We made our final day trip of this home stay to Springfield, MA to check out the 3rd wave coffee scene, find the murals and visit the local art museums. We have been taking full advantage of the 17 daily trains that run from New Haven to Springfield frequently, utilizing the train for our trips into New Haven and Hartford. We extended our use of the CT Railroad by riding from the Meriden Station through to Union Station in downtown Springfield.
We have to admit that our only experience of Springfield derives mainly from passing through on I-91 on our way to Vermont and back. So this trip presented us with the opportunity to get to know more about the city and its history.
First to the coffee – no joy! Sorry to report that the downtown area is bereft of 3rd wave coffee establishments. There are a number of specialty coffee cafes and roasters just outside of Springfield – particularly west of the river.
The street art mural scene however provides great joy. Springfield, with the support of the Common Wealth Mural Collaborative, launched Fresh Paint Springfield in June of 2019. FPS is week long mural festival which also features many other cultural and food events throughout the week. A total of 22 murals were completed by 17 professional muralists with the help of local mural assistants. Fortunately, the mural festival was a big hit and will return for its second run in June 2020. We have included a sampling of photos of some of the moving, imaginative and colorful murals we saw on this trip.
Springfield boasts two fine art museums located in a quadrangle of distinctive buildings which also house a science museum, a museum of Springfield history and the Dr. Seuss Museum. Both of the art museums came about as the result of wealthy Springfield art collectors donating their personal collections to form the museums.
We spent most of our time at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts owing to our affinity for French Impressionism. The D’Amour has a small but impressive gallery of French Impressionist works along with galleries featuring 17th, 18th and 19th century Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian paintings.
The other art museum is the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum. The GWVS collection consists mainly of Japanese and Chinese porcelains, bronzes, jade and arms and armor. There is also a smaller gallery dedicated to art of the Islamic world. The Japanese armor and arms were the high point along with the painted tiles in the Islamic gallery.
Springfield like many former manufacturing hubs in the northeast has seen better days. We noted a lot of work going on to renovate and utilize the many still standing factory buildings for retail, office and habitational space. The area proximate to the museum quadrangle is home to several beautiful cathedrals and several historic residential areas where 19th century row houses have been renovated.
Springfield by train was an excellent day trip albeit no specialty coffee!