Kibbe Brothers Candy, Springfield, Mass

Kibbe Brothers candy factory on Harrison Avenue in Springfield, in October 1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.


The scene in 2014:


I have previously featured a number of photos from Lewis Wickes Hine of the National Child Labor Committee, when he traveled around the country documenting child labor conditions in the early 1900s.  His work includes several Springfield companies, one of which was Kibbe Brothers Company, a candy company that had been in Springfield since 1843.

For many years, the company operated out of a building at the corner of Main and Harrison, but in 1890 they moved about a half a block down Harrison Ave, where this 1910 photo was taken.  This photo is rare among Hine’s photos in that it doesn’t feature any photos, but it does show the “Girls Wanted” and “Boys Wanted” signs in the window next to the main entrance.  Based on the other photos that Hine took of the factory workers, many of them were 14 to 15 years old, which was apparently the minimum working age at the time.  In some of the captions, he mentions that they made between $3.50 and $4.00 per week, which in 2014 dollars would be about $86 a week.

According to Springfield Present and Prospective (1905), the factory employed about 350 people and produced over 12 tons of candy each day, which was shipped as far as California.  However, the company was out of business by the mid-1930s, probably a victim of the Great Depression.  Today, part of the lot is occupied by the headquarters of Hampden Bank, and the rest of it is a parking lot and parking garage.

Forbes & Wallace, Springfield, Mass

Looking south on Main Street from the corner of Harrison Ave., around 1910. Photo from Views and Facts of Springfield, Mass. (1910).


The same scene in 2014:


The Forbes & Wallace department store was established in Springfield in 1874 at the corner of Main and Vernon Streets (today Boland Way), and by the turn of the last century it had become a major shopping destination in downtown Springfield.  At some point after the first photo was taken, the building was demolished and replaced by a much larger department store building, seen in the photo in this article from the Springfield Republican.  However, with increasing competition from suburban shopping malls, the store closed in 1976 and the building was demolished in 1982.  It was replaced by Monarch Place, which was completed in 1987 and is the tallest building in the city.

The original Forbes & Wallace building may be long gone, but its neighbor to the south, the Haynes Hotel, survives to this day.  The hotel was built in 1865, and for many years was one of the city’s premier hotels.  It was used as a hotel until 1943, when it was converted into commercial and office spaces.  Today, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and although it is now surrounded by tall, modern skyscrapers, it still looks much the same as it did when it was completed 150 years ago.

Main Street & Harrison Ave, Springfield, Mass

Main Street in Springfield, looking south from near Harrison Ave., around 1910-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The same scene in 2017:


These views show some of the changes that have occurred on the east side of Main Street, south of Harrison Avenue.  The buildings in the foreground of the first photo are long gone; Today, Harrison Ave passes diagonally through those lots to cross Main Street where Boland Way (formerly Vernon Street) intersects.  The building just to the right of Harrison Ave in the first photo is also gone, replaced by the 10 story building in the 2014 photo.

However, most of the other buildings in the first photo are still there, including the former Johnson’s Bookstore building, which was built in 1861, around the same time as the two buildings on either side of it.  The facade was remodeled in 1908, but it once matched the buildings on either side of it.  To the right of the bookstore building is the oldest in the scene, the 1858 Republican Block.  This was the home of the Springfield Republican newspaper from 1858 to 1867, during the era when the paper was endorsing Abraham Lincoln for president and reporting news on the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination.  Beyond the Republican Block is the Union Trust Building, with its distinctive arch over the main entrance.  It was built in 1907, and both it and the Republican Block are on the National Register of Historic Places.