18-20 School Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at 18-20 School Street, at the corner of Temple Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

This two-family, Second Empire-style home was constructed sometime around the 1860s, probably about the same time as an architecturally-similar house on nearby High Street. It appears on the 1870 city map, which shows Roderick Burt as the owner of the left side, and Charles W. Clark on the right. Both men had stores on Main Street, with Burt selling books, while Clark sold stationery. However, they apparently did not live here for very long, because by late 1870 they both resided in a house on Union Street.

The 1880 census shows that the left side, at 20 School Street, was the home of real estate agent Justin D. Parks, who lived here with his wife Hattie, their two children, his sister Lilla, and a servant. On the right side, at 18 School Street, was electrotyper Charles Van Vlack, his wife Mary, plus a son, three nieces, and a servant. Both of these families had also short stays here, though, because by the mid-1880s they were both living elsewhere.

Subsequent residents here included city auditor George H. Deane, who lived at 18 School Street in the late 1880s. However, by the 1890s both halves of the property had evidently been converted into boarding houses. According to city directories of this period, many of the boarders were railroad employees, but they also included Thomas M. Balliet, who lived here in 1892 and 1893. At the time, he was the superintendent of schools, and he later became the namesake of an elementary school and a middle school in the Pine Point neighborhood.

The 1900 census shows a total of 26 residents in this building. Most of the boarders were single young women, although there were several married couples here as well. Six of the residents were teachers, four were salespeople, three were bookkeepers, and other occupations included a tailor, a machinist, a jeweler, and a proofreader.

By the time the first photo was taken nearly 40 years later, the building was still in use as a boarding house. Its tenants still held a wide range of working-class jobs, with the 1940 census showing several teachers and clerks, plus a foreman, a watchman, a bartender, a bricklayer, and a machinist. Most of their salaries were around $1,000 per year (a little under $19,000 today), but they ranged from the bartender, who made just $276 in the previous year, to an art teacher, who made $2,408.

This house was still standing here until at least the late 1970s, but it was evidently demolished by the early 1980s. The lot has remained vacant ever since, along with the neighboring land to the right at 14 School Street. Both are now owned by Open Pantry Community Services, and the corner lot appears to be in use as a community garden, as shown in the 2018 photo.

Albert T. Folsom House, Springfield, Mass

The building at 60-62 High Street, near the corner of School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The building in 2018:

This wooden Second Empire-style two-family home was constructed around 1869, and it was originally owned by Albert T. Folsom, who lived in the unit on the right at 62 High Street. Folsom was a prominent Springfield resident who served as city clerk and treasurer from 1862 until 1887, and as a state representative from 1897 to 1899. In addition, he was a director of the Second National Bank for 20 years, including six years as president. He lived here from about 1869 until his death in 1909, and he and his wife Mary raised their four children in this house.

The left side of the house, at 60 High Street, had several different residents during Folsom’s time here. The longest of these appears to have been George I. Hodskins, a clerk who ran the linen department in the dry goods firm of Smith & Murray. The 1880 census shows him living here with his wife Nancy, their daughter Georgia, and two boarders, and he continued to live here throughout the rest of his life, until his death in 1903 at the age of 70.

By 1910, Mary Folsom was still living here at 62 High Street, along with her son Robert, a servant, and two roomers. She owned the entire building, and rented the other half to William E. Davis, a physician who lived here with his wife Louisa and a roomer. Mary continued to live here for several more years, but by 1915 she was living two buildings away, in an apartment block at 52 High Street. Her old house here at 60-62 High Street subsequently became a rooming house, with the 1920 census showing ten roomers living here, including a chauffeur, several machinists, and a foreman in an auto factory.

The first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and by this point the building was owned by Oscar Fine, a Russian immigrant who ran a grocery store on the ground floor of the building. He and his wife Ruth were living here with their children Shirley and Harold, and he also rented space here to three other families, two of whom sublet their units to roomers. The 1940 census shows a total of 18 residents living here, including the Fine family, and they generally held low-wage jobs, including a waitress, seamstress, maid, painter, and laborer.

Today, some 80 years after the first photo was taken, the exterior of the building is not significantly different, aside from some alterations to the storefront, and it is now part of the Lower Maple Local Historic District. Most of the windows had been boarded up in the recent past, but by the time the second photo was taken these had been removed, and the building received a new coat of paint. However, most of the building appears to still be vacant, with a number of “No Trespassing” signs posted on the property.

Raleigh Hotel, Washington, DC

The Raleigh Hotel, at the corner of 12th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The new Raleigh Hotel, around 1911-1925. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The Second Empire-style building in the first photo was constructed in 1875-1876 as the Shepherd Centennial Building, an office building whose early tenants included the U.S. Pension Bureau and the Palais Royal department store. However, in 1893-1894 the building was renovated and converted into the Raleigh Hotel, which would become one of the finest hotels in Washington at the turn of the 20th century.

