George Dutton House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1054 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This house is one of many large Queen Anne-style homes in this area of the McKnight neighborhood, and it was built in 1885 as the home of George D. Dutton. He lived here with his wife Harriet, who was the daughter of Gurdon Bill, a prominent publisher and businessman in Springfield. Along with Harriet’s brother, Nathan Bill, George Dutton founded the National Envelope Company in Milwaukee, and the family moved there in the 1890s.

The house was subsequently purchased by real estate agent William E. Parsons, who lived here with his wife Grace and their two children, Gladys and William, Jr. After living here for about 30 years, William died in 1928, and at the 1930 census Grace was living here with Gladys, along with Gladys’s husband Robert Bradshaw and their children. Within a few years, though, Grace and the rest of the family moved to Burlingame, California.

By the time the first photo was taken, this house was the home of Ethyl Parker, who lived here with her father George and her 24 year old daughter Dorothy. Since then, the exterior of the home has been well-maintained, and aside from the fence very little has changed from the 1930s scene. In 1976 the house, along with a large portion of the neighborhood, became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Theron Hawks House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1078 Worthington Street, at the corner of Florida Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1884, and was originally the home of the Reverend Theron H. Hawks. A native of Charlemont, Massachusetts, Hawks attended Williams College, graduating as the valedictorian in 1844. He taught for several years, graduated from Union Theological Seminary, and in 1855 he became the pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Springfield. That same year, he married his wife Mary, and after six years they moved west, where Reverend Hawks served as the pastor of churches in Cleveland and Marietta, Ohio. However, in 1885 they returned to Springfield and moved into this house.

Theron Hawkes became an instructor at the newly-established School for Christian Workers, where he taught Bible History, Exegesis, and Church History. The school was soon divided into four different institutions, including a YMCA Training School, which became Springfield College, and a French Protestant School, which became American International College. Reverend Hawks’s division became the Bible Normal College, moved to Hartford, and later became part of Hartford Seminary.

In the 1900 census, the Hawks’s were living here with two of their daughters, three grandsons, and two servants. Reverend Hawks died in 1908, and Mary lived here until her death two years later. The house remained in the family, though, and two of their daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, continued to live here for the rest of their lives. Mary died in 1931, and Elizabeth in 1939, around the time that the first photo was taken.

Since then, not much has changed in the exterior of the house, except for the left side of the porch, which is now gone. One interesting connection between the two photos is the tree in the center, which partially blocks the view of the house. It appears to be the same one that is visible in the first photo, and was likely planted by Elizabeth Hawks herself. The house is now used as a daycare, and it is part of the McKnight Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

William Harris House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1104 Worthington Street, at the corner of Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

The house in 2017:

This massive house is the only four-story single-family home in Springfield, and it was the longtime home of William and Henrietta Harris. William was a leading figure in the region’s foundry business, having learned the trade from his father in Rutland, Vermont, before moving to Springfield in 1881. He and his wife were married in 1883, and in 1886 they moved into this newly-built house in the McKnight neighborhood. At the time, William was serving as the secretary of the Springfield Foundry Company, but in 1896 he became a partner in C. H. Bausch & Sons. This Holyoke-based foundry was renamed Bausch & Harris Machine Tool Company and moved to Springfield, with Harris becoming the company president.

William and Henrietta lived here for more than 40 years, and raised their seven children here. William died in 1931 and Henrietta in 1933, and he house subsequently became a boarding house, as was the case with so many other 19th century mansions in the neighborhood at the time. It was being used as such when the first photo was taken, and by the 1940 census there were six lodgers here, all of whom were single or divorced, and most of whom were middle aged or older. Since then, though, the house has been restored, and it is again a single-family home. Along with the other houses in the neighborhood, it is now part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thompson Triangle, Springfield, Mass

Facing north toward Worthington Street from the center of the Thompson Triangle, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

When the first photo was taken, the house in the distance was the home of William McKnight, and it is described in more detail the previous post. John and William McKnight were the developers of most of this neighborhood, and they created a highly-desirable residential area for many of the city’s wealthiest residents. Part of their development plan included several triangular parks, which they donated to the city. Although ostensibly an act of generosity to the public, these parks also added to the value of the lots that bordered them, and it is no coincidence that William McKnight built his own mansion here, overlooking the Thompson Triangle, which is the largest of these parks.

Prior to the McKnight brothers’ development, the land north of Saint James Avenue and east of Thompson Street was owned by Colonel James M. Thompson. He was a businessman who served as president of several of Springfield’s banks, and he also held several political offices, including city alderman, state senator, and member of the Governor’s Council. After his death in 1884, the McKnights purchased and subdivided the property, in the process creating this park as its centerpiece. Many of the finest homes in the neighborhood are located on or around the Thompson Triangle, including the homes on Dartmouth Terrace, which can be seen in the distance in both photos.

Today, the area around the Thompson Triangle remains one of the best-preserved parts of the neighborhood. William McKnight’s house still stands, as do the other 19th century mansions around the park, and in 1976 this area became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The only significant difference in these two photos is the fountain at the center of the triangle, which was added along with benches and brick walkways during a 1986 renovation of the park.

