Lost Architecture: 120 Sumner Avenue

Of all the houses that have disappeared from Springfield, I am strangely drawn to the Elizabethan style house that once stood at 120 Sumner Ave.

I have four separate turn-of-the-century images of this house, the most I have seen of a single residential property other than the Wesson mansion or the Barney House. (And to think, I can't find a single early photo of my own house!)

This drawing is from American Architect and Building News, March 20, 1897:

This photo is from a book titled "Picturesque Views Along the Lines of the Springfield Street Railway", published in 1899. Note the Magnolia Lion at the right.

This photo is from Scientific American Building Edition, November 1899.

This photo is from a real photo postcard, probably from the 1910 era:

Since the house survived past 1939, a WPA photo also exists at the Springfield Building Department, but I don't have easy access to those photos.

The architect of the house was G. Wood Taylor, and it was designed for the Mutual Investment Company, operated by the McKnight brothers. The Scientific American article says that the house was built for Dr. Francis M. Bennitt, and the 1900 City Directory lists him as a physician with an office at 137 ½ Main St.

By 1910, a garage had been added to the house, evident on the 1910 City Map. This seems visible in the last photo posted. Bennitt still lived in the house. He lived there until at least 1913.

In 1917, a man named James Eden lived in the house. He was listed as the treasurer of the Perkins Appliance Company at 4 Birnie Ave. In 1920 he was listed with an occupation of "special machinery", operating from 387 Main St. (#410), a general office building.

In 1923 a man named Allis Freedman lived in the house. He was the president-treasurer of Allison Realty & Mortgage Company, at 1983 Main St. In a 1943-44 publication of Jewish organizations, Freedman was also listed as the president of Matzoh Fund, situated at 267 Chestnut St. In 1946 the house was occupied by Freedman's widow.

In 1948 the house was occupied by Naphtall Frishberg. He was the rabbi at the Congregation Beth El, which was at 148 Fort Pleasant Ave. a tudor house now owned by the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

In 1951 a man named Eliezer Levi lived in the house. He was the rabbi at the Congregation Beth El. He lived there until at least 1953.

In 1956 a man named William Ball lived in the house.

From 1958 to 1959 the building is listed as vacant. In 1963 Kodimoh Temple is listed at that address. The building was obviously torn down sometime around 1960, and the temple was built in its place. I'm guessing that the house and land had been left to the Beth El Congregation, and that they conveyed it to Congregation Kodimoh, who moved from their original location on Oakland St. (site of the current Congregation Kesser Israel).

Does anyone have any more information to contribute to this?

Lost Architecture

Great site Ralph - Thanks for the effort.

The houses you find yourself drawn to are superb examples of why Springfield is known as the city of Homes.

There is similarly beautiful home on Buena Vista Pl. off Longhill Street opposite Cherryvale Avenue. It is a small cul de sac and the home is on the left as you enter from Longhill Street.

Keep up the great work!


Buena Vista Plaza

Nuances are hard to detect online, so I'm not sure if you knew I live on Buena Vista or not.

Do you mean this home? It's my neighbor.

Louis Newman's House on Buena Vista PlazaLouis Newman's House on Buena Vista Plaza

"Picturesque Views Along the Lines of the Spfd Street Railway''

Does anybody own a copy of the book ""Picturesque Views Along the Lines of the Springfield Street Railway", published in 1899? I noticed Ralph Slate has a picture of 120 Sumner Ave taken from this book. I came across the book when I was doing research on N.E. Russell back in the late 70's. Mr. Russell used the house at 843 Chestnut St. as part of an ad he ran in that book.

Picturesque Views

Yes, I have a copy of the Springfield Street Railway Views. I acquired it years ago cleaning out an old house on Princeton Street where I found it in the basement. Are you interested in a particular picture, the Russell ad or the entire book? You can email me at historyfind2@aol.com.

Saint James Ave

Does anyone know anything about 141 Saint James Ave. I have a new neighbor who is doing good work on the house and has been trying to track down some history. I believe it was built for Dickinson who was a Mayor of the City. It was built in 1894 by a well know architect that did a lot of fancy Forest Park houses, but I cant recall who. Any ideas?

