Corner of Main & Hillman Streets, Springfield, Mass

The southeast corner of Main and Hillman Streets in Springfield, around the 1870s or 1880s. Photo courtesy of the New York Public Library.


The scene in 2014:


Nothing from the first photo still exists today; even the street network has changed.  The corner of Main and Hillman technically doesn’t exist anymore – Hillman Street now ends a block away from Main Street, and the rest is now a pedestrian walkway along one side of Center Square.  Further down the street, the church building is on the site of what is now the corner of Main and Harrison – this intersection was moved so that Harrison and present-day Boland Way were directly across from each other on Main Street.

There are a few notable buildings visible in the first photo, including the Third National Bank Building in the foreground.  This ornate building was the home of the bank, but the upper floors were the Evans House hotel, which was described in the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield as “the leading family hotel” and a “convenient, pleasant, and home-like hotel.” Today, neither the hotel, nor the bank, nor the building itself still exist, although the site is still used for banking, with TD Bank now occupying the site.

Further down the street in the first photo is First Baptist Church.  The congregation was established in 1811, and met in several different locations around the city before moving to the Main Street site and constructing the church building in 1847.  However, as the downtown area became more developed, property along Main Street became valuable commercial space, and in 1888 the church was sold and replaced by a commercial building, which can be seen in the center of this post, taken facing the opposite direction.

Corner of Main & Bridge Streets, Springfield, Mass

The northwest corner of Main and Bridge Streets in Springfield, sometime in the early 1880s. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library.


Main and Bridge in 1938-1939.  Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

406_1938-1939c spt

The same location in 2017:

The building in the first photo was the home of W.D. Kinsman’s store, which was described in the 1884 King’s Handbook of Springfield as a “fancy dry-goods and novelties establishment.”  According to the book, Warren D. Kinsman opened the business in 1866 and moved to the location at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets in 1880.  However, the engraving in King’s Handbook shows a building that is five bays wide on the Main Street facade, as opposed to the three which are seen in this photo.  This would seem to suggest a date of around 1880 for the first photo; the building must have been expanded to the right sometime soon after.  The Kinsman building was demolished by the 1930s, and Kresge’s 5 and 10 cent store was built on the site, as seen in the second photo.  Today, Kresge’s is also gone; it was replaced by the former Federal Building, which was renovated in 2009 and is now an office building.

Main Street, Springfield, Mass

Looking north on Main Street in Springfield, toward Harrison Avenue, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The same location in 2014:


These photos were taken facing the opposite direction of the ones in this post and this post, with the Haynes Hotel building on the far left and the Johnson’s Bookstore building on the far right.  These are the only two surviving buildings in the photo for several blocks down Main Street; everything on the right-hand side from Johnson’s Bookstore to the Fuller Block (the building in the distance with the onion dome in the first photo) at the corner of Bridge Street has been demolished.

Notice all of the trolleys in the first photo – and the pedestrians who seem to have no problem crossing right in front of them.  Today, there are no trolleys, far fewer pedestrians, and far more cars on this stretch of Main Street.

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.

Game Day in Springfield, Mass

A banner in downtown Springfield advertising the Brown-Dartmouth football game at Hampden Park on November 25, 1905.  Photo from Springfield: Present and Prospective, published in 1905.


The same view in 2018:


In terms of sports, Springfield may be best known as the birthplace of basketball, but it was also once the site of several significant college football games.  Hampden Park, located near the North End Bridge, was once used for Ivy League games such as Harvard-Yale and, as is the case here, Brown-Dartmouth.  The history of Hampden Park is discussed further in this post, and the game pictured in the first photo on that post is likely the game referenced here on this banner, which Dartmouth ultimately won 24-6.

Not much else has stayed the same in this scene; all of the buildings are gone, although parts of the Massassoit House (far left) were incorporated into the Paramount Theatre.  However, the 1890 railroad bridge still exists, although the road grade has had to be lowered to accommodate larger vehicles.  I have re-created a few other photos of this general area, which can be seen here and here.