Ghostly Voices Helped
Pave the Way for Restoration
By Ray Kelly
August 27, 1986
A local developer claims ghostly voices persuaded her to restore a 100 year old home in the McKnight district of Springfield.
“I was driving by the house when it seemed to call out to me: Buy me, fix me!” said Leslie Clement, general partner of Clement Restorations. Clement unveiled the remodeled Victorian townhouses on 345 Bay Street at an open house last night.
When Clement Restorations began renovating the stone and shingle home in November 1985, the developer had to deal with “infestations of cockroaches, mice, bats and ghosts.” Workers at the site often reported hearing the sound of toy trains in the loft of the three-story home, Clement said. “About twenty years ago, the people who lived here used to repair Lionel trains for the children in the area,” she said. The enormous property, built by the Muir brothers of East Longmeadow in 1890, is the only remaining historic home in the immediate area -- everything else has been torn down or rebuilt with commercial buildings.
Clement compared her search for rehab funds to Dorothy’s adventures in the Wizard of Oz and introduced Mayor Richard Neal as “the good witch of the East” who helped her obtain necessary grants and loans to renovate the house.
The mayor said he was impressed with the “great work and craftsmanship” Clement provided in renovating houses on Central Street as well. “If we are going to refurbish the City of Springfield, it has to be done to the old as well as the new,” Neal said.
Before the refurbishing of the house, it was in gloriously horrifying condition,” Clement said. “It was just an awful disgusting wreck.”
During the renovation, the developer was careful to preserve the look and feel of the original design, said Lynn Drenzek, who helped supervise the renovations. Cathedral ceilings, eyebrow windows, sandstone chimneys and natural chestnut Victorian trim highlight the 19th century home.
The Queen Anne-style townhouse features two unique towers that possibly reflect the different personalities of the original Muir brothers, says Clement. “This building is one of the city’s most unusual remaining historic structures, an accomplishment especially noteworthy in Springfield, the City of Homes.
Dominique wears a Victorian outfit to welcome guests yesterday to an open house to show off the restoration work at 345 Bay Street. The others, from left, are Leslie Clement, contractor and owner, and Christopher Edmunds and Phillip Wright, vice-president at Bank of Boston.