Downtown Springfield Railroad District

Roughly bounded by Lyman, Main, Murray, and Spring Sts., Springfield, Massachusetts


Hotel Charles

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



The Hotel Charles complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 24, 1983 as a contributing structure in the Downtown Springfield Historic Resources Area (63 properties). It was also listed on May 27, 1983 as a contributing structure in the Downtown Springfield Railroad District (11 properties). The Downtown Springfield Railroad District represents the impact of the railroad on local development. Easy access to rail transportation gave the city a comparative economic advantage which contributed to rapid industrial and commercial growth in the late nineteenth century. At the junction of major north-south and east-west lines, Springfield became known as the "Crossroads of New England." The Hotel Charles is the successor to Cooley's Hotel, established in 1849 and grown over the years to a complex of five buildings occupying the key parcel between the railroad station and Main St. in Springfield. The tower of the Hotel Charles, erected in 1928, represented the last phase of growth for the hotel complex. It is one of the earliest steel-skeleton and masonry structures in the city and was the third building in the city to reach a height of 125 feet. The hotel represents the growth of the local economy in the period 1870-1929, spurred by a skilled labor force, a diverse industrial base and superb railroad access. With the decline in rail travel and the general economic depression, the hotel complex turned to supplemental uses. By the 1970s, the Main St. buildings were occupied by an Army & Navy Store and the hotel tower served as low-income and transient housing. The City of Springfield acquired the Hotel Charles complex in 1988 with the intention of rehabilitating it for market-rate residential use. A major fire in June 1988 completely gutted the complex and led to the immediate demolition of all structures except the hotel tower. The tower has been vacant since that time. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS MA-1294)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 27, 1983
Reference number
Areas of significance
Transportation; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Hotel; Rail-related; Warehouse; Business
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1925-1949
Significant years
1875; 1925
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 9
Contributing structures: 2