Springfield Rescue Mission, Springfield Mass

The former WCA boarding house at 19 Bliss Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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The building at 19 Bliss Street has had a variety of roles over the years.  It was built in 1884, as a boarding house for the Women’s Christian Association.  As Springfield’s population and economy grew in the late 19th century, so did the demand for workers.  The WCA provided a place for young, single women to live while working in the city, and this building served that purpose until the larger YWCA building was completed a block away on Howard Street in 1907.  The old building was then used as a private boarding house for many years, as seen in the first photo.  In 1962, the Springfield Rescue Mission acquired the building, and it has been used by them ever since.  There have been a few changes over the years, the most obvious of which is the removal of the front porch; the “shadow” of the porch can still be seen on the front of the building.  Another fairly recent change was the installation of new windows, which required some brick infilling of the window openings; this can be seen the clearest with the windows on the far left side.  It wasn’t planned this way, but notice how the cars in both photos are in essentially the same locations, representing changes in automobiles over the course of three quarters of a century.  Also of note is the tree in the foreground, which appears to be the same tree that was there in the first photo.

However, the historic building sits literally right in the middle of the planned MGM casino, so it is among the buildings that will be demolished.  In exchange for the building, MGM purchased a new location for the Rescue Mission, the former Orr Cadillac dealership on Mill Street, which will allow the organization to expand from 40 to 60 beds.  Currently, the Bliss Street property scheduled to be the last to be demolished, sometime in December of 2015.

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.

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The building in 2014:

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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.

Nayasset Club, Springfield, Mass

The Nayasset Club on State Street in Springfield, opposite the Hampden County Courthouse, around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield, Massachusetts (1910).

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The same location in 2014:

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I previously mentioned the Nayasset Club in this post, where the club’s building can be seen on the right-hand side of State Street.  Here, the full building can be seen in the first photo, and it appears to have been completed right around the time when the photo was taken.  I don’t know what became of the club, but the building is now a parking lot, and soon this site will be developed as an MGM casino.

State Street, Springfield, Mass

State Street in Springfield, around 1910-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).

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State Street in 2014:

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It will be interesting to do another “now” photo in a couple years, because this scene will be changing soon.  Taken looking east on State Street from in front of the Hampden County Hall of Justice, this scene shows several buildings that will be demolished or substantially altered when the casino is built.  The building on the right-hand side of the 2014 photo is the United Electric Company building, which had just been built shortly before the first photo was taken, and will be (mostly) demolished in the near future, with the casino retaining only the facade.  A few other buildings along State Street will also either be demolished or have just he facade saved.

Other buildings in the photos include the Court Square Hotel, which extends across the block from Elm Street to State Street, and the Nayasset Club building, on the far right of the first photo.  The Nayasset Club was a social organization that at the time included many of Springfield’s prominent citizens.  The building is now gone, and in its place is a parking lot across from the old Hampden County Courthouse, which is barely visible on the left-hand side of the 2014 photo.

YWCA Building, Springfield, Mass

The YWCA building on Howard Street in Springfield, around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield (1910).

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The building in 2014:

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The building’s appearance hasn’t changed much over the past century, but its use has.  It was built in 1907 as a residential building for the YWCA, after the organization moved from its old location a block away on Bliss Street.  It continued to be used by the YWCA until at least the 1980s, but today it is the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center, a minimum security facility for alcohol-related offenders.  However, it probably won’t be for long – Howard Street is right in the middle of the planned casino development, so the days appear to be numbered for the historic building.

Springfield Women’s Club, Springfield, Mass

The Springfield Women’s Club building at the corner of Spring Street and Frost Street, around 1906-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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The first photo was taken around the time that the Springfield Women’s Club building opened on Frost Street.  A few changes have been made to the building over the years, including the addition of five windows on the Spring Street side of the building and a set of double doors beneath them.  Today, though, the overgrown weeds around the building contrast with the stately trees surrounding it in the first photo.  Both the building and the neighborhood have obviously seen better days, although I don’t know the current status of the structure.