Chapin Mansion (1880)

The house at 181 Elm Street in Holyoke was built around 1880. From 1882 to 1884, it was the residence of Clemens Herschel, who worked as a hydraulic engineer at the Holyoke Water Power Company from 1879 to 1889. During that time, Herschel designed a new testing flume for hydraulic turbines, waterwheels, pumps, and meters. He also invented the Venturi meter, used to measure the flow of water, which he first tested in 1886. By that same year, the house had become the residence of Edward Whitman Chapin, a lawyer who began practicing law in Holyoke in 1865 and was appointed an associate justice of the Holyoke district court in 1877. He later served twenty years as presiding justice of the court. He was a member of “The Club,” which focused on literary endeavors and was organized at his home on On November 15, 1890. Judge Chapin married Mary Beebe in May 1866 and had four children. He died in 1924 and the house was passed on to his two unmarried daughters, Clara M. and Alice M. Chapin. Today, the Edward W. Chapin House is called Chapin Mansion and is operated by the Valley Opportunity Council as a residence for homeless veterans.

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Second Baptist Church, Holyoke (1885)

The Second Baptist Church of Holyoke was organized in 1849 and the new society’s first place of worship was Gallaudet and Terry’s Hall, at the corner of High and Lyman streets. They soon moved to Chapin Hall, where services were held until 1855, when the vestry of their new brick church was built on Main Street. The church was completed in 1859, but was destroyed in a fire in 1863. The church was rebuilt and rededicated in 1865. Their next church, at the corner of Appleton and Walnut streets, was built in 1885. In 1986, the church moved across the Connecticut River to become the Second Baptist Church of South Hadley. Their former church building in Holyoke is now the Iglesia de Dios MB.

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Ball Block (1898)

The building pictured above is at 225 High Street in Holyoke, diagonally across the street from city hall. It was built in 1898 and known as the Ball Block (or Realty Building). It was later altered on its lower levels to become the Holyoke National Bank Building. Recently renovated (and winning a Preservation Award from the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 2005) the building is now known as the Latino Professional Building.

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Hotel Hamilton (1850)

This building in Holyoke, now vacant and condemned, was built around 1850 as a hotel called the Holyoke House. Located on Dwight Street, between Main and Race streets, it was later known as the Hotel Hamilton and was extensively remodeled and expanded around 1890. The building was purchased in 1911 by Joel Russell and then housed the J. Russell Hardware Company. The hotel closed in 1943 and the building was drastically renovated in 1947, when the top floor was removed (except from the wing on the left). Recently used by several social service agencies, the building is now unsafe and may not long survive. Read More

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Wistariahurst (1868)

William Skinner, who left England for America at the age of nineteen in 1843, became a successful silk and saten manufacturer. The mills of Skinner’s company, the Unquomonk Silk Company in Williamsburg (where his employees lived in a community called Skinnerville), were destroyed when the Mill River Dam gave way on May 16, 1874. The Holyoke Water Power Company then offered Skinner a prime canal site, where he could rebuild his mill in Holyoke. They also offered him land to build a house and it was to there that he moved his home, called Wistariahurst, which he had built in 1868 and which had survived the flood. The house still stands at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke. His company, called William Skinner and Sons after 1883, was continued by his sons after his death in 1902. It became the largest producer of satin linings in the world. The Skinner family were also great philantrophists: William Skinner supported various institutions in Holyoke and donated to Mount Holyoke and Vassar Colleges. His daughters, Belle and Katherine, founded the Skinner Coffee House to serve the needs of immigrants who worked in the mills and factories. The Skinner family sold the company in 1961. The house remained in the family until 1959, when Katharine Skinner Kilborne gave it to the city of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes. It is open to the public for tours as the Wistariahurst Museum.

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