66 School Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at 66 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

According to city records, this house was built in 1851, and its Italianate-style architecture seems to suggest that this date is accurate. However, the house does not appear on the 1851, 1870, or 1882 city maps, suggesting that it may have been moved to this site during the late 19th century. If it was in fact moved, this most likely occurred in 1888, when the 66 School Street address first appears in city directories. The ornate turret was probably added to the right side around this same time, creating an unusual blend of Italianate and Queen Anne architectural styles.

The 1888 directory shows that this house was the home of Sarah Hurd, a high school teacher who lived here for about two years. By 1893, it was owned by Atkins E. Blair, a pork dealer in the firm of A. C. Hunt & Co. The 1900 census shows him living here with his wife Harriet, their daughter Rachel, Harriet’s father Charles Simons, and two servants.

The Blair family would continue to live here for many years. Rachel married her husband, Charles D. Bowers, in 1924, in a ceremony that was held here at the house. The couple moved into his house, which was up the hill from here on Union Street. However, by the 1930 census, Rachel was again living here on School Street, while Bowers was listed as living at the YMCA on Chestnut Street. They were still married at the time, but they would subsequently divorce.

In the meantime, Atkins Blair died in 1927, leaving an estate that was valued at around $180,000, or nearly $2.7 million today. However, Harriet was still here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and the 1940 census shows her and Rachel as the only two residents of the house. Harriet lived here until her death in 1951, at the age of 90, and Rachel moved out and remarried soon afterward.

Since then, the exterior of the house has remained well-preserved, with few changes since the first photo was taken some 80 years ago. The neighboring house at 62 School Street was demolished sometime around the 1960s or 1970s, but otherwise many of the surrounding buildings are still standing from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These properties, along with this house, are now part of the city’s Lower Maple Local Historic District.

Samuel Bowles House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 62 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo shows a modest Greek Revival-style house that once stood here on the west side of School Street, just north of the corner of Union Street. It had been here at 62 School Street since the early 1870s, but its architectural style, along with circumstantial evidence, suggests that it is actually much older than this. It appears to have been the house that Samuel Bowles II – founder of the Springfield Republican newspaper – built around the early 1820s, across the street from here at the northeast corner of Union and School Streets. He would have likely been residing in this house when he established the Republican in 1824, and he remained here until his death in 1851, at the age of 54.

His son, Benjamin F. Bowles, subsequently inherited the house, which was still on Union Street at the time, but in 1873 he hired prominent architect Henry H. Richardson to design a new house for him on the same lot. The old house was moved to School Street around this same time, although historical records do not seem to indicate where on School Street it was moved. However, Bowles was listed as living here at 62 School Street in 1874, before moving into his newly-completed house later that year, so this evidence strongly suggests that he moved his old house here, lived in it during the construction, and then moved out when his new house was finished.

By the fall of 1874, Bowles had listed this house for sale or rent, with a classified ad in the Springfield Republican that included the following description:

The dwelling-house, No. 62 School Street, near the corner of Union Street, lately occupied by me. The lot os 50 feet front by 128 deep. On the first floor are a wide hall, parlor, library, dining-room, kitchen, front and back stairs, large pantries, etc. Second floor — four chambers in the main part and two in the L. A laundry in the basement, and dry cellar under the whole. The walls of the house are brick-lined, it is provided with double windows, and it is economically heated. The house will be shown on application to me.

Benjamin Bowles was the younger brother of Samuel Bowles III, who had taken over as editor of the Republican after their father’s death. Benjamin also worked for the newspaper, but, like their father, they both died relatively young. Benjamin was only 43 when he died in 1876 in Paris, only two years after his new house was completed, and Samuel died two years later at the age of 51, after having been in poor health for many years.

Despite his efforts to sell this School Street property, Benjamin still owned the house at the time of his death, and it would remain in his family until at least the early 1880s. However, it was used as a rental property during this time. Starting around 1876, it was the home of Henry C. Bixby, a clerk for the Boston & Albany Railroad. The 1880 census shows him living here with his wife Selena, their two young sons, and a servant, and they would remain here for several more years before moving down the street to 25 School Street by the mid-1880s.

The house was subsequently occupied by Theodore C. Beebe, a wool waste dealer. He was living here as early as 1886, and by the 1900 census he was 63 years old, and his household included his wife Amanda and three of their children: Jane, Philip, and Alexander. Theodore died in 1910, but the rest of the family continued to live here. By this point, Philip was working as an assistant cashier for the Springfield National Bank, and Alexander was vice president of the Rogers Sporting Goods Company. Philip moves out at some point in the early 1910s, and Amanda died in 1914, but Alexander lived here until 1922, at which point he was secretary and treasurer of the Sterling Textile Company.

When Alexander moved out, this left only Jane still living here in the family home on School Street. She apparently did not work, but she took in lodgers you help supplement her income. The 1930 census shows here living here with three lodgers, and a decade later – around the time that the first photo was taken – she had two lodgers and a housekeeper. Jane continued to live here until the early 1950s, nearly 70 years after she first moved into the house as a child, and she subsequently lived in Longmeadow and Holyoke before her death in 1964 at the age of 87.

The house was still here until at least the mid-1960s, but it was demolished at some point within the next decade or two. The site is now a small parking lot, with a garage in the rear of the property, as shown in the 2018 photo. However, most of the surrounding buildings are still standing, including the Gothic-style house to the right at 60 School Street, and the apartment building in the distance on High Street.

