The Legacy of Whiting Street, Part V

by Laurel | March 8th, 2013

31 May 1903

Whiting Street Building

Whiting Street Building
Main Street, Holyoke, MA

The Whiting Street Reservoir at Holyoke is so named because located on land once owned by Whiting Street, and not from any sense of gratitude for the bequest made to the city. In fact, it is to be doubted if from any of the cities and towns in which his bequests have proved such help to worthy poor people, any expression of gratitude, except possibly of the most perfunctory kind, has been received. In good time, perhaps, some expression of the obligation under which so many cities and tows lie may be expressed, though doubtless he did not look for or expect it. In olden days the sale of a piece of property was not accomplished with the rush of today, but with deliberateness and diplomacy.

This at one time Mr. Hastings was desirous of buying a woodlot on one side of what is now Whiting Street Reservoir of Mr. Street. Mr. Street wanted, say, $75 an acre and Mr. Hastings offered, say, $50 an acre. Arguments would be made at repeated evening conference as to the value of the land.

“Look at those fine oaks in the south part of the lot,” perhaps Mr. Street would say; “they are alone worth the price of the entire lot.”

“But see how difficult the lot is of access,” would be the rejoinder; “it will cost all it is worth to get a road through and the wood down to the river for the boats.”

So the matter would be discussed back and forth for perhaps a week or more, the one party dropping off a little and the other advancing his offer until the two were separated by a little, when an offer was almost certain to come to “split the difference” and the sale was made forthwith.

In the case of the lot referred to a surprisingly quick sale was made and it happened in this way. The two were haggling over the lot at the west end. Whiting Street remarked that the lot wasn’t worth within $25 an acre of the lot at the south end, on which Mr. Hastings had had his eye covetously cast for some time.

“Will you sell the south lot for $100 an acre?” asked Mr. Hastings.

“Yes, I’ll sell it for $100 an acre,” Mr. Street replied and it was agreed that the papers should be made out the next day.

This illustrates a trait in Mr. Street’s character that has not been enlarged upon and that is quick decision when the proper time came.

The only other Holyoke perpetuation of his name is the Whiting Street Building built in 1884-5 at a cost of $65,000. It is built of granite with brownstone trimmings and is located on Main street and will be nearly directly opposite the new Holyoke post office when the latter is built.

Being naturally of a strong and virile constitution, Mr. Street bid fair to at least reach his 90th year, had not an unfortunate accident shortened his life. One morning in midsummer the inmates of the house were summoned by a vigorous knocking on the flagstones in front. Hurrying out, Mr. Street was found to have fallen, and was calling for help by pounding the stones with the heavy cane that during his yeast years he always carried.  He was taken up tenderly and carried into the house.  A doctor was called and it was found that his hip was broken and would probably never mend again; and he never walked after that. Yet he was able after the first shock to sit up and from the window in the room in the southeast corner of the house to look out upon the river where in his younger days had passed the boating traffic, in which he had been active, now superseded by the roar and rattle of the steam cars. The view is one of no little beauty, and Mrs. Eliza Smith, one of his nieces had a painting made of it. Across the river, narrowed by perspective, rises the headland upon which now are built the gay summer cottages of river “campers;” to the right jutting out as into a bay, is Jones’ Point; and beyond the roofs and towers of Holyoke’s mills and churches with the river broadening before them.

Whiting Street lived by a little over a year after his accident. Suffering much, but cheerful, his mind began to wander and went back to old times and scenes as the minds of old men are wont to do in the last days, when mind and body loosen their hold one upon another; and in the year following his accident the release came.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

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