Armory Hill Young Men's Christian Association

I picked up a photo on eBay featuring the Armory Hill Young Men's Christian Association. On the reverse of the photo, it is written "1885 - Springfield College held first classes in Armory Hill YMCA".

Armory Hill YMCAArmory Hill YMCA

Springfield College was originally known as the School for Christian Workers. According to Springfield College's website, it was founded in 1885 to "train Sunday school teachers and YMCA administrators", and "The School completed construction of its first building at the corner of Sherman and State Streets in Springfield. The Armory Hill YMCA also used the building for its operations." This must be a very early photo of that same building.

By 1896, the school had moved to its present location at Lake Massasoit (Watershops), and in the 1899 City Atlas, the block is listed as the Normal Bible School. By 1910, it was simply listed as owned by Reed Realty Trust.

What interests me more, however, is the church that is located right next to this building. It doesn't really make sense to me.

City directories used to list brief blurbs about each church in the city. Churches are very hard to research because churches frequently moved around, building new buildings as their congregations matured and expanded, and the older churches were then sold to other congregations. Churches also expanded by building chapels in other areas of he city.

The church pictured doesn't really make sense to me because I think it was probably built before the brick structure was built, however, I can find no record of a church on this lot in the 1870's-1880's.

Why do I think it was built first? A few reasons. First, the architecture of the church is a little too plain compared to the architecture of the brick structure. It seems unlikely they were built at the same time. Next, the church is simply too close to the brick structure. Finally, the 1899 city map shows the entire block, from Sherman to Catherine St., occupied by a brick structure. It also shows a "chapel" in the rear of the property -- perhaps this same church, moved.

The 1894 City Directory says, about the School for Christian Workers, "The building is on Armory Hill, corner of State and Sherman streets. It contains, as recently enlarged, besides the necessary recitation rooms, offices, and library rooms -- dormitories for 75 students, and a gymnasium (presumably where basketball was first played in 1891) fully equipped with modern apparatus, baths, etc."

Would it make sense to build a church extremely close to a much larger brick city block, and then either raze or move it less than 10 years later to expand the city block? That seems unlikely.

I checked various city directories from 1875 to 1895, and none listed either a church or chapel between Sherman and Catherine Streets.

So what is this mystery Church/Chapel?

Update: I have attached some more photos of this building, after the chapel had been removed and it had been expanded. I believe they are from the collection of Jack Hess, but I found them on this amazing photo website.


I also agree that the church looks older. Odd that no record of it exists. Could it have been used for another purpose even then?

Hope Church

Ralph, I found some info about the church in your picture, and also the identical picture, on the Springfield College website. First, the link to the picture:
Much more info can be found in chapter 2 of L. L. Doggett's book, which you can download as a pdf from this library page:

According to the 4th page of that chapter, David Allen Reed took on the post as minister at Hope Church, a Congregational Church in Winchester Square, in 1881, shortly after he graduated from Auburn Seminary. Here's what it said about the Armory Hill YMCA building and the church next door to it:
"When the School for Christian Workers was founded in 1885, the first problem that
confronted Dr. Reed was the securing of a building suited for its purpose. It was decided
to locate at Winchester Square, adjacent to Hope Church chapel, in which classes were
conducted while the new building was being erected. The first class of five students met
during the spring of 1885. Among these five was R. M. Armstrong, who later became
state secretary for the Massachusetts Y.M.C.A.`s. But the real work of the school did not
get under way until September 9, 1885, when the new building was occupied."
I hope that's helpful - perhaps a little more reading in Doggett's book will reveal more info, or knowing the name of Hope Church can give you some new leads.
Good luck!

One more comment on Hope Church

The Faith United Church describes South Congregational founding 2 other congregations, Hope Church and Faith Church on this webpage:

Chapel on the go

Just to keep this thread active, I'm in the process of tracing this church through old city directories. Historical Commission member Bob McCarroll found some photographs of this church/chapel on the opposite side of State Street, at the corner of Winchester St., the former site of the Hope Congregational Church (burned in the 1970's). I also found a reference (which I will document later) to this chapel being moved from the corner of Eastern Ave. and Union Street. That means it was moved three distinct times (since it appears to have been moved to the rear of the property when the YMCA building was expanded).

Hope Church

The original Hope Church, built of wood by local architects, Richmond and Seabury, burned early in the 20th Century and was replaced by a brick building which as I recall was designed by Guy Kirkham, who also designed Commerce High School, and the Mass Mutual home office building. The church is still standing and is used today by another congregation.

Hope Church

Former Hope Church is now Shiloh SDA Church. Hope Church did not burn down in the 1970s. That was Wesley Methodist Church on other side of library. Rev. David Reed donated the land known as the Reed Tract on Bay Street and became what is now Reed Village.

Geez Ralph, was Forbes

Geez Ralph, was Forbes right? Does Springfield's "dying" include this blog?

