Monday, November 25, 2013

Back to Scott Tower

Always an interesting walk up from Community Field on a gloomy day. Wish the city would clean it up...

Please send me your stories and memories of this place at

Friday, March 23, 2012

Building Highlight- The Essex

This absolutely beautiful building is called The Essex. The location is the corner of Chestnut and Essex Streets, right behind the Holyoke Library. Built in 1888, I sadly can't find any more information about it. I would love to here any stories or history of it if anyone can tell me more. If anyone has such stories email them to, if published in this blog you will be kept completely anonymous. Thanks.

Long over due update:
I recieved a couple of emails:
Hi ! In a book entitled "Holyoke An Architectural Perspective, printed in 1973 for the Holyoke centenial there are two pages of close up photos of the Essex. The description is: The Essex was built in 1888 by Joel S. Webber, one of the principals in the firm of Beebe, Webber & Bo., woolen manufacturers at 639 Main Street. Frank Beebe, of the same firm, built The Maplewood in 1889-90, one block away from the Essex at the corner of Maple and Essex Streets.           ...................Stan
I read your blog and I see you're looking for any info on this once beautiful building. My father lived in it for over 20 years and was living there when it caught on fire.That's when it closed for good   It was a great place when he first moved into it. It was furnished with beautiful furniture. It contained old Oriental rugs, giant mirrors in the hallway that went from the floor to the ceiling. The apartments each had a fireplace and woodwork that went half way up the walls. The building was bigger then whats left now. There were several more doorways the went south on Chestnut St.
The Building was owned by an old woman when my father first moved in, then it was bought by a guy who didn't care about it and let it run into the ground. The plumbing became bad and the heat was horrible. In fact, the fire started when a young mother was trying to heat one room in her apartment with a hot plate as she had a young baby.

Brian- Holyoke  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Holyoke Carousel Horse Festival Idea

Have you seen the bear festival that Easthampton, MA is having again this year?
It was a huge success the last time they held one and do wonders for increasing summer economy for their community.
I have an idea. I think Holyoke should have one too. But what animal or object though? What is this city known for? A paper festival is useless. But what else? The Merry-Go-Round! Carousel horses!
I did some research and some similar was done a few years ago at Myrtle Beach.
Someone needs to start planning this. Think of the positive tourism it could bring to the city. I even found that there is a company the already sells molded fiberglass horses just like the bears.
So who wants to get started?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Holyoke Merry-Go-Round

The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round is a carousel in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

In 1929, Louis Pellissier ran the Holyoke Street Railway Company and managed Mountain Park, an amusement park on the side of Mount Tom. Even though this was the beginning of the Great Depression, Pellissier expanded the park and guided it through difficult times.

One of the new rides he purchased for the park expansion was a roller coaster from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in Pennsylvania. At the time, to sweeten the deal and get a park to buy one of their coasters, PTC would often "throw in" one of their merry-go-rounds. This was the case at Mountain Park.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company employed German and Italian craftsmen to create their wood carousels. Daniel Muller, Frank Carretta and John Zalar were some of the men who worked on the Mountain Park ride. By that point in PTC's history, they were not actively making merry-go-rounds. They focused their business more and more on roller coasters. The company had a carving jig. The master carver could make a single horse head, and an assistant could then produce exact replicas with the jig. So by 1929, PTC had a stockpile of carousel horses.

The merry-go-round destined for Mountain Park was most likely fabricated in 1927. It was sold to a different park initially, but for some reason was never shipped. So instead it was shipped to Pellissier. First, Pellissier asked for more time before it was sent, because he was getting the pavilion ready. What he was doing was converting one of the oldest structures in the park (at the time being used as an arcade) and modifying it for the merry-go-round. Pellissier couldn't have chosen a better structure. The pavilion—originally a dance hall—was built with timber trusses a foot-and-a-half on a side and forty feet long. Steel trusses supported the wood. The building was sheathed in wood clapboards and survived two hurricanes. Giant concrete footers were poured to accommodate the merry-go-round's centerpost and buttresses.

The ride, PTC #80, was installed and operational for the 1929 season. It replaced a small carousel that for years ran at the north end of the park. The many whimsical scenery panels and rounding boards depicted everything from Swiss castles to sea battles, from cowboys to cars. Most of them were probably painted by Carretta. The ride had 48 horses. Sixteen of them on the outside edge of the 48-foot-diameter (15 m) wood platform were "standers," rigidly fixed to the ride. They were the "show" horses, the largest and most elaborately carved. The two inner rows had progressively smaller "jumpers" that were not as intricately carved. There were also two stock PTC "chariots," basically two-tiered benches. Opposite each chariot at the inside edge of the platform were two small standers.

Pellissier also got a band organ with the merry-go-round. It was manufactured by Aritzan Factories of North Tonawanda, New York. Using paper rolls like a player piano, the organ played merry songs that could be heard throughout the park.

The Collins family bought the park from Pellissier in 1953. The merry-go-round remained the anchor of the park. A microphone was placed inside the band organ and the music was broadcast over speakers all along the midway. The sound of the organ signaled the beginning of the day and its silence meant the park was closing for the night.

