South Parlor, Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (3)

The south parlor of the Josiah Cooley House in Longmeadow, probably sometime in the 1910s or 1920s. Photo from author’s collection. Probably photographed by Paesiello Emerson.

The scene in 2023:

These two photos show a view that is nearly identical to the ones in the previous post. But, while the early 20th century photo in that post shows just the room itself, this photo here shows two people seated next to the fireplace. The room here is the south parlor of the Josiah Cooley House, which was built sometime around 1760. As explained in the previous post, the room was remodeled around the 1820s or 1830s, so it looked very different in the first photo than it would have looked during the colonial era.

The two people in the first photo are the homeowner, Annie Emerson, on the left, and her half brother Paesiello Emerson on the right. They are both notable figures in the history of Longmeadow; Annie was the town’s leading historian during the early 20th century, while Paesiello was an amateur photographer. He documented many scenes throughout the town from about 1907 to 1927, during a time when Longmeadow was transitioning from a rural farming community into a suburb of Springfield. Together, Annie’s historical research and Paesiello’s photographic collection form a valuable resource for subsequent Longmeadow historians.

Annie moved into this house in 1872, when her father William Emerson purchased the property. She later attended Westfield Normal School, and worked as a public school teacher, including at the truant school in Springfield. After her retirement in 1915, she had a number of different roles here in Longmeadow. She served as a school committee member, as a Sunday school teacher at the First Church, and she was also a member of the Longmeadow Historical Society, the Longmeadow Women’s Club, and the Longmeadow Cemetery Association. However, she is best remembered for her extensive research into the town’s history, including the history of the many early homes in Longmeadow.

Annie inherited this house after the death of her parents, and by the turn of the 20th century she was living here with her younger brother Henry. Neither she nor Henry ever married, and in 1907 they were joined by their much older half brother, Paesiello. Born in 1832, he was the oldest child from their father’s first marriage. He was originally from Hopkinton, but had subsequently moved to Spencer and Ashland. He married his wife Nancy Hartshorn in 1855, and for much of his life he worked as a boot manufacturer. During the Civil War he joined the Union war effort, enlisting in the 5th Massachusetts Battery in 1863. He was wounded in action by an artillery shell on June 8, 1864 during the Overland Campaign in Virginia, and he had a scar on his hand from this injury for the rest of his life. Despite this wound, he continued to serve throughout the rest of the war.

Paesiello’s wife Nancy died in 1891, and then in 1907 he moved here to his sister’s house in Longmeadow. In the meantime, though, he took up photography as a hobby, starting around 1902 when he was about 70 years old. He would continue his photography for several more decades, and was still taking pictures well into his 90s. He died in 1927, leaving a collection of about 1,500 glass plate negatives, which Annie later donated to the Longmeadow Historical Society. This collection is now available to view online, and it includes many photos of this house. Paesiello may have taken the first photo here in this post as a self portrait, although this particular image does not appear among the negatives in the Longmeadow Historical Society collection.

Annie died in 1941, and her younger brother Henry died two years later. The house was subsequently sold, and around the late 1940s or early 1950s the new owners renovated the interior of the house, including here in the south parlor. As part of this, the colonial-era wainscoting was restored, as shown in the second photo. This wainscoting had been removed as part of the 1820s-1830s renovation, and had been installed in an upstairs room. The subsequent mid-20th century renovation apparently reinstalled the original materials here in this room, although it does not seem clear as to whether all of it is original, or whether some of the panels were modern replicas.

Aside from restoring the wainscoting, this renovation also involved removing the door to the right of the fireplace, which had likely opened into a closet or possibly the basement stairs. This door was reinstalled around the corner in the front entry hall, where it is now used as a closet door beneath the stairs. The other door in the first photo, on the left side of the scene, was also removed. The doorway was shifted further over to the left and widened, creating more of an open floor plan between the south parlor and the back room.

Other changes since the first photo was taken have included the installation of electrical outlets and central air vents. Overall, though, the room is still recognizable from the first photo, and it still has many of its historic features, including the fireplace, the corner posts, and the wide pine floorboards, which were hidden beneath the rugs in the first photo.

