Monday, April 29, 2013

City Hall and the Whiting Coal Co. circa 1870s

Wolcott Building - High & Dwight Streets

An early photo of City Hall taken from the northeast corner of Dwight and Front streets shortly after it's construction in 1871. The Wolcott Building is partially visible at the far right of the picture.

 The building below City Hall is the Whiting Coal Co. which was founded in 1870 by William Bailey Whiting. He built his operation on land leased from the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at 458 Dwight street.

The W.B. Whiting Coal Co. was located at 458 Dwight street until the late 1960s. Founder William B. Whiting and wife Elizabeth Murphy had 11 children. Son William Whiting opened the Whiting Paper Co. (now the complex off Lyman street known as Open Square) in 1865, became a U.S. senator in 1873 and served as mayor of Holyoke in 1878 and 1879. 

Dwight Street looking east towards the "Flats". This photo was taken around 1904 from the roof of the Wolcott Building that was located on the southwest corner of High and Dwight streets. The Wolcott was destroyed in the famous fire in December of 1906.

The Wolcott Building at the southwest corner of High and Dwight streets in a photo taken in 1880. (Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church

A photo of Our Lady of Perpetual Help church and school on Chestnut street shortly after it's construction in 1923. The church and school were destroyed by a massive fire in August of 1999.

The original building at the corner of Maple and Prospect streets that served as church, school and convent until the early twenties after which it became the school for the Mater Dolorosa parish. The new Mater Dolorosa school built in 1959 now stands on this site.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish which formed in 1890, originally built it's parish at the corner of Maple and Prospect streets. 

A building constructed there served as it's church, school and convent up until around 1923 when a new church and school were built on upper Chestnut street.

The former church then became the school for the Mater Dolorosa parish up until 1959 when it was razed to make way for the present day Mater Dolorosa School.

The Church and school on Chestnut street stood for 76 years when on August 29, 1999, a spectacular fire was lit in an nearby apartment building by two juvenile boys.

The fire grew and spread out of control and destroyed numerous apartment buildings, the Loretto House, a home for homeless men and Kates Kitchen a place for needy to get food. 

The fire quickly spread to the east of the entire city block and destroyed the church and school.

Maple street looking south from Suffolk street

Another photo from the early 1920s, 1922 to be exact. On the west side of Maple street we get a nice look at the Strand Theater and it's beautiful facade architecture, 

Notice the double feature movie playing, "Reported Missing" starring Owen Moore and "Second Hand Rose" which starred Gladys Walton.

All of the buildings seen in this picture no longer exist, with the exception of the Woods Realty building located on the east side of the street near the corner of Appleton street.

A parking lot sits where the Strand stood and McDonalds occupies the area of the buildings to it's south. The last building that stood on the west side was the building adjacent to the Strand, which was the home for many years of the legendary Danny's Cafe.

Most of the buildings on the east side of Maple street were razed in the early seventies, and the apartment block at the northeast corner of Maple and Appleton which housed Chester's Drug Store was  destroyed by a fire in the early seventies (see post of 12/18/12).

Train Station and surrounding Area circa early 1920s

In this early 1920s aerial photo looking northward. we get a nice look at the area around the train station.

On the west side of the tracks across from the station is the Hotel Monet. South of the hotel is a row of business buildings including The Chase & Coolidge Co., J. Russell & Co., United Box and Paper Co, and Quirk Paper Co. Many of these buildings still stand today.

On the west side of Main street is the Whiting Paper Company and the various factories to the north.
Also in view are both the Mt. Tom and Mt. Holyoke mountain ranges.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

William Stiles Loomis

The town of Holyoke was only a year old when the Loomis family moved here in 1851. His father, Elijah W. Loomis, owned and operated a variety and convenience store on High street, while his mother, Janet Stiles Loomis, kept an oyster house and confectionary on the same block.

The Loomis ancestry in this country traced back to Joseph Loomis, an emigrant from England in1639. He attended the Holyoke public school system, and graduated from Holyoke High School when it was still a single floor of Chapin’s Hall on the corner of Race and Dwight street.

 After returning from his service in the Civil War, Loomis bought his father’s store with his brother-in-law, Edgar J. Pomeroy. An interest in journalism led Loomis to become joint owner of the Holyoke Transcript in 1872 with E.L. Kirtland.

The Transcript was then published weekly, and shortly after Loomis purchased Kirtland’s share of the company in 1875 it became the leading newspaper in the city. William G. Dwight became a partner in the company in 1882, and in October of the same year they published the first edition of the Daily Transcript.

Loomis widened the newspaper’s scope and influence until he transferred his ownership share to Dwight in 1887. The foundational success and development Loomis contributed to the Holyoke Transcript made it the incredible historical resource it is today.

 In 1888 Loomis bought the majority share of the Railway Company. He promptly extended the lines into Elmwood section of the city, and the company expanded every year of his ownership. In 1897, the state granted permission to build a resort destination at Little Mountain, later known as Mountain Park.

Loomis planned and executed a zoo, observation towers, restaurants, merry-go-round, and the Mountain Park Casino which held musicals and operas. That same year the Holyoke Water Power offered to the library the land bound by Maple, Essex, Chestnut, and Cabot as a gift.

Loomis served as the Chairman of a fundraising committee which raised $95,000 for a new library building. The construction of the main library building completed in 1901, and the dedication and opening occurred in January of 1902.

 Loomis was also Vice President of Holyoke Savings Bank upon his death in July of 1914, and donated the land for the Loomis House. 

Frank Wilcox, Director of the Holyoke Public Library from 1900 to 1946, said the “greatest service was doubtless in connection with securing of the present building for the library…

The building will always stand as a proud monument to the generosity...and [be] no less a memorial of the public spirit, unselfish labors and high interests” of William Stiles Loomis. (Appleton Publishing)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church

A picture of the church as seen in 1905. 

" The present church was designed and built by Frank Dibble, a local builder who also constructed the Holyoke Public Library.  Inside the church the walls are covered in deep red brick with stone pillars holding up the wood-clad ceiling.

 In the chancel stands a sculpture of Christ seated in heaven, holding the book of life in which the faithful are enrolled.  Carved of Caen stone from France, it is said to weigh 6 tons.

Before it is a black cross, designed by the rector in the late 1950’s, the Rev. David Evans, who was responsible for significant alterations to the chancel.   Two large windows in the transepts of St. Paul’s are beautiful and impressive, not made by Tiffany but in the style of that artist and time. 

Other windows throughout the church depict saints and scenes in the rich colors of the gothic style. A carved wooden credence table and bishop’s chair match the original oak pulpit and lectern."  (