The building at 340 Main Street in Worcester was built c. 1894-1897 to designs by the prestigious architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns. Known today as the Commerce Building (named for later tenant Commerce Bank), it was originally built for the State Mutual Life Insurance Company. Founded in 1844-1845 as the nation’s fifth life insurance company, it had previously been located in an 1870 building at 240 Main Street.
Three buildings on North Street in Pittsfield are depicted in the image above. On the left is the Blaisdell, 413-419 North Street, built in 1907 for the head of the Blaisdell-Kavy Co., and designed by Pittsfield architect George Edward Haynes. In the center is the Wood Brothers Building, 421-429 North Street, also designed by Haynes. It was built in 1922-1923 to house the Wood Brothers music store, founded in 1880 and still in business today at another location. The building’s facade is constructed of 40 tons of cast stone from the Art Stone Co. of Millers Falls. The building on the right, 441-445 North Street, is the Farrell Building. Dating to 1913-1915, it is also the work of Haynes.
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.
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.
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.
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.