Monson Savings Bank, Monson, Mass

Monson Savings Bank on Main Street, around 1893-1910. Image courtesy of the Monson Free Library.

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The building in 2015:

Monson’s first bank was Monson National Bank, which opened in 1854. It was a commercial bank, so it primarily served the business community in town, rather than on individual checking and savings accounts. So, in 1872, Monson Savings Bank was established, which enabled middle class workers in town to open savings accounts.  The two banks were officially separate, but they shared the same building, and the same vault, counter, tellers.

This arrangement continued until 1893, when this building was completed.  Although still located in the same building, they were separated, with Monson National on the left and Monson Savings on the right.  Monson National merged with the Springfield Safe Deposit and Trust Company, which in turn merged with Shawmut Bank.  Shawmut continued to operate a branch in this building until the 1960s, when Monson Savings Bank acquired the entire building.

Over 120 years after this building was completed, Monson Savings Bank is still here, although the building itself has undergone dramatic changes.  The two upper floors were removed at some point, and in the 1960s the front facade was completely rebuilt.  Another renovation in 1985 added office space in the back and a drive-up teller window to the left, so today the only surviving parts of the original exterior are the walls on the left and right.

Main & Court Streets, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Main Street in Springfield, toward Court Street, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated (1882).


Main Street in 2014:


This scene is similar to the view in this post, except this one shows the view further down Main Street.  The building in the foreground is the home of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank, which is still there today, although its Main Street facade has been completely replaced.  However, the arches over the windows on the Court Street side clearly show that it is the same building.  Further down Main Street in the 1882 photo is the home office of the Springfield Republican, and beyond that is the Mass Mutual Building.

The commercial block furthest from the camera is the Union Block, which is seen in this post from the other side.  Two thirds of this building still exists today, although it is hard to see it in the shadows of the 2014 photo.  Finally, the steeple of the First Baptist Church, which can be seen more clearly in this post.  The church was built in 1847 and demolished in 1888, and today its former location is now Harrison Avenue where it intersects with Main Street.

Turnverein Block, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Co-Operative Bank building at 81 State Street, Springfield, Mass, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of Springfield Preservation Trust.


The building in 2014:


This building at 81 State Street was built in 1888 as the home of the Turnverein Society, a German-American social club.  In the 1920s, the façade was renovated in line with contemporary styles, although the rest of the building reveals the earlier architectural design.  By the time the first photo was taken, it was Springfield Co-Operative Bank, and the building continued to be used as a bank until at least the 1980s.  Today, the building is within the footprint of the planned MGM Springfield casino, and will be demolished, along with the tall annex to 1200 Main Street, which is seen directly behind the Turnverein Block.

Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank, Springfield, Mass

The view looking from Court Square toward the corner of Main and Court Streets, around 1878-1885. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library.


The scene in 2014:


The ornate building in the center of the first photo is the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank, which was built in 1876 at the corner of Main and Court Streets, diagonally across from Court Square.  The building is still there, although the Main Street facade was completely renovated at some point in the past 50 years or so.  However, the Court Street (today Falcons Way) facade is still largely intact, and reveals the fact that this building is not just another nondescript mid-20th century commercial building in the city.

Next to the Five Cents Savings Bank building in the first photo is the 1878 Republican Block, which was the home of the Springfield Republican newspaper.  I don’t know what happened to the building, but it apparently isn’t there anymore, unless it was renovated even more than its neighbor was.

Corner of Main & Hillman Streets, Springfield, Mass

The southeast corner of Main and Hillman Streets in Springfield, around the 1870s or 1880s. Photo courtesy of the New York Public Library.


The scene in 2014:


Nothing from the first photo still exists today; even the street network has changed.  The corner of Main and Hillman technically doesn’t exist anymore – Hillman Street now ends a block away from Main Street, and the rest is now a pedestrian walkway along one side of Center Square.  Further down the street, the church building is on the site of what is now the corner of Main and Harrison – this intersection was moved so that Harrison and present-day Boland Way were directly across from each other on Main Street.

There are a few notable buildings visible in the first photo, including the Third National Bank Building in the foreground.  This ornate building was the home of the bank, but the upper floors were the Evans House hotel, which was described in the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield as “the leading family hotel” and a “convenient, pleasant, and home-like hotel.” Today, neither the hotel, nor the bank, nor the building itself still exist, although the site is still used for banking, with TD Bank now occupying the site.

Further down the street in the first photo is First Baptist Church.  The congregation was established in 1811, and met in several different locations around the city before moving to the Main Street site and constructing the church building in 1847.  However, as the downtown area became more developed, property along Main Street became valuable commercial space, and in 1888 the church was sold and replaced by a commercial building, which can be seen in the center of this post, taken facing the opposite direction.

Springfield Institution for Savings, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Institution for Savings building on Elm Street in Springfield, around 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The site in 2014:


The first photo shows the former home of the Springfield Institution for Savings, one of Springfield’s first banks.  Today, the building no longer exists, and neither does the company.  SIS is now part of TD Bank, and the site of the building is now part of the Hampden County Courthouse.  Even the street that the bank was once on, Elm Street, no longer really exists.  It used to extend from Main Street to present-day East Columbus Avenue, but the construction of the new courthouse in the 1970s caused the street to be truncated, and today it is a street in name only, as the section along Court Square is gated off, and the section next to Old First Church is essentially a parking lot for courthouse employees.

What really interested me in this picture, though, is the car parked outside.  Here is a close-up of it:


Along with giving us a clue as to the date (the license plate appears to read “1910”), it also shows an intriguing and long-forgotten part of Springfield history.  The car was made by Springfield-based Knox Automobile Company, who made cars in the city from 1900 until 1914, and trucks until 1924.  Their factory was on Wilbraham Road in the Mason Square neighborhood, right across the street from the Indian Motorcycle factory.  The Knox building is still there, although it is in pretty rough shape and was included in the 2014 list of Springfield’s most endangered buildings.

I am fairly certain that the car in the photo is a 1909 Model “O,” although I am no expert on early 20th century automobiles, so if someone more knowledgeable than me knows otherwise, let me know. Assuming it was a Model “O,” though, it would’ve been $3,000 car 1909.  Adjusted for inflation, that would be over $75,000 in 2014 dollars, so the owner would’ve been a fairly wealthy person.  Today, though, cars don’t look like that, as the pickup truck and station wagon bear witness to in the 2014 photo.  However, at least one 1909 Knox Model “O” still exists today; this article explains the process of restoring the car and includes plenty of post-restoration photos.