The picture above was taken in 2012, four years before the recent move of what was once the French Congregational Church and then the First Spiritualist Church. This spring, the building was moved 600 feet from its original address at 33-37 Bliss Street to a new location closer to Union Street to make way for construction of the new MGM Springfield Casino. The High Victorian Gothic-style church was erected in 1887 through the leadership of Springfield industrialist Daniel B. Wesson to benefit French Canadian Huguenots who were employed by the Smith and Wesson Company. In 1909, the French Protestants gave up the church and Wesson sold it to the Congregational Union. In 1918 the church was acquired by the First Spiritualist Society, formed in 1898, which incorporated in 1919 as the First Spiritualist Church of Springfield. The Church sold the building in 2013 and moved to a new location in Chicopee, where it is now known as the Healing Hands of Light Spiritualist Church.
The house at 270 Maple Street in Springfield reached its current form in 1905, although parts of it may date back to 1879. It was the home of Springfield banker Frederick Harris (1852-1926), who succeeded his father, Frederick H. Harris, as president of the Third National Bank of Springfield in 1911. He married Emily Osborne, sister of Helen Osborne Storrow, the philanthropist who founded Storrowton Village at the Big E. A school in Springfield is named for Frederick Harris.
In 1982 Springfield’s First Baptist Church (founded in 1811 and then located on State Street, having earlier merged with the State Street Baptist Church) merged with the Park Memorial Baptist Church, located at 187 Forest Park Avenue/45 Maple Street to form the First Park Memorial Baptist Church. The church meets and worships at the former Park Memorial building, erected in 1900-1901.
The building at 90 Carew Street in Springfield, dedicated on December 13, 1885, was initially called the Carew Street Chapel, begun by Springfield’s First Baptist Church. The Chapel was renamed the Carew Street Church in 1887 and the building was enlarged in 1890. Damaged in a fire on the evening of January 3, 1905, the church was rebuilt within a year. The Baptist congregation left the building c. 1949. In 1961 it became the home of the Gardner Memorial AME Zion Church, but since 2000 the building has been vacant and for sale.
The initial structure of the building at 1655 Main Street, today called the Board of Trade Block, was built in 1862 by John Hixon, a manufacturer and wholesaler of boots and shoes. He was later joined in business by William Birnie (1818-1889), who used the block (after his partner’s death) for his Birnie Paper Co., which manufactured envelopes and other paper products. Birnie, who trained as a stonemason, was also involved in bridge and railroad construction. The building was rebuilt after it was damaged by a fire in 1892. The plans were drawn by Jason Perkins, who included the 19-foot wide bay windows on the second and third floors. Over the years the building has housed various offices and social clubs. In 1927 it was joined internally with the buildings on either side.
The Springfield Safe Deposit and Trust Company was established in 1886. After initially occupying quarters in the ground floor of the Hall Building on Main Street, in 1908 the bank moved to the ground floor of the new Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company building at the corner of State and Main streets. Continuing to prosper even in the midst of the Great Depression, the bank erected its own building at 127 State Street in 1933. Designed by the Boston architectural firm of Thomas M. James Company, the building is considered to be an outstanding example of the Art Deco style. This includes both the exterior and interior details, the latter having survived with only minor changes. The Springfield Safe Deposit & Trust Company later merged with other banks. In 1996, Fleet Bank donated the building to the Community Music School, which owns in today.
The house at 182 Sumner Avenue in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield was built in 1893. It was the home of Smith Harrison Platt (1829-1912), a Methodist minister and doctor whose medical office was in his house. His obituary by W. A. Layton appeared in The Christian Advocate, Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 3 (January 16, 1913):
He was the son of Marshall S. and Tryphena M Platt and was born in New Milford, Conn., on December 14, 1829. A child of Prayer, his parents were Methodists. He was converted at the Stepney camp meeting, on August 30, 1845, licensed to exhort soon afterward and then to preach, December 18, 1847. To be privileged to be the Lord’s accredited messenger for sixty-five years is a favor accorded to but few, and for most of this time to be recognized as one of the ablest preachers of so great a Conference as New York East is to be honored indeed. Thus was our brother blessed.
