Smith Court, on Boston’s Beacon Hill, was the center of the city’s African American community in the nineteenth century. The house at 3 Smith Court, a double house with a common entryway, was built in 1799 by two white bricklayers. Just the year before, a ropewalk had been demolished on the property leading to the construction of residences. By 1830, black families were renting the house at 3 Smith Court. The longest resident of the house was was James Scott, an African American clothier, who became a tenant in 1839 and bought the property in 1865. Originally from Virginia, Scott was an abolitionist who was arrested in 1851 for his role in freeing fugitive slave Shadrach Minkins. From 1851-1856, part of the house was rented by William C. Nell, a journalist and abolitionist, who led the campaign to integrate Boston’s public schools. He became the first published African American historian when he wrote Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812 (1851) and Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855).
In 1946, Old Sturbridge Village built a replica of an 1849 schoolhouse. It stood on the Common, where the Thompson Bank is now located. In 1963, it was moved elsewhere in the Village, where it is now used for historical performances and special programs. The original Dennison Schoolhouse, on Dennison Lane in Southbridge, is now a private residence.
Happy Easter!!! South Congregational Church in Springfield was organized in 1842. According to the “Historical Discourse” by Rev. S.G. Buckingham, published in The Fortieth Anniversary of the South Congregational Church of Springfield, Sunday, March 26, 1882:
The society proceeded at once to “purchase land for a Meeting House, and take all necessary measures for building said House;” also to “employ a minister and provide for public worship.” This was no trifling undertaking, for the number engaged in it was small, and they had none of the wealth now found here, and little of the means which any such enterprise could command now. There were only twenty persons organized into the parish, and forty made up the whole number of the original church. […] And when a lot was to be selected, it was taken upon a side street, and not upon Main street, rather than incur an additional indebtedness of $650—so careful were they about incurring a debt that might be burdensome, and yet so resolute in carrying forward their enterprise. That house of worship was located on Bliss street, a white wooden structure with a spire, and a chapel a little one side, with a study attached. It was a pleasant, comfortable church with galleries, seating about six hundred, and cost $9,463. […] The church was completed and dedicated January 12, 1843 […]
The time came, at length, when one more important step must be taken, before the church could be permanently established, and prosecute its work to best advantage. A new house of worship must be erected, and the location must be changed. Our people were moving away from the neighborhood of the old church, and the Protestant population in the vicinity was diminishing. Besides, we needed ampler and better accommodations. […] The site for the New Church, on the corner of Maple and High streets, was decided upon, and the work of building commenced, in the spring of 1873. The corner-stone was laid, with appropriate religious services, Saturday afternoon, July 19. […] This church was completed and dedicated, February 24, 1875[.]
The architect of the new church was William Appleton Potter. He had received his professional training in the office half-brother, the architect Edward Tuckerman Potter, who designed the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. William’s High Victorian Gothic-style South Congregational Church shares many similarities with Edward’s Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford.
Christ Church in Springfield began in 1817, when the Episcopalian commander of the Springfield Armory, Col. Roswell Lee, established a chapel on the second floor of a small building on the armory grounds. When a fire destroyed the main arsenal in 1824, Springfield Episcopalians worshiped at several different temporary locations until construction began in 1839 on a church at State and Dwight Streets. The church was enlarged in 1851, but further growth necessitated the building of a new church. A Norman Gothic structure of Longmeadow brownstone, it was designed by architect Stephen C. Earle of Worcester and was built on Chestnut Street in 1874-1876. Within a year, the church’s tower cracked and was dismantled for safety reasons. It was not rebuilt until 1927. In 1929, Christ Church became the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.
The origins of the Congregational church in the Feeding Hills section of Agawam (pdf) go back to 1757, when Agawam became the sixth parish of Springfield. A church was then organized in 1762. West Springfield was incorporated as a town in 1774, with Agawam as its second parish. Agawam and Feeding Hills were divided into two distinct parishes within the town in 1800. The previously shared meeting house, located between the two villages, was moved to Feeding Hills in 1799 and the Agawam parish built its own new meetinghouse in 1803. Agawam, including Feeding Hills, became a separate town in 1855. The current Greek Revival-style meetinghouse of the Feeding Hills Congregational Church was built in 1834.
Built c. 1757, the Thomas Smith House stands at 251 North West Street in the Feeding Hills section of Agawam. Thomas Smith was born in Suffield (now in Connecticut, but then in Massachusetts) in 1725, married Esther Ball in 1755, and died in 1814. The house, previously known as the Matthew Noble House (Noble, one of Agawam’s earliest settlers, first owned the land on which the house was built), was purchased by the Agawam Historical Association in 2002. Remarkable for the fact that it has not been significantly altered since it built, the Association has restored (pdf) the the house with funding from the Agawam Community Preservation Act. It is now a living history house museum.
The building at 23 Southworth Street in West Springfield was built in 1905 in a newly developing residential area subdivided into lots from the Southworth family’s farm. The building itself was never a residence, but has been a bakery, home to the Puritan Home Made Candy Company, and a store. Since 1960 it has been St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. There are plans to replace the small building in the future with a somewhat larger one having a full basement.