Wednesday, January 30, 2013

United States Post Office, Lee, MA - c1910

United States Post Office, Lee, MA, c1910

Settled in 1760 and incorporated in 1777, the town of Lee is one of the gems of the Berkshire hills.

In 1910, according to the U.S. census, the population of Lee was 4,106. In 2010, the head count was 5,943. Paper mills, stone and limestone quarries were a few of the town's early industries.

Marble quarried within the town's 27 square miles is known for its fine quality and graces such sites as St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the U. S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Although they are home to new enterprises now, the buildings in the photograph above can still be found along Lee's charming Main Street, witnesses to the past 102 years and looking none the worse for the wear.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

Photograph source: Library of Congress; Prints and Photographs Division; Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-33801;

Official town website:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Westfield's Municipal Building Gets a Facelift

A century and a score since its dedication as a State Normal School on June 21, 1892, the building that has housed the city of Westfield's Municipal offices from the late 1950s on is getting a well-deserved facelift. Scaffolding has wrapped the tired edifice in its promising embrace, anon dismantled to reveal a relic's rejuvenated skin, a face for the future. 'Tis a welcome sight, a work site worthy of the first Westfield structure to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that distinctive date occurring on March 8, 1978.


Built at a cost of $150,000 to replace the old facility on Washington Street, the Commonwealth stretched about six and a half decades out of its investment before cramped and thoroughly antiquated quarters ("archaic" according to the eyes of Massachusetts Governor Paul A. Dever in 1951, on campus to speak at the June 23rd commencement ceremony) forced the decision and drive to move onto bigger and better things, an educational expansion that would one day transform a city wood known as Juniper Park into today's bustling and still-growing Westfield State University. An exchange of one dollar from Commonwealth to city secured the original 26 acre Western Avenue site of horse trails and shady glens and likewise a dollar from city to Commonwealth facilitated the purchase of the 59 Court Street structure, the agreement stipulating the building to be utilized "for municipal purposes only." Chapman Water Proofing, Inc. of Boston has been contracted to perform the current renovations at a cost of $3,400,000, a sum which would have allowed the building to be replicated another twenty times in 1892.


Granite, brick and brownstone under the cover of a slate-tiled roof, the Romanesque design - the work of Boston firm Hartwell and Richardson, established 1881 - is reminiscent of renowned architect Henry H. Richardson's style, but the two interests are indeed, separate. Although neither gained the stature of H. H. Richardson in northeastern architectural circles, many of Henry W. Walker and William C. Richardson's (and later, third partner James Driver) structural accomplishments have made their way into the National Register of Historic Places, including the town hall in Ware, Massachusetts. A local example of Henry H. Richardson's work is the old Hampden County Courthouse on State Street in Springfield.


Postmarked in wintertime Westfield of 1921 and mailed for a penny, the handsome building of higher learning - in a postcard frozen - had by then hosted nearly thirty years of students, matriculating and moving on through its double front archways, the fits and starts of a dawning age of excitement in education anchored by the stalwart's granite foundation whilst soaring peaks overhead encouraged opening minds to move above and ever beyond. Today, the edifice is Westfield's municipal anchor, a tether to the community, a well-known face passed on Court Street, finally getting a makeover.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

Related links:

Postcards: Court Street, Westfield, Massachusetts ~

Photos: Time and Water Flow, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1905 - 1920 ~

City of Westfield, Massachusetts ~ article, June 6, 2012, "Westfield launches school and municipal building upgrades" ~

Triennial 1839 - 1907, State Normal School, Westfield, Massachusetts ~

Map: Bird's-eye View of Westfield, Massachusetts, 1875 ~

Getting there, via Google maps:

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