The Allis Mansion 1867
Carew Street, Springfield Ma.
Haitsill Hastings Allis was born in 1825 and died in 1901. In 1849 he started the Hastings Allis & Company Brick Works which he renamed the Hampden Brick Works in 1852. He built a large number of buildings to include much of Franklin Street and Congress Street as well as the Allis Hotel. He was on the Common Council in 1866. Some reports say he was part of the founding of the Springfield Street Railway, the memorial Church, and the Fire and Marine Insurance Company, but the records of these companies do not mention him.
In 1867, Mr. Allis had a young architect by the name of Eugene C. Gardner design a very impressive Second French Empire mansion for him in front of his brick works on Carew Street. With polychromatic brick work, a large central tower, imposing bays and decorative iron work on the roof, this indeed was a bold statement of Mr. Allis’ status and wealth in the community. Mr. Gardner went on to become a very prominent architect in Springfield and designed the Trolley Barn on Carew and Main as well as the Worthy Hotel. He and his son designed many of Springfield’s schools.
In 1896, the Catholic Church purchased the Allis mansion for $26,000. and Bishop Bevin lived there for about two years. In 1898, the Sisters of Providence took over the mansion and opened it as the House of Mercy, one in their series of hospitals around the country.
The opening of the hospital coincided with the huge influx of returning wounded and sick soldiers from Cuba who suffered from yellow fever and wounds as a result of the Spanish American War. Mercy was a much sought out hospital for treatment and their 35 beds were inadequate and patients were put on the porches and throughout the building. In 1899, an addition was built to the right of the Mansion. It was torn down in 1974. Interesting note that the monument honoring the Spanish American War is located just down the road at Memorial Square.
The Maternity Hospital to the west of the Allis Mansion was built in 1907. Thousands of Springfield residents can claim it as their first “home”.
On December 17, 2012 the Sisters of Providence Health Systems applied for a permit to demolish the Allis Mansion and announced they intended to demolish the Maternity Hospital and two other older buildings in order to provide parking for a new 20 million dollar office complex. The said that the deteriorating condition of the buildings was a major factor (lack of maintenance leads to deterioration) and the need for parking.
The properties were surveyed by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in 2001 and they indicated that the complex of old buildings were eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a small Historic District. An official nomination appears not to have been made. Unfortunately National Register Status does not prevent private entities from demolishing buildings.
The shame of this demolition is that one of the finest and last of the great Second French Empire Mansions in the City is to be demolished. This house is part of the heritage of Springfield and even more ironic, the heritage of Mercy Hospital which apparently is not concerned with such things.
Any further history or additions to this are appreciated. Providence Health Systems says it is hiring a historic consultant to advise them on how to “preserve the history of the buildings” Seems not demolishing them would be a good start. Let Mercy know how you feel about this.
Any additions/corrections welcome.