In 1896, the Springfield Street Railway Company began trolley service down Longmeadow Street to the Connecticut state line. At the state line, you could pick up a streetcar run by the Hartford Street Railway Company and continue your journey through Connecticut to Thompsonville, East Windsor, Hartford, and beyond. The two companies agreed to build a transfer station at the south end of Longmeadow Street. The State Line House transfer station was to contain a waiting room and the second floor was to be devoted to tenements (rooms) for street railway employees. The 1910 map of Longmeadow shows the transfer station as well as a trolley hangar that was located just north of the State Line House.
The 1900 U.S. Census lists seven single men employed as either conductors or motormen by the Electric Railway Co. who boarded at the State Line House. William Sullivan was the proprietor. Other boarders included his brother, John Sullivan, and four members of the St. Denis family. Minnie St. Denis and her children (Josephine, Napoleon, and Mary) had emigrated from French Canada 2 years before. Minnie was the cook and John, Josephine, and Napoleon were table waiters for the restaurant at the State Line House. In addition to the restaurant, the waiting room also had a fruit stand and confectionary.
1900 US Census (Longmeadow, MA)
In 1901, the two street railway companies merged, becoming the Hartford and Springfield Street Railway. The State Line House continued as a trolley stop and commercial establishment, but it ceased to be a boarding house for railway employees. William Donnelley was the proprietor of the State Line House in 1905 and, starting in 1910, James J. Sharkey was the proprietor.
Mr. Sharkey was the last proprietor and he named it for himself –“Sharkey’s State Line House”. Sharkey’s was known for its hot dogs and it was said that many people traveled the trolley just to get one. And, as more and more automobiles shared the roads with trolleys and horses, Sharkey’s started selling Socony motor gasoline in 1916.
By 1919, Mr. Sharkey had opened up the Dance Palace on the grounds of Sharkey’s. A.J. Giaconia, the manager of the Dance Palace, gave dance lessons and organized events and fundraisers.
John Sharkey died in 1925 and in 1933 the town sold the property at a Tax Collector’s Sale for nonpayment of taxes. Sharkey’s State Line House and Dance Palace are now gone, but we can still fill our tanks and buy food at the state line where they used to stand – at the Pride station.
Sources: Longmeadow Historical Society archives 1900 U.S. Federal Census 1910 map of Town of Longmeadow 1901/1905 Street Directory Springfield Republican: Nov. 11, 1896; April 11, 1912; Feb. 17, 1925; Sept. 13, 1933 Springfield Daily News: July 31, 1912; Aug. 11, 1916; Nov. 22, 1919
Contributed by Elizabeth Hoff, Board member, Longmeadow Historical Society
Originally published August 6, 2020