141 St. James Avenue

According to "Representative Men Springfield and Vicinity," Francke Walden Dickinson lived at 141 St. James Ave. He was mayor for two years (1905-1906). He was also a funeral director (maybe the same as today's Dickinson Funeral Home?). There is detailed info on Mr. Dickinson in "Hampden Cty. Bio. Review," but I find no mention of the house or the architect.

141 St James Ave???

Is this the small blue-gray house on the right as you enter into the Historic McKnight District? Across the street from the convenience store/apartment building? If it's the one I'm thinking of, I just put the paint on the front of it about a year and a half ago - a friend lived there for a while...I think it was 141...? It'd be interesting to see it get redone, especially inside - someone before my friend covered the entire inside with drywall and went right over everything, thus burying the woodwork throughout - my friend and his father re-did the kitchen and I painted that, too...When they gutted the kitchen, they found all sorts of antique stuff in the walls - newspapers, coins, money, and even some ancient old leather women's and baby's boots...

oops - my bad - I wrote all

oops - my bad - I wrote all that about the wrong house - the one I'm talking about is on the other side near Tapley Street...

loomis wesson estate

would like info or pictures of loomis wesson estate at 220 maple street? was once home of frank wesson, son of daniel baird wesson, co-founder of smith and wesson guns.

My grandparents, Mr. & Mrs.

My grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. James William Shenas, resided at 220 Maple Street for many many yrs. I believe from the 1970's to late 80's to early 90's...I'm not 100% sure since I was very young while I went there. Absolutely beautiful!!! The foyer has a grand staircase and we used to put a 20 ft tree up for Christmas and climbed the stairs to add the star...awesome memories!! My grandparents treasured that house...before my grandfathers passing in Jan of 2011, we were discussing the house and heard that it was bought very very cheap last yr. The new owner is planning on restoring it because the former owners did not appreciate the house. So sad. There's a website that discusses the house and has pic.s It's http://suburbhunting.blogspot.com/2010/01/220-maple-st-springfield-ma-01...

Loomis Wesson

There is a picture of the house on page 49 of Picturesque Hampden County Part 1 East. Not a great picture, but one non the less. Book available in local history room or email me. Jim

Loomis Wesson

I had never before heard this house referenced as the Loomis Wesson house. Where does the "Loomis" originate?

Good job, Jim; that's the only picture I know of.

loomis wesson estate

i have not completed my research, but a loomis is listed in the city register starting in 1875 at that address. the house was built in 1874.
the only loomis i have found so far was a local buisnessman who manufactured "paper buttons"? the house is currently for sale/ in forclosure, and ive heard from multiple sources that many of the 9 fireplace mantles have been removed. the slate roof also leaks and needs to be replaced. frank wesson, son of daniel baird wesson, lived there at the time of his death with his wife and four children.
he died in a train accident on a trip to canada in 1886. i have been to his grave in oak grove cemetary. i hope to someday see the inside of the house and i will continue to research its history and who built it.

Loomis Wesson

Even if the slate roof leaks some, that is no reason to replace it. These roofs are very savable and that one is of special significance due to its design and colors. I have heard some things have been removed and will try to go and see it as i am a Realtor and can get access.

Loomis Wesson research

Tim, have you been to the archives of the Registry of Deeds to research the house? Sometimes the records there can be very helpful. Getting accustomed to the indexes and record books takes awhile, but it is well worth the effort. There is often helpful information about families in the records of the probate court (especially in the intricate wills of the the well-to-do). I am not as familiar with the city records but I think the engineering department, assesors and/or planning depts. can provide records of Springfield houses. Jim Boone can probably give better direction on that aspect.


The Loomis name is around alot in the area: Loomis Chaffey School, Loomis communities. Turns out the family has a geneology website: http://www.loomis.8k.com/
You might want to check there to trace this particular Loomis.

Lost Architecture 120 Sumner Avenue

I recently came across this archive when doing family history research on Dr Francis Marion Bennitt for whom this house was built. As a former member of the Board for Historic Ithaca, a historic preservation organization for the built environment(http://www.historicithaca.org)I was thrilled to see so much information on your site.

