Dwight House, Springfield Mass

The Dwight House on Howard Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The scene in 2015:

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This scene is soon to change even more dramatically than it did between the first two photos – all of the buildings in the 2015 scene are within the footprint of the planned MGM casino.  Most of the buildings will be demolished, except for the old MassMutual building in the background.  Strangely enough, the building in the old photo will end up outliving almost all of the ones in the present-day photo; its former site is now a parking lot across Howard Street from Red Rose Pizzeria, but the building itself was dismantled and moved to Deerfield, where it sits on Old Main Street in Historic Deerfield.

The house in the first photo, the Dwight House, was built in 1754.  It was originally owned by Colonel Josiah Dwight, and later by his son, Colonel Timothy Dwight.  It was originally located on Main Street, but was moved to Howard Street around 1890, where it was photographed in the first view here.  By the 1930s view, it was divided into a duplex and was used as a tenement, and at this point was probably the oldest building in the city.  However, developers were eyeing the property, so in 1950 it was dismantled and moved to Deerfield, as seen in the photo on the Historic Deerfield website.  This arrangement preserved the building, but it also creates the odd situation of a city’s oldest building being located over 30 miles from the city.

State Armory, Springfield, Mass

The Armory on Howard Street in Springfield, around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield (1910).

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The building in 2014:

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The State Armory in Springfield (not to be confused with the much larger, more prominent federal Springfield Armory) was built in 1895 for the Massachusetts Militia, and later the Massachusetts National Guard.  The building included both the castle-like structure facing Howard Street, as well as a massive drill shed that extended the width of the block to Union Street.  After the National Guard left, it became the South End Community Center, but it sustained significant damage from the June 1, 2011 tornado, which completely destroyed the former drill shed.  Like the former YWCA Building, the old Armory is right in the middle of the planned casino development, and the current plan is to demolish all but the facade, which will be incorporated into the casino.

YWCA Building, Springfield, Mass

The YWCA building on Howard Street in Springfield, around 1910. Photo from View Book of Springfield (1910).

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The building in 2014:

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The building’s appearance hasn’t changed much over the past century, but its use has.  It was built in 1907 as a residential building for the YWCA, after the organization moved from its old location a block away on Bliss Street.  It continued to be used by the YWCA until at least the 1980s, but today it is the Western Massachusetts Correctional Alcohol Center, a minimum security facility for alcohol-related offenders.  However, it probably won’t be for long – Howard Street is right in the middle of the planned casino development, so the days appear to be numbered for the historic building.

Emerson Wight Playground, Springfield, Mass, June 27, 1916 (2)

Another view of boys playing baseball at Emerson Wight Playground in Springfield, Mass. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The park in 2014:

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As was the previous photo, this was taken by Lewis W. Hine during his documentation of child labor conditions for the National Child Labor Relations Committee. Between the two scenes, 98 years apart, remarkably little has changed, down to the houses on Acushnet Avenue in the background, and it is possible that the two large trees near the center of the 2014 photo are also in the 1916 one – there are several saplings along the fence, two of which are in the exact same locations as the present-day trees.

Emerson Wight Playground, Springfield, Mass (1)

The Emerson Wight Playground in Springfield, Mass, June 27, 1916. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Child Labor Committee Collection.

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The park in 2014:

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It’s kind of eerie – in 98 years, almost nothing has changed about this scene. The baseball field is still in the same spot, along with all five of the houses in the distance, and (I believe) even a couple of the trees that are small saplings in front of the fence in the 1916 photo.  The only difference is the young boys, who are almost certainly all dead by now. The photo was taken by Lewis W. Hine as part of his documentation for the National Child Labor Relations Committee, and likely many, if not all, of these boys were working full time in a factory or other industry in Springfield.