×

Times Past: Remembering Greenfield’s historic hotel

  • The Mansion House was located on the corner of Main and Federal streets before the building burned down in 1959. Staff File Photo

  • The Mansion House was located on the corner of Main and Federal streets before the building burned down in 1959. Staff File Photo

  • Flames gutted the empty top floor of the Mansion House, collapsing the roof, and water poured through the rest of the structure. Forty-three guests and residents were driven out onto Main Street, according to Greenfield Recorder-Gazette archives. Staff File Photo/Al Daigle

  • Firefighters poured more than 1,000 gallons of water on the Mansion House to quell the blaze that started Jan. 8, 1959, according to Greenfield Recorder-Gazette archives. Staff File Photo/Tom Merrigan

  • BITZER



Friday, January 11, 2019

Many of the younger generations don’t remember the famous hotel that was located on the north side of Main Street just west of the present library.

That’s because the Mansion House’s fate was determined on Jan. 8, 1959, when the beautiful building was destroyed by a fire that endured through the night and early morning hours.

All the stores and the bank on the ground floor, as well as the studio rooms of the WHAI radio station, were ruined from both the fire and water damage.

At the time, the Mansion House was surrounded by Koch’s grocery; Farr and Willard’s, a men’s clothing store; Hanley’s, a women’s clothing store; a fruit market; a taxi business; Marshman’s Newsstand; Greenfield Savings Bank; Forbes Camera Shop; H.S. Ruddock Jewelers; and a barber shop.

Eventually, the entire building was torn down and Greenfield Savings Bank built two new buildings on the site that occupy the entire area from the library to Federal Street. There were two other hotels in Greenfield at that time: the Weldon Hotel on High Street, and the Devens Hotel on Main Street.

The Mansion House had been a beautiful brick building that dated back to 1825, when it was built by Isaac Newton Jr. When World War II ended, I was on the balcony of the hotel watching the celebration in the streets below. It was undeniably a Greenfield landmark that was a significant part of the city’s history.

Robert Bitzer, 92, of Erving is a lifelong resident of Franklin County, having been born in Greenfield. His columns are inspired by extensive photo albums and thorough collections of correspondence he has compiled over the years.