South Parlor, Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (2)

The south parlor of the Josiah Cooley House in Longmeadow, on October 18, 1913. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The room in 2023:

These two photos show the same room as the ones in the previous post, but from a different angle. As explained in more detail in another earlier post, this house was built around 1760 as the home of Josiah and Experience Cooley. It would remain in their family for more than a century, but during this time the house was expanded and remodeled, in order to accommodate a growing family and to adapt to changing tastes.

The original layout of the house consisted of two rooms in the front of the house on the ground floor, two bedrooms above them on the second floor, and a room in the back of the ground floor, which was evidently the kitchen. Each of these rooms had a fireplace that was connected to the massive central chimney, which measured about 10 feet square here on the first floor. Because of the location of this chimney, it prevented a large entry hall with a grand staircase, as was often seen in homes of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Instead, This house had a small entry hall, with a staircase that made 90-degree turns as it made its way up to the second floor.

This was a fairly typical design for New England houses of this period. There does not appear to be any surviving documentation on exactly how the two front rooms of this house were used in the colonial era, but in houses like this it was common for one room to be a formal parlor for receiving important guests, while the other one was a more casual space that was used more by members of the family.

Because the house faces east, this room is on the left side of the house, when facing the front from the outside. It has two windows that face east, one that faces south, and it has a door connecting it to the entry hall, along with another door to the back room. It also once had a door just to the right of the fireplace, as shown here in the first photo, which appears to have been either a closet or the basement stairs. Along with this, it also had an exterior door on the south wall of the room. This door was often found on houses of this era, and is often referred to as a “coffin door,” because of its purported use in removing coffins from the house after a funeral here in the parlor.

The floor of the room is made from wide pine boards, which generally measure about 11 to 11.5 inches wide. The use of pine during the colonial era was restricted, due to the high demand for large pine trees as masts for the Royal Navy. There were legal ways for colonists to harvest pine, but many flaunted these laws and cut down other pines illegally instead. This would give rise to many anecdotes about pine boards in houses, but it is impossible to say whether these particular boards were contraband or not.

The fireplace is brick, but the hearth itself is comprised of two large sandstone blocks. These were likely quarried in the eastern part of Longmeadow, which would later become the separate town of East Longmeadow. The lower part of the walls were originally covered in wainscoting, but this was removed during a remodeling in the 1820s or 1830s, and was reinstalled in a newly-created upstairs room.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was owned by Annie Emerson, a schoolteacher who was also the town’s preeminent historian of her day. Her father William had purchased this house in 1872 when she was about 13 years old, and she would spend the rest of her life here, along with her younger brother Henry. In 1907, their older half brother Paesiello Emerson also joined them here. He was about 75 at the time, and he had recently taken up photography as a hobby. He would go on to spend the next two decades photographing scenes in and around Longmeadow, including the first photo here in this post, which he took in 1913.

The first photo shows some of the changes that had happened to the room over the years, including the wallpaper in place of the original 18th century wainscoting. The photo also shows some clues about Paesiello Emerson’s hobby, including at least three photographic prints that appear to be his work. One of these appears to be a view of Longmeadow Street, perhaps taken from in front of this house, while the other two show the house itself. The photo near the center of the mantle, just to the left of the teacup, appears to be a panoramic view, and it shows the front of the house and the houses further to the north on Logmeadow Street. Just to the right of the teacup, on the right side of the mantle, is another photo of the front of the house, which also shows the large elm tree that once stood in the front yard.

Paesiello Emerson lived here until his death in 1927, and his sister Annie died in 1941, followed by Henry in 1943. The house was subsequently sold, and at some point in the late 1940s or early 1950s the interior was again renovated, this time in order to restore some of its colonial-era features. Here in the south parlor, this included restoring the wainscoting. It appears as though this was all of the original material, which had previously been in the upstairs room, although it is hard to say exactly how historically accurate the placement of the wainscoting was.