The original building was expanded in 1898 with a large addition to the rear, along 12th Street. As shown in the first photo, the 12-story addition dwarfed the older part of the hotel, and it featured a Beaux-Arts style exterior that was designed by noted architect Henry J. Hardenbergh. One of the leading hotel architects of the era, Hardenbergh’s other works included the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, and the nearby Willard Hotel here in Washington.

Sometime around 1910, the hotel owners acquired the small three-story commercial block on the right side of the hotel, which bore advertisements for a photo studio and cigar shop in the first photo. This allowed the hotel to further expand onto this lot, and by 1911 the original section of the hotel was demolished and replaced by a new 13-story building, as shown in the second photo. Also designed by Hardenbergh, its architecture matched the 1898 addition, although it stood several stories higher. Prior to 1910, buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue had been limited to 130 feet in height, but Congress raised the height limit to 160 feet, in order to accommodate the construction of the new Raleigh Hotel.

The Raleigh Hotel would continue to be one of Washington’s finest hotels throughout the first half of the 20th century. It was starting to show its age by the 1930s, when newer establishments such as the Mayflower Hotel began to eclipse it, but the Raleigh underwent a major renovation in the middle of the decade. It would remain competitive into the postwar era, but it entered a decline in the 1950s. During this time, aging downtown hotels across the country were struggling, and the Raleigh was no exception here in Washington. It finally closed in 1963, its furnishings were sold off, and it was demolished a year later. Its replacement, a 14-story office building at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, was completed in 1968, and it still stands on the site today.

68-76 Elliot Street, Springfield, Mass

The houses at 68 and 76 Elliot Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These two houses were both constructed in 1871, and although they were originally separate buildings, they have since been joined by a one-story walkway that is partially visible in both photos. The house on the left, at 68 Elliot Street, was the work of local architect James M. Currier, and it is perhaps the finest surviving Gothic-style house in the city. It was originally the home of Warner F. Sturtevant, a merchant who was a partner in the wholesale grocery firm of Downing & Sturtevant. The 1880 census shows him living here with his wife Julia and their three children, along with two servants.

In the meantime, the house on the right, at 76 Elliot Street, was built around the same time, but with a somewhat different architectural style. Designed by the firm of Perkins and Gardner, it had some Gothic-style details, such as the steeply-pointed dormer windows, but it also featured a Second Empire-style mansard roof. The original owner of the house was William L. Wilcox, a stove manufacturer and dealer. The 1875 city directory includes an advertisement for his business, W. L. Wilcox & Co., which was located at 140 State Street and was described as “Manufacturers and Dealers in Stoves, Ranges and Furnaces, Iron Sinks, Farmers’ Boilers, Refrigerators, and Housekeeping Goods generally. Dealers in the celebrated Richmond Range and Vindicator Cook Stove, Hydraulic Cement Drain and Sewer Tubing, all sizes.” During the 1880 census, he was living here with his wife Emma, their daughter, and a servant.

Both families continued to live in these houses for many years. William L. Wilcox died in 1890, but the other members of both families were still here during the 1900 census. By this point, Warner F. Sturtevant was still a wholesale grocer, this time with the firm of Sturtevant, Merrick & Co., and he was living here with Julia, two daughters, a granddaughter, and two servants. On the right, the widowed Emma was 67 years old, and she lived here with her daughter, E. Lillian Kirkham, and Lillian’s husband J. Stuart Kirkham. Stuart had evidently taken over his father-in-law’s business, because he was a stove merchant of the firm of Whitcomb, Kirkham & Gray, which was located at the same address at 140 State Street.

Emma Wilcox died later in 1900, and both families appear to have moved out of these houses by 1902. The Sturtevants subsequently moved into a house in the McKnight neighborhood, at 1064 Worthington Street, and the Kirkhams moved to Forest Park, to a new house at 107 Maplewood Terrace. Around the same time, these two houses were acquired by the Diocese of Springfield. They were adjacent to the church property, which by this point had grown to include St. Joseph’s Normal School, St. Michael’s School, a high school, a rectory, St. Luke’s Sanitarium, and St. Michael’s Cathedral, all on the south side of Elliot Street between here and State Street. The former Wilcox house on the right was converted into the diocesan chancery, while the Sturtevant house became the residence of the bishop.

The first to occupy the house was Thomas D. Beaven, who served as bishop from 1892 until 1920. At some point during his time here, he added the walkway between the two houses. Otherwise, though, the exteriors appear to have undergone few changes in the early 20th century. By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, 68 Elliot Street was the home of Beaven’s successor, Thomas M. O’Leary, who served from 1921 until 1949. The house still had its Gothic-style ornamentation at the time, although some of this would be lost later in the 20th century.

Today, these two buildings remain in use as the bishop’s residence and the chancery office. Aside from losing some of the exterior details, there have been some minor changes to 68 Elliot Street, including the enclosed porch on the left side. Overall, though, the building have remained well-preserved, and they are contributing properties in the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

50-52 Mattoon Street, Springfield, Mass (2)

The twin houses at 50-52 Mattoon Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

These two adjoining houses at 50 (left) and 52 (right) Mattoon Street in Springfield were previously featured in an earlier post, which shows the properties from a different angle. As discussed in that post, these houses were built around 1872-1873, and they were among the first of the Victorian-era townhouses to be built here on Mattoon Street. These early houses tend to have the finest architecture, as the Panic of 1873 – and subsequent economic recession – curtailed development on the street and led to less expensive, less ornate houses during the later 1870s.

