Charles Hosley House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1166 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2017:

This house is located on Worthington Street opposite the Thompson Triangle in Springfield’s historic McKnight neighborhood. It was built in 1889, the same year as the neighboring house at 1154 Worthington Street. However, the two houses are very different in architectural style, with this one being an early example of a Colonial Revival design. Its original owner was Charles D. Hosley, a jeweler who co-owned the Springfield firm of Woods & Hosley until his retirement in 1898. He lived here with his wife Harriet and their son Walter. Harriet was the daughter of prominent publisher Charles Merriam, the co-founder of the current Merriam-Webster company. Her sister, Eleanor Woods, lived in the house next door at 1154 Worthington.

Both Charles and Harriet died in 1917, and by 1920 the house was owned by Dr. William C. Hill, the longtime principal of Central and later Classical High School. He served as principal from 1910 until 1945, and lived here for many years with his wife Gertrude and their son Charles. Gertrude died in 1954, and William lived here until his death in 1964 at the age of 90. Since then, the house has remained well-preserved. The only significant difference is the lack of the enclosed porch over the entryway, which was probably not original to the house anyway. Like the hundreds of other houses in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Eleanor S. Woods House, Springfield, Mass

The house at 1154 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The house in 2016:

The McKnight neighborhood was developed in the late 19th century, with hundreds of elegant homes that attracted some of the city’s wealthiest residents. This particular house was built in 1889 at the corner of Worthington and Clarendon Streets, opposite Thompson Triangle. Its design reflects the Queen Anne architecture of the day, and includes asymmetrical facades, an ornate chimney, and a variety of exterior materials.

Its original owner was Eleanor S. Woods, a wealthy widow whose father, Charles Merriam, had been the co-founder of the present-day Merriam-Webster company. Although a Springfield native, Woods had lived in California before moving into this house. Her husband, Colonel Samuel Woods, had been a West Point graduate and career military officer, serving in the Mexican-American War as well as the Civil War. After his retirement in 1881, the couple lived in Oakland, California until his death in 1887.

Eleanor Woods was about 50 when the house was completed. She and Samuel had no children together, but in the 1900 census she was living here with her 38 year old nephew Charles Kirkham and her 84 year old aunt Elizabeth Warriner, along with two servants. Both Charles and Elizabeth died in 1901, and Eleanor died in 1906 at the age of 66.

After her death, the house was owned by the Episcopalian diocese, and was used as the residence for the bishop. The diocese’s first bishop, Alexander Hamilton Vinton, lived here until his death in 1911. During this time, he added a chapel to the house. His successor, Thomas F. Davies, also lived here, remaining here for 20 years until the diocese sold the house in 1931.

The house subsequently underwent significant alterations, and was at one point even used as a doctor’s office. However, it has since been restored to its original splendor as a single-family home. Like the hundreds of other Victorian-era homes in the neighborhood, it is part of the McKnight District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Homestead Building, Springfield Mass

The Homestead Building, at 82-86 Worthington Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust

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The building in 2014:


According to the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, this building on Worthington Street was built in 1903, although its architectural style makes it look more like something built in the 1880s, like a scaled-down version of the Chicopee Bank Building.  The building was the home of Phelps Publishing Company, which produced the Springfield Homestead newspaper as well as several other weekly publications.  In 1932, the building was sold to Blue Line Transportation Company, as seen in the first photo.  From here, passengers could take buses to cities around New England and beyond; the Worthington Street side lists Hartford, New York, and Boston as destinations.  Most recently, the building was used as a nightclub, which closed in 2014 following a shooting outside the building.

There’s another building that appears in both photos, although it isn’t as obvious.  The tall, “L” shaped building that seems to loom over the Homestead Building was built in 190, and in the first photo it was home to the Springfield Photo Engraving Company.  The building is still there today, although in 1949 it was trimmed down to three floors and now blends in with the Homestead Building.

Post Office & Customs House, Springfield

The northwest corner of Main and Worthington in Springfield, sometime before 1890. Photo from Springfield Present and Prospective (1905).


The same location, around 1905, after construction of the Post Office and Customs House. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The scene in 2023:

The first photo shows the Wilcox Block, an old commercial building that likely dated back to the early 19th century. Located on the west side of Main Street between Worthington and Fort Streets, it was demolished in 1889 and replaced with the city’s first purpose-built post office. As seen in the second photo this building was an imposing, castle-like Romanesque structure, built of brownstone quarried from nearby Longmeadow. It housed a post office on the first floor, with customs and other federal offices on the second floor, but within a few decades the building was too small for the growing population of Springfield. In 1932, a new, much larger post office and federal building opened on Dwight Street, and the old building here was demolished the following year. In 1939, it was replaced with the present-day Art Deco building, which was originally home to the Enterprise department store.


Today, there are still several buildings standing from the earlier photos, though. The Homestead Building, completed in 1903, was once used as the offices for the Springfield Homestead newspaper, and it is visible on the left side of the 1905 and 2023 photos. On the far right side, the only building that appears in all three photos is the Fort Block. Built in 1858, it was heavily altered in the early 1920s, but it is still standing, and is best known today as the longtime home of the Student Prince restaurant.

Hotel Worthy, Springfield

The Hotel Worthy, at the corner of Main and Worthington in Springfield, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.


The building in 2017:


Unlike many of the other views of downtown Springfield from the turn of the last century, almost nothing has changed in this scene.  Taken from the corner of Main and Worthington, with Worthington to the left and Main to the right, most of the buildings in this photo have survived.  The only exception is the building to the immediate right of the Hotel Worthy, which is now a public square.  The historic hotel itself is now an apartment building, and the buildings beyond it to the left down Worthington Street now house a variety of bars and restaurants.  One of these, Smith’s Billiards, has actually been open since before the 1908 photo was taken, and it is supposedly the oldest pool hall in the United States.