Other changes around this time included removing the door that was next to the fireplace. It does not seem clear whether this door was originally in that location, or whether it had been installed there during the early 19th century renovations. Either way, the door was not entirely discarded; it was reinstalled in the front entry hall, where it now opens into a closet under the stairs. The other door in the first photo, on the left side, was also removed. As part of this, the location of the doorway was moved further to the left, and it was widened to create more of an open floor plan between the south parlor and the back room, which is often referred to as the “keeping room.” Lastly ,this renovation also included removing the “coffin door,” although due to its location in the room it is not visible in the first photo.

The mid-20th century renovation appeared to take some liberties with the historical accuracy, especially in creating the wide opening between the parlor and the keeping room. Likewise, the removal of the door next to the fireplace might have been a decision made more based on 20th century tastes than by historical accuracy. Overall, though, the room is still well preserved, including the original floorboards, original fireplace, and presumably the original wainscoting.

South Parlor, Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts

The south parlor of the Josiah Cooley House, located at the northwest corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road in Longmeadow, on April 9, 1920. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The scene in 2023:

The Josiah Cooley House has been the subject of several recent posts that show the exterior of the house in the early 20th century and in the present day. This photo shows the interior of the house, facing the east wall of the south parlor. When the front of the house is viewed from the exterior, this room is located on the left side of the house. The room features these two windows, which face east towards Longmeadow Street, along with another window on the south wall, facing Emerson Road. The open door on the left side of both photos leads to the front entryway and front staircase, and when the first photo was taken there was also an exterior door just out of view on the south wall on the right side of this scene. This type of door is sometimes termed a “coffin door” because of its supposed use in facilitating the removal of a coffin from the parlor.

This house was likely built sometime around 1760, and its original residents were Josiah and Experience Cooley. It would remain in their family for over a century, until their great grandson Josiah Cooley Colton sold it in 1869. Three years later, it was purchased by William G. Emerson, whose children would live here well into the 20th century. Among his children was Paesiello Emerson, an amateur photographer who took the top photo in this post, along with the other historic photos of the house that have been featured in previous posts.

The house was originally much smaller than its present-day appearance. It was originally built as a saltbox-style house, featuring two rooms in the front on the first floor, two bedrooms above them, and a room in the back part of the house, which likely would have been the kitchen. These rooms were warmed by fireplaces, which were all connected to the same central chimney.

This was a fairly typical layout for a colonial New England house. There does not appear to be any surviving documentation on exactly how the front rooms of this house were utilized during the colonial era, but such homes often had one room that was more formal and was used for special guests. The other room tended to be somewhat less formal, and was used more by the family members themselves.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the rooms in this house, including this one, are the wide pine floorboards. During the colonial era, the harvesting of large pine trees was restricted by British authorities, because these tall, straight trees were valuable as masts for the ships of the Royal Navy. This led to a series of White Pine Acts, which by 1722 had outlawed the cutting of any pine tree with a diameter of greater than 12 inches, unless it was located within the boundaries of a township.

However, these laws were openly flaunted by many colonists, and Josiah Cooley may very well have been one of them, since there are many pine boards on the floors of this house that are greater than 12 inches in width. It is entirely possible that these were all cut legally within the boundaries of an incorporated municipality. But, given the prevalence of poaching during the time that this house was built, it is also possible that these were from illegally harvested trees. Interestingly, the boards here in this room tend to be smaller than some of the other rooms in the house, generally measuring about 11 to 11.5 inches wide. Was this a deliberate effort to avoid installing incriminating evidence in the most public room of the house? It is impossible to say with any certainty, and the Pine Tree Acts would later give rise to many tales about colonists deliberately defying the king in order to build their homes, making it difficult at times to separate fact from romanticized fiction.

Aside from the floorboards, the parlor was also built with wainscoting on the lower part of the walls. This was removed sometime around the 1820s or 1830s as part of a modernization effort, and it was reinstalled in a new room that had been built in the back of the house on the second floor. By the time the first photo was taken, the parlor here was wallpapered. The old interior shutters were also removed during these renovations, and the shutters are said to have been repurposed for a cupboard in the back of the house.

