The city of Springfield, MA

The short list of 19th century schools left in Springfield

Someone asked me when schools were built in Springfield, so I decided to consult some prior research that I had compiled. When I looked at the list of Springfield Schools that stood in 1900, I was surprised at just how few of them are still standing. Of the approximately 40 Springfield Public Schools that existed in 1900, just 10 11 remain standing -- 75% of them have been demolished.

Update: Springfield Historical Commissioner Bob McCarroll has told me that I missed a school -- Alden St. School, which was converted into a church. I was confused because the school was built in 1890, but the city had the building present on the site listed as being built in 1910.

Only one school stands from Springfield's first school building boom in the 1860's, only 2 schools from the city's second school building boom in the 1880's stand, only one single-room ungraded school still stands, and only two schools from the 1890's stand largely unmodified.

Here are the ten eleven schools, ordered by year of construction.

Indian Orchard Grammar

Indian Orchard GrammarIndian Orchard Grammar

Built in 1868, this is Springfield's oldest standing school, although it has been significantly modified to the point where it is unrecognizable from its original design. It was renamed Myrtle Street School and the original school had another building built in front of it. Then a second building was built in the front, a twin of the first. The school was later converted into housing, I'm not sure when.

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.

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.

History of Hockey in Springfield

History of Hockey in Springfield

I'm sure just about everyone knows that before the being known as the Springfield Falcons, the hockey team in Springfield was known as the Springfield Indians? And I'm sure that most know that before that, they were known as the Springfield Kings. Generally everyone knows that before the Kings, the team was also known as the Springfield Indians.

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.

Springfield in the 1870's

This blog has been a little quiet lately -- it actually takes more time than I expected to assemble a coherent article on Springfield's history. Plus, I'm a procrastinator.

I've recently been focusing on stereoviews, which were produced between 1850 and 1900, but were most popular in the 1870's. They are among the earliest photographic records of Springfield.

This was an exciting time in the city's history. Springfield nearly doubled in population from 1860 (11,766) to 1870 (26,703). Change was rapid - and it's always more fun to be expanding than contracting or stagnating.

Who were Griswold & Steele?

If you collect real-photo postcards of Springfield, the line "Griswold & Steele, 37 John St., Springfield, Mass." should be very familiar to you. Of the dozens of photo postcards I've seen of our city, over 75% were produced by this company. I have over 65 different cards of theirs, and I know of at least that many more in the hands of other collectors.

But just who were Griswold & Steele? It's hard to know for sure, but I dug up some basic information on this prodigious duo.

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