You may wish to know about Dr Bennitt and his obituary printed in the New England Medical Gazette, Jan 1914 says, "Dr. Francis Marion Bennitt, for many years a practising physician in Springfield, Mass., and in Chicopee, died at his home, on July 27, 1914, aged 57 years. He had been ill for several weeks from pernicious anemia. In his death the city of Springfield lost one of the best of its unpaid officeholders, for Dr. Bennitt was a most faithful steward of the trust imposed in him as a member of the school committee for many years.

Dr. Bennitt was born in Big Flats, N. Y., October 10, 1857, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Myles C. Bennitt. He began his education in the public schools of Big Flats, and later attended Cook Academy and the University of Rochester. He did not graduate from the latter institution, but left his studies to teach school at Coudersport, Pa., for two years. He then spent a year in special study of biology at Cornell University, going from there to the New York Homoeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital, from which he was graduated in 1883.

He began his practice in association with another physician in Putnam, Ct. He came to Springfield in the spring of 1884 and after a short time in this city removed to Chicopee, where he practised until 1896. In that year he went abroad for two semesters of study at the University of Berlin, and on his return took up his practice in this city. He was in continuous practice except for a year spent in private study abroad in 1903-1904, until a few weeks before his death.

Both in Springfield and in Chicopee Dr. Bennitt was identified with many activities outside of his profession. He served on the Chicopee board of aldermen and was for many years chairman of the board of health of that city. From December,' 1902, until his death he was a member of the Springfield school board, and for the last two years had been chairman 6? the board. He was a director of the board of trade from 1902 to 1904, and was a member of the F-conomic Club and Hampden Lodge of Odd Fellows.

For many years Dr. Bennitt had been actively interested in the Wesson hospitals. He served on the staff of the Wesson Memorial Hospital for several years, and was a member of the building committee, the board of managers and the board of directors of the Wesson Maternity Hospital. He was a member of the Springfield Academy of Medicine and of the American Public Health Association. He was one of the founders of the Forest Hills Crematory, near Boston, the first to be established in this country.

He married in the fall of 1887 Miss Elizabeth Chandler Allton of Putnam, Ct., and leaves five children, Allton, Brace, Chandler, Dorcas and Rudolph. Mrs. Bennitt died March 2, 1906."

Jim Bramble, Tampa, FL (Formerly Ithaca, NY)

Loomis Wesson Estate

This is a great thread of interesting items. My organization, OakView Preservation Incorporated (OVPI) has just set out to raise funds to acquire the Loomis Wesson Estate, preserve it, and open it as a non-profit museum. (See here: http://ovpinews.blogspot.com/2010/01/help-us-save-loomis-wesson-estate-2... )

Please help us spread the word. This home is too significant to be left in this condition. The lender is not willing to work with OVPI even though we are a 501(c)(3) public charity (historic preservation organization).

Wish us luck! We are starting today needing $207,000. From there, we will fix the roof, restore what we can, and then have a Tea for anyone who wants to join us!

loomis wesson research

i havent had a lot of time lately to update my previous posts of loomis wesson, my initial interest in the house stemmed from the fact that it is for sale. I have done some more research and have been lucky enough to have been in the house twice, i have some fairly decent pictures that i would be happy to share. the house is very grand and almost gothic looking, since discovering this house i have become very interested in some of the historic homes of springfield and their history, and my fiance and I are going to try to purchase one. after some research, i have determined that the house was built in 1874 for or purchased by Mrs calvin Loomis. Perhaps the widow of a calvin loomis who owned a tobaco shop on main street in sprfld in the 1800s. A 7th generation loomis of the locally famous family. mrs calvin loomis owned the house from 1874 till 1877 or 1878, even rented a room to allen j loomis- a relative.

wesson-loomis wesson

In or around 1879 the house was purchased by Frank Wesson, son of Daniel baird Wesson of smith and wesson. Frank and his family lived there but Frank died in a tragic train accident in vermont in 1886. franks wake was held in his house on 220 maple st. within a few years of franks death Harold wesson took over ownership of the house till the late 1920's. so we see how the house got its name. Sadly this past summer the house was forclosed on, and many of the light fixtures, wood paneling and mantels were removed, it needs a fair amount of repair esp. the leaking roof. i will be following its fate. I considered trying to purchase the property, but was dicouraged by the needed repairs. Then i noticed another empty house- "the house on Maple hill" my favorite so far........

