Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Massachusetts; A Guide To Its Places and People - Springfield - Motor Tour #29

American Guide Series - Illustrated
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company Building

"R. from Wilbraham Rd. on Amaron St.; R. from Amaron St. on State St." 

"29. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company Building (open weekdays; apply front door for guide) is in the Georgian Colonial style, and was built in 1926."

Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts; A Guide To Its Places and People (Kindle Locations 9331-9332).
Boston, Houghton Mifflin company. Page 367, Published 1937

GPS: N42° 07.028; W072° 32.884

Short Description:

The Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company building is located at 1295 State Street in Springfield. 

Long Description:

Massachusetts Life Insurance Company was founded by George W. Rice in Springfield, MA in 1851. It was modeled after the Connecticut Mutual Life in Hartford, CT; Rice's previous employer.  In 1867 the company divested of its stockholders to become a mutual company.

Caleb Rice (1792–1873), a distant relative of the founder George W. Rice, was the company's first and longest serving president in company history, serving for 22 years. The corporate offices were located on Main and State Streets until 1926 when the corporate offices were moved to the Georgian style building at 1295 State Street. The building was recently renovated by Goodwin Procter to make it more energy efficient and received LEED Silver certification for existing buildings.

Today, MassMutual ranks in the Fortune 500 with total assets under management exceeding $505 billion as the end of 2007. As of 2008 MassMutual has 4,300 employees in Springfield and 1,900 in Enfield, CT.

Introduction to Springfield, MA from: 
Massachusetts; A Guide To Its Places and People 

SPRINGFIELD The Metropolis of Western Massachusetts City: Alt. 69, pop. 149,642, sett. 1636, incorp. town 1641, city 1852. Railroad Station: Union Station, Lyman & Liberty Sts., for N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R., B. & M. R.R., and B. & A. R.R. Accommodations: Seven hotels. Information: Chamber of Commerce, 134 Chestnut St.; Automobile Club, 140 Chestnut St.; A.L.A., 1387 Main St. 

SPRINGFIELD, the metropolis of western Massachusetts, lies on the east bank of the Connecticut River, holding a strategic position in the traffic of the New England states with New York and the West. Its situation on a series of terraces and in gently rolling country produces an effect of spacious leisure, and imposing architecture and tree-shaded lawns, parks, and boulevards give it an atmosphere of dignity, substance, and comfort. Its diversified industries, superior transportation facilities, large merchandising establishments, and fine residential sections make it an important center of industry, commerce, and finance; and its notable interest in music and the other arts make it an outstanding cultural center. 

In 1636 a dozen families made their way to the inviting valley where the Agawam River joins the Connecticut. Their livestock inflicted so much damage on the cornfields of the Indians that they were forced to abandon the settlement. They moved on across the Connecticut River, to a barren terrain demanding heart-breaking labor and promising little reward for toil. 

Fortunately, the leader of the group was stout-hearted William Pynchon. With such vigor did he build up the new settlement that even after a board had been elected determination of program and policy was left in his hands. His leadership was not questioned until 1650, when he published a theological work. The Puritan Fathers detected in the book germs of heresy. To protect the community from infection they administered the antitoxin of denunciation. The services of Pynchon were soon forgotten; he was badgered on all sides, and finally returned to England. His son, John, remained and assumed the management of the town. 

In the next year the Springfield community indulged in a witch hunt — a sport more exciting than the battle against heresy. Hugh Parsons was a dyspeptic, of choleric disposition which had not endeared him to his neighbors. His wife was subject to periodic fits, probably epileptic. But such an explanation of their eccentricities was too simple, and the savants of the occult brought charges of witchcraft against the couple. Not a few good people were disappointed when the court acquitted the pair. 

Twenty peaceful and constructive years followed. In 1675, however, King Philip declared war on the Colony, and Springfield did not escape. The town was almost totally burned. The townspeople pushed reconstruction, building on a larger scale. Early in the eighteenth century the citizens of Springfield made the river a capital asset. They erected sawmills and gristmills and took their first step away from a complete agricultural economy. The large clay deposits were utilized in the manufacture of brick. Acute financial depression resulted from the Revolutionary War; farmer and mill-owner were bogged in a morass of debt. Thousands banded themselves together under Daniel Shays, and for six months tramped up and down western Massachusetts in an attempt to prevent the convening of the courts and the entering of judgments against debtors. Although their cause won numerous sympathizers, it failed. Springfield became Shays's Waterloo when an attempt to capture the United States Arsenal was frustrated. 

The manufacture of metal goods was given an impetus in 1794 by the passage of a bill in Congress establishing the United States Armory at Springfield. The advent of the railroad, about 1835, stimulated business. At that time the town already had seventy-three mechanic shops, six cotton mills, four printing offices, thirteen warehouses, two card factories, two forges, one rifle factory, one powder mill, six sawmills, four grist mills, three tanneries, two jewelers' tool factories, one sword factory, and one spool factory. 

Developments in the manufacture of textiles brought French-Canadians, English, and Scots. Skilled artisans of all races were attracted by the openings in the machine shops. Irish, Italian, Swedish, and German labor was plentiful. Long hours and meager wages were the lot of those whose labor enriched the town. But aside from the general agitation that accompanied the crisis of 1830, there was no real organization of labor until after the Civil War. 

The year 1824 marked the founding of the Springfield Republican by Samuel Bowles. The excellent style of this journal, under the editorship of Dr. J. G. Holland, and the liberal philosophy of its editorials, made the paper almost a national institution. The first newspaper in Springfield, however, was the Massachusetts Gazette and General Advertiser, published in 1782, which failed to survive, posting this notice: 'Those gentlemen who engaged for their papers in grain are once more requested to make immediate payment, as the printers are in much want of that article.' Other papers published during this period were the Hampshire Chronicle, the Hampshire Herald, and the Federal Spy. 

In 1847 John Brown of Akron opened the warehouse of Brown and Perkins, wool merchants. The business enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity, but John Brown was absent from business the greater part of the time, his real enthusiasm being centered in the Abolitionist movement. Said Emerson,' If he kept sheep, it was with a royal mind. And if he traded in wool, he was a merchant prince, not in the amount of wealth, but in the protection of the interests confided to him.' He organized the United States League of Gileadites, which assisted fugitive slaves to escape. 

Shortly after his arrival in Springfield, John Brown was visited by Frederick Douglass, Negro orator and scholar, who found him living in a cottage near the shacks occupied by Negroes. ' Plain as was the house on the outside,' wrote Douglass, ' the inside was plainer. Its furniture would have satisfied a Spartan. There was an element of plainness about it which almost suggested destitution.... The meal was such as a man might relish after following the plow all day, or performing a forced march of a dozen miles over a rough road in frosty weather.' John Brown lived in Springfield for two years, and during this time hundreds of runaway slaves were harbored in the town, then were passed along to the next station of the Underground Railway. 

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