Summer doldrums

I'm not sure why, but every summer I lose the energy to do extraneous things. I'm sure that I'll pick things back up soon.

Does The Building Still Stand?

Just stumbled on this site. As a hoops junkie, if this is indeed the place where the peach basket first went up I would love to visit it. Any info as to whether it is still there?

Building Still there?

Sorry that building is long gone, there is now a McDonalds there, but there have been other building there in between. The building was the first building for the International YMCA School which is now known as Springfield College, located about a mile from this site. that old building was at Mason Square, previously known as Winchester Square, home of the Indian Motocycle and the Knox Automobile, both those factories are still there.

Of course the Basketball Hall of Fame is here in Springfield and a wonderful place to visit, as is Springfield College. come to Springfield, we have lots of history and wonderful architecture.

I think the building is long

I think the building is long gone.The building was the first building for the International YMCA School which is now known as Springfield College.Actually the architecture of the church is a little too plain compared to the architecture of the brick structure. It seems unlikely they were built at the same time.

Basketball invented there

That was indeed the building where basketball was first played. Here's a pic of Naismith with the first team. Looking at the photo of the building at the very top of the page, they are sitting on the steps of the side door on the left side of the building.

Here's what the gymnasium inside the building, where the game was first played, looked like:

Interesting fact: Naismith nailed the peach baskets to the balcony of this gymnasium, which happened to be 10' high. That's been the height of the basketball rim ever since.

Another interesting fact: Basketball was originally played in similar gymnasiums with balconies. Backboards came into use as a screen to prevent spectators in the balconies from "helping" their team's ball into the basket or the opposing team's ball away from it. After a fashion the players discovered they could bank the ball off the backboard.

HOPE Church formerly Hope Chapel

I am researching my great grandfather Jacob Iseli (later know as Jacob Easley)who moved to Springfield during the Civil War to work at the Armory. He was born in Switzerland and was first a member of South Church which expanded to Hope Chapel at Eastern and Union. The 1876 Springfield Directory which lists all churches, pastors and church trustees at that time states that in 1876 Hope Chapel was organized as a society and became Hope Church. Jacob Iseli was listed as a Sunday School Superintendent at Hope Church which at that time was still located at Eastern and Union. You can find this directory on (most local libraries have access). These directories were published nearly every year so you may be able to find even a later directory on microfilm(at local library or perhaps Boston Public Library) that will give you a full listing of churches and their addresses as they evolved as the population of the city changed. Sometimes there are illustrations or pictures in these directories as well as you get closer to the 20th century.

Hope Church postcard

This George Graves image is from the smugmug images collection you cited above:
I haven't seen this view of Hope Church before and don't know if it's the same structure that was on State Street. What do you think?

My grandparents were members

My grandparents were members of Hope Church way back when and as a result, I have some materials from the church.

The structure in the photo is the same structure that was on State Street. Here is another image taken from a pamphlet put out by Hope Church:

This building was destroy by a fire on Feb 22, 1931. It isn't the best scan, but here is the church after the fire:

Hope Church add built a community building behind their church. It was dedicated April 15, 1928. While the original structure was wooden, the community building was brick in anticipation of possibly one day replacing the main structure. It was damaged in the fire, but apparent was repaired and used as the church until the new building was completed in 1938.


Hope Church

I am interested in archives/records of Hope Church and the school for Christian Workers circa 1885-1894. anyone know where these might be? thank you!

Hope church

I have photos of hope church during the fire my Granfather took.

Hope Church

My understanding is that a new church was built on the site in the year following the fire (1907). Do you happen to know what the name of the new church was and/or is it still standing and/or what the address of the site is?

Thank you.

Hope Church

Apparently this church burned more than once. Hope Church burned in 1906 and a new church was built on the site in 1907. Is that the church that burned in 1931?

School for Christian Workers

The newly updated history of Springfield College has information about the School for Christian Workers, and the Springfield College archives on the subject are extensive. You can contact Babson Library at Springfield College through this webpage for much more info. You can also purchase the new history in the Springfield College bookstore - lots of pictures and info.

Does anyone know if the

Does anyone know if the Babson that this library is named from is the same form the boulder trail in Gloucester?

Babson Library

Babson Library, which opened at Springfield College in 1971, was named after Paul and Edith Babson, who donated $1 million toward its construction. Paul Babson ran United Business Service, a financial bulletin service and was involved with Kiplinger. The Dogtown and Babson Boulder Trail was laid out by Roger Babson, an economist and businessman who founded Babson College. Roger died in 1967 and, though I couldn't find specific info, may have been a cousin or uncle of Paul Babson - the business ties and locations mesh.

Hope Church

Reverend David Reed, pastor of Hope Church, donated his land on Bay Street known as the Reed Tract for construction of Reed Village housing for returning GI families from World War Two.

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