Dr. Seuss connection to Loomis Wesson mansion

Years ago I knew a woman who once lived at 220 Maple. She was the adopted daughter of Ted (Dr. Seuss) Geisel's uncle and aunt, Dr. and Mrs. Harvey Van Allen. Dr. Van Allen was a local pioneer in the use of the x-ray machine. The Van Allen name appears in one of Dr. Seuss's books. My friend shared with me memories of Ted as a boy and of visiting Ted's grandparents who lived on Sumner Avenue.

Loomis Wesson Estate

This is truly a beautiful house, however I wonder about the fund raising by OakView Preservation Incorporated, as I know the property is under deposit by a historic preservationist from Connecticut.

It definitely is. I heard

It definitely is. I heard it's under deposit as well from the listing agent. Apparently there's quite a few interested parties, one mentioned doing a bed and breakfast. I hope for the house's sake that the sale goes through and they take good care of it.

This house has been

This house has been purchased and is in the good and capable hands of a man who has experience in historic restoration and a passion for this house. Fear not!

yes i know it is in the

yes i know it is in the hands of a great person who will restore it back to its natural beauty! Good luck D! Can't wait to see it when it's done. :-) p.s. Glad you finally fixed the fireplaces and the roof!

Former 16 Acres School

Hello, I am seeking any information regarding Mr. Martin Lohan, 2nd principal of the 16 Acres School from approx 1950-1962. We are in the process of honoring his dedication to the 16 Acres neighborhood and it's children with an outdoor science center. We have a photograph of him from the 35th birthday celebration of the school and are now looking for biological information or anyone with first hand knowledge of Mr. Lohan as a school principal in 16 Acres. Please contact Sue Montmeny at Mary M. Walsh School 787-7448 or write to 50 Empress Court; Springfield, MA 01129. We truly wish to honor Martin Lohan's contribution to changing the first simple four room school house into the school as it is today. Thank-you in advance for any and all information. Sue Montmeny

Francis M. Lohan

I am seeking information of former 16 Acres SChool Principal FRANCIS MARTIN LOHAN. He went by his middle name, thus there is confusion over his actual name. Anyone having memories of Francis M. Lohan from 1950-1962 or former students of 16 Acres School please contact Sue Montment at Mary Walsh School 50 Empress Court Springfield, MA 01129 413-787-7448. Thank-you

Tour Historic House Loomis Wesson House

I know there has been a lot of interest in this house. See attached flyer. The Springfield Preservation Trust is having an event at the house as its Winter fundraiser. I hope all of you interested in Springfield History and Preservation will come and support the Trust and see this great house. Also you can go to the Trust website and see some pictures. springfieldpreservationtrust.org

$35 for SPT Members
$40 for Nonmembers
To Reserve Your Tickets Send Payment to
Springfield Preservation Trust
74 Walnut Street
Springfield, MA 01105
or pay online at
Sunday, March 6th, 2PM
Wine & Hors d'oeuvres
Join us at the home of
Don Courtemanche
220 Maple Street
~ Historic Loomis - Wesson Mansion ~
Springfield Preservation Trust, Inc.
74 Walnut Street, Springfield, MA 01105 | info@springfieldpreservationtrust.org
Proceeds to benefit the
restoration of 77 Maple
Street, Springfield’s
oldest school building.
Parking available close by at the
MacDuffie School, Ames Hill Dr.

i have researched the early

i have researched the early history of that house, and toured the inside a couple times. if anyone wants info. let me know.

early history of Loomis Wesson house

Would you post some of your research here? Many of us would be interested.

Loomis Wesson House

I hope you will come to the fund Raiser and if not that you will send a copy of your research to the houses new owner.

Loomis Wesson House

Can you please post pics of the house or email them to me? katrinacollazo@yahoo.com...my garndparents, Mr & Mrs James William Shenas owned that house at 220 maple St for many many yrs and we have so many memories!! We were saddened to hear how previous owners removed the wallpapers and woodwork as well as fireplaces in the home. My grandparents took such great care of that home!! Until my grandfather's death in January of 2011, he still spoke of the house!! They sold it to downsize and bought a house on Chapin Terrace and moved to FL after his retirement from The Greek Cultural Center.

