SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Many people know that Springfield is a historically-rich city, but what they might not know is just how historically rich it is with Black American history.
“An entrepreneur, a 19th century entrepreneur.. who was born in Monson, Mass., to a couple of free blacks.” That’s who Ward 3 Springfield City Councilor Melvin Edwards said Primus Mason was.
You might have seen his name throughout Springfield, but do you know his story?
Mason, a free man who lost his parents at an early age, was taken in by a Monson farmer who mistreated him.
Because of that, Mason left Monson to settle in Springfield, but soon found himself in California during the Gold Rush. He returned to Springfield a wealthy man.
“He became a very interesting gentlemen because of the wealth he was able to acquire through hard work and diligence over the years,” said Edwards.
His wealth flourished through real estate investments in the Springfield area. One of his notable purchases of land was at the intersection of Wilbraham Road and State Street in Springfield. He sold that land, under the condition it was used for the public.
A firehouse was built there and the area was later named after him.
At one point, Mason was considered one of the wealthiest men in Springfield. When he died, he left behind thousands of dollars to create a ” home for aged men.” which now stands as the Mason-Wright Retirement Community.