Likewise, the original 12-over-12 windows were removed from the front of the house during this same renovation work. By that point, glassmaking had advanced to the point where larger panes were easier to produce, enabling 6-over-6 windows. However, like the wainscoting and interior shutters, these windows were not discarded. Instead, they were installed in the new rooms in the back of the house, presumably where they would be less visible to the public and to guests.

By the time the first photo was taken in 1920, the room looked very different from how it would have appeared during the 18th century. However, around the late 1940s or early 1950s the house underwent yet another renovation. Some of this included modernizing the house, such as installing two new bathrooms upstairs, but the owners also restored other parts of the house. The wainscoting that had been moved upstairs in the 19th century was evidently brought back downstairs, where it was reinstalled in this room and in the north parlor. It does not seem clear as to how accurate this was done, though, including whether all of the panels were placed in their original locations. It is also possible that some of the panels are reproductions, since this renovation also involved removing two doorways from the room: the “coffin door,” and a door that had been located just to the right of the fireplace. Without those doors, there is now more wall space than there had previously been, which raises questions about whether some of the panels are modern replicas.

The mid-20th century renovations also included replacing the doorknobs with older-style latches and hinges, as shown in the second photo. The door itself seems to be the same in both photos, though. Other features that have remained the same are the windows, which appear to still have many of the same panes of glass. Most of these panes have waves, bubbles, and other imperfections that were characteristic of 19th century glassmaking. These windows are not technically historically accurate to the colonial era, but at nearly 200 years old they are nonetheless historic in their own right.

Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (4)

The northwest corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road in Longmeadow, in October 1912. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The scene in 2023:

These photos show the same house as the ones in the previous three posts, but from further away. As discussed in more detail in the first of these posts, the house was built around 1760 as the home of Josiah and Experience Cooley. However, the property itself had been in the Cooley family for many years prior to that, and Josiah’s father Eliakim lived in a house that was built here on this same site around the 1710s or 1720s. The current house would remain in the family for another century, until Josiah’s great grandson, Josiah Cooley Colton, sold it in 1869.

In 1872, the house was purchased by William G. Emerson, who lived here until his death in 1887. His daughter Annie subsequently inherited the property, and by the time the first photo was taken she was living here with her younger brother Henry and her older half brother Paesiello. It was Paesiello who took the first photo, sometime in October 1912, and it shows the house from the corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road.

At the time, the house included a significant amount of land. As was the case for most of the old houses on Longmeadow Street, it had a relatively narrow frontage on the street, but the property extended for about a third of a mile beyond the house, almost all the way to where Interstate 91 is now located. Annie’s brother Henry farmed this land, and according to his 1943 obituary he was, at one point, one of the largest raspberry producers in western Massachusetts. His obituary also noted that he farmed asparagus, and later in his life shifted to poultry and eggs. Not much of the farmland is visible in the first photo, although a portion of the large barn can be seen in the distance on the far left side of the photo.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house had already undergone many changes since its construction a century and a half earlier. It originally had a saltbox-style roof with two second story rooms in the front and a long, sloping roof in the back. This was  altered around the 1820s or 1830s, when the roof was raised to create a full second story. Along with this, a new two-story wing was added to the north side of the house, and it may have also been during this renovation that the one-story wing was added to the back of the house. Along with this, the original 12-over-12 windows in the front part of the house were replaced with 6-over-6 ones, the interior shutters were replaced with exterior ones, and the current doorway was likely added around this time too.

The Emersons were the last family to use this property for farming, and after Henry’s death in 1943 the property was sold. At some point afterwards, the land that extended beyond the house was subdivided, and new houses were built on the former farmland, as Longmeadow transitioned from a quiet farming community and into a full-fledged suburb of Springfield. The barn in the back was demolished at some point during this time, but the house itself survived, and it underwent some restoration work during the mid 20th century, on both the interior and exterior.

