Trinity Episcopal Church, Lenox, Mass

The Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox, as seen from the Walker Street side of the building around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:

When this church was completed in 1888, the town of Lenox was the summer home for many wealthy families in the northeast, who built massive estates known as Berkshire Cottages. Many of these summer residents provided the funding to build this church, at the corner of Kemble and Walker Streets, just to the southeast of the center of town. It was designed by Charles Follen McKim, the noted architect from the firm McKim, Mead & White. Just a few years earlier, McKim had designed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in nearby Stockbridge, and both churches reflect the popular Romanesque style of the late 1800s.

This church replaced the town’s original Episcopalian church, which was built in 1818 on Church Street. It is still standing today, although it was converted into apartments and a store after the new building was completed. Construction on this church began in 1885, with former president Chester Alan Arthur attending the laying of the cornerstone. Arthur died the following year, so he never lived to see its completion, but a Tiffany stained glass window was added in memory of him in 1888.

The building to the far left is the parish house, which was built separately in 1896, as a gift from John E. Parsons, a New York lawyer who spent his summers at his “Stoneover” estate in Lenox. Three years later, the church itself was expanded to include a choir room and sacristy, but since the first photo was taken there have not been many changes. In 1996, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Stockbridge, Mass

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at the corner of Main and Pine Streets in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:

Not much has changed for this historic church in downtown Stockbridge. It was built in 1884 in memory of Susan Ridley Sedgwick Butler, a native of Stockbridge. After her death, her husband Charles E. Butler provided the funds to build the church, and hired architect Charles Follen McKim to design it. It was McKim’s first church, and it reflects the style of Henry Hobson Richardson, who he had once worked for in the early 1870s. Several years after this church, he designed one of his most significant works, the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building at Copley Square. Today, the church is still an active congregation, and it is part of the Main Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ladder 15/Engine 33 Firehouse, Boston

The firehouse at the corner of Boylston and Hereford Streets in Boston, on October 27, 1911. Image courtesy of the City of Boston Archives.

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The building in 2015:

This structure is made up of two connected buildings: the Ladder 15/Engine 33 firehouse to the right, and the Boston Police Station 16 on the left.  Both were completed in the mid 1880s, on land that had just recently been filled in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.  It was designed by Arthur H. Vinal, based on the Richardsonian Romanesque style that was popular in the late 1800s, especially in the Back Bay.

Today, the buildings still stand with few changes to the exterior.  The building to the right is still an active fire station; Engine 33 can barely be seen in the shadows of the 2015 photo, and a fireman is standing in front of the Ladder 15 door.  However, the former police station to the left has changed occupants a few times.  It was used by the Boston Police Department until the early 1970s, and from 1973 until 2006 it was the home of the Institute of Contemporary Art.  Since then, it has been used by the Boston Architectural College.

City Hall, Lowell, Mass

Lowell City Hall, photographed around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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City Hall in 2015:

There aren’t many centrally-planned cities in New England. Most grew over time out of 17th century Puritan settlements, but the city of Lowell was different. Planned from the start as an industrial center, Lowell was one of the leading manufacturing cities in the country for much of the 19th century, and toward the close of the century its prosperity led to the construction of a new city hall.  It was dedicated in 1893, and represents the Romanesque style of architecture that was common in late 19th century America, especially in government buildings and churches.  At the time, the city was the third largest in the state, after Boston and Worcester, with an economy based largely on the textile industry.

The city reached its peak of prosperity soon after the first photo was taken, but by the 1920s the factories began to close as industries relocated to other parts of the country.  Today, there isn’t much manufacturing left in the city, but the population has rebounded to pre-World War I levels, with many of the former factories being redeveloped and reused for housing and commercial space.  City Hall is still in use, and is relatively unchanged from over a century ago.  It forms the centerpiece of the City Hall Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is just a few blocks away from the Lowell National Historical Park, where many of the historic factory buildings have been preserved as museums.

Railroad Station, Laconia, NH

The Laconia Passenger Station, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The station in 2015:

Because railroads were the dominant form of transportation in the second half of the 19th century, a city’s railroad station was usually the first thing that visitors saw. As such, it was important to make a good first impression, so in 1892 Laconia’s previously humble railroad station was replaced by a far larger, more impressive one.  It was designed by Bradford Gilbert, who drew heavily on the Romanesque style that had been made popular by recently-deceased architect Henry Hobson Richardson.  In fact, the Laconia station bears some resemblance to the old Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts, which had been built three years earlier by Richardson’s successors at Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge.

The station was owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad, and it was located on the main route to Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains.  However, with the decline of passenger rail by the mid 20th century, the station eventually closed.  Boston and Maine ran their last passenger train through here in January 1965, and since then the building has been used for a variety of purposes, from a police station and courthouse to offices and stores.  Today, it relatively unaltered from its appearance over a century ago, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

City Hall, Holyoke Mass

City Hall in Holyoke, seen looking up Dwight Street in 1892. Image courtesy of the New York Public Library.

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City Hall in 2015:


It almost resembles a Medieval cathedral, and in fact the original caption of the 1892 photo misidentified it as a church, but this building is actually Holyoke City Hall.  Opened in 1876, it bears some resemblance to the Hampden County Courthouse.  Both were made out of the same material, granite from Monson, Massachusetts, and with similar neo-Gothic and Romanesque style architecture, which was common in late 19th century public buildings.  Curiously, it had two architects: Charles B. Atwood, who designed most of the exterior, and Henry F. Kilburn, who took over after Atwood failed to produce his work in a timely manner.  Kilburn ended up designing the interior and the 220 foot tower.  Today, the exterior is well-preserved; it continues to be used as City Hall, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.