Adolphus F. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 36 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This house was built sometime in the 1870s for Adolphus F. Chapin, a prominent local clothing merchant. He was living here during the 1880 census, along with his wife Caroline and their son Alfred, and he remained here until his death in 1895 at the age of 48. The house was subsequently sold to William W. Broga, who moved in around the same time that he married his wife, Sarah. They were living here during the 1900 census, along with Sarah’s three children from her previous marriage, and William was listed as working as a physician. However, he also appears to have been something of an inventor, receiving patents for inventions such as “Flushing apparatuses for water-closet bowls,” “Coin separating and packaging machine,” and “Resilient tire for vehicle wheels.”

It does not seem clear whether Broga ever profited off any of his inventions, but by the 1910 census he and Sarah were living in an apartment nearby on State Street, and by the following census they had divorced. In the meantime, their house was sold around 1911 to Newrie D. Winter, a businessman who had served as the city’s mayor in 1896 and 1897. Along with this, he also served as vice president and treasurer of the Northampton Street Railway, and by the early 1920s he was president of the Springfield Five Cents Savings Bank. At some point, during either Broga’s or Winter’s ownership, the house appears to have been altered from its original appearance, giving it more of a Colonial Revival style that matched contemporary architectural tastes.

Newrie’s wife Delia died right around the same time that he purchased this house, but by the 1920 census he was living here with his son Dwight, his wife Marguerite, Delia’s sister Kate V. Beach, and a servant. Like his father, Dwight also went on to become mayor of Springfield, serving from 1930 to 1933, while he was living in this house. He was only the third Democratic mayor to be elected since his father, more than 30 years earlier, and he was also the first Democrat in the city’s history to serve for more than three years. However, he lost the party’s nomination in 1933, and subsequently returned to his private business as a real estate broker.

Both Newrie and Dwight were still living here when the first photo was taken, but Dwight died a few years later in 1943. His father outlived him by five more years, before his death in 1947 at the age of 88. Their house was still here in the late 1960s, but it was demolished sometime before 1976, when the McKngiht Historic District was created. Today, the site is a parking lot, and the only trace of the house that once stood here is the tree in the foreground, which appears to be the same one that was in the first photo nearly 80 years ago.

Mary C. Merriam House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 28 Buckingham Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

Today, the Merriam name is probably most commonly associated with the famous Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but the Merriam family’s printing dynasty started long before Noah Webster’s heirs sold the company the rights to publish the dictionary. The family business started in West Brookfield in 1797, when brothers Dan and Ebenezer Merriam began printing and publishing books. Dan had eight children, two of whom, George and Charles, took over the business after his death in 1823. In 1831, the brothers moved to Springfield, which was a much larger market for publishing, and they soon purchased fine houses on Chestnut and Howard Streets.

Other members of the Merriam family followed them to Springfield, including Mary C. Merriam, the younger sister of George and Charles. She never married, and during the 1870 census she was living in Springfield with her sister Dora and their elderly mother, Thirza. About 20 years later, she moved to the fashionable McKnight neighborhood, purchasing this house shortly after it was built around 1889. She lived here until her death in 1896, after having outlived nearly all of her siblings.

In the years following Mary’s death, several different members of the Merriam family resided here, including George’s daughter, Celia C. Merriam and his nephews, Henry and Arthur. The latter two were the sons of George’s brother Homer, who became a partner in their Springfield publishing firm in 1856. Arthur was living here during the 1900 census, along with his wife Ruth, their two children, and a servant. He worked in the family’s publishing company, but he subsequently moved to Pasadena, California, where he died in 1916.

By the next census, in 1919, the house was owned by Ella Lloyd, a 60-year-old widow who lived here with two of her adult children, Henry and Caroline. She died in 1918, but Henry continued to live here for for many years. He was the president and treasurer of a plumbing and heating company, and he remained unmarried until the late 1920s, when, at the age of 54, he married 25-year-old Evelyn Cook. By the 1930 census, they had an infant daughter Henrietta, but they moved out of this house soon afterward.

The 1933 city directory shows Richard and Elizabeth Whittey living here, along with their son, who was also named Richard. The elder Richard worked as a credit counselor for Credit Bureau Inc., with his son working as an investigator for the company. They only lived here for a few years before moving to a house on Dartmouth Street, and by the time the first photo was taken this house was the home of insurance agent Harold Corbin, his wife Frances, and their four children.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken, the house on the right has since been demolished and replaced with a parking lot. However, this house has remained mostly the same on the exterior, although it now has a new, much steeper roof above the front porch. Aside from this, it retains most of its Queen Anne-style ornamentation, and liek the other houses in the neighborhood it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.