Springfield History Museum News

Exhibit Traces the History of State Street

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

May 20, 2010

The story of State Street, from its Revolutionary War-era origins as the “Boston Post Road,” to its current transformation sparked by construction of the new Federal Courthouse, is being told in the exhibition and documentary The State Street Corridor Project: Road to Renewal. The exhibit will open on Sunday, May 23, with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. at the new Museum of Springfield History at the Quadrangle. A short preview of the documentary produced by WBGY Public Television for Western New England will accompany the exhibit.

The public is invited to attend the reception and to meet Congressman Richard E. Neal, who spearheaded and secured funding for the State Street Corridor renewal project. “What we are witnessing this week in the City of Springfield is the unveiling of a new and improved State Street Corridor. From St. Michael’s Cemetery, to the banks of the Connecticut River, the transformation of this important and historic urban boulevard is nearing completion. This exciting revitalization project celebrates our own unique past, but also makes a significant investment in Springfield’s future. And the documentary and exhibit tell that story of renewal in great detail. I believe we can all take pride and satisfaction in what has been accomplished on State Street,” said Congressman Neal.

The exhibition features historic photographs taken along the length of State Street displayed alongside recent pictures showing the improvements that have been made as part of the State Street renewal project. The documentary will include dramatic footage taken from a helicopter fly-over along State Street, interviews with local historians and Congressman Neal, historic views of the street, and scenes of the recent renovation work in progress.   

State Street has been the primary east/west artery in the City of Springfield for more than 200 years. It was the main road into the city from Boston and Worcester and other points east and was also the site of the first United States Armory, which fueled the regional economy for more than a century.
 
Locations and landmarks featured in the exhibition include the area now known as Mason Square, site of the famous Indian Motocycle Company; the former United States Armory, which is now Springfield Technical Community College; MassMutual which originated on the corner of State and Main, erected Springfield’s first skyscraper on the same location, and eventually built the large State Street complex it occupies today; the Springfield Fire and Marine Insurance Company building and the Springfield City Library, both examples of the City Beautiful Movement; the former Church of the Unity, a masterpiece by Henry Hobson Richardson, the most important American architect of the later half of the 19th century; and other important sections along the street.

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno extended his thanks and appreciation to Congressman Richard E. Neal for his continued ongoing efforts for this project and stated, “Sometimes we lose sight that Springfield is rich in history in the birth of our nation and democracy.”

The State Street Corridor Project: Road to Renewal exhibit and documentary were funded in part by a grant from the Springfield Media and Telecommunications Group, Inc.  The exhibit will be on view at the museum through January 2, 2011.

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