A New Holyoke “Skyscraper”

by Laurel | October 10th, 2014

02 March 1902

Description of the LaFrance Eight-Story Office Building Now Being Occupied

Hotel Essex, Holyoke, Mass. -- 1940's Era

Hotel Essex,
Holyoke, Mass. — 1940’s Era

The ceremony of placing the label of the national building trades council upon the new business block of eight stories erected by Louis A. Lafrance has called public attention to that building recently, the largest and finest business block that has yet been erected in Holyoke, and said by some to be the equal of any in New England of its size. The block is located on lower High Street, a few doors below Appleton and nearly opposite the Murrary Hotel. It is 121 feet in height, and as it has a roof garden and basement, it has 10 floors, all reached by a large plunger elevator, — the largest and most costly in the city. The building stands on a double lot, 48 by 80 feet, and so has 3540 square feet on each floor or in all 10 floors over four-fifths of an acre. There are 60 offices and six halls, besides the basement and the roof garden, and each of the rooms is equipped with a private telephone line. The building is faced with buff brick and limestone, with a heavy copper cornice, and the view from the top is one of the finest in the city.

The interior work is elaborate in finish and design. Marble stairs and wainscoting extend throughout the building; the ceilings are of metal plates, tinted and ornamented; the walls are of tinted “tripe” plaster, and the building is lighted throughout by a private lighting plant. The wood in doors, panels, etc., is of quartered oak, elegantly carved in the classic bead and reel and other ornaments. The supporting columns are encased in a heavy layer of plaster, with “tripe” work finish, giving a massive solidity to the appearance of the whole; and the billiard-room in the basement and the cafe have been frescoed in an artistic manner. Probably the only public building in Holyoke that has frescoing approaching it is that of the Ball and Treworgy building in the drug store on the first floor. The cafe is finished in rich red, and the walls and columns throughout the building in a pleasing shade of green. The effort of the whole is rich without being gaudy.

The private telephone system will communicate with the cafe in the basement when all is completed, and, in addition, hot and cold water is furnished to all of the offices. Even the interiors of the elevator well is of tinted metal plates; and the engine-room is as neat as a parlor with all but the running parts of the machinery painted, the walls tinted, and the floor white and spotless. The engine is coupled on to the dynamo direct, is of 50 horse-power, and runs with less noise than an up-to-date sewing machine. The basement is to be occupied by the Palace Billiard Rooms, and a pool-room will be on the top floor. On the second floor there is LeClair’s barber-shop, the offices of the Bankers’ Life Insurance Company, of Dr. A. S. Menard, and a tailoring shop; others who have offices in the building are Dr. G. G. Reed, Lawyer Richard Stapleton, Dr. Hunt, the New England Telephone and Messenger Company; The Holyoke Business Institute occupies most of the one floor, and the Central Labor Union and the Building Trades Council occupy the whole of the sixth floor. The Prudential Insurance Company and L. A. Lafrance also have offices in the building The prospects are that this handsome building with all of its modern conveniences, will be rented in full by May.

Adapted from The Springfield Sunday Republican.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.