220 maple pics

I attempted to send the 220 maple pics to you, hope you got them...

Thanks so much Tim!! I just

Thanks so much Tim!! I just emailed you back! Brought back memories!! I appreciate you sending them to me!

Atwater area

Hello! Wondering if anyone knows where I may be able to find old pictures or maps of the area? Specifically Caseland Street.

The Ely Tavern

My ancestor, Nathaniel Ely, moved to Springfield, MA in 1659, after being part of Rev. Thomas Hooker's company in Hartford, CT and after helping settle Norwalk, CT.

In about 1660, Nathaniel Ely built an Ordinary (tavern) on the corner of Elm and Main streets in Springfield. He was licensed and was a Selectman at several times during his life. Nathaniel Ely died in 1675, shortly after the King Phillip raid on Springfield. Nathaniel's son, Samuel Ely, operated the tavern for several years, but died in 1691.

Not sure when the building passed out of the Ely family hands, but it continued in existence until 1843, when it was reportedly moved to the corner of Dwight and Sanford streets. A pen and ink drawing from 1843(?) and another drawing from 1893 show the tavern next door to the Blake House, which appears to have been an eating establishment complete with a menu board and an ice cream sign out front.

A photograph taken of the Ely Tavern shortly before its demolition in 1893, and written about by the late Judge Henry Morris, extracted from the book, "Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizen of Old Springfield of the Present Century and Its Historic Mansions of 'Ye Olden Time,'" with One Hundred and Twenty-Four Illustration's and Sixty Autographs," by Charles Wells Chapin, Springfield Press of Springfield Printing and Binding Company, 1893, pp.189-191, describes a couple of events regarding Nathaniel's operation of the tavern, plus the use of the tavern as a "resort" by military officers and soldiers during the Revolutionary War with the building finally ending up as a laundry in 1893. My understanding of the word "resort" during the Revolutionary War refers to a "place of refuse and relaxation," perhaps more specifically in modern parlance as a "brothel or house of prostitution."

I am interested in information that anyone might have regarding the Ely Ordinary. I am unable to locate the intersection of Dwight and Sanford streets. Perhaps Sanford Street was renamed at some point. I am curious about what building(s) replaced the tavern at Elm and Main streets and at Dwight and Sanford streets.

I am also interested in the Blake House as an eating establishment that was located next door to the Ely Tavern in 1893. The Blake House was built in 1760, and later owned by Elijah Blake. A picture and related description of the Blake House is found in the book, "Sketches of the Old Inhabitants and Other Citizen of Old Springfield of the Present Century and Its Historic Mansions of 'Ye Olden Time,'" with One Hundred and Twenty-Four Illustration's and Sixty Autographs," by Charles Wells Chapin, Springfield Press of Springfield Printing and Binding Company, 1893, p. 46, including a brief biography of Elijah Blake starting on p. 47.

I believe the Blake house was either moved or demolished at the same time the Ely building was demolished in 1893. I also think the Blake House was owned by Blake Family members who later started the Friendly's Ice Cream business?

There is a reference in Judge Morris' article to a "Chandler House" on Main Street, formerly the "Union House", but I cannot locate any information about such names or buildings.

Nathaniel Ely was buried in the "Old Burying Ground" next to the Old First Church where he rested for 173 years. His remains were exhumed in 1848, along with all others buried there, to make way for railroad tracks. He was re-buried in the mass grave in the Springfield Cemetery at 2-97 Willow Street, where he has rested for the last 170 years. As of 2018, after 343 years in the ground, Nathaniel has clearly achieved the status as a permanent resident of Springfield.

To date, the Springfield city offices have been unable to assist me in my efforts. One person told me she, "...doesn't even know where to begin." I have tried to contact the Connecticut Valley Historical Society and the Historical Commission, but have not had any luck.

Any help in my search would be appreciated.

Edward H. Ely
Living in Virginia

120 Sumner Ave

Allis Freedman was my great grandfather. Does anyone have any more information? My grandma grew up there, Hazel Freedman. Thank you all

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