60 School Street, Springfield, Mass

The house at 60 School Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2019:

This house is one of the few Carpenter Gothic-style homes in Springfield. The style was most often seen in rural settings, most famously in Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting, but there were several here in Springfield, including one that still stands at 357 Maple Street. This one here on School Street is somewhat more modest in size, but it features many classic Gothic-style details, including board-and-batten siding on the exterior walls and decorative bargeboards under the eaves.

The history of this house does not appear to be well-documented, but it was probably constructed sometime around the 1860s. By the early 1870s it was owned by Robert O. Morris, a prominent local figure who served for many years as clerk of courts. He owned the property until at least the early 1880s, but he likely did not live here much, if at all. The 1873 city directory lists this house as his address, but by the following year he was living nearby on Temple Street. He listed the house for sale in 1875, with a classified ad in the Springfield Republican that described it as “centrally located, nicely fitted up with the modern improvements. Good water and sewerage.” However, it evidently did not sell, because by the following year he was placing classified ads looking to rent the house.

Morris had several different tenants who lived here over the next few years. In 1876 it was the home of Henry M. Burt, a publisher whose company, H. M. Burt & Co., produced the New England Homestead and the Sunday Telegram. Burt would also go on to write several local history and genealogy books, including The First Century of the History of Springfield, which was published in two volumes in 1898. However, he was only in this house for about a year, because by 1877 he was listed at 15 Oak Street.

By the late 1880s, the house was the home of three sisters: Harriet, Flora, and Mary White. Together, they ran a school here in the house, which was listed as the Misses White’s School. However, this school evidently did not last very long, because both it and the White sisters left here by the early 1890s. Starting around 1893, it was occupied by Wallace M. Burt, a lawyer and real estate agent. He was still living here during the 1900 census, along with his wife Bertha, their two daughters, his parents, and a servant. Wallace had his law offices here, while Bertha ran a dance school here in the house as well. They probably lived here longer than any of the other late 19th century residents, remaining until around 1908, when they moved to Woburn.

The house was subsequently owned by Jeremiah J. Haggerty, a violinist who lived here with his wife Susan. For many years he was the leader of the Court Square Orchestra here in Springfield, and he also taught violin lessons. However, he died of pneumonia in 1919, at the age of 45. Susan remained here at this house, though, and the 1920 census shows here living here with her sister, Mary O’Grady. Like her husband, Susan was also an accomplished musician, and she similarly worked as a music teacher.

Susan was still living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s. Mary had died in 1935, but another sister, Eleanor O’Grady, was here during the 1940 census. At the time, the home was valued at $10,000 (equivalent to just under $200,000 today), and Susan had evidently retired, although Eleanor was listed as working as a public school teacher. Susan would go on to live here until her death in 1947, and Eleanor was here until at least the early 1950s.

Today, about 80 years after the first photo was taken, the exterior of the house is not dramatically different, aside from the loss of the chimneys. It is now used as the management office for a group of nearby apartment buildings, but it has been well-preserved, and it stands as a good example of residential Gothic architecture. Like the other surrounding buildings in this neighborhood, it is now part of the city’s Lower Maple Local Historic District.

William H. Chapin House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 127 School Street, at the corner of Mulberry Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The scene in 2017:

This lot at the corner of School and Mulberry Streets had been the site of a house since at least 1850, when Congressman George Ashmun moved into a house that once stood here. He lived here until his death in 1870, and the property was sold to William W. Colburn, who lived here for almost 30 years, until his death in 1899. In 1906, Colburn’s widow sold it to patent attorney William H. Chapin, who appears to have demolished the old house and built the one seen in the first photo. Its Colonial Revival-style architecture is consistent with early 20th century mansions, and city atlases also indicate that it was built during this time, because the footprint of the house on this spot in the 1910 atlas looks very different from the one in the 1899 atlas.

William Chapin lived here with his wife Charlotte and their three sons, Maurice, Henry, and Stuart, and they also employed two live-in servants. The children had all moved out by the 1930 census, but William and Charlotte lived here for the rest of their lives. Charlotte died in 1935, and William in 1941, only a few years after the first photo was taken. After his death, his former mansion became a rooming house before finally being demolished in 1960 to build an apartment complex. This building, in turn, was eventually abandoned by its owners, taken by the city for nonpayment of taxes, and demolished in the 1990s to make additional parking for the nearby Milton Bradley School.

School Street School, Springfield, Mass

The School Street School at the corner of School and High Streets, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

722_1938-1939 spt (57 school)

The building in 2015:

This building is among the oldest surviving school buildings in the city, but it isn’t the school that the street was named after.  Springfield’s first high school was located across the street from here, from 1828 until 1840, and over the years several more public schools would be located in this area.  The current building was built in 1892 as an elementary school, and as the two photos show its exterior has been well-preserved in the past 75 or so years.  Although it is no longer a public school, it is now used by the Youth Social Educational Training Academy, which offers preschool as well as before and after school programs for children.

Union and School Streets, Springfield, Mass

The apartment building at the corner of Union and School Streets, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

721_1938-1939 spt (282-286-292 union)

The building in 2015:

As the city of Springfield grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this section of Union Street steadily grew from single family homes to duplexes to eventually large apartment buildings such as this one.  It was built in 1926 in the Mission Revival architectural style, and is still standing almost 90 years later, although most of the original Mission Revival design elements along the roofline have since been removed, as seen in the 2015 photo.