Holy Name Rectory, Springfield, Mass

The Holy Name Parish rectory at the corner of Dickinson and Alderman Streets in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This building was originally built as three separate homes, with one on Dickinson Street, one on Alderman Street, and one in the middle at the corner of the two streets. The oldest of these was the Alderman property, which was built sometime in the 1890s, and the other two were built in the first decade of the 20th century. Although they were intended as private homes, the corner house was purchased in 1910 to serve as the rectory for the newly-established Holy Name Parish, which had just built a school and chapel on an adjacent lot.

The Forest Park neighborhood grew rapidly in the early 20th century, and so did the Holy Name Parish. Because of this, in 1920 it purchased the neighboring house on Alderman Street, connected the two buildings, and covered the exterior in stucco. Then, in 1934, the Dickinson Street house was purchased as well, and was integrated into the rest of the rectory. These two views show the property from the Dickinson Street side, with the original rectory on the left, the Dickinson house on the right, and the Alderman house partially visible beyond it on the far right.

Despite nearly 80 years in between these two photos, not much has changed in this scene. The school itself has since been closed, after having been consolidated with four other Catholic elementary schools, and the buildings are now rented to the city of Springfield. However, Holy Name is still an active Roman Catholic parish, and this building still serves as the rectory for the church, which is located on the other end of the block at Grenada Terrace.

Holy Name School, Springfield, Mass

The Holy Name School on Dickinson Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The school in 2017:

At the start of the 20th century, Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood was growing rapidly, and in 1909 the Diocese of Springfield established a new Catholic parish to serve the area’s residents. That same year, construction began on this building, on Dickinson Street between Alderman Street and Grenada Terrace, just north of the “X.” It was completed in 1910, and originally served as both a chapel and as the Holy Name School, which opened in the fall of 1910 with 200 students.

Over time, both the parish and the school grew, and by the time the first photo was taken a second school building had been built, on the far left side of the photo. Beyond it was the church itself, and just out of view to the left was the rectory. A little over a decade later, in 1951, a social center was built on Alderman Street, followed in the late 1960s by a new church at the corner of Grenada Terrace. Throughout this time, the Holy Name School educated many thousands of Springfield children, including former mayor Charles V. Ryan, who was probably attending the school around the time when the first photo was taken.

Nearly 80 years after the first photo was taken, the Holy Name Parish is still an active church, although the school has since been closed. In 2009, it and four other Catholic elementary schools were consolidated into one school, St. Michael’s Academy in East Forest Park. The century-old Holy Name School did not remain vacant for long, though, because since the fall of 2009 the school buildings have been rented to the city of Springfield. From 2009 to 2013, the campus was the home of New Leadership Charter School, and it is now the home of the Liberty Prepatory Academy.

Grenada Terrace, Springfield, Mass

Looking east on Grenada Terrace from Dickinson Street in Springfield, sometime in the early 1900s. Image courtesy of Jim Boone.

The scene in 2017:

The Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield was very sparsely developed up until the 1890s, when trolley lines were built through the area, providing a direct connection to downtown Springfield. This section of Forest Park, just to the northeast of the “X”, was developed by the Sumner Avenue Heights Company, and featured streets with names associated with warm climates, such as Ventura, Sorrento, and Pomona. The centerpiece of this development was Grenada Terrace, which was built parallel to Sumner Avenue and featured a wide street with a landscaped median.

The street itself was laid out by the late 1890s, but none of the houses were built until the first decade of the 20th century. Nearly all of the homes had been completed by 1910, and the first photo was probably taken around this time. Most of these homes were owner-occupied, and the 1910 census shows residents with a wide range of middle-class professions, including a clerk, contractor, building inspector, stenographer, traveling salesman, and an Armory employee.

A century later, nearly all of these homes are still standing, although most have been altered with modern changes such as enclosed porches and artificial siding. Two brick apartment buildings, visible in the distant left of the 2017 photo, were built in the 1910s, but the neighborhood remains predominantly single-family, two-family, and three-family homes. Otherwise, the only significant change to this scene is the left side, where four of the homes were demolished to make a parking lot for the Holy Name Church, which is partially visible on the far left.