Category Archives: Commercial

Parks Building (1873)

Parks Building (1873)

Oren B. Parks operated a grocery store in Westfield and became a successful businessman and civic leader in the late nineteenth century. He played a major role in developing the Northside section of Westfield. Around 1873 he built the three-story commercial building at 57-59 North Elm Street to accommodate his expanding business.

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Memorial Square Building (1911)

Memorial Square Building

Located in Springfield‘s Memorial Square neighborhood, near the former Memorial Congregational Church, now St. George Greek Orthodox Church, is the Memorial Square Building at 2291-2295 Main Street. Built in 1911 by the E. J. Pinney Company, the building (now called Memorial Square Apartments) has retail space on the first floor with five stories of apartments.

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Central Exchange Building (1896)

Central Exchange Building

The Central Exchange Building at 301-315 Main Street in Worcester stands on the site of the Old Central Exchange Building. This predecessor was built in 1830, burned down in 1843 and was rebuilt the following year. The current Central Exchange Building was constructed in 1895-1896. Designed by architect W.G. Preston, its first owner was Elizabeth Davis Bliss Dewey, wife of Francis H. Dewey II, a trustee of the Mechanics’ National Bank and the Worcester Mechanics’ Savings Bank, which would be early tenants of the building. In 1902, an additional section of the building, 301-303 Main Street, was added, designed by Fuller & Delano. (more…)

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Museum of Russian Icons (1853, 1859, 2006)

Museum of Russian Icons

The building at 203 Union Street in Clinton was constructed in 1853 to house the Bigelow Mechanics Institute. This institution was founded in 1846. As described in History of the Origin of the Town of Clinton, Massachusetts, 1653-1865 (1896), by Andrew E. Ford:

April 14, 1846, a petition was made to a justice of peace by H. N. Bigelow, J. R. Stewart, L. F. Bancroft, J. B. Parker, Sanborn Worthen, A. S. Carleton and G. H. Kendall, representing that those gentlemen were “desirous of forming an association for the purpose of mutual improvement and for the further purpose of extending improvement to and throughout the village in which they reside, and the neighborhood with which they are more immediately connected, by sustaining courses of lectures upon the sciences and their connection with the mechanical arts, by sustaining, if their means shall allow it, a school for scientific instruction and education in those branches more immediately connected with their employment, and the collection of a library, a reading room and a repository of ‘models and drawings of useful machines and mechanical inventions.” In answer to this petition, a warrant was issued for a meeting for the purpose of organizing an association with these ends in view.

[. . .] The preamble of the constitution presented and adopted offers a broader basis of organization than was suggested in the petition, namely: “In order to promote our mutual improvement in literature, science and the mechanical arts; —to diffuse a taste for literary, scientific and mechanical pursuits in the community in which we reside;—and to develop the social, moral and intellectual natures with which we arc endowed by one Creator.”

The society took the name “The Bigelow Mechanics’ Institute in Clintonville.” E. B. Bigelow, in whose honor this name had been assumed, in addition to other donations, gave to the society as a recognition of his esteem, the valuable air pump, now used by the Clinton High School, and two hundred dollars to be used for the good of the Institute. A fee of five dollars was charged for membership, and some forty men joined.

At various times, from 1853 to 1873, the Institute also rented out space in the building to the postal service, to the Town of Clinton for its armory and to local businesses. Next door to the Institute, the building at 195 Union Street was built in 1859 to serve as Horatio N. Bigelow‘s private office. The brothers, Horatio N. and Erastus B. Bigelow developed Clinton as an industrial community.

In 1873, the Bigelow Mechanics Institute disbanded and its library was donated to the town to become the Bigelow Free Public Library. The Institute’s old building became a tenement. The adjacent building, H. N. Bigelow’s former office, served as the the Second District Court of Eastern Worcester County from 1886 to 1972, and its basement was the Clinton Police Station until 1969. Both buildings later served as law offices. In recent years the complex has undergone an extensive transformation to house the Museum of Russian Icons, founded in 2006 by art collector and industrialist Gordon B. Lankton. A contemporary, aluminum-clad addition to the museum was constructed in 2008.

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203 Church Street, Clinton (1885)

Original Post Office, 203 Church Street

The building at 203 Church Street in Clinton was built in 1885 and was the town’s first Post Office. The second floor was once rented to the Prescott Club, a private club for businessmen. In the 1940’s, the Liberty Club, an Italian-American organization, purchased the building. Renovated inside in 1987, the building is now used as retail and office space.

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Backus-Park Building (1820)

Backus-Park Building

The commercial building at 4-8 Bank Row at the corner of South Street in Pittsfield has been much altered over the years. It was built around 1820 by William G. Backus, who ran a stove and plumber’s supply store for over half-a-century. Originally three separate buildings fronting South Street, it was later altered to have a unified front and a third story. Herman Melville lived in a house on South Street behind the Backus Block in 1862-1863 after moving from Arrowhead.

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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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