The Henry H. Coburn House (Macris Image)

by Laurel | March 3rd, 2014

01 March 2014

320 Pleasant St.

The Henry H. Coburn House
320 Pleasant St.
Holyoke, MA

This house is located at 320 Pleasant Street and in the MACRIS database is called the “Henry F. Coburn” house. My research did not find a Henry F. Coburn, but I did find a Henry H. Coburn and will assume this is the same individual — I believe Henry F. is likely a typo or misinterpretation of a handwritten document.

The house, a single family in the Highland Park neighborhood of Holyoke, is Queen Anne in style built about 1891. While I  have not yet found the first owner — assuming 1891 is the correct date — it was not Henry H. Coburn.

It was interesting to learn about past owners of this house because the buildings on Pleasant Street were renumbered at some point between 1923 and 1924. What is number 320 Pleasant Street today was known as 82 Pleasant Street up to and including the year 1923. By 1924, the house appears as 320 Pleasant Street in the Holyoke City Directory. By the way, if you are involved in genealogy research the renumbering of streets, over time, is not at all unusual and its good to keep this possibility in mind when research focus involves using an address.

Map of 82 - 320 Pleasant St.

Map of 82 – 320 Pleasant St.
Holyoke, MA
Click Through on Image to Enlarge

[ Note in the map image above the vertical line at the right is Pleasant St. In 1911, when this map was published, the house of H.H. Coburn is the fourth from the top, on the east side (right) of the street. Enlarged, you will be able to see the house number which at that time was 82.]

The earliest reference I have found for an owner is Charles H. Nason, in 1899, employed at Albion Paper Company and is listed Holyoke City Directory for that year. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, recorded at 82 Pleasant Street is Charles H. Nason, occupation papermaker, born about September 1860 in Massachusetts. Residing with him at 82 Pleasant Street is his wife Louise, born in MA August 1859; son Lester N., a bank clerk, born Oct 1880; and daughter Louise, age 11, at school, born December 1888. By the way Charles H. Nason married his wife Louise Knowlton in Holyoke on 02 Oct 1886, his second marriage, her first, and reported his place of birth as Vermont. Charles H. Nason lived in this house from 1899 -1906, then moved to the Worcester area. Having lived in Holyoke since at least 1880, we hear about Nason’s tragic death in the newspaper:

Former Holyoke Man is Drowned –Worcester, 20 Jan 1913 — After a search by the police and members of his family in an effort to locate him through the night and early morning, the body of Charles H. Nason, 53 years old, was found in Church pond near Webster Square at 10 o’clock this forenoon by Patrolmen Pierce P. Powers and Albert T. Wall.

The body was removed in a police ambulance to City Hospital morgue where it was viewed by Medical Examiner Frederick H. Baker. Dr. Baker pronounced death due to drowning and gave permission for the removal of the body.

Members of Mr. Nason’s family today said that there was nothing to lead them to suppose the drowning was a premeditated act. he had been ill for several months, they said, and they believe the man wandered aimlessly into the little pond where the water is only three or four feet deep and sinking from exhaustion was unable to help himself.

The police were notified last night that the man left his home at 16 Lowell Street a few minutes before 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon and that the family was worried over his absence. The policemen on the night reliefs were told at roll-call to look out for him, but no trace of him was found until Patrolmen Power and  Wall walked into a narrow lane known as Park Avenue Place and leading to the Church pond back of the residence of John H. Coes. The pond is named after the Trowbridge Memorial Church, which also fronts it.

The pond is frozen over, the ice being about an inch thick. A few feet from the shore there was a hole in the ice and they saw an object in the broken place. The water was so shallow that the man’s body lying down was only barely covered. The policemen procured a boat from Coes Pond and took the body ashore before calling an ambulance. The watch in his pocket has stopped at 12:54 o’clock.

Mr. Nason worked in the George C. Whitney factory at School and Union Street for several years as a paper cutter. Before coming to Worcester he was employed as foreman in the plant of the Albion Paper Company in Holyoke for more than 20 years. He was born in Windsor, Vermont, Sept. 26, 1859 and was 53 years old last September.

320 Pleasant St., Holyoke, MA

320 Pleasant St.
Holyoke, Massachusetts
From Google Street Maps, date estimated about 2010-2011

The next resident of the house was Henry Harrison Coburn, who was born 01 Oct 1856 in Windsor County, Vermont, the son of Lemuel Coburn (19 Oct 1830 – 26 Oct 1909) and Mary Abbott.  Henry had two brothers Arthur, b. in 1855 (died young at age 5) and Azro, born in 1859. The family is notable because Lemuel was an inventor, first a rag cutter machine that, over time, was modified and used by the paper mills. Most importantly Lemuel invented the Coburn Trolly Track and a machine that would make the track, which became very popular. Other inventions included freight door trolly tracks.  While Lemuel was president of the Coburn Trolly Track Company, both Henry and Azro were involved in the management of the company, and in 1912, shortly after the death of Lemuel, Azro begins to appear as president of the company. Henry begins to appear as assistant treasurer. As an aside, Lemuel was one of 10 children and it appears there were other wealthy and successful relatives in the Coburn clan. And for those who need a little more about the company, the 1899 Coburn Trolley Track Company catalogue is available online.

In 1907, Henry H. Coburn moved into 82 Pleasant Street and remained there until about 1917 when he moved to Fort Collins, Colorado. At that time he was Assistant Treasurer of the Coburn Trolley Tack Company. He married Noriette Chapman and they had a son, Earl Chapman Coburn on 22 Jun 1899, in Holyoke.  In 1920 Henry appears on the U.S. Federal Census, living in Colorado but beyond that point have had no luck tracing him. At any rate, since this is more about the 82 / 320 Pleasant Street home it will be left for more research later.

Coburn Elevator Doors and Hardware Catalog

Coburn Elevator Doors and Hardware Catalog
Coburn Trolley Track Mfg. Co.
Courtesy The Elevator Museum

In 1917, when Henry H. Coburn departs for Colorado, the 82 Pleasant Street house is acquired by John S. McGowan, bookkeeper for the J. Russell Company. The address remains 82 Pleasant Street until 1923. In 1924 it becomes 320 Pleasant Street, although it is, indeed, the same house. John McGowan remains in the home with his family until his death in February 1955. John S. McGowan was born in Holyoke on 20 August 1874. He married Antoinette Turcotte and at the time of his death his wife, two married daughters and a son survive him. In his obituary he is reported to have been employed by the LaFrance Consruction Company and later was employed by the Louis  LaFrance Estate.

Sometime between 1955 and 1959, the house was acquired by Mr. & Mrs. Edward J. Lescault, and remained in that family for decades. The Lescaults were also a notable family, but for the sake of privacy I’ll end the house history with names only, which I suspect is familiar name to many readers as it is to me.

And, as promised, this house is for sale — so here is the link where you will be able to view some interior pictures, contact the listing agent and view other particulars on the place.  I’d be interested in your feedback on the price and current condition.

Sources: Holyoke City Directories, 1915 – 1964; U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930, 1940;The Springfield Republican; Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System (MACRIS database), Google street images, Vintage catalog cover courtesy The Elevator Museum;

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