfield’s other whip manufacturers, and Parker remained its president until his death in 1951.

Around 1928, Frederick and Mary Parker drastically altered the appearance of their house, as shown in the present-day photo. The ornate Queen Anne-style details were removed, including the tower and the circular porch, and the exterior was remodeled with a very different French Eclectic-style design. As a result, the house now bears little resemblance to its appearance in the first photo. However, the interior of the house remained largely unchanged after the renovation, and today it still retains its original Victorian-era features.

During the 1930 census, the newly-remodeled house was valued at $50,000, equivalent to nearly $800,000 today, and the Parkers were living here alone except for a servant. A decade later, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, its value had dropped to just $20,000, but by this point the Parkers employed two live-in servants, whom they paid $572 and $780 in yearly salaries. This was fairly typical income for domestic servants of the period, equivalent to about $10,600 and $14,500 today, respectively.

Frederick Parker lived here until his death in 1951, at the age of 77. He left an estate that was valued at more than $1.3 million, or about $13 million today, and in his will he made a number of bequests to local charities. In addition, he left $250 to every employee who had worked at the United States Whip Company within the past two years. He left the bulk of his estate to his widow Mary, but she evidently had a sizable amount of property in her own name. She died a year later in 1952, and her estate was valued at over $7.2 million, more than $70 million today, which was described in the Springfield Union as one of the largest estates ever filed with the county’s registry of probate.

In 1953, the house here on Court Street – which had been valued at $24,000 after Mary’s death – was sold to Frederick’s cousin, Lewis C. Parker, Jr. He had recently become the vice president and treasurer of White Industries, a Westfield-based greeting card and stationery company, and he had previously served as city council president, the same position that his cousin Frederick had once held. He went on to live here until around the early 1970s, and the property has changed hands several more times since then.

Today, this house is still standing here. Although heavily altered from its original appearance, its current design has become historic in its own right, and it is a relatively unusual example of French Eclectic architecture here in Westfield. With these changes, almost nothing remains from the first photo, but perhaps the only exception is the low granite retaining wall along the sidewalk, and the short posts on either side of the driveway. These were evidently added when James A. Lakin built the first house, and they are still here more than 125 years later.

Special thanks to current homeowner Donald Bazzurro for providing the information on the house’s 1928 transformation.

Orrin L. Cowles House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 108 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2018:

This house was built around 1886, and it was originally owned by Orrin L. Cowles, an insurance agent who worked for the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. This company was based out of Newark, New Jersey, but Cowles was the general agent for their Springfield office. Cowles had previously lived on Jefferson Avenue in the city’s North End, but in 1886 he purchased this property from John D. McKnight, a real estate developer who was best known for creating the McKnight neighborhood about a mile to the east of here. This house, with its Queen Anne-style architecture, bears a strong resemblance to the many of the homes that were built in McKnight during this same period.

The 1900 census shows Orrin Cowles living here with his wife Harriet, their 26-year-old daughter Carolyn M. Rice, her five-year-old son Robert C. Rice, and a servant. Carolyn was listed as married on the census, but her husband was not living here, and subsequent censuses list her as divorced, so she and her husband were probably separated by this point. The four family members were still living here a decade later during the 1910 census, and Orrin was still working for the same insurance company, but he died the following year, at the age of 71.

Both Harriet and Carolyn continued to live in this house for the rest of their lives. Carolyn died in 1934, at the age of 61, and her funeral was held here in the house, with Rev. James Gordon Gilkey of South Congregational Church officiating the ceremony. Her mother Harriet outlived her by about five years, before her own death in 1939, around the same time that the first photo was taken.

The 1939 city directory shows that, by this point, Robert Rice had returned here to his childhood home, perhaps in order to care for his aging grandmother. After she died, he inherited the property, and the 1940 census lists him here with his wife Marie. No occupation is given for Robert in the census, and it notes that he did not earn any income during the previous year, but he is consistently listed as an author in city directories of the 1940s and 1950s.

Robert Rice lived in this house until around 1963, when he finally sold it more than 75 years after his grandfather had purchased it from John McKnight. He then moved to an apartment nearby at 286 Union Street, where he lived until his death in 1975 at the age of 81. In the meantime, at some point during the mid-20th century the exterior of this house was covered in shingles, obscuring many of the Victorian-era details that are evident in the first photo. Part of the front porch was also removed, and the rest of it was altered with the replacement of the original balustrade and columns. However, the house is still standing, unlike its former neighbor to the right at 102 School Street, and it is now part of the city’s Ridgewood Local Historic District.

National Savings and Trust Company Building, Washington, DC

The northeast corner of New York Avenue and 15th Street NW in Washington, DC, around 1910-1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The origins of the National Savings and Trust Company date back to 1867, when Congress chartered the National Safe Deposit Company. It was located in an earlier building here at this corner, and it housed safe deposit boxes for Washington residents to store their valuables, at a time when this type of service was still a relatively new concept. Three years later, this company was joined by the National Savings Bank, which was located in the same building.

The two companies enjoyed a prominent location, diagonally across from the Treasury Building and only a block away from the White House, and in 1888, they moved into a new building here on this site, as shown in the first photo. It was built in brick, was five stories in height, and it originally extended 130 feet along 15th Street to the left, and 65 feet along New York Avenue to the right. It featured a Queen Anne-style design, with a distinctive clock and cupola atop the corner, and it was the work of noted Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim.

In 1890, the two companies merged to form the National Safe Deposit, Savings and Trust Company, which was later simplified to the National Savings and Trust Company in 1907. As the name was getting shorter, though, the bank was continuing to grow. In 1911, probably soon after the first photo was taken, the bank purchased the adjacent Lenman Building, seen on the right side of the scene. It was subsequently demolished, and in 1916 the bank built a 50-foot addition on the site, followed by another 50-foot addition in 1925. However, these 20th century additions featured the same architectural style and building materials as the original building, so the three sections are nearly indistinguishable from each other.

The expanded building would continue to serve as the headquarters of the National Savings and Trust Company throughout the 20th century, although in 1987 it changed its name to Crestar Bank. The company has since been acquired by SunTrust Bank, but this building remains in use as a branch of SunTrust, more than 130 years after it first opened its doors to banking customers. Overall, aside from the early 20th century additions, the appearance of the building has not changed much during this time, and in 1972 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.