A virtual Historical Society for Springfield, MA. We will present stories about Springfield's history, advocate for historical preservation, and provide a place for users to contribute their own knowledge of Springfield's past.

Springfield's Little River Water System

When most people turn on the faucet, they give little thought to where the water comes from. But Springfield has one of the best water systems in New England, water that has been ranked nationally, all due to the foresight the city had over 100 years ago.

Architectural Sketches and Designs

I picked up a new source of photos of Springfield this past weekend, entitled "Architectural Sketches and Designs", by F.S. Newman. Unfortunately, it was not a complete copy of the publication, I only got about 15 pages from it, but what I got was pretty neat.

Springfield Homestead Photo Album

I picked up a great book on eBay, called the "Homestead Album". It was published by the Springfield Homestead, a local weekly newspaper that existed in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Unlike the nationally-bent Springfield Republican, The Springfield Homestead focused mostly on local issues, and is a great resource for local research.

Springfield's bridges across the Connecticut

In response to a question about bridges across the Connecticut River, I thought I'd post the answer as an article.

Memorial and Toll BridgesMemorial and Toll Bridges

The photo is from a postcard, and shows the brief period of time when both the Old Toll Bridge and the Hampden County Memorial Bridge were standing. In a display of Yankee frugality, the Toll Bridge is being dismantled board by board.

St. Joseph's Church: 1874-2008?

News has broken today that St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, situated on the corner of Howard and East Columbus Avenue, has been sold by the Springfield Diocese for $1.2 million to the Colvest Group of Windsor, CT.

Given Colvest's history of developing parcels into CVS and Starbucks, I'm not very optimistic that their plan includes renovating and preserving this church. Odds are that it will be demolished, yet another church steeple gone from the downtown horizon.

Handy Chocolate Company

I like to point out old and unusual buildings to my daughter Nora. Once, I pointed to a building and said "that looks like it used to be a factory. What kind of factory do you think it was". She blurted out with glee, "I think it was a chocolate factory!" Oh, to be four years old again.

It turns out that there once was a chocolate factory in Springfield. The building is still standing, and I bet many of you have driven by it without even knowing what it once was.

Moving the library

When a building is moved today, it is a rare sight, so it is a pretty big event. But 100+ years ago, moving buildings was very common. After all, it took a lot of time to build a building, and New Englanders are known for their frugality, so why waste a perfectly good structure?

I think it might surprise people to hear that one large, significant building, no longer standing, was moved in Springfield in 1911: the old city library.

Map of Springfield Schools in 1900

This is a Google Map with links to the location of each of Springfield's Schools in 1900. They are color-coded to show buildings that are still standing (green), buildings that have been demolished (red), and buildings that might have been significantly reconstructed into still-standing structures (purple).

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Old White Street School

Before the present-day White Street School was built in 1904 across from Stratford Street, there was another White Street School. It was an mixed grade school, and it served the rural population in that area of the city. It was described in the 1900 City Report as having just a single school room -- in other words, it was a little old brick schoolhouse. It had 40 students and was heated only by a wood stove. The first teacher was Carol A. Moseley, in 1872, and in 1875 its teacher was Georgie A. Thayer.

The school operated on White Street, just before its intersection with Sumner Avenue, and served as a school until at least 1900. The building still exists today as the oldest schoolhouse in Springfield -- but for how much longer?

Lost Architecture: 120 Sumner Avenue

Of all the houses that have disappeared from Springfield, I am strangely drawn to the Elizabethan style house that once stood at 120 Sumner Ave.

I have four separate turn-of-the-century images of this house, the most I have seen of a single residential property other than the Wesson mansion or the Barney House. (And to think, I can't find a single early photo of my own house!)

This drawing is from American Architect and Building News, March 20, 1897:

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