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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Bank Building, Clinton (1881)

Bank Block

The building at 79 High Street in Clinton was built in 1881 to house two banks: the Clinton Savings Bank and the First National Bank of Clinton, which became the Clinton Trust Company in 1919. The Clinton Savings Bank moved to a new building in 1929. The building at 79 High Street housed various successor banks to the Clinton Trust Company. It is currently home to a branch of Santander Bank.

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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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Pickering-Mack-Stone Double House (1814)

Pickering-Mack-Stone Double House

The three-story brick double house at 21-23 Chestnut Street in Salem was built in 1814-1815 by master builder Jabez Smith for the brothers John Pickering VI (1777-1846), the linguist and polymath who lived in the western half of the house, and Henry Pickering VI, who lived in the eastern half of the house. Judge Elisha Mack and his son Dr. William Mack owned the eastern half from 1837 to 1896. Dr. Mack bequeathed his later home, a house built in the 1850s, with a 25 acre property to the City of Salem as a park. Pickering Dodge lived in the western half while his house at 29 Chestnut Street was being constructed, selling it to the Stone family in 1822. President Andrew Jackson was entertained in the house in 1833. Continue reading

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Holyoke City Hall (1876)

Holyoke City Hall

The City Hall of Holyoke, located at the corner of Dwight and High Streets (536 Dwight Street), was built in 1871-1876. It was planned as the Town Hall, but Holyoke had become a city by the time it was completed. It was built with granite quarried in Monson. The building was designed by Charles B. Atwood, who utilized elements of the Gothic and Romanesque Revival styles. During construction, Because Atwood was not delivering updated drawings in a timely manner, the design work was turned over to H.F. Kilburn in 1874. An annex in the same style was completed in 1913. The building has a second-floor auditorium, called the City Hall Ballroom, that features thirteen stained glass windows designed by Samuel West of the Ecclesiastical Stained Glass Works in Boston. In recent years the painted antique glass windows had fallen into disrepair. A campaign was organized that raised funds and the windows were restored last year. Other restoration work has also been done on the building’s exterior and interior. Continue reading

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Foster House Hotel (1843)

Foster House Hotel

The building at 50 North Elm Street in Westfield was built in 1843 as a hotel by Micajak Taylor. In the 1850s the building was known as the Pontoosic House Hotel and from the 1890s the hotel and tavern/restaurant was known as the Foster House. Thought to be the oldest continuously operated tavern in western Massachusetts, the Foster House has now been closed for several years.

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