Footsteps Through History:
A Walking Tour of Sturbridge Common & Southbridge
Edited by Brian Burns
in celebration of the 60th anniversary of The News, Southbridge, MA (1984).
Just as the Catholic Church was located to unite the
Catholics of the Center Village and the Globe (sections of Southbridge), so
the Flatiron Building was sited to take advantage of the area's growth. With
the success of the Hamilton Woolen Company and the arrival of the railroad,
the property at the corner of Hamilton and Crane Streets was ideal for a
commercial venture. Recognizing this fact, real estate developer and banker
Francis L. Chapin bought the triangular piece of property and constructed the
Chapin block much better known as the Flat Iron Building , in 1888.
The Southbridge Journal hailed the project,
ad was especially excited by Chapin's plans to include a public clock. “The
south and east dials of the clock will be brilliantly lighted by the electric
light which stands in the immediate vicinity,” enthused the newspaper,
concluding that “a more desirable location for a public clock would be hard
Chapin owned the building only about six months,
selling out to J.J. Delehanty of the Globe. Delehanty earlier purchased the
Alden block, and his family continued its ownership of the Flat Iron until
The building is an excellent example of “shingle
style” architecture. Designed to be the focal point of the intersection, the
Flat Iron includes numerous features which testify to the designer's strong
interest in texture. The shaped shingles are especially notable.
The years have not been especially kind to the Flat
Iron. There have been substantial alterations to the windows and doors. The
much-admired clock is long gone. However, some of the retail establishments
in the building still display ceilings of stamped sheet iron.
Flat Iron Building was saved from demolition and renovated in 2004 by new
owners Margaret Morrissey and Gabriel McCarthy. The SCR Café is pleased to be part of the
restoration and revitalization of Southbridge and the historic Flat Iron
The Flat Iron Building and St. Mary’s Church 1892
Please note the Cannery Complex Building along the
railroad tracks, home of Sturbridge Coffee Roasters roasting facility.
Iron circa 1900
A Millinery at the Flat Iron Building in 1881