Category Archives: Renaissance Revival

Salem Public Library (1855)

Salem Public Library

The building that today houses the Salem Public Library (370 Essex Street in Salem) was originally built in 1855 as a house for Capt. John Bertram (1795-1882), designed in the Renaissance Revival style by Salem architects William H. Emmerton and Joseph C. Foster. Known as the Bertram-Waters House, in 1887 it was donated by Capt. Bertram’s heirs to the city to become a library. The building was remodeled inside for that purpose in 1888-1889 and additional wings were constructed in 1911-1912.

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Sears Building (1896)

80 Race Street, Holyoke

Around 1896, Henry G. Sears and Lemuel Sears (not related by blood) constructed the building at 80 Race Street in Holyoke. Henry G. Sears was born at Shelburne Falls in 1853. As related in volume 6 of the Encyclopedia of Massachusetts, Biographical–Genealogical (1916):

In March, 1871, he entered the employ of Lemuel Sears, a merchant of Holyoke, Massachusetts, remaining but a few weeks when he accepted the advice of an uncle, Henry Eldridge, and went West. He located at Dwight, Illinois, and there made an agreement by which in return for his services he was to receive twelve dollars and fifty cents per month the first year, fifteen dollars the second and twenty dollars the third year, in addition to his board. The West did not prove to his liking, and after one month in his new home he returned to Holyoke and again entered the employ of Lemuel Sears, beginning as clerk at a weekly salary of four dollars and board. He remained in that subordinate position until twenty-three years of age, when he was admitted to a partnership in the business then conducted upon a retail basis only. The partnership, begun in 1876, was continued until the death of Lemuel Sears, March 17, 1912, when Henry G. Sears purchased the interest owned by the heirs and became sole proprietor. Soon after 1876 the business was enlarged and as wholesale and retail grocers the firm became well and most favorably known, the enthusiasm, energy and efficiency of the junior partner agreeing well with the matured wisdom and long experience of the senior. After becoming sole proprietor Mr. Sears, in April, 1913, expanded the business by incorporation, as the Henry G. Sears Company, with Henry G. Sears as president and treasurer, and the business of the company has been built up until it is at the present time (1916) the largest in Western Massachusetts.

The grocery store was damaged in a fire in 1921. The building later housed a local beer and wine distributor and is now home to Paper City Studios.

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D. W. Gillett Block (1899)

Gillett Block

After the Masonic Block on Elm Street in Westfield burned down in 1896, Ralph D. Gillett constructed a new building (100 Elm Street) on the site in 1898-1899. It is a three-story granite and buff brick corner building with terra cotta and metal trim. Gillett was president of the Hampton Railroad, whose offices were in the building, along with McClure Laboratories (which tested food for impurities, gaining Westfield the title of “The Pure Food Town“) and The Great River Water and Power Company. Today the Gillett Block is owned by the City of Westfield and is used by the Westfield Gas and Electric Company.

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Old Town Office Building, Stockbridge (1884)

Town Offices

As related in my previous post, the Town of Stockbridge constructed a new town hall/office building in 1884 at 34 Main Street, but continued to own its previous Town Hall building of 1839, which it returned to and enlarged in 1903. The 1884 building, which displays the words “Town Offices” with the date 1884 A.D., was constructed in the Flemish Revival style. Designed to be fireproof, it contained offices for the Selectmen, Assessor and Town Clerk on the first floor and storage space on the second floor. The basement had two jail cells. The town sold the building in the 1960s and it has since been used as commercial space.

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Clinton Town Hall (1909)

Clinton

The Town Hall of Clinton was built in 1909. Designed by Peabody and Stearns, it replaced the previous Town Hall built in 1871-1872 that was destroyed by fire in 1907. Brick for the building was provided by Fiske & Co. and terra cotta ornamentation by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company. The building is at 242 Church Street.

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Mechanics Hall (1857)

Mechanics Hall

One of Worcester’s most iconic buildings is Mechanics Hall. It was built in 1857 to house educational and cultural activities by the Worcester County Mechanics Association. This organization was formed in 1842 to promote the mechanical arts and to provide education and training for industrial workers. Mechanics Hall featured meeting rooms, a library, and two halls. The building was designed by Elbridge Boyden, a Worcester architect. By the mid-twentieth century, other organizations had taken up the role once played by the Mechanics Association and other auditoriums had found favor with the public. To raise revenue, Mechanics Hall was rented out for sporting events and for a time was even a roller skating rink. The old building was no longer the cultural center it had once been and was in danger of demolition. Citizens rallied to save Mechanics Hall, which was restored and reopened in 1977. Today, the Mechanics Association‘s primary mission is to maintain Mechanics Hall, which is considered to be the finest pre-Civil War concert hall in the country and one of the four finest in North America. The Main Hall features the 1864 Hook Organ (aka the Worcester Organ). Built by E. & G.G. Hook, it is the oldest unaltered four-keyboard organ in the Western Hemisphere.

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Berkshire Life Insurance Company (1868)

Berkshire Life Building

The corner of North and West Streets in Pittsfield was the site of the Berkshire Hotel from the 1820s to 1866. In 1868, the headquarters of the Berkshire Life Insurance Company was built here (current address: 5-7 North Street). The building as it exists today was constructed in three stages. The first section, designed by Louis Weissbein of Boston, had a basement level below three floors and a Mansard roof with gable windows. In 1911, the Mansard roof was removed and two additional stories were added by Joseph McArthur Vance of Pittsfield. In 1927, the building was extended to the west with a new addition by Henry Seaver of Pittsfield. Berkshire Life, founded in 1851, left the building to move to a new headquarters in 1959. In 2001, Berkshire Life merged with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
Here are links to some historic images of this building:

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