William McKnight House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1176 Worthington Street, at the corner of Dartmouth Terrace in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

Like many other places across the northeast, Springfield developed into a major city with very little in the way of central planning. For the first two centuries, Springfield was mostly confined to the Main Street corridor, but by the mid-19th century the city had begun to expand outward. In the absence of a consistent street pattern, the layout of new neighborhoods was generally left to the men who developed them. None of these developers, though, had as much success in their efforts and long-term influence on the city as John and William McKnight, two brothers who moved from Truxton, New York to Springfield in the 1850s.

The McKnight brothers initially entered the dry goods trade, and in 1866 they started their own company of McKnight, Norton & Hawley. Soon afterwards, they also entered the real estate business, starting in 1870 when John purchased the 22-acre farm of Josiah Flagg. Located between State Street and Bay Street near the present-day Mason Square, the property was subdivided and four streets were built through here: Thompson, Westminster, Buckingham, and Sherman Streets. The McKnight brothers began building homes along these streets, but the Panic of 1873 led to a recession that lowered the demand for new houses.

As the economy recovered from the recession, housing demand increased, particularly here in Springfield, where the city was growing at a fast rate. The McKnights purchased the large estate of Colonel James M. Thompson on the north side of Bay Street, and by 1880 they had begun large-scale development of the neighborhood. Many of the houses were built by the McKnights and then sold, but they also sold a number of empty lots for buyers to built their own houses on. To maintain the appearance of the neighborhood, though, they placed restrictions on these lots, which included setbacks from the street as well as a minimum construction cost for the homes.

John and William each lived in several different homes in the area over the years, but by 1890 William and his wife Caroline had moved into this elegant home at the corner of Worthington Street and Dartmouth Terrace. It is hardly surprising that he chose this as the site for his home, because it occupies perhaps the finest lot in his development. On one side is Thompson Triangle, the largest park in the neighborhood, and on the other side is the landscaped Dartmouth Terrace, with the wooded McKnight Glen beyond it.

William McKnight is certainly best-known for the development of the neighborhood that now bears his name, but he was also involved in other residential developments in Springfield. He built Ridgewood Terrace between Union and Mulberry Streets, and he also established the Mutual Investment Company, which began developing the Forest Park neighborhood in the 1890s. However, he did not live to see Forest Park fully developed, because he died in 1903 at the age of 67, under somewhat unusual circumstances. He had just returned to this house from his summer home in Hyannisport, and had turned on the gas lamp in his bedroom before getting into bed. However, for reasons unknown, he was unable to light the gas, and asphyxiated in his sleep.

William’s wife Caroline died two years later, and the house was sold to Alfred and Ella Pillsbury, who lived here with their son Alfred and daughter Anna.  The elder Alfred had been a longtime lithographer for Milton Bradley, but by the time he moved into this house he had become a successful real estate broker. Along with this, he was involved in city politics, serving as a member of the city council and as president of the board of aldermen. He only lived here for a few years, though, before his death in 1911, and Ella remained here until her death in 1920.

Subsequent owners included Dr. Harold Tooker, a pediatrician who was living here by the 1930 census, and Mary E. Cosgriff, who was living here when the first photo was taken. Since then, very little has changed in the home’s exterior, and it looks just as stately today as it did when William McKnight moved in more than 125 years ago. The surrounding neighborhood that he and his brother spent years developing is still largely intact, and it remains one of the finest residential areas in the city. Because of this, in 1976 much of the neighborhood, including this house, became part of the McKnight Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

George Nye House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1120 Worthington Street, at the corner of Ingersoll Grove in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

When the McKnight neighborhood was developed in the late 19th century, it attracted a wide variety of prosperous Springfield residents. Among them was George Nye, a wholesale meat dealer whose house was built in 1888 at the northeast corner of Worthington Street and Ingersoll Grove. Some 40 years earlier, when this area was very sparsely settled, Major Edward Ingersoll had an estate here on the north side of Worthington Street. His house was located around this spot, and he owned a large amount of land behind it, which became known as Ingersoll’s Grove. This land was subdivided and developed in the 1880s, and the street Ingersoll Grove was opened through the property.

Major Ingersoll’s old house was demolished as part of the development, and George Nye’s house was built in its place, with a Queen Anne-style design that reflected the architectural tastes of the era. George and his wife Martha had previously lived on Florence Street in the city’s Six Corners neighborhood, so the move brought them a new, larger, more stylish home, as well as a far more desirable location. They lived here for many years, and after George died in 1907, Martha remained here for another 15 years, when she sold it in 1922, two years before her death.

The house was purchased by attorney David B. Hoar, who married his wife Marion several years later. The couple raised their seven children here, and like the Nyes they lived here for decades. They were living here when the first photo was taken in the late 1930s, and they remained here even as the neighborhood entered a decline in the mid-20th century. Unlike many of the other large houses in the area, it was never converted into a boarding house, nursing home, group home, or similar use. David and Marion Hoar finally sold the house in 1968, but it remained a single-family home, and eight years later it became part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is well-preserved, and like many other historic homes in the neighborhood it is nearly indistinguishable from its appearance in the first photo.