The Old Neighborhood, 1844

campus 1841
“View of Williston Seminary, East Hampton, Mass., Showing Part of the Village, with Mount Tom in the Distance.” [Click to enlarge.]
The image above is of an 1844 lithograph by Edmund Burke Kellogg and Elijah Chapman Kellogg of Hartford, Conn.  The Kellogg brothers were prolific publishers of scenic, historical, and sentimental prints, active from 1830 until 1900, second in popularity only to the rival firm of Currier & Ives.  The print measures 18 x 14 inches, and was published in two states, the color lithograph shown here, and a monochrome version.  (Our reproduction leaves off the lengthy title for no better reason than the entire sheet would not fit on the Archives’ scanner.)

It is probably the earliest published image of Easthampton; certainly of Williston Seminary.  The vantage point is West Street, on the bluff above the Manhan River, which is visible in the middle foreground.  At this time none of the later construction—Shop Row, the Town Hall, etc.—had even been contemplated.  Open land, most of it the village common, ran right down to the riverbank.

The original 1841 Seminary Building, informally known as the White Seminary or “White Sem.,” stands at the far right.  The other immediately identifiable landmark is the First Congregational Church at the center.  It was built in 1836.  The print shows the church in its original location, but later in 1844 Samuel Williston payed the cost of moving the structure back 50 feet, so that it would line up with the present and future Seminary buildings.  In 1866, to make way for the construction of North Hall, Williston would again move the church to a location north of the Common, where it stood until fire took it in 1929.  The White Seminary met a similar fate; it burned in 1857, to be replaced by South Hall.  (For contemporary accounts of the conflagration, see “The Great Seminary Fire” and “Abner Austin Fights the Fire.”)

Other buildings are harder to identify with accuracy.  The white house at the far left is almost certainly that of the Principal, Luther Wright.  Edward Hitchcock, class of 1845, and teacher of natural science at Williston from 1850 to 1863, places it there in a description of the grounds included in a 1902 memoir of his Easthampton days.1  But the appearance of the structure is somewhat different than in the 1845 print below.  We may need to allow the artists a certain license, the more so since the Kellogg Brothers’ sense of relative size, and perhaps perspective, seems somewhat skewed.

The campus in 1845, showing Principal Wright's house, the First Church, English (Middle) Hall, and the White Seminary.
The campus a year later, showing Principal Wright’s house, the First Church, English (Middle) Hall, and the White Seminary. Drawn and engraved by O. H. Throop, 1845.

Hitchcock mentions three houses directly opposite the church, which may be the buildings in front of the church in the 1844 image.  He describes a saw mill — could that be in the left foreground?  But it seems too far from the riverbank.  Hitchcock also notes that the burying ground was across the street from the White Seminary.  The Kelloggs have drawn the gravestones only as a vague grey area.  Perhaps superstition, or marketing concerns, militated against a more explicit rendering.

Most problematic is the building to the left of the White Seminary.  Edward Dibble2 reports an 1842 structure used as the “Town Hall,” that was moved and appended as a chapel to the First Church when that structure was relocated in 1866.  Abner Austin refers to it in his account of the 1857 fire, suggesting that it stood quite close to the White Seminary.  The reference cannot be to the present Easthampton Town Hall, which was not built until 1869.  Ensign Hosmer Kellogg (no relation to the lithographers), in his dedicatory address for that building,3 places the original town hall on the Seminary campus.  Nonetheless, it does not appear in the 1845 engraving, nor does a photograph of the chapel in Dibble’s account resemble the building in the 1844 image at all.  It seems far more likely that the building represents the future English Hall, probably under construction at the time the Kellogg brothers were making sketches for their lithograph.  They could not have known what the finished building would look like.

The cornerstone from "White Sem.," now incorporated into a present-day Williston Northampton building. Readers: who remembers where this is?
The cornerstone from “White Sem.,” now incorporated into a present-day Williston Northampton building. Readers: who remembers where this is?

1Typewritten extract (1941) from a notebook in the Edward (AC 1849) and Mary Judson Hitchcock Papers, Amherst College Archives. Edward “Doc” Hitchcock (1828-1911) went on to a distinguished career as Professor of Hygiene and Physical Education at Amherst.

2Edward F. Dibble, A Burning and Shining Light: the Congregational Church in Easthampton, 1785-1985. [Easthampton, Mass.: Easthampton Congregational Church, 1985?]

3Address of Hon. E. H. Kellogg of Pittsfield, Mass., together with other exercises connected with the Dedication of the Town Hall, at Easthampton, Mass., June 29, 1869.  Easthampton: Frank A. Bartlett, Printer, 1869.

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