Category Archives: Commercial

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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Posted in Commercial, Federal, Pittsfield | Leave a comment

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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Posted in Commercial, Holyoke, Renaissance Revival, Romanesque Revival | Comments Off

Gale and Dickinson Store (1896)

Gale and Dickinson Store

Currently home to the Harvard General Store in the Town of Harvard, the building at 1 Still River Road was built in 1896 on a site occupied by at least two other earlier stores. The Nathaniel Stacy Bookbinding Store occupied the site in a building built by 1831 that burned in 1850. This was replaced by a commercial building (Union Hall) that was moved to the current site of the Harvard Post Office to make way for the present store building, originally occupied by the Gale and Dickinson Store. (more…)

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Posted in Colonial Revival, Commercial, Harvard | Comments Off

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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Posted in Commercial, Neoclassical, Renaissance Revival, Westfield | Comments Off

Miss Florence Diner (1941)

Miss Florence Diner

Miss Florence Diner, located at 99 Main Street in the Florence section of Northampton, is a modified 1941 barrel-roofed diner manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company. The modifications were made in the late 1940s when, to increase its size, the diner was remodeled with additions that gave it an L-shape and a cross-barrel roof. The home of the diner‘s original owner, Maurice Alexander, was later attached to the diner and opened as a restaurant.

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Posted in Commercial, Modern, Northampton | Comments Off

Courant Item Building (1902)

Coulter Press

The building at 156 Church Street in Clinton was built in 1902 and is known as the Coulter Press Building or the Courant Item Building. It was the home of two newspapers published by the Coulter family: the Clinton Courant (published 1865 to 1962) and the Clinton Daily Item (published since 1893). The building continues as the home of the Coulter Press.

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Posted in Clinton, Commercial, Neoclassical | Comments Off

Miss Adams Diner (1949)

Miss Adams Diner

A diner has existed at the site of the Miss Adams Diner in Adams since the 1930s. The current prefabricated diner, a 1949 Worcester #821, was delivered on December 7, 1949. The original porcelain panels had been replaced with faux stonework. The diner has had many owners over the years and been known by various names.

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Posted in Adams, Art Deco, Commercial | Comments Off