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?

Yes, the school is the same building mentioned in the Republican article about the new firehouse, the building described as "a brick residential building which would have to be torn down." The building was built in 1872, and is probably the the oldest surviving building in that once-rural neighborhood.

It's unfortunate that we never seem to find these things out until decisions are already made.

Update: I drove by and took some pictures today. The house is remarkably intact from the outside, right down to the original wooden storm window on the front.

I also did some research and found that this is the last Little Red Schoolhouse in the City of Springfield. The uniqueness of this intact building warrants that it be saved from the wrecking ball.

White St School

I live across the street from this building, and i would hate to see it torn down for use as a fire station. Its a beautiful building with great history.

White Street School is gone!

Wow - one minute its there, the next it's gone - whoever tore it down, they were quick...I hate seeing history getting erased in the name of progress - there must have been a hundred other sites around that the new fire station could have gone...

Update on school

A reporter from the Republican called me today, hopefully that means they're writing an article on this. Look for it in the next few days.

Another Update

I found, in a 1901 city report, that the White Street School was closed in April of 1900.

Another Update

Another update.

Springfield Historical Commission Chair Bob McCarroll and I met with the mayor and representatives of the Fire Department today. The prospects for this building appear slim, particularly on its original site.

First, the location is ideal for the fire station. Since the new station will replace the Oakland St. and Sumner Ave fire stations, it needs to be in the general vicinity of this site, and very close to Sumner Ave.

The quality that makes this site ideal is that it is nearly on Sumner Ave. but is not directly on Sumner Ave. This allows for the easy exit of fire engines onto the main artery, but allows for the re-entry to the station without exposing them to the dangerous traffic flow of a main artery. It appears as though choosing another site is effectively ruled out.

We suggested incorporating the existing building into a new design. There was a lot of skepticism over this, primarily because the preliminary thoughts of the station design have the living quarters over the engine storage, not side-by-side with it. The large portion of the lot — where the house now sits — would be needed for the engine storage. The engines most likely won’t fit any other way.

The mayor and commissioner agreed to ask the chosen architects to see if there is a design that works that incorporates the building, but this is probably unlikely.

The final, and most likely suggestion is to move the building. We would have to assess whether the building is in good enough shape to be moved and then viable at a new location (i.e. in good enough interior shape that someone will buy it). The question then becomes, “where”?

The mayor seemed very receptive toward pursuing this option even if it means a little extra work and cost. We guesstimated that it could cost $150k to move and seat the building, plus the cost of a new building lot.

The main problem is that we don’t know where to put the building. We will have to research city-owned lots in the general vicinity of the current location. I would think a main artery would be best (for access and visibility), particularly in a decent part of Forest Park (to make the building economically viable).

There is one lot which looks interesting, perhaps people have some information about it. It is at the intersection of White & Belmont Streets, adjacent to a former gift shop. The lot is zoned residential, and is assessed at $35k. I think it is for sale too.

The mayor outlined the process for acquiring property. The city is allowed to offer 25% over the appraised value of the lot in a pure purchase. It could also go the eminent domain route, and if so, three separate appraisals would be taken of the property.

Assuming that the assessment of this lot is in the ballpark, this lot could be had for, say, $50k. Assuming that the move costs $150k (which could be high), the city would be into the property for $200k.

A brick building such as this on that site could probably sell for at least $150k, but to demolish the building would have cost at least $25k. So after all is said and done, the building could potentially be saved for a cost of just $25k to the city. A historic preservation restriction could be placed on the property as a condition of the sale, effectively putting it under the control of the Springfield Historical Commission.

I personally think that $25k is a small outlay by the city to support the preservation of the last brick schoolhouse in the city. This city spends absolutely nothing on historic preservation, even though CBG money can freely be spent in this area. I personally think that even $50k is within reason.

If moved to this site, it would still be on White Street, which would be nice.

However, I have heard a rumor that this lot may not be available anymore, or perhaps it will cost more than $50k. If anyone has a suggestion of a building lot on a main street in Forest Park, one that is about 70 feet wide by 90 feet deep, it would help us out. Or any abandoned buildings might be a good angle too. We’ll be trying to get the planning department to search the GIS system for any city-owned lots in this vicinity.

There is a triangular-shaped city-owned lot at the intersection of Allen & Sumner Ave. It appears to be a little landscaped terrace. Does anyone know anything about this? It is good-sized, and could fit this building. It would certainly be prominent there.

There is a wooded area next to Smail’s florists that could easily accommodate a building of this size. The woodlands behind it could still be preserved. Smail’s seems to have already paved a portion of the city land for a parking lot. It wouldn’t be too much out-of-place because there is an 1870’s house a little further down at the corner of White & Dwight. I like this lot the best since it is still on White St and is in Forest Park. I don’t know the red tape behind carving out such a lot though.

There is a city-owned lot next to the FL Roberts gas station on Allen St. It would easily fit this building, though it would look a little out-of-place.

There is some city-owned land on Plumtree Rd., across from Nathan Bill, designated as wetlands, but already containing a number of houses. Perhaps a lot could be carved out there.

The city could use eminent domain power to acquire an empty lot or a lot with a seriously dilapidated house on it. While I think it would be bad to take a side-lot of a property that is owned by the adjacent house, I don’t think it is a bad thing to take a lot that is separately owned. There is a valid community interest in preserving Springfield’s last brick schoolhouse, particularly when it is tied to the construction of a fire station.

This is a long shot, but it’s still within reach, in my opinion.

White Street School Update

For those who haven't heard it, this building is pretty much finished. The cost estimates to move the building came back in the $1 million range (due to structural weakness and the need to bring the entire building up to code), and the site is still the most desirable for the new fire station. The building has been taken by the city by eminent domain, and it is just a matter of time before it is knocked down. The city has tentatively agreed to leave the building standing until all the ducks are in a row for the new station, but like so many other buildings, we were too late to save this one too.

I picked up a postcard that had three schools pictured with the caption "Schools near the Maples - the old and new". I recognized one as the Forest Park Middle School, but couldn't figure out the other two. When it dawned on me that the second picture was of the new White Street School, I realized that the third was the old White Street Schoolhouse, before its renovations. Here is that photo, along with a similar-angle photo. It's unmistakable. Given the rickety appearance of the building in the early 1900's, it's remarkable that it survived another hundred years.

oh my god


Will be torn down

I'm glad that I could give you that little bit of history, but unfortunately, the old school will be torn down in a matter of months to make room for the new fire station. We were too late identifying it as a unique building in the city to save it, and apparently this site was the best available for a new station.

Irene Parmelee Portrait

History buffs,

I own a large portrait by Irene E. Parmelee (d. 1934) of Mrs. John R. Hixon.
I am not sure when it was created. Parmelee was a Springfield native, she owned a studio in Springfield, and has some portraits in the courthouse.

There is some information regarding her life and work online, and some information published in the literature.

A list of institutions with works by Irene E. Parmelee can be found here:


I'm wondering if anybody has any information regarding an institution or organization that would be interested in having this piece in their inventory.

Thank you,

CT Valley Historical Museum

You can contact the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum at 1-800-625-7738. They might be interested.



I always wondered

I've been driving past this building for years, and always wondered what it once was. I always had thought it was once an old fire station....kinda funny the land will now house one. Like so many others, good bye cool old building with so much history:(


omg. i cant believe this was white st. along time ago. im currently going to white. st. school now. im in mrs.potvins class. so cool!

Fascinated because I used to live here

This is crazy for me to see because I lived here in the early to mid 2000's. Just can't put my thoughts into words when I think that it was a school. I wonder if there ever was a picture inside? Haha probably not right?

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