Application Submissions Now Open

About Walter S. Barr

Walter S. Barr was a successful West Springfield businessman and town official, who was known for his fraternal, social and charitable activities. He was born on February 4, 1870 to Edwin C. and Minerva Barr in Springfield, MA, and died outside his home on Park Avenue in West Springfield on June 11, 1934.

During his early adulthood, Walter worked with his father at the popular eatery, E. C. Barr & Co.  It was reputed to be Springfield’s leading restaurant, caterer, candy, and ice cream maker, as well as bakery for fine pastries and wedding cakes. 

The restaurant was located on Main Street across from Forbes & Wallace department store in the heart of the city’s shopping district. Over the years, the E. C. Barr & Co. restaurant became known as a prime banquet venue and offered elaborate confectionary window displays to passersby.

One noteworthy display commemorated the exploration of the North Pole in 1909.  Walter fashioned representations of the Cook and Peary exploration parties entirely from sugar.

After his father’s death in 1911, Walter successfully continued the E. C. Barr & Co. restaurant for many years.  He later became the President of Poole’s Dry Goods in West Springfield.

Walter was accepted into the Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1906, after proving to be the great-great-grandson of Isaac Bridges; Bridges was on record as assisting in the establishment of American independence.  Previously, Walter had been admitted into the Masonic order as a member of the Mt. Orthodox Lodge.

As a West Springfield town official, he fought tirelessly to prevent the annexation of the town from Springfield.  He was elected to a 15-member committee to study means of relieving and remedying the existing burden of public tax expenditures.

Walter was also the Director of the Hampden County Tuberculosis and Health Association and lobbied for additional patient beds in Western Mass as part of his charitable works.

He married Elizabeth Hand, of Oneida, NY, at North Presbyterian Church in Amherst, NY on November 6, 1901, and together they adopted two sons.

Upon Walter’s sudden passing at the age of 64, Elizabeth inherited a vast estate.  This included a summer home in Chatham where her husband had witnessed the WWI German submarine attack on U.S. barges off the coast of Orleans.

Elizabeth died in 1950 and, after several personal allocations, bequeathed the remainder of her estate to The Horace Smith Fund. These funds were to be set aside, invested, and known as the Walter S. Barr Donation. The income of which should be expended by the Trustees “in grants to young men and women of promise for the purpose of acquiring an education.”

The Barr Donation was officially added to The Horace Smith Fund’s endowment in 1967, representing 44% of the Fund’s net worth.

Today, The Horace Smith Fund continues to honor the Barr legacy by awarding Walter S. Barr Scholarships and Fellowships to deserving students in Hampden County.