Mountain Park shut its gates forever in 1987. All of the rides were sold—except for the merry-go-round. John J. Collins, Jr., the park's owner, had offers of up to $2 million for the ride from as far away as Japan. But Collins was approached by John Hickey, the head of the Holyoke Water Power Company. He wanted to save the merry-go-round for the city. Collins set a price of $850,000 and gave Hickey a year to raise the money.

Hickey enlisted the help of Angela and Joe Wright, who had done a lot of charitable work in Holyoke. They organized a "last ride" day at the park. Over one thousand people came to the mountain and paid a dollar each to ride the merry-go-round for the last time at its original home. The community came together in an unprecedented display of generosity. School children in Holyoke raised $32,000 in one week. Local performers put on a benefit concert. People all across the country began sending in donations. Hickey met Collins' deadline and purchased the ride.

James Curran, a local contractor, donated his services to dismantle the ride and place it in storage until a new building could be constructed. While in storage, a crew of volunteers re-painted the entire ride. Hickey brought each of the horses into his house and personally repainted them. Meanwhile local architect Timothy Murphy began designing the ride's new home. The plan at first was to save the original pavilion. But that option was much too costly. Instead, Murphy designed a bigger building that replicated the look of the original.

In 1993, the building was constructed at Holyoke Heritage State Park. The ride had its inaugural run on December 7 with a party for Holyoke Hospital. Plaques were placed under each horse to commemorate a donor. The armored lead horse was dedicated to the schoolchildren of Holyoke. The merry-go-round officially opened to the public on December 11, 1993. During its first year, it gave over 70,000 rides. It continues to thrill children and adults alike and has become a beacon for successful community preservation efforts.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Would it really be so bad?

Holyoke hearing on $16 million Big Y plan draws people concerned about traffic, noise and trash

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 10:37 PM

HOLYOKE – Concerns about traffic, noise, trash and having to live near a fast-food restaurant were voiced at a public hearing Tuesday on a planned $16 million project to be anchored by a Big Y supermarket.

Most officials have heralded the project because of the estimated 250 jobs and $520,000 to $590,000 a year in property taxes the developer has said it would generate.

About 30 people, in addition to more than a dozen city officials and consultants with the developer, attended the Planning Board hearing at City Hall.

O’Connell Development pitched its plan for a 110,000-square-foot project at Homestead Avenue and Lower Westfield Road during the site-plan review hearing.

The project will have two to four stores besides the Big Y, including a bank and a restaurant, O’Connell Vice President Andrew J. Crystal said.

Tenants have yet to be chosen, he said.

O’Connell would need to seek special permits from the City Council for drive-through service windows for a possible fast-food restaurant and a bank, he said.

The site is the former Atlas Copco compressor factory, which closed in 2005.

Douglas W. Loughrey, of Whitney Avenue, said he was concerned about the project possibly having a fast-food restaurant.

Also, Loughrey said outside the hearing, neighbors should get more time to review and comment on details of the project.

“With the information given tonight, there should be more time for the residents to go over it,’ Loughrey said.

Others during the hearing discussed concerns about noise from roof-top air conditioners and other units and proximity of neighbors to the project’s trash-storage areas.

The hearing was continued after three and a half hours to Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Lt. Elmer J. McMahon School on Kane Road, said Kathleen G. Anderson, director of the city Office of Planning and Development.

Some in the audience grew frustrated. It was 90 minutes into the hearing before the public had a chance to speak as consultants discussed traffic, parking, curb cuts, stormwater, landscaping, wetlands, utilities and other issues.

Juliet Locke, an engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, said at the outset of her remarks about traffic that her presentation would be lengthy.

After a while, James P. Lavelle Sr., owner of J.P.’s Restaurant on Whiting Farms Road, spoke out from the audience and said it was unfair to make the public wait through such detail before being allowed to speak.

“It’ll be midnight by the time she’s done,” Lavelle said of Locke.

Planning Board Chairwoman Eileen Regan said O’Connell deserved the right to present its plan and public comment would follow. Lavelle left shortly after.

The retail stores on the 29.5-acre site would occupy two areas. The Big Y portion would cover 60,000 square feet, including 9,000 square feet that would be developed later, and 50,000 square feet for the other facilities, said Jean Christy, an engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.

Also, she said, the site would have 505 parking spaces.

Elizur's Pub

876 Hamden Street, Holyoke, MA 01040

It never ceases to amaze me how many locals have never heard about Elizur's. Or have heard about but say they don't visit dive bars. Anyone who has said this has not been there.
Elizur's is not a dive bar, it is a bar, but much more. They have an amazing menu for the sandwich and burger lovers among us. I would go so far as to say that they have the best turkey club I have ever had. Ask for the Carey Pratt club, you won't be disappointed!
They don't have as many beers on tap as one might want in a better local bar, but their vast collection of other boozes more than makes up for that. They also have pool tables. Try it for lunch or after dinner drinks and appetizers today!