The house in the foreground, at 52 Mattoon Street, was originally the home of furniture dealer Julius A. Eldridge and his wife Catherine. However, they were evidently not here for very long, because by 1880 it was owned by Henry W. Chapin, a patent solicitor of the firm of Chapin & Co. That year’s census shows him living here with his wife Sarah, along with three daughters and a son, William, who worked for his father’s company. The census also indicates that their neighbor at 50 Mattoon Street was Charles P. Lyman, a veterinary surgeon who lived here with his wife Mary, three young children, and two servants.

The large townhouses on Mattoon Street had been built as single-family homes, and were generally used as such for the first few decades. However, this began to change by the turn of the 20th century, as the street became more middle class. Both 50 and 52 Mattoon were still single-family homes at this point, but many of the neighboring ones had already been converted into rooming houses. The 1900 census shows Horace Eddy renting 52 Mattoon, where he lived with his wife Martha, their son Arthur, and Arthur’s wife Florence and son Lawrence. Their neighbor at 50 Mattoon was Thomas Keating, an Irish-born machinist for Gilbert & Barker, and he lived here with his wife Margaret and their three children.

By the time the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, many of the houses on the street had become rooming houses, including both of these properties. The 1940 census shows that 52 Mattoon was rented by Alice LeBlanc, who in turn rented rooms to 11 lodgers here. At the same time, 50 Mattoon was owned by Lester Hammond, a city policeman whose wife Fannie was listed as a rooming house proprietor. There were only two lodgers staying here during the census, although they likely would have had room for many more, as indicated by the number of people living next door.

Mattoon Street would continue its decline into the second half of the 20th century, and by the early 1970s most of the houses were in poor condition. The state’s MACRIS database listing for 52 Mattoon, which was written in 1971, notes that the house “is the only existing structure on the street to be rehabilitated and stands as an example of excellence for other owners to strive for.” Three years later, the street became part of the Quadrangle-Mattoon Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and over time the other historic houses have been restored. Today, there is very little difference between these two photos, and Mattoon Street survives as one of the best-preserved historic streets in Springfield.

Pelham Street, Newport, Rhode Island

Looking east on Pelham Street, toward the corner of Spring Street in Newport, around the early 1880s. Image courtesy of the Providence Public Library.

The scene in 2017:

These photos show the same scene as those in an earlier post, just from the opposite view along Pelham Street. Here, a mix of 18th and 19th century homes line either side of the narrow street, with the United Congregational Church standing in the distance at the corner of Spring Street. Probably the oldest of these is the Langley-King House, which is partially visible on the extreme left of the photo. It was built around 1710, expanded around the mid-18th century, and eventually restored in the early 1970s. Next to it is the three-story John Gidley House, which was built around 1744, and further in the distance are several other homes that date to around the 18th century.

On the right side of the street, probably the newest house in the first photo is the Anthony Stewart, Jr. House. It was built around the 1860s or early 1870s, and its Victorian-era Mansard roof and bay windows stand in sharp contrast to the colonial-era buildings all around it. Its neighbor to the right, the c.1804 Jonathan Bowen House, also features a Mansard roof, although this was evidently added at some point after the first photo was taken. Further in the distance on the right is the small gambrel-roofed Lucina Langley House, which was built sometime before 1771 and still stands at 43 Pelham Street. However, its neighbor to the left, at the corner of Spring Street, was demolished sometime soon after the first photo was taken, and was replaced by the present-day William M. Austin House in 1883.

Perhaps the most historically significant building in this scene is the United Congregational Church. This Romanesque Revival-style brownstone church was completed in 1857, and was the work of noted New York architect Joseph C. Wells. At the time, the interior was largely plain, in keeping with the Puritan traditions of the Congregational Church, but this changed in 1880, when the prominent artist John La Farge was commissioned to redesign the interior. His only restriction was that he could not include illustrations of figures, or any Christian symbols, as these could be seen as violations of the second commandment’s prohibition of graven images. As a result, La Farge drew heavily upon Byzantine and even Islamic tradition, incorporating intricate geometric patterns and other abstract designs into his work. This ultimately included 20 stained glass windows, along with a number of murals on the walls and ceiling, and it was completed shortly before the first photo was taken.

Today, more than 130 years after the first photo was taken, remarkably little has changed in this scene. All of the houses are still here, except for the one on the right at the corner of Spring Street, and the church is also still standing. It is now partially hidden by trees and by the Austin House, but the only significant change is the loss of the pyramidal roofs atop the towers, which were destroyed in the 1938 hurricane and were never replaced. All of the buildings in this scene are now part of the Newport Historic District, a National Historic Landmark district that was created in 1968. However, the United Congregational Church was also individually designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012, in recognition of La Farge’s interior design of the building.