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He was kicked by a horse a few weeks before going to his first charge and was forced to walk with crutch and cane for five years, and with cane alone for sixteen additional years, when the other knee was injured, and with two canes he managed to get about for four additional years. Forced by failing health to abandon the pastorate during his second year, he located and traveled for a time and then entered business, but with improved physical condition he was eager for his chosen life work and reentered the Conference in 1853, having been absent from the pastorate for one year only. For three years he did regular work, but in 1856; he was again obliged to rest, and this was repeated in 1859-62. These, however, were not idle years, as they were spent in writing books, which from many sources brought tokens of helpfulness.
His pastorates were: 1850-51, Cornwall Bridge and Ellsworth; 1852, located; 1853, readmitted, Fairfield; 1854, Olinville Mission; 1855, Greenport; 1856, supernumerary; 1857-58. Brooklyn, Nathan Bangs’s church (New York Avenue); 1859-62, supernumerary; 1-t:3-64, Newtown and Southville; 1865-67, West Winsted; 1868-70, Brooklyn, Fleet Street: 1871-73, Bridgeport, First Church; 1-74-76, Brooklyn, De Kalb Avenue; 1877, Brooklyn, Tabernacle; 1878-80, Ridgefield; 1881-83, Southampton. In 1884 he retired, succumbing to the strain of building the new church at Southampton.
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While in De Kalb Avenue, after twenty-five years of trouble with his injured knees, accentuated by rheumatism, causing him for years to sit while preaching, the Lord healed him in answer to prayer.
Dr. Platt did not have the advantages of the schools except for parts of three years at Amenia Seminary, when between sixteen and eighteen years of age, but he was a great reader and a careful student and by private tutoring he kept abreast of his brethren and secured his honorary degree of A.M. from Wesleyan University, while through a correspondence school and such clinical work as he could command, he graduated in medicine, and when, in 1884, he was obliged to permanently retire from the regular pastorate, he devoted his time to the practice of medicine and built up a lucrative practice in Southampton, I. I., and afterward, removing to Waterbury, Conn., he was equally successful.
Knowing of his faith healing, the writer, who succeeded him at Southampton, and who was his pastor there for three years, asked how he reconciled his medical practice with his faith in divine healing. He replied: “The Lord is able to heal either with or without remedies. He employs both methods. When, however, He heals without remedies, in my judgment He either reveals His intent to the individual to be healed or to some second person concerning him.” Thus he consistently believed in faith healing and practiced medicine.
His was a metaphysical mind and his heart was as warm as was his mind intense. His interest in things philosophical and spiritual seemed, if possible, to increase as the result of his pastoral deprivations, and his later years were largely spent in evolving a theological system which he believed when published was to be of incalculable blessing to the Christian world. About a week before he died the writer received a letter from him in which he told of a severe illness from which he had just recovered, and said that he hoped that the Lord had spared him to complete his theological work, which he expected to have ready for the publishers in about twelve months. He was grateful to have been spared, that this work might be accomplished, and gave evidences of devotion to a chosen task which has rarely, if ever, been excelled. He has an opportunity now to prosecute his studies under most favorable auspices.
In 1853 he was married to Miss Catherine H. Bangs, daughter of the late Rev. William H. Bangs, who, throughout his effective ministry, was his companion and helper. To them were born three children [. . . . .] For years he had spent his summers with his daughter in Springfield, Mass., and his winters in North Carolina. He responded to the summons calling him from sickness to health, from the retired to the permanently effective ranks of God’s chosen ones at the home of his sister, Mrs. Flora E. Barnes, Southern Pines, N. C., on October 29, 1912. The funeral services were conducted by the undersigned in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday, November 2, and his body was laid to rest in the Oak Grove Cemetery of Springfield.