Pierce Building // 1887-1957

This gorgeous Richardsonian Romanesque building was formerly located at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Dartmouth Street in Back Bay, just south of the Boston Public Library McKim Building. The building was developed by Wallace L. Pierce, son of Samuel Stillman Pierce, who established the mega-successful S. S. Pierce Grocery Company in 1831. The grocery business thrived, due in part to “celebrity customers” John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. who once said: “I was brought up on S.S. Pierce’s groceries and I don’t dare change”.

Ca. 1890 image of the Pierce Building. Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth.

The company grew at its Downtown location and later relocated to the burgeoning Back Bay area. The Romanesque building was constructed of brick and brownstone and featured a prominent corner tower, which had an even taller conical tower at the center of the building. The new store and office building, completed in 1889, was designed by S. Edwin Tobey, an architect who specialized in residential designs.

One of the last available images of the Pierce Building, ca. 1956. Courtesy of MIT Libraries. Facing north on Dartmouth.

The building was eventually razed in 1957 for a 55-car parking lot. By the early 1980s, the present Westin Copley Place was built on the site.

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