Today, the house still stands as one of the many historic 18th century homes on Longmeadow Street. Its surroundings have changed, including the subdividing of its former property and the redevelopment of adjacent parcels, and most of the trees in the front yard are now gone. Most significantly, these included the massive elm tree on the right side of the first photo. This tree was likely much older than the house itself, but it likely fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease in the decades after the first photo was taken. However, at least one tree from the first photo appears to still be standing. The small maple tree just to the left of the doorway in the first photo is likely the same one in the center of the second photo, where it now towers over the house and partially hides it from view in this scene.

Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (3)

The house at the northwest corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road in Longmeadow, on August 1, 1924. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The house in 2023:

 

This house was the subject of the past two posts, including one that provides a detailed account of its history. The house was built around 1760, but it was significantly expanded around the 1820s or 1830s. This included raising the earlier saltbox-style roof to create a full second story, along with building an addition to the north side of the house, as seen on the right side of these photos. The 6-over-6 windows were also added during this time, as were the shutters in the first photo, and the front doorway was probably also installed as part of this project.

By the time the first photo was taken, the house was the home of Annie Emerson, a retired schoolteacher who was also the town’s leading historian. She also lived here with her older half brother Paesiello Emerson, a Civil War veteran and retired boot manufacturer. In his later years, he became an amateur photographer, and he extensively documented life in early 20th century Longmeadow. Their house was a frequent subject of his photographs, including the first one here at the top of this post, which he took in 1924 when he was 92 years old.

Since then, the house has undergone some exterior changes in the past 99 years, including the removal of the shutters and the “coffin door” on the left side of the house. Overall, though, the house still retains much of its 18th and early 19th century material, including the 6-over-6 windows here in the front, along with many of the original 12-over-12 windows in the back of the house. It is one of the many historic homes on Longmeadow Street, and it stands as a good example of a colonial New England home.

Josiah Cooley House, Longmeadow, Massachusetts (2)

The house at the northwest corner of Longmeadow Street and Emerson Road in Longmeadow, around the 1910s or 1920s. Image courtesy of the Longmeadow Historical Society, Paesiello Emerson Collection.

The house in 2023:

As explained in more detail in the previous post, this house was built around 1760 as the home of Josiah Cooley (1716-1778), his wife Experience (1714-1798), and their children. It would be owned by their descendants for more than a century, and it was the home of five generations of the family before it was sold in 1869. It was later purchased by the Emerson family in 1872, who would own it until 1943. Residents during this time included town historian Annie Emerson, who wrote a detailed historical account of this house. Her brother Paesiello also lived here in the early 20th century. He was a prolific amateur photographer, and he took many photos of this house, including the first one here in this post.

This house has seen many changes over the years, both before and after the first photo was taken. The house originally had a saltbox-style design, which was common in mid-18th century New England. Such homes generally had two stories in the front part of the house, with a long sloping roof in the back. However, this was altered around the 1820s or 1830s. The roof was raised on the back part of the house to create a full second story, and a wing was added to the north side of the house, as shown on the right side of this scene. The rear addition to the house was also probably built during this time.

Aside from major structural changes, the appearance of the house was also modernized around the 1820s and 1830s. This included installing new 6-over-6 windows in place of the original 12-over-12 ones, which were then reinstalled in less visible locations in the back part of the house. As part of this, the original interior shutters were removed, and were replaced with the exterior ones that are shown in the first photo. The current front doorway was likely also added during this time.

In the century since the first photo was taken, the house has seen further changes, although these have generally been less drastic than the early 19th century changes. Many of these occurred in the late 1940s and 1950s, and included restoring portions of the interior while also modernizing other parts of it. On the exterior, the so-called “coffin door” on the left side of the house was removed, and at some point around this time the shutters were removed. Other changes included a larger window on the ground floor of the north wing, which is now the location of the modern kitchen.

Overall, despite these changes the house retains a high degree of historic integrity, on both the interior and exterior. Most of the windows in the front part of the house date to the early 19th century renovation, and many of the windows in the back are the original 12-over-12 windows from the 1760s. On the interior, most rooms still have their original pine floors, along with original wainscoting and paneling. It stands as a good example of an 18th century New England home, and it is one of the many historic